Friday, September 30, 2016

Beano Christmas Special!


Yes, we're only reaching the end of summer but here's a preview of the front cover (of a wraparound cover) by Nigel Parkinson of the Beano Christmas Special that will be in the shops soon! Looking fine with its cool new logo and packed with strips featuring Dennis and Gnasher, The Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, and more, plus activity pages, AND a set of 29 free stickers! 

You can order it directly from D.C. Thomson at their online shop:
https://www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/our-brands/the-beano/beano-christmas-special-2016.html

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A good day for British comics

The UK's two top comics both have key issues out today. The Beano has a bright new redesign and a smart new logo, while 2000AD celebrates 2000 issues with a bumper issue packed with the cream of comics. 
News of The Beano's relaunch broke last Sunday and now we can see the results. The comic is now simply 'Beano', finally losing "The" from the title, and has undergone a complete redesign. The new logo looks great, and the yellow background really makes it stand out on the crowded shelves. There's been some tweaks to the content too. Pup Parade has gone, along with all the mini-strips. The focus is now squarely on the main characters; Dennis and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger, The Bash Street Kids, etc. Every week there'll be an extra-long 8 page story. This week it's Dennis and Gnasher, with Minnie, Bash Street, and others to take their turns in future issues. (Similar to how TV Action did it in the 1970s.) Although I'm disappointed to no longer be a contributor to the comic I fully appreciate that it makes sense to big up the main characters for the relaunch and I wish it well.

(There has also been a big revamp of http://www.beano.com and some new strips appear there.)
I know some people were apprehensive about the revamp but the changes to Beano are mainly cosmetic and the content is still firmly focused on comic strips. The new-look comic is lively, fun, and should please readers young and old. I'm sure kids will love it, - if they can find it. The big test will be its availability to new potential readers and so far I haven't seen newsagents significantly increasing their orders. (Most shops I visited had none.) Either they weren't aware of the relaunch or they didn't care, and that's the big problem facing all publishers today. You can produce a brilliant comic but unless retailers choose to stock it, kids won't even know the comic exists. You can subscribe of course (http://www.beano.com/subscribe) but it would be good to see more newsagents stocking it to attract potential new readers.

2000AD is another comic that's not always easy to find in newsagents now. Luckily, comics speciality shops stock it so that helps. Prog 2000 is a stunning issue. 48 pages, plus a pull-out poster, and the return of some top talent to its pages including Brian Bolland, Kevin O'Neill, Carlos Ezquerra, Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon, Robin Smith, David Roach, and more. 
Judge Dredd teams up with Johnny Alpha, Nemesis the Warlock returns, and there's the start of a brand new series, Counterfeit Girl, by Peter Milligan and Rufus Dayglo. 
2000AD is the sole survivor of all the new comics that IPC launched in the 1970s. It was expected to fail by some (as had many of IPC's other comics) and it rubbed management up the wrong way, but it not only survived, it thrived, connecting with a fanbase like none of those other comics did. Now owned by Rebellion (who recently purchased the rights to those other old IPC comics) 2000AD still represents the best of British comics, and this landmark issue is a prime example of that. 

Beano No.3854. Published by D.C. Thomson. Out today, £2.50.

2000AD Prog 2000. Published by Rebellion. Out today, £3.99.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

TANK GIRL is back again!

London publisher Titan Comics are launching a new Tank Girl series this week with the publication of Tank Girl: Gold No.1. Written by the character's co-creator Alan Martin and drawn by Brett Parson, the 32 page mini-series continues Tank Girl's raucous adventures. 

From the comic's publicity: Picking up where the critically acclaimed hit series Two Girls One Tank left off - Tank Girl has lost one of her dearest friends, but inadvertently gained billions of dollars worth of Nazi Gold. What is she going to spend all that money on? Before we find out, her kangaroo boyfriend Booga must pay a penance by going right up THE FURRY ROAD. It's been swell, and the swelling isn't going down.

Ooer!

Tank Girl: Gold No.1 will be available from comics speciality shops and online sellers from Wednesday 28th September.

As most of us know, most of today's new British comics aren't available from newsagents due to the restrictive costs involved etcbut you will find various titles in comic shops and on sale at the numerous comic cons around the country. Titan Comics themselves publish a huge number of titles originated in the UK. Their few DC reprint comics are in WH Smith but the majority of their output is direct-sale only (comic shops). Admittedly most are Doctor Who titles but if you're a Doctor Who fan you've hit the jackpot. Below are this months covers from http://www.titan-comics.com

These comics shouldn't be dismissed just because you can't find them in Asda or Smiths! So believe your eyes not the hearsay of those who spread misinformation that "the British comics industry is dead". Circulation figures are far lower than they were 50 years ago but there's life in UK comics yet. Even if Titan's output doesn't appeal to you personally there are loads of other independent British comics around with various themes and styles so you should find some that float your boat. Keep the faith and support British comics! 


The clothes maketh The Batman

Back in 1966, this ad appeared in Smash! comic for a Batman costume! Who could resist? After all, it was the year of Batmania and every kid wanted to be Batman, right? 

I was lucky enough to have one of those costumes for Christmas. Here's me wearing it in the following summer...

Yeah... not quite as authentic as one might have hoped is it? To be fair, there's a couple of items missing in the photo; it came with a plastic Batman mask which just featured the front of the face (like a Guy Fawkes mask) including the mouth and chin. It broke easily so I made a domino mask out of a bit of leather. It also had gloves. Well, just the cuffs to be more accurate, leaving the hands bare. 

At least the cape was the right colour but all in all it was clearly a million miles from being an accurate Batman costume, and even having BATMAN stamped on it in yellow paint couldn't hide that fact. I doubt it'd even be passed by DC's licensing department today, but you know what? I didn't care! I was seven years old and playing at being Batman, and that was all that mattered.

Take cover! It's a take over!

Last week's Beano carried a splendid cover by Nigel Parkinson, with Walter's Dad the Mayor taking over the comic.

A few days later, The Phoenix boasted a fine cover by Jamie Smart with Looshkin the cat taking over the comic.

There's no question of course that it's a complete coincidence that these two comics with the same cover theme are side by side on the shelves of WH Smith at the same time. Comics are produced weeks in advance and neither publisher would have any idea the other comic was planning a similar theme that issue. 

It's an amusing twist of fate though, and the "take over" theme is a good one to freshen things up. I presume the situation will return to normal on The Phoenix next week but in the case of The Beano it's more drastic, as it leads into a complete revamp of the comic with this week's issue. (Looks good! See here.)

I couldn't help being reminded though of another "take over" cover from over 20 years ago. :) Can anyone think of any more? 
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