Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Great news for fans of MISTY

With the agreement of copyright holders Egmont UK, Rebellion are to publish a collection of strips this September from the highly regarded Misty comic of the 1970s. 

Launched in 1978 as a weekly supernatural comic for girls, Misty ran for four years and found an audience with both sexes. Copies are very collectable today so this news is very welcome. The collection from Rebellion will collect two of the comics most popular serials, Moonchild and The Four Faces of Eve

The cover of the book re-uses a hauntingly stunning painting by the late Shirley Bellwood from the 1980 Misty Holiday Special, with a new logo designed by Sam Gretton.

To find out more about the book, see John Freeman's report on the Down the Tubes blog here:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Aces! COMBAT COLIN is back today!

The latest edition of online comic Aces Weekly has just gone live and it contains a brand new exclusive Combat Colin three-pager by me. This time ol' bobble hat is pitched against his best friend, Semi-Automatic Steve! What's going on? To read the whole story, sign up for Aces Weekly and see the strip in Volume 21, issue 7.

Only £6.99 for a seven issue volume. Buy it through Paypal!  Use any card!  Grab any of the great Previous Volumes or get right on board the currently-running volume with an ongoing subscription for JUST £1 - or just over a dollar or a Euro - per week!  A new issue of Aces Weekly is uploaded every Monday night. Each volume consists of 7 weekly parts, and then future volumes right on after, till they run out of great comics (unlikely ).  As soon as you hear via email that your payment's been accepted - usually no longer than 5 minutes - you can log in with your chosen password and get Aces Weekly on your tablet, laptop, desktop, or SMART TV!

Each issue consists of six stories, and I'm pleased that Marc Jackson is on board this latest issue too with a new delightfully daft Duckless story! Don't miss it!

This is the fourth new Combat Colin story I've done for Aces Weekly. You can read about the previous ones here:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

DWM cover preview

Here's the fantastic cover for the next issue of Doctor Who Magazine which arrives in the shops this week. It re-uses the classic artwork by Chris Achilleos that he did for the Target Books adaptation of Genesis of the Daleks.

Doctor Who Magazine No.499, on sale Thursday 28th April 2016.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Timetable for the Birmingham Comics Festival

The Birmingham Comics Festival has published the timetable for Saturday's event at Edgbaston Stadium. I'll be on two of the panels so I hope to see you there! The rest of the day I'll be at my table doing sketches and selling copies of Brickman Returns! (Yes, still some left from the second printing. Don't miss out!) My table is in Hall 1, situated between Ian Kennedy and Laura Howell.

Here's the timetable for the panel discussions...

This year’s panels will be held upstairs in the 'Room with a View' which is adjacent to the Banqueting Suite.

11.00am - Must Be Something in the Water – Brummie creators and their Black County brethren explore the reasons the region’s given birth to such quality talent and draws others to come live here, creating comics read all over the world.

Guests include: Ian Edginton, Ian Richardson & Lew Stringer.

11.30am -God Bless America – Boom! Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, AfterShock and Image, all important publishers based in the USA, and we’ve got some of their fantastic creators ready to talk about the books they’re working on for them!

Guests include: Dan Abnett, Luca Pizzari  & Steve Pugh.

12.30pm - Diversity or Damnation? – “Is there any reason that character has to to be a guy?” Questioning stereotypes in comics, and the merits of shoehorning a situation to fit an untapped marketing demographic with star guests from across the spectrum of comics and cosplay.

1.30pm - Classroom Comic Capers - Literacy and low bow culture: Is there room for comics in the classroom? Can they teach or should they just entertain? A heated debate between teachers and those working on the frontline of creating comics for today’s readership.

2.30pm - Better The Devil you Know - What makes one collaborative team work and another fail? Is working for one publisher better than the other because of what they pay you, the characters you get to draw or the respect you’re given? Those on the receiving end, both good and bad have their say.

Guests include: Dan Abnett & Ian Edginton

3.15pm - British Intelligence – Sci-fi, war, superhero reprints and stripy t-shirted troublemakers. Find out what it takes to put your favourite British comics on the newsstand, by the people who make them.

Guests include: Jim Alexander, Ian Kennedy & Lew Stringer.

4-30pm - Cosplay Competition - It's your chance to shine like a star.  Entrants to our four categories have the chance to win trophies and prizes.

For full details of the event see the con website:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ACTION: The aggro issue (1976)

When IPC launched Action weekly in 1976 the violence in its strips caused some controversy from the start, and this escalated throughout its first year. However the most notorious issue was its 32nd edition, dated 18th September 1976. You're probably familiar with the cover, seen on Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD which was recently shown on Film4. Dramatic artwork by Carlos Ezquerra showing a chain-swinging kid in the midst of a riot. On the ground lies a terrified man. Beside him, a policeman's helmet. It's obvious that the man isn't wearing a uniform, but the colourist's choice of blue (same as the helmet) forged an unfortunate link in some reader's minds, giving the impression a policeman was being assaulted on the cover of a children's comic. (I think it also must be the only kids comic in history to have the word "disemboweled" on the cover.)

If that wasn't enough to draw unwelcome attention to the comic, that same issue would also feature a story that caused an uproar in the media. More on that in a bit, but first let's have a look at some of the other contents...

Here's a reader's letter of the sort you definitely wouldn't have seen in Lion or Valiant...

Action wasn't all about the violence but that's what resonated with the readers. Here's Dredger facing some aggro...

...while Hook Jaw claims more victims...

...and Green suffers a bullet-riddled fate in the finalé of Green's Grudge War...

The controversial cover of this issue was only a symbolic image of the Kids Rule OK strip. No such scene actually happened in that week's episode, although there was still plenty of violence and images of a Molotov cocktail being made which no doubt raised some heckles...

The strip that caused the most outrage was that week's episode of Look Out for Lefty, (written by Tom Tully, drawn by Tony Harding) specifically the incident of the bottle being thrown at a player by Lefty's girlfriend Ange. It was discussed on the BBC's Newsnight and, inevitably, the Daily Mail who ran an article headed Comic Strip Hooligans. The mob had been enraged, and parents called for action, - if you'll pardon the pun. 

Action was facing condemnation from the media, pressure groups, and from within IPC's own management. The result was that a few weeks later, the comic was suspended for several weeks while many revisions were made to its content. The revamped Action, which returned in December of that year, was a pale shadow of its former self. 

Did Action go too far? Yes, it probably did in some ways. It wasn't just the violence that was cut when it returned though, but also the anti-authoritarian elements of some of the plots. (Kids Rule OK was just dropped altogether.) Britain's kids deserved a comic with guts, and it was a shame its recklessness brought about its demise, but I've a feeling it would have happened eventually even without scenes of bottles being flung or kids swinging chains. "Concerned" do-gooders were out to get Action from the start and sadly they finally succeeded.

In complete contrast to the rest of the issue, that edition of Action featured an ad for IPC's new Roy of the Rovers comic. Roy's wholesome visage was the antithesis of what Action was about but it was clear which direction IPC wanted their new comic to go in; traditional standards, formula characters, and a comic that didn't rock the boat. That said, RotR had a long run and was hugely popular, but for many of us it was the edgier Action that was the top comic of 1976.
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