Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Comic anniversaries

As this blog isn't updated very often now you could check out the archive for 3,000 old posts, - many of which you may not have seen. For example, this week marks the significant anniversaries of two short-run comics...

It's been 50 years this week since City Magazines launched Joe 90 Top Secret. Read all about it here...
https://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2015/05/joe-90-top-secret-1969.html


...and it's been 40 years since D.C. Thomson launched The Crunch No.1. You can read about that here:
https://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2015/01/when-it-came-to-crunch.html

Happy hunting through the Blimey! archives! 


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Ron Smith passes away

Terror Tests, ADVENTURE, 1956. © D.C. Thomson

Veteran comic artist of many British comics, Ron Smith, has passed away at the age of 94. 

Many fans will remember him as one of the prominent artists on Judge Dredd for 2000AD in the 1980s (and on the long-running Judge Dredd newspaper strip in the Daily Star) but his career in comics began long before that. 

Ron was a popular artist for D.C. Thomson throughout the 1950s up to the early 1970s, drawing for story papers such as Adventure and comics such as The Topper and Hotspur on strips such as British superhero King Cobra.

Although respected by his peers in the industry, it wasn't until he freelanced for 2000AD from 1979 onwards that he came to the attention of organised comics fandom. Along with Mike McMahon, Carlos Ezquerra, and Brian Bolland, Ron Smith became one of the most distinctive artists on Judge Dredd.

Ron later freelanced for comics such as Wildcat and MASK before retiring in the 1990s.

My condolences to Ron's family and friends on their loss. Truly one of the greats whose work will always be remembered and admired. Here's a small selection of his amazing output...

Lone Wolfe. BEEZER, 1962. © D.C. Thomson
The Last Warriors. TOPPER, 1962. © D.C. Thomson.


HOTSPUR ANNUAL 1976. © D.C. Thomson (Image from eBay.)
King Cobra, HOTSPUR, 1976. © D.C. Thomson. Image from internet.

2000AD, 1979. © Rebellion.
See John Freeman's tribute at Down the Tubes:
https://downthetubes.net/?p=103667

Ron Smith's Lost Adventure Comic:
http://boysadventurecomics.blogspot.com/2019/01/ron-smiths-lost-adventure-comic.html


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This blog is rarely updated now, but you can follow my other blog, which focuses on my own work, at this link:


Monday, January 07, 2019

Exclusive Preview: THE TEMPEST No.4

As promised, here's the first of a very occasional series of posts for 2019. Don't expect many this year! Choices to blog about will be down to quality not quantity. 

...and the first choice is definitely high quality. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest No.4 should be on sale in a comic shop near you from Wednesday 9th January. (Or it might be 16th Jan. Vagarities of distribution.) It's another top standard issue from Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill and I'll definitely miss this series when it ends with issue 6. 

One of the many highlights of this series have been the covers designed as homages to British comics of the past, and this month we get one that's a perfect spoof of traditional old UK weeklies. I'm sure it'll confuse the heck out of our American cousins but we had to put up with ads for Grit and Tootsie Rolls for years in U.S. imports and it never did us any harm. 

Inside, the story of Mina and the League continues, with our pals Alan and Kevin including everything from Smash!-type parodies to nods to Little Nemo in Slumberland, Charlie Drake, James Bond, and a bit of Bill Shakespeare thrown in for good measure. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has always homaged literature and pop culture of the past but this series takes things to a whole new level. The story requires the reader to focus more than your standard comic book but it's one you'll want to read and re-read anyway. It's absolutely brilliantly bonkers.
I should point out at this point that if your only experience of the League is that terrible film "adaptation" from years ago then you need to jettison that from your mind and read the comics to appreciate the proper version. 
If you thought the excursion onto 3-D in the previous issue was a one-off gimmick, you'll be pleased to hear it's also in this issue on certain pages, and really well accomplished too. You've never seen a comic quite like it!
The extra features in this issue include an item on Ken Reid and a spotlight on obscure 1950s British superhero Marsman who was apparently drawn by Paddy Brennan back in the day. These items are a great addition to the comic. 

You don't just read The Tempest, you experience it, absorb it, and emerge with a big grin on your face. It's like no other comic on the stands and is all the better for it. As always, I completely recommend it. Here's the solicitation information:

Legendary swords clash atop the Paris Opera in 1913, while almost a century later a declining London witnesses assassination attempts, summit meetings in Haggerston Park, and the catastrophic return of a 1960s super-adventurer. Elsewhere, in the four-dimensional territories adjacent to the North Pole, a lost Shakespeare play sees its first and last performance, while Queen Gloriana's conjurer finally reveals the nature of his five-hundred-year-old game. Topping off an already heady mixture, this issue's classic Seven Stars reprint depicts our halcyon heroes as "Captives of the Creepyverse," another reason not to miss the unfolding of Moore and O'Neill's fulgurant finale in issue four of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume IV: The Tempest.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest No.4 is co-published between Knockabout in the UK and Top Shelf in the USA. 36 pages (including covers) for $4.99. Worth every penny/cent. 

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Remember that my other blog is still being updated regularly! You'll find it here:


Monday, December 31, 2018

The New Year CHIPS (1941) ...and news about this blog

Here we are at our final destination in our travels through British comics history, and we've landed on New Year's Eve 1940 ready for the dawn of 1941! It's the original Chips comic (AKA Illustrated Chips) with a seasonal cover by Percy Cocking that's bursting with life.

They were grim days for kids back then, in the heart of World War 2, their fathers probably away with the forces, and themselves perhaps even evacuated far from home. Comics such as Chips played an important part in trying to keep their spirits up, as this editorial explains...
Chips would later be affected by paper shortages, reducing its size and appearing fortnightly, but at this point it was still in its original tabloid size, 8 pages, on pink paper, and weekly. Contents were typical fare from the publishers The Amalgamated Press, with a good balance of strips and prose stories such as Dane, The Dog Detective...
Here's a selection of the strips, starting with Professor Jolly and His Magic Brolly by Harry Earnest Pease (H.E. Pease), the younger brother of artist Albert Pease...

Pa Perkins and his son Percy drawn by Bertie Brown...

Homeless Hector, also by Bertie Brown...

Here's an advert for some early Disney merchandise!
Finally, on the back page, the brilliant Casey Court by Albert Pease, who also drew Alfie the Air Tramp beneath it...

...and now an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT about this blog.

We all know that nothing lasts forever, and after 12 years I feel that it's time to wind down Blimey! I will blog again, and the next post will be in about a week's time or so, but posts after that will be few and far between. Eventually they'll cease altogether. However, there'll be some exclusives as the year progresses.

Yeah, I know I said something similar 12 months ago, then carried on blogging practically every day "due to popular demand" as they say, but after all these years I'm finding it a bit of a chore. Also, I've felt that the last year has taken Blimey! off course a bit by focusing too much on current comics and not enough on the past. It was never intended to be a review site but it seems to have veered that way a lot. The whole point of Blimey! was to show old UK strips that modern readers may not have been aware of, although after 12 years of blogging I think I've done my bit. I'll be 60 in a few month's time, which feels like a turning point, and I intend to make some changes in my life.

In case you were wondering, yes, the old posts will remain on the 'net and you'll still be able to leave comments. Bear in mind though that all comments are subject to moderation (to deter trolls and spammers) so please don't post the same comment multiple times if it doesn't appear straight away. I can only verify them for publication when I log on.

For 2019 and beyond I need to focus more on my career, and Blimey! can sometimes be too much of a time-consuming distraction. My other blog, lewstringercomics.blogspot.com - the one about my own strips, - will continue, and I'll probably spend more time on that promoting my work, showcasing my old strips, and talking about my experiences and thoughts about the comics industry. You'll find that here:
http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com

There are of course other blogs out there to keep you informed about the UK comics scene. The best by far, in my opinion, is John Freeman's Down the Tubes blog, where you'll find the latest news on 2000AD, Commando, and pretty much everything that's going on in British comics. It's also an ideal place to let people know about your new comics if you're self-publishing:
https://downthetubes.net

There's also Steve Holland's Bear Alley blog, for very well researched articles on classic material:
https://bearalley.blogspot.com

For the latest news on the Marvel Collectors Editions published by Panini UK the best place is from their official Facebook page:
https://en-gb.facebook.com/MarvelCollectorsEditions/

Likewise, the best place for news about the upcoming Treasury of British Comics collections is here:
https://en-gb.facebook.com/britcomics/

Official site for indie comics publisher Kult Creations:
http://kultcreations.blogspot.com

Official site for indie publisher Time Bomb Comics:
http://timebombcomics.com

Irmantas Povilaika's Kazoop! blog for lots of classics by Ken Reid and others:
http://kazoop.blogspot.com

Phil Boyce's Oink! Blog and Beyond for features on Oink! and other comics of the 1980s and beyond:
http://the-oink-blog.blogspot.com

Peter Gray's Comics and Art blog for classic comics:
http://petergraycartoonsandcomics.blogspot.com

Colin Noble's blog:
https://nothingbutafan.wordpress.com

...and you'll also find links to many other blogs and websites in the right hand sidebar of this blog (if you're reading this on a desktop computer).

I'd like to thank you all for following and supporting Blimey! over the years. I know some of you have been reading it since it began in 2006! We've seen off one or two silly troublemakers over the years but that was a while ago now and 99% of you have always been fantastic, posting positive comments and helpful info. For those of you who have come on board more recently, have a rummage through the archives to see what you've missed. There are over 3,000 posts here, so you should find something of interest! Simply type the name of a comic, a story, character, or creator into the search window on the right hand column of this blog and Bob's yer uncle. It looks like this:

As I said, I will post again, but very infrequently, and remember you can still find me at my other blog at http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com

For now though, I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year and hope that you enjoy the New Year's Eve celebrations with good company. I certainly intend to! 




Sunday, December 30, 2018

My top five classic comics recommendations of 2018

Without a doubt, this has been a great year for fans of classic British comics. Not only have Rebellion published a dozen or so books reprinting strips from bygone years but other publishers jumped in too with impressive collections! It hasn't been easy whittling it down to five, but here are my personal choices from the past 12 months or so, in reverse order, of the best that I think deserve a place on your bookshelf...

In 5th place...

BLACK MAX. This fantastic horror/war story first appeared in Thunder (and later Lion and Thunder) in 1970. Story by Frank Pepper. Art by Eric Bradbury (on episode 1) and Alfonso Font, who also provided a new cover!
https://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2018/09/preview-black-max-volume-1.html


In 4th place...

KEN REID'S CREEPY CREATIONS. A marvellous hardback collection of Ken Reid's full page monsters that appeared in Shiver and Shake in 1973/74. Reproduced in glorious full colour.
https://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2018/10/ken-reids-creepy-creations-ready-to-pre.html


In 3rd place...

BEANO: 80 Years of Fun. Not a book as such, but a boxed set of comic facsimiles and goodies. Marvellous reprints of key issues of The Beano from the past 80 years. 
https://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2018/07/beano-80-years-of-fun-box-set.html


In 2nd place...

MARNEY THE FOX. The exciting and emotional saga of Marney the orphaned fox cub, fighting for survival in the British countryside. Wonderful artwork by John Stokes (who provided a new cover) and top class scripts by Scott Goodall
https://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2017/11/review-marney-fox.html


...and the winner in 1st place is...

THE POWER PACK OF KEN REID. Actually a two-book set, although each one can be bought separately. Everyone had given up hope of ever seeing these strips reprinted, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of independent publisher Irmantas Povilaika, all of Ken Reid's amazing 1960s work for Odhams was collected into these incredible books. Superb reproduction throughout, and thankfully the poor colour printing that some pages suffered from back then have been reproduced in crisp greyscale. My favourite books of the year!
https://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2018/07/review-ken-reid-his-complete-wham-smash.html

Next on this blog, the last post of 2018 and a classic New Year comic from the year.... wait and see! 




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