Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hunt Emerson on Fred's Bed


This week's Beano features a revamp of one of its old strips. Reprints of the Tom Paterson Beezer strip Fred's Bed had been running in The Beano for a couple of years but now the strip has been given a makeover with an all new series illustrated by Hunt Emerson.

The reprint had always proven popular with Beano readers but the source was finite, so commissioning new strips was always likely. (I drew a brand new episode for the 2007 Christmas issue.) The new version of Fred's Bed has a few changes to the original; Fred himself has been redesigned and he now sets his alarm clock to control where he travels in time instead of the random occurrence in the original strip.

Hunt Emerson is a natural for the strip and I'm sure it'll continue to prove to be very popular with Beano readers!


The Beano No.3480 is currently available from supermarkets and newsagents. 32 full colour pages for £1.25 Other strips in this issue include Minnie the Minx drawn by Ken Harrison, Lord Snooty the Third illustrated by Nigel Parkinson, Johnny Bean drawn by Laura Howell and Super School drawn by myself.

Visit Hunt's website here:
http://largecow.com/

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ELEPHANTMEN No.18 out this week


Now back on a regular monthly schedule the latest issue of Elephantmen (No.18) arrives in comic stores this week from Image Comics.

Who are the "Elephantmen"? As the official website explains...

"They are the survivors of genetic engineering experiments and indoctrination by Doctor Kazushi Nikken and MAPPO, a sinister organization which sought to create suprahuman weapons of mass destruction.

Freed and rehabilitated by the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, the 'Unhumans' now live amongst men. Legitimized by the 'Elephantmen' act, they are nevertheless denied the right to bear arms and must survive on their wits alone.

But regardless of the roles they accept in the concrete jungles built by man, Hip Flask and his kind are treated with suspicion and contempt by the species that created them, and cannot always rely on one another for reassurance or friendship."


The Elephantmen comic book series, written by Richard Starkings and illustrated by top talents such as Ladronn, Moritat, Boo Cook, and Rob Steen, has won the accolades of fans and pros alike. The latest issue features the beautiful artwork of Marian Churchland (above) and a preview of several pages can be found here:
http://www.hipflask.com/issues/elephantmen18/


Elephantmen also carries various back up features. Often, ex-Marvel UK editor Richard Starkings will run articles on his favourite British artists and comics, and a semi-regular back up humour strip in the comic is my Brickman series. Currently I'm producing the Brickman: R.I.P. serial for the comic and part two appears in this issue. Mortar, Brickman's Daughter, investigates the death of her father, - with deadly results. Co-starring my old Marvel UK character Combat Colin!


Elephantmen No. 18 features a cover by J. Scott Campbell and a flip cover by Marian Churchland, both shown here. The comic will be in comic book speciality stores on Wednesday (USA) or Thursday (UK) priced $3.50.

Visit the Elephantmen website here:
http://www.hipflask.com/index.html

See more of Marian Churchland's amazing artwork here:
http://nernie.deviantart.com/

J Scott Campbell's website:
http://j-scott-campbell.deviantart.com/

Official Brickman website:
http://brickmancomics.tripod.com/


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last chance to get CRAZY!


Just a final reminder, today is your last chance to buy the issue of Toxic which contain the brand new Crazy Comics supplement - 16 pages of all new British comic strips. This is a one-off supplement destined to become a collector's item.

Crazy Comics features a bunch of new strips and by visiting http://www.toxicmag.co.uk/vote you can vote for your favourite which may then return in future issues of Toxic. As other creators have been plugging their characters on their blogs here's a shout out to my character The Clump - a two page strip in Crazy Comics written, drawn, coloured and lettered by myself. The Clump originally appeared as a character in my regular Team Toxic strip in Toxic but this is his first solo appearance. Vote CLUMP if you want to see more! Ay thenk yow.


Toxic No.137 bagged with Crazy Comics and a bunch of free gifts is now available from Asda, Tesco, WH Smith etc. priced £2.99... but be quick! The next issue of Toxic will be out tomorrow (Wednesday April 22nd) so today is your last chance!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

FROM THE TOMB back from the dead!


As regular readers of this blog will know I'm a big fan of Peter Normanton's horror comics feature magazine From the Tomb. (See reviews of previous issues here and here.) Therefore I was concerned to hear recently that as part of a controversial streamlining measure on smaller publishers Diamond distributors have decided to drop the magazine from their catalogue. As many comic stores across the Western world use Diamond as their exclusive supplier it effectively means that From the Tomb will no longer be available in many comic shops. This was the final nail in the coffin for the publication, if you'll pardon the pun, and the mag was cancelled.

However, the good news is that like any good zombie From the Tomb has risen from the dead, due to an anonymous benefactor who stepped forward to pay for the print costs on the next issue (No.27, cover above). From the Tomb is available by subscription and the upcoming issue will be limited to just 500 copies at £6.00 each ($17.00 overseas). A three issue subscription will cost £17 (UK) or $50 (overseas).

More details are on the flyer below. If you're a fan of horror comics old and new, or are interested in the history of comics in general, or just want to learn more about the horror comics genre, please subscribe and support this very worthy publication. Some copies will appear in UK comic shops from a different distributor but under the current economic climate shops are likely to cut back on such independent titles, so it's probably best to subscribe and make sure of your copy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dennis and Gnasher in new tv series


Months in development, a brand new Dennis the Menace cartoon series is coming to Children's BBC sometime this year. The 52 x 11 minute episodes of Dennis and Gnasher are a joint effort by Scotland's Red Kite Animation and Australia's Sticky Pictures studio.

A trailer for the new series is now on the Red Kite Animation website, click HERE to view it.


The website promotion states:
"Dennis and Gnasher believe the world is truly their oyster and that kids should make the rules. They are active, creative and possess a charming, cheeky self-confidence which gets them both into and out of trouble!

Dennis and Gnasher is a series for 5 to 10 year olds, where the irrepressible energy and enthusiasm of childhood is celebrated. The series, Dennis and Gnasher, is based on characters from The Beano comic, published in the UK by DC Thomson."

As you'll see, the style of Dennis and Gnasher have been changed somewhat for the new cartoon. The familiar striped jumper and short trousers remain, but Dennis has a more open and less aggressive face than Davy Law's traditional comic design. (Although to be fair, similar changes were made for the previous Dennis and Gnasher series a few years ago.) Dennis' hair is now swept forward rather than his unkempt spiky look and I can't help feeling he looks "softer" than the Menace we know. (Bizarrely he reminds me of my Brickman character now!)

More significantly, there's no mention in the promotion or the series' title of Dennis being a Menace! Too "negative" a term for today's safe children's tv perhaps? More likely it's simply been dropped to avoid confusion with the Hank Ketcham American Dennis the Menace, which was also adapted for animation years ago.

Although the changes may unsettle older fans of the character the new Dennis and Gnasher tv series should help to boost sales of The Beano and its companion comic BeanoMAX. It's likely that for the sake of consistency the style of the cartoon series will influence the look of the character in the comic, again angering traditionalists. However, the crux of the matter is that The Beano is primarily read by children, and holding on to those readers is what's most important. In that regard a major new CBBC series can only be benificial to the comics. Watch this space for future developments!

Official BEANO website: http://www.beanotown.com/

The Beano is published every Wednesday, price £1.25.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Reaching for the unattainable


In these days of shrinking magazine and newspaper sales one would expect retailers to do their bit to help publishers sell as many copies as possible. After all, higher sales are in their interests too. Therefore it's puzzling as to why the new shelf displays in some High Street retailers actually put the comics OUT of the reach of their target audience.

Witness the photo above. The smart new displays give the comics more breathing space than they had before but the height of the shelves puts certain titles way out of the reach of children! Whilst the nursery comics are on the lower shelves easily within view of young children, the top shelf contain The Beano, BeanoMAX, Dandy Xtreme, Toxic, and others - at a height of approximately six feet! How is the target audience of 7 to 11 year olds expected to even notice those comics, let alone reach them? Established readers might strive to look for their favourite comics (and ask a parent to reach up for a copy) but how can a 7 year old discover Toxic or The Beano for the first time when it's positioned a couple of feet above his head and way out of his eye line?

In 1986 retailers "top shelved" Oink! comic because they bizarrely considered it unsuitable for children. Now, The Beano etc are receiving the same limitations in some stores but this time it's because of bad planning rather than censorship. Is it any wonder comic sales are falling? And how much shelf rent are these retail giants charging the publishers for this "service" anyway?


Spies, Footballers, Knights, and Elephantmen

A quick round-up of some goodies on sale now...

As you may have read on other blogs Egmont Magazines UK (publishers of Toxic) are launching four one-off "Souvenir Specials" reprinting British comic strips of the past. The first in this line of Egmont Classic Comics is out now: Roy of the Rovers.


The Roy of the Rovers comic has 64 pages, with a glossy cover and nice interior paper that Egmont describe as "tactile". The special includes selected football strips from the 1980s featuring Roy of course plus Billy's Boots, Mighty Mouse, Tommy's Troubles and others. The drawback is that the strips are all parts of continued stories, and there's no follow up issue. However the comic is clearly aimed at the nostalgia market so I'm sure the 30 somethings it's targeted at will appreciate this peek into the past. (Although as the comic is racked with the children's comics I'm not sure how most of them will notice it.)

Future Egmont Classic Comics will be Battle Picture Weekly in June, Buster in September, and Misty in December. Like Roy of the Rovers, all are exclusive to WH Smith and not available anywhere else. Cover price £3.99.


Titan Books have just published their latest Modesty Blaise album: The Lady Killers. Reprinting material from 1980/81 by Peter O'Donnell and Neville Colvin the reproduction isn't brilliant due to the source material but the high quality of the work is still evident. £11.99

Panini UK have now published the delayed third volume in their classic Captain Britain series. Captain Britain: The Lion and The Spider (£15.99) collects the final originated CB strips from Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain weekly (Nos. 239 - 247), Marvel Team-Up 65 / 66, and, at last, the British Black Knight series from Hulk Comic Nos. 1, 3-30.


The Black Knight is included because it featured the return of Captain Britain. It's a great little series which originally ran in tightly paced three page episodes in 1979 when Dez Skinn was revamping the Marvel UK weeklies into more traditional looking British comics. Hulk Comic was the outstanding superhero title of that period with mostly all new material commissioned by Dez. The splendid combination of Steve Parkhouse on script and John Stokes (and later with Paul Neary) on artwork made The Black Knight an exceptional strip and it's wonderful to see the first 29 episodes in this collection. Hopefully a Black Knight book will collect the remaining strips at some stage.


Last but not least the latest issue of Elephantmen (No.17) came out last week and is now back to a monthly schedule. Packaged by Active Images and published by Image Comics this 32 page US comic features script by Richard Starkings and artwork by Moritat and Rob Steen. There's a choice of covers; one by Rob Steen, one by Erik Larsen, - and on the back cover is the latest episode of my Brickman strip.

It's been 30 years since Brickman first appeared and I'm marking the anniversary year by killing him off! Yep, don't miss Elephantmen 17 for the first part of Brickman R.I.P.! Coming up in future months, the Battle for the Trowel and the NEW Brickman!

For more details on Elephantmen visit the official website here:
http://www.hipflask.com/issues/elephantmen17/

Official BRICKMAN website:
http://brickmancomics.tripod.com/

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