Sunday, February 07, 2016

40 Year Flashback: ACTION vs BULLET

It's just occurred to me that today is the 40th anniversary of the controversial and much-missed Action weekly. Launched on Saturday 7th February 1976 it was one of the great forerunners to 2000AD and is still fondly remembered today. That same week, on Monday Feb 9th, DC Thomson launched Bullet, going head-to-head with Action in trying to be a tough, no-nonsense comic. I always felt Action definitely had the edge in that department though! 

I don't have time to write an in-depth article on Action today as a deadline looms, but here's an old blog post I did about the comic and its rival several years ago: 

Friday, February 05, 2016

This week's UK comics (Updated)

Another bunch of comics have arrived in newsagents this week. First up is Thunderbirds Are Go No.5 from DC Thomson. Admittedly some people don't consider this a comic as it's mostly photo strips from screen grabs of the episodes. However in that case it's closer to the Italian fumetti, which they consider to be comics so that's good enough for me. I only wish they'd create new stories by using screen grabs from different episodes, as I did for Egmont's CiTV Tellytots magazine years ago.
This month's issue continues its line of free Thunderbirds models and this time it's the new Thunderbird 5 which comes as a little four section kit to clip together. Next month presents a free Thunderbird S model, which I'm sure will be very collectable. 
Also from DC Thomson of course is the latest Beano, No.3820, with 36 pages packed with all-new fun from top creators such as Nigel Parkinson, Laura Howell, Hunt Emerson, Paul Palmer, David Sutherland, and many more. 
2000AD Prog 1966 continues its line up of strips that began in the Christmas issue. A striking cover by Neil Roberts this week. There's some fantastic work on view in this comic these days proving that today's artists can easily hold their own against the veteran greats of the past. Richard Elson's artwork on Kingdom continues to impress me more every week.

Doctor Who Magazine No.496 should please fans of brilliant cartoonist Roger Langridge as it contains a new 12 page strip, Theatre of the Mind, written and drawn by him. (There's also my regular Daft Dimension strip in there too.) 

There's also a new issue of Doctor Who Adventures (No.11) out now, with more brilliant artwork by Russ Leach.

The Phoenix No.214 is also out now. You'll find issues in WH Smith and selected branches of Waitrose and Waterstones. There's some cracking talent in its pages including Jamie Smart, James Turner, and Long Gone Don by the Etherington Brothers.

On the reprint front, there's Marvel Legends No.18 from Panini, The Flash No.5,  Batman Gotham Central No.1, and Batman/Superman No.14 (now monthly) from Titan Comics. 

Also available is the latest volume of the DC Comics Graphic Novel Collection from Eaglemoss. This time it's a nice hardback of JLA: Earth 2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, originally published in the USA 16 years ago.

The back up in the book is a reprint of The Flash of Two Worlds; the first meeting of The Flash with his Golden Age Earth 2 counterpart from way back in 1961. There's also a few bonus features, making this a very nice collection indeed. I picked up my copy from WH Smith but you'll also find it in Asda and elsewhere. 

All the above are available in newsagents (limited to WH Smith in the case of The Phoenix). However, on sale in comic shops right now is the 4th issue of Johnny Red from Titan Comics. Another splendid issue by Garth Ennis and Keith Burns, with a guest cover by Kev Walker. 

As far as digital comics go, this week's Aces Weekly awaits you in cyberspace. Visit and subscribe at only £6.99 for 7 weekly issues!

There may even be more British comics out now but the above are the ones that I bought or that sprang to mind. Most comics are monthly or 4-weekly now of course, which means there'll be several different titles out next week, the week after and so on. And this doesn't even cover any new independent comics and graphic novels that may have been published this month. Are British comics dead? Not on your nellie! 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Conventions 2016

I've posted this info on my other blog but as more of you visit this one I thought I'd post it here too. This is a list of conventions I've been invited to this year. I'm doing a few more than usual this year so if you can make it to any of them please drop by my table for a sketch or just for a chat. (It's always good to meet people who read my strips.) I'll be bringing copies of Brickman Returns! to the events, along with any new comics I publish this year. I'll be adding a couple more dates to this list soon too. 

It's hard to believe that several years ago we only had one comics convention a year, if we were lucky! Now there's at least one event, often more, practically every weekend of the year. The current UK comics community has never had it so good and these events are great to forge new friendships, meet up with old friends, interact with the readers, promote new comics, or just soak up the atmosphere of the comics scene. See you there!

London Film and Comic Con: Spring
27th and 28th February 2016
Hammersmith Road,
W14 8UX.

Cardiff Film and Comic Con
5th and 6th March, 2016
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff.

The Birmingham Comics Festival
Saturday 23rd April, 2016
Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.

Enniskillen Comic Fest
6th and 7th May, 2016
Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

Manchester Film and Comic Con
21st and 22nd May, 2016.
Event City.
Phoenix Way,
Barton Dock Road,
M41 7TB.

Lancaster Comics Day
Sunday June 5th, 2016.
(Not much info about this so far so stay tuned!)

London Film and Comic Con
29th to 31st July 2016.
Hammersmith Road,
W14 8UX.

Bristol Comic Expo
Saturday August 6th, 2016.
Double Tree by Hilton,
Redcliffe Way, Bristol.

ICE (The International Comic Expo)
Saturday September 10th, 2016.
The Studio, Cannon Street, Birmingham.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Get ready for ROK OF THE REDS!

Next month there's a brand new football comic hailing from Glasgow publisher BHP Comics when Rok of the Reds No.1 makes its debut. As you may have guessed from the cover, this is a football comic with a difference!

Created by John Wagner and Alan Grant, and scripted by John, Rok of the Reds is a six issue mini-series with fantastic art by Dan Cornwell, coloured by Abigail Bulmer and lettered by Jim Campbell. Interviewed in the latest issue of Comic Heroes, John Wagner said "It's not like anything else that Alan and I have done. There's a strong retro feel to it, a homage to the comics of our youth - but with the added twist of a rampaging alien".

The story is mostly still under wraps to avoid spoilers but what's known is it begins when arrogant footballer Kyle Dixon encounters an alien who has crash-landed on Earth.

It sounds like it's going to be an enjoyable comic, and with the talented creators it has onboard it's going to be well worth checking out. I've already pre-ordered my copy and you can too by following this link: 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

50 Year Flashback: SMASH! No.1

Half a Century ago this week Odhams Press launched the second title in what would soon collectively be known as their 'Power Comics' weeklies. I enjoyed all of them but Smash! was the clear winner for me, with its content being a great balance of humour, adventure, and Marvel reprint. 

The Marvel material wouldn't actually begin until issue 16 (when The Hulk arrived) but the contents of issue 1 were still a great line up. Here's what Smash No.1 contained...

Page 1: Cover by Leo Baxendale promoting the free gift.
Pages 2/3: Ronnie Rich. Art by Gordon Hogg.
Pages 4/5: The Ghost Patrol. Art by Gerry Embleton. (Reprint of The Phantom Patrol from Swift.)
Pages 6/7: Bad Penny by Leo Baxendale.
Pages 8: Percy's Pets. Art by Stan McMurtry.
Pages 9: Ad for Smash! No.2. Art possibly by Ron Spencer.
Pages 10/11: Brian's Brain. Art by Bert Vandeput.
Pages 12/13: Space Jinx. Art by Brian Lewis.
Pages 14/15: The Nervs. Art by Graham Allen.
Pages 16/17: Queen of the Seas by Ken Reid.
Page 18: The Tellybugs. Art by George Parlett.
Page 19: Mister Knowall actvity/puzzle page.
Pages 20/21: The Swots and the Blots. Art possibly by Ron Spencer.
Pages 22/23: Charlie's Choice. Art by Brian Lewis.
Page 24 (back page): Grimly Feendish by Leo Baxendale.

As you can see, Smash! had quite a collection of top artists of the day. As time went on, artists would be changed around or replaced but Smash! always had some quality people working on its pages. To correct a few myths: Leo Baxendale never drew The Swots and the Blots until 1969, the year he totally revamped the strip for the second series of Smash! published by IPC. Nor did he ever draw The Nervs, which was mainly by Graham Allen and later by Ken Reid. 

Anyway, enough from me. Here's a selection of pages from that very first issue of 50 years ago. One of the best comics of the 1960s....

Swots and Blots. Art possibly by Ron Spencer.
Charlie's Choice. Art: Brian Lewis.

Finally, here's the house ad for Smash! No.1 that appeared in that week's issue of Wham!
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