Sunday, June 16, 2019

Preview: 2000AD SCI-FI SPECIAL 2019

This year's 2000AD Summer Special (sorry, Sci-Fi Special, - but it is a Summer Special really) will be in the shops on Wednesday 19th June, with 52 pages for £4.99. This edition really is special, because it's dedicated to the memory of the truly great Carlos Ezquerra, co-creator of Judge Dredd and a much-missed artist who contributed so much to comics over the past 40 plus years.

Calling the comic a 'special' is no idle boast when it kicks off with a new cover by Mick McMahon! Inside, there's the welcome return of Robin Smith drawing a Judge Dredd story. I haven't seen Robin for many years so it's a pleasure to see his work gracing a comic again.

Pride of place in the special though is Spector, the new strip that writer John Wagner and Carlos were working on at the time of Carlos' passing. The 2000AD Sci-Fi Special brings us all 20 pages that were completed, plus John's scripts for parts three and four to give readers a sense of the direction the series was heading in. 

Carlos Ezquerra was a wonderful, distinctive artist, and a fine human being to spend time with. This special is a nice tribute to the man and his work and I'm sure will be warmly received by readers. Don't miss your copy this week!

UK, NORTH AMERICA and DIGITAL: 19th June 2019 £4.99/$7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM by Alan Grant (w) Robin Smith (a) Matt Soffe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: STRANGE MEETING by Guy Adams (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

SPECTOR by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Jim Campbell (l)

WULF STERNHAMMER: VALHALLA by  Michael Carroll (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Available in print from: newsagents and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop and apps for iPadAndroidWindows 10

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The 55th WHAM-iversary! (Updated)

Fifty-five years ago this weekend, on Monday 15th June 1964, Wham! comic made its debut in newsagents across the UK... or at least that was the intention. In Leo Baxenale's autobiography A Very Funny Business, he tells of how he and editor Alf Wallace checked out half a dozen London newsagents on the day of its launch only to find that some had never heard of it and others had sold the few they had and couldn't be bothered to re-order. Seems that little has changed in half a century, with today's readers still having difficulty finding comics in newsagents! 

Nevertheless, Wham! was warmly welcomed by kids who did discover it, and although it never reached the heights of sales the publisher hoped for, it lasted for three and a half years, - far longer than many comics! The topline of Wham! sometimes billed it as "The funniest comic in the world", and for many of us it certainly was! Lively, reckless, packed with over the top comic-violence and topical references, Wham! spoke to a Sixties generation that perhaps found other comics somewhat old fashioned by 1964... and now that we're in our 60's we still find it funny!

Here's how Wham! was advertised in other publications of the time. Firstly this tiny corner box appeared in Boys' World Vol.2 No.23 (dated week ending 6th June 1964) as a teaser...
The following week, this advert appeared in both Eagle and Boys' World, heralding the arrival of the comic...
These two ads are from the same issue of Today magazine, June 1964. The Leo Baxendale cartoon in the smaller promo was exclusive to the magazine...

Here's a bigger scan of it. The first appearance of Biff, who went on to be Wham's regular cover star for the first year or so...
...and this full colour ad appeared in Boys' World two days before Wham! arrived in the shops...
It's worth bearing in mind that back in 1964 there were no 'Power Comics'. The imprint only started appearing in late 1966 on the covers of Wham! and Smash! when plans to establish the line were in place with the arrivals of Pow!, Fantastic, and Terrific in 1967. At the time of Wham's launch in 1964, Boys' World was considered to be its companion comic. (Indeed, both comics featured the Billy Binns character, albeit in different adventures.) Sadly, Boys' World merged into Eagle in late 1964 so it never became part of the 'Power Comics' group, but it's worthy as consideration as an early cousin of the Power Comics due to it using some of the same artists such as Brian Lewis, Luis Bermejo, Artie Jackson, and others (and even Leo Baxendale's first work for Odhams appeared in Boys' World) and having the same editor in Bob (Bart) Bartholomew. 

A few years ago I did a blog piece on that first issue of Wham! so I thought I'd re-present it here today in celebration of the comic's 55th anniversary...

You probably know how Wham! came about, but if not, here's a recap: in 1964, Odhams Press wanted to produce a rival comic D.C. Thomson's Beano. The editors convinced Leo Baxendale to quit The Beano to develop stories for their new comic, which Leo envisioned as a sort of "Super-Beano" (or Wham! as Leo eventually called it) poaching Thomson's top talent. However, most of Thomson's artists would not leave the security of long-established comics to work on the new rival publication. 

Although the end result wasn't quite the "Super-Beano" that Leo had hoped for, Wham! still turned out to be a fresh and funny addition to the growing number of weekly comics in the Sixties.

Incredibly, in the first issue of Wham!, Leo Baxendale drew 17 of its 24 pages himself. Four of which were in full colour. Naturally, no one could keep up that tremendous output every week, so following issues saw other artists join the comic to imitate Leo's style on many of the strips. Meanwhile, over at The Beano, other artists were also imitating Leo's style on the strips he'd left (such as Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids). As the 1960s moved on, Leo became the most imitated humour artist in the business, and elements of his popular style are still evident in comics today. 

Back to that first issue of Wham!, published Monday 15th June 1964, and here are a selection of pages, all created by Leo, except for Georgie's Germs which he thinks was an idea by Alf Wallace or Albert Cosser. All of these shown here were written and drawn by Leo though...

The centre pages gave us the first episode of Eagle-Eye, Junior Spy, a spoof of the popular spy genre of the time. The most important part of the strip though was its introduction of the baddie, Grimly Feendish, who would eclipse Eagle-Eye in popularity and go on to have his own long-running strip in Smash! (as well as a song about him years later by The Damned).

With issue 4, Ken Reid joined the comic, bringing us Frankie Stein, and Wham! became more manic than ever. It may not have been the "Super-Beano" that Leo had hoped for, but Wham! still turned out to be a great comic, with a cheeky, anarchic attitude, and still very fondly remembered by many. 

Sadly it declined over time, with cuts to the budget necessitating a reduction in colour pages, then a drop from glossy to newsprint, and eventually reprints of the Fantastic Four to be added (although many of us enjoyed that!). When Leo Baxendale left Odhams in 1966 the quality of the strips by some of his imitators was often noticeably poorer. Nevertheless, Wham! inspired Odhams to launch companion comics for it, and soon we had Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic and Terrific, collectively known as the "Power Comics" that helped make the Sixties a great time to be a child!

In total, Wham! lasted for 187 issues before merging into Pow! in early 1968. 

Now that Rebellion own the rights to these comics it's hoped that we'll see some collections of these strips at some point. There are already two volumes of Ken Reid's Odhams material of course, published by Irmantas Povilaika under licence, and they're worth every penny:

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Tom Thug original art for sale

The "original art" category on eBay is a strange beast. For some unfathomable reason a lot of sellers don't understand what it means and they'll list comics and prints there. The clue is really in the description isn't it? Original. Art. NOT "comics I bought from a shop" or "limited print". 

Rest assured that when I put my pages up for auction they ARE my original artworks; the actual unique hand drawn pen and ink drawings that were used to do the printed version you see in the comics. 

I currently have one of my pieces on eBay. It's the original Tom Thug artwork, in ink and water colour, that was used to print a free postcard given with Oink! comic in 1987. The first (but not last) time my artwork was used for a free gift. It's hand lettered too, as it's from the days before computer fonts were created.

You can find out more about it, and see more photos of the piece, here:

My thanks in advance if you're going to bid on the piece, and good luck! The auction ends on Sunday 16th June. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Reviews policy

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be posting some reviews of comics / books I've recently acquired. However, please don't send me any more as I don't have a lot of time to review them. 

As I've said since the start of this year, this blog will be ending this year so I'm winding things down. I'll continue to preview/review The Tempest and the Treasury of British Comics books/specials (and a couple of other things) but not unsolicited comics and books. 

Blimey! was never intended to be a review site as such, and I feel that an emphasis on reviews has moved the blog away from its purpose of focusing on old comics. A few people who clearly never follow this blog have taken it for granted that I'll plug their comics, but never reciprocate by plugging mine, and after a few years of this I think I'm within my rights to call a halt to it. I'm not talking about comics by friends, but by complete strangers who send me press releases marked "For immediate release" with not even a polite request. I'm afraid they go straight in the bin. I find it difficult enough to keep on top of reviews of comics I want to promote, never mind those I'm not interested in. 

Anyway, as I said at the start, I do have some comics/books by friends that I'll be plugging here over the next couple of weeks, and the first of those reviews will hopefully appear tomorrow. 

UPDATE: No time for reviews this week but they'll appear from next week. 

Friday, June 07, 2019


Rebellion have today revealed the cover to their upcoming Tammy and Jinty Summer Special which will be published on Wednesday 26th June, with 52 pages for £4.99. 

As you can see, the new cover by Lisa Henke replaces the previously advertised one by Mike Collins. The decision was made to focus on the new character, Rocky of the Rovers, who debuts in her own strip inside. (Mike's art will still appear, albeit as a pin-up.)

The all-new special has a great line-up of talent and some revamps of classic characters along with new ones. Some solid material here, so let's hope it's a success. I'll be previewing the strips here in a couple of weeks but for now here's the list of stories and creatives involved...

UK, NORTH AMERICA and DIGITAL: 26th June 2019 £4.99/$7.99

In this issue:
JUSTINE, MESSENGER OF JUSTICE: SOME "MINO" TROUBLES by Emma Beeby (w) PJ Holden (a) Dearbhla Kelly (c) Jim Campbell (l)
ROCKY OF THE ROVERS by Rob Williams (w) Lisa Henke (a) john Charles (c) Jim Campbell (l)
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION by Andy W. Clift (w+a) Mike Stock (l)
IN THE COLD DARK by Matt Gibbs (w) VV Glass (a) Mike Stock (l)
MAISIE'S MAGIC EYE by Kate Ashwin (w) Kel McDonald (a) Mike Stock (l)
SPEED DEMONS by Sarah Millman (w+a) Jim Campbell (l)
DUCKFACE by Rachael Smith (w) Yishan Li (a) Jim Campbell (l)
THE ENIGMA VARIATION by Grainne McEntee (w) Dani (a) Jim Campbell (l)
BELLA AT THE BAR by Rachel Ball (w) Vanessa Cardinali (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Available in print from: newsagents and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop and apps for iPadAndroidWindows 10

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