Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Cloak is Back!

Never mind the rebirth of Captain America or the Iron Man 2 movie, the biggest news in comics this year has to be the return of classic humour comics character The Cloak! Yes, the black-garbed, bulgy-eyed crimefighter from the 1960s makes his comeback in the pages of the latest issue of Crikey! The Great British Comics Magazine.

As many fans will remember The Cloak was created by Birmingham cartoonist Mike Higgs back in 1967 for Odhams' Pow! weekly, settling in the comic alongside strips such as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man and Ken Reid's Dare-A-Day-Davy. Despite the character becoming one of the most popular strips in the comic (and also in Smash! when Pow! merged into it in 1968) The Cloak was dropped when IPC took over Smash! and turned it into a more traditional adventure comic.

Flash forward to 1986, and whilst compiling my Brickman one-shot comic for Harrier Comics I asked Mike Higgs if he'd provide a back up strip. Mike delivered a wonderful five pager, Redundant Hero, reviving The Cloak for the 1980s, - but this was an older, more gaunt version. The years had taken their toll.

That was the last appearance of The Cloak, until 2005, when Mike supplied a great Cloak/Brickman team-up illustration for my book Brickman Begins!

Now, in 2010, Mike has revived The Cloak again, this time in full colour! The four page strip in Crikey! No.13 has the Sixties hero arrive in our time period in pursuit of a new villain, the Time Tea-Leaf (slang for thief, geddit?). I won't spoil the rest of the story for you but I was pleased to see the situation of the "older" Cloak tied into the strip. Fantastic stuff!

If that wasn't enough to whet your appetite for the latest Crikey the issue features more goodies such as an interview with Kevin O'Neill, Mike Higgs on the creation of The Cloak, the conclusion of the feature on Doctor Who comics, a meaty article on Action strip Kids Rule OK and more.


Sadly, this issue sees Crikey! revert to a 52 page mostly black and white publication due to the unexpected closure of Borders bookshops who had been stocking the 84 page full colour issues. This retro step was unfortunately unavoidable, and it was a case of that or closing the magazine. I'm sure that no readers would wish that to happen so I hope everyone will continue to support Glenn B. Fleming and Tony Ingram in their efforts to keep Crikey afloat.

Due to the collapse of Borders and the distribution they provided Crikey! is no longer available in newsagents but you can still find it in some comic specialist shops. Annoyingly, Forbidden Planet won't stock it, but shops owned by Forbidden Planet International (a different company) will, as do other several other outlets (see here for the list). However the best way to keep Crikey alive is by subscription. £30 for six issues sounds like a good deal to me to support the only magazine about British comics. Remember, this isn't a mag with the budget or circulation of the big publishers. It's produced by two blokes trying to make a small circulation magazine work for the benefit of comic fans. You can subscribe by visiting the Crikey! website here:
http://www.crikeyuk.co.uk/sub.html

Blimey! blog articles on The Cloak:

http://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2007/01/enter-cloak.html

http://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2009/12/christmas-comics-smash-1968.html

http://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2009/03/40-year-flashback-smash-regenerates.html


6 comments:

Kid said...

Magic - can't wait to get my grubby mitts on it. Ah, I feel as if I'm 10 years old again.

Dave Whit said...

The Cloak was one of my favourite strips and I was so disappointed it was cancelled when Smash! was relaunched. The strip seemed to have a 'transatlantic' feel to it and there was nothing else quite like it in British comics.

I always buy Crikey! - and it is getting better with each issue. I'm personally not worried that the publisher has returned to black & white printing - just as long as the mag can continue to be published. We need a magazine about British comics. Long may Crikey! continue.

stigandnasty919 said...

Please somebody, reprint all of the Cloak strips. Who owns the rights now? Indeed who owns the rights to all of the Power Comics line. There is so much that deserves reprinting.

I'm off to the attic to fish out a few issues of Pow tonight....

ric_mac said...

'The Cloak' was one of my favourite features in Pow and Smash. Its humour was quite off the wall and some of the fun of reading the strip was spotting the gags drawn in tiny details. For some reason I particularly recall a small critter in one panel, holding a small placard that proclaimed "Cabbage gives you curly teeth". It would be great to have a compilation of the Pow/Smash strips.

I met Mike Higgs at the London ABC event last spring and had a very enjoyable chat, during which I was able to tell him how much I enjoyed his work.

Kid said...

Honesty compels me to admit that I used to find Shady Lady a huge turn-on when I was a lad (and still do). Was/is it just me?

Kid said...

Got CRIKEY! #13 today, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing THE CLOAK again. Hope it's not too long before he makes another appearance. (With Lady Shady - Va-va-voom!)

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