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Friday, February 27, 2009

Three new UK comic magazines out now

New editions of three of the UK's top magazines about comics have recently been published.

First up, is Crikey! No.9 (£.3.99) which, after last issue's full colour special, reverts to all monochrome interiors. It's the articles that matter though and once again its 52 pages are a mixed bag. On the plus side it's great to see Crikey! going to the source and interviewing creators in order to get the facts right. This issue has no less than three veteran comics creators contributing. A six page interview with Enrique Romero on his Axa and Modesty Blaise strips, a four page interview with David Lloyd, artist of V for Vendetta, Night-Raven, and Kickback, and a feature by Pat Mills championing the important work of Gerry Finley-Day, Jenny McDade, and John Armstrong.

The article by Pat is particularly interesting as it highlights the people who revolutionised girls' comics with Tammy in the 1970s, and this in turn inspired the new tone of boys comics such as Battle, Action, and 2000AD. Frustratingly, there's a major error with the layout which replaces a chunk of the article with several repeated paragraphs from earlier! Sadly these are the sort of mistakes which hamper Crikey! somewhat.

There's a good variety of articles in this issue although having two features on the early Marvel UK titles in the same edition seemed a bit odd. However, it's good to see them get some recognition, which may upset the traditional Victor / Valiant / Tiger fans but Mighty World of Marvel is just a valid part of UK comic history as Fantastic or the Alan Class reprints.

Biggest disappointment of the issue was "Derek Wilson's Memory Lane" which just cribbed nostalgic references from off the 'net. (You know, those e-mails that do the rounds about "We made up games with sticks and tennis balls" and how great childhood was, etc.) Ironic that Derek tells us it's a piece about "a time before the internet" when the whole article is a cut and paste job from websites. It has nothing to do with comics and in my opinion wasted valuable space in Crikey!

Overall, Crikey! is improving but it sometimes depends too much on hazy memories as a substitute for facts.

Good to see Comics International finally back on the shelves after a delay of several months. No.207 (£2.99) came out last week and features a lot of material in its 100 pages. Some of the news is now out of date, but editor Mike Conroy has clearly striven to update the news section as much as possible. Even so, there's some good in-depth features in here, such as Frank Plowright's article on the curious fad for apes in American comics and Shaqui Le Vesconte's ongoing articles on the comics of Gerry Anderson.

There's a marked improvement in the design of the mag this issue, I thought, and I was pleased to read that next issue will have a total revamp with a new logo etc. Comics International has certainly been missed, and I hope Mike can get it back onto a regular frequency.

From the Tomb No.26 (£4.95) is also a 100 page issue, many of them in full colour. This is an excellent magazine devoted to horror comics, with good features and lots of cover repros, page samples, etc. (Pity the logo obscures part of a fantastic Pete Von Scholly cover though!) This issue features a gallery of every cover of Warren's horror comic Creepy, in full colour. There's also an article on artist Alex Nino, an interview with Jerry Grandetti, and a major colour feature on 1950s crime comics.

A really nice thing about this issue is that it sidesteps its horror theme for a few pages for the first part of a bibliography of the work of the late Steve Whitaker. There's also a short item written by Steve in 2006 about his time working for Marvel UK. With so many British creators' work forgotten and never indexed it's good to see people making such an effort to document Steve's contributions.

Crikey! website:

Comics International website:

From the Tomb doesn't appear to have a website but is available from Borders bookshops and comic shops, priced £4.95.


Anonymous said...

I may look into getting a copy of that Steve Whitaker tribute, which I'd read was going to be published. I haven't mentioned this here before, but he and I were friends since 1974, when we met at a college in Bedford and discovered we lived in the same neighborhood. Sadly, I didn't see him very often after I moved back Stateside in 1975, but we kept in touch by letter, phone, and more-recently, e-mail and Internet. He will always be missed.

--Mike Mittelstadt
Watertown, NY

Anonymous said...

Hi Lew,

To be honest I actually think the current edition of Crikey is a bit of a step backwards in terms of content. To have two articles on Marvel UK in the same issue was certainly one too many and the 'Memory Lane'piece was just irritating. That a magazine that is only available every three months feels the need to help fill its pages with stuff like this and to also duplicate articles like the Marvel UK pair makes you worry that articles for printing are in short supply. Mind you British comic collectors have always been a bit of a lazy lot when it came to putting pen to paper (that gives my age away) and this problem has stalked comic fanzines since forever.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the kind words about Crikey!, Lew. Re your very valid criticisms: we are trying to keep our facts straight, and to get the mix right, but will redouble our efforts. Have to plead mitigating circumstances on the error in Pat's piece, though-that was the printer's mistake. The full article will be reprinted in a couple of issues time, as it was intended to be seen.
regards, Tony Ingram

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