Thursday, March 26, 2015

Doctor Who - A 10th anniversary

It's ten years today since Doctor Who returned to our screens with the start of a re-energized new era starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. Producer Russel T Davies hit the tone just right with a revamped show that appealed to young and old alike, fans and the general public. 

Next week, the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine arrives and will feature a choice of four variant covers spotlighting each actor who has played the role since 2005. (Sadly no John Hurt 'War Doctor' cover though, but perhaps understandable as he only appeared in one episode as a co-star.)

The 84 page issue will feature a variety of articles and interviews plus a new 12 page comic strip. There'll also be a Daft Dimension strip from me to celebrate the anniversary. Here's a preview segment...
It's also been ten years in November since Dez Skinn (original editor of Doctor Who Weekly) produced the Brighton Comics Expo. (My first and only trip to Brighton.) Here's me with a Dalek that weekend, not knowing I'd be working for the mag a decade later. Coincidentally I'm spending today thinking up ideas for the next Daft Dimension.
Doctor Who Magazine No.485. On sale April 2nd 2015. £4.99

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cloris and Claire by Roy Wilson

I scanned these strips years ago but must have forgotten to blog about them as I've just found them as I was clearing out old files on my Mac. The strip is Cloris and Claire, The Sporting Pair which appeared in June weekly in the early 1960s. (These examples are from 1962.) The artist was the legendary Roy Wilson, sadly nearing the end of his life (he died in 1965) but his talent was as strong as ever. Click on the images to see them larger, particularly the one above which I've enlarged even more to show in more detail Wilson's flawless brushstrokes. 

According to Denis Gifford's Encylopedia of Comic Characters the scripts were reworked plots from Reg Wooton's Sporty strips. Cloris and Claire was later reprinted in Sally in 1969/70 and retitled Sue and Prue, The Clueless Two

Commando Nos.4795 to 4798

Four more issues of Britain's longest running adventure comic Commando hit the shops this week. Here's the lowdown direct from publishers DC Thomson...

Commando Issues 4795-4798 — On Sale 26 March 2015

Commando No 4795 – Lethal Attraction
It seemed a simple job; hop across to Belgium and find out what was causing strange magnetic field disturbances in the Ardennes region. So simple did it seem, that the Convict Commandos thought they might have time for a bit of relaxation along the way.
   Trouble, though, followed Britain’s most dangerous special missions unit like seagulls follow a trawler, and it wasn’t long before they were caught in a net thrown by advancing German forces.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando No 4796 – Night Strike
A tough, battle-hardened platoon finds it hard to accept a young officer straight from home, especially when the signs are that he may be a coward.
   But Second Lieutenant Gary Bardon was no coward. His nerve had broken, true, but when the chips were down he went all out to prove he was twice the man they thought he was.

Over the years we’ve had a fair few “brothers at war” stories. In fact, there was one a couple of months back called just that. It’s a device that works well, and this story is no exception. The siblings at each other’s throats are not only in the same arm of the forces, they are in the same unit, one commanding the other. But who is really in command? Now there’s a question.
   The inside by Buylla — who illustrated 9 Commandos in all — is assured and engaging. Particularly in the final sequences, his compositions come to dangerous life just like the story.
   I think you’ll like this one — I know I did.

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Night Strike originally Commando No 151 (February 1965), re-issued as No 739 (May 1974)

Story: Kenner
Art: Buylla
Cover: Ken Barr

Commando No 4797 – U-Boat Hunt
After Royal Navy Lieutenant-Commander Robert Paterson lost his ship, his crew — and very nearly his life — to a prowling U-Boat in the Atlantic, he became obsessed with finding the enemy sub responsible.
   Robert was given command of a Q-Ship — a vessel that looked like a merchantman but was fitted with concealed guns that would destroy any U-boat that came in range.
   It seemed Robert might have his revenge!

Story: Bill Styles
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4798 – Shield Of Truth
Buried under rock and sand in the North African Desert lay the Shield Of Truth. Made of bronze, highly polished, it revealed the truth about any man who looked into its mirror surface.
   Hidden for over two thousand years, it was found by two British pilots who had staggered mile after mile across the merciless sands. When they stared at their reflections in it, one saw his bravery dissolve into fear…and the other saw his fear change to bravery.

Our eponymous “Shield Of Truth” is an example of what film director Alfred Hitchcock famously called a “MacGuffin” — a plot device: something that motivates a character or propels a story forward. Here, though, it plays second fiddle to the characters themselves, and rightly so. 
   However, in my opinion, the most interesting character here isn’t one of the leads (although they’re all great) — he’s a rather eccentric French Foreign Legionnaire called Jules, who seemingly appears out of nowhere. He reminds me of Ben Gunn from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic swashbuckling tale Treasure Island and is every bit as memorable.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Shield of Truth, originally Commando No 1064 (September 1976), re-issued as No 2364 (April 1990)

Story: Ken Gentry
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Diana's 'The Avengers' to be collected

Back in the 1960s the DC Thomson girls comic Diana ran a full colour serial based on the TV series The Avengers. I blogged about it here last year, and at the time a few people who left comments said the strips deserved to be collected into a book.

The good news is that's now going to happen, courtesy of Big Finish (best known for their Doctor Who audio adventures). If you missed the information that John Freeman posted about it on his Down the Tubes blog last week you can find out the details here:

The strip was superbly illustrated by Emilio Frejo with assistance from another artist, Juan Gonzalez Alecrejo on some episodes. 

If you didn't see my blog post about the strip last year you'll find it at this link:

Mark Millar on HARDtalk

Screen grab © BBC
Something that should be celebrated by all UK comic fans is that we now live in a time when comic creators are often interviewed in the mainstream media. This week comic writer Mark Millar was interviewed on the BBC's HARDtalk programme about his comics and movies and you can watch it on the BBC iPlayer here:

Most of you will know Mark as the co-creator of comics such as The Ultimates, Kick-Ass, and Kingsman: The Secret Service amongst others. He was also the editor of the sadly short-lived comics anthology CLiNT where several of his strips appeared. 
The interviewer is Zeinab Badawi and as you might expect, the subject of violence in comics is addressed. Mark tackles the questions well and I share his opinion that comics do not make people violent. I was also as puzzled as Mark as to why anyone would claim his Hit-Girl character was 'sexualized' in her appearance. (I think anyone who sees that in the character has other issues going on. Hit-Girl is more like a foul-mouthed, ultra-violent Minnie the Minx.) Anyway, have a watch of the programme for yourselves. It's a good interview.
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