Monday, December 22, 2008
Crikey! Full colour for the fanzine of British comics
The eighth issue of the self-titled "Great British Comic Magazine" Crikey! is now out, just in time for Christmas. I'm pleased to see that it continues to improve both in terms of writing and layout and, with this edition being in full colour throughout its 52 pages, is the best issue yet.
Sadly, since the previous issue editors Brian Clarke and Tom Sweetman have decided to leave the magazine, but Glenn B Fleming still holds the fort and accomplishes the task with impressive results. Firstly the interior colour, which has been made possible thanks to the input of Blaisé Books (Peter Hansen, Phil Clarke, and Mike Higgs). This has vastly improved the old strip pages sampled within, and with the quality of the strips under discussion here greytone would not have done them justice.
The feature that befefits from colour the most is an article on The Avengers strip that ran in the DC Thomson girls comic Diana in the 1960s. As old British comics are a niche interest anyway, and girls comics even more so, this strip has been a forgotten gem! The artwork was by Spanish artist Emilo Frejo Abegon whose talents were easily on a par with industry veterans such as Ron Embleton, and would not have looked out of place in TV 21. Hopefully this article in Crikey! will give the strip and its artist better recognition amongst collectors. Start watching for old copies of Diana to zoom up in price on eBay!
As ever, Crikey! manages to cover a good range of classic strips within its pages. Tony Ingram covers the story of Charley's War, Rod Barzilay tells us the background to Spaceship Away comic, Peter Hansen presents some luxurious Mickey Mouse Christmas covers, and much more.
Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs contribute quite a bit to this issue too. Both present us with a history of The Phantom in British comics, and Phil takes us on a trip into the past with photographs from the very first UK comic convention in 1968! This is a great item on British fandom's history, with shots of youthful looking versions of Steve Moore and Bram Stokes, plus Phil Clarke and Nick Landau in costume for the Con fancy dress.
My favourite item in this issue though has to be a brand new four page comic strip from my old cartoonist mentor Mike Higgs. In My Comicy Saturday, Mike illustrates an amusing and quite touching flashback to his childhood in the early 1950s. With stories of Saturday morning matinees, comics from the market, and a less paranoid time when kids went into town unaccompanied by parents, it reminded me of my own childhood in the Sixties, as I'm sure it will of many a reader. I'm only showing an extract of the strip here as the full four page version is worth the cover price of Crikey! in itself.
A few mistakes have still crept under the radar this issue: the colour Battle cover on page 19 is by David Sque, not Joe Colquhoun (who had sadly died by the time that issue was published). Secondly, although The Phantom appeared in TV Tornado it did not transfer over to TV21 when the two comics merged in 1968 (not 1969). Tarzan was the only jungle hero to appear in TV21.
The only downside of this issue, for me, was the presence of a paid advert for a certain fan club which I'm afraid I cannot endorse because of numerous reasons explained here. Nevertheless, that should not of course deter anyone from buying Crikey! which is well deserving of your support and certainly well worth the £3.99 cover price.
Now that it's back to quarterly frequency, the next issue of Crikey! is scheduled for late February 2009, featuring articles on The Perishers, Marvel UK, and an interview with Romero on his work on Modesty Blaise. For now though, there's plenty to read in issue 8 which is available to buy on subscription from the Crikey! website: