Issue No.2 of Future's new quarterly venture Comic Heroes magazine came out this week and it's another packed edition that should have something for every fan of comics.
Once again the magazine comes packaged in a sealed card envelope along with three free gifts. Whilst this frustratingly prevents potential customers from browsing through the mag there's enough information given on the front and rear of the package to whet one's appetite. The package design also means that Comic Heroes looks bigger than other magazines and that it stands out on the shelves. It also means that the mag hasn't been pawed through by the greasy-handed mouth-breathers who often read genre magazines in the shop.
Enough about the packaging. How about the contents? Well, announcing my vested interest up front one of the features this issue is called Just for Laughs and it's a six page history of UK humour comics wot I wrote. Condensing over 100 years of history into 2,200 words was quite a task but I hope I've covered all the important moments and given some of the key players their due. If just one Marvel fan who buys this mag for the Captain America article has a better respect for British humour comics after seeing my article then I'd consider it well worthwhile.
There are other items pertaining to British comics in this issue too. Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot cover the story behind The Gothic Empire aspect of Nemesis the Warlock, (although Bryan Talbot's comments about ex-2000AD art editor Robin Smith were changed to Ron Smith for some reason). There's also a tribute to the late John Hicklenton, and a ten page interview with Alan Moore in which he has a right old go at the comics industry.
Other UK creators are to be seen as well, such as Mike Perkins and Charlie Adlard, plus people such as Al Ewing, Andy Diggle and Tony Lee contributing to part two of the How to Write for Comics feature. Sticklers of British comics may think such creators don't "count" as UK writers as they mainly work for US comics, but these days that's irrelevant as the whole world is a potential market. Comics are more international than they used to be, and Comic Heroes celebrates that fact.
True, most of the material in Comic Heroes leans towards American comics, but editor Jes Bickham is open to featuring other comics as evidenced by my article and the five page feature A Beginner's Guide to Manga. Clearly this is a magazine that just wants to celebrate comics without any limitations.
Other items in this issue include retrospectives of Captain America, New X-Men, and the Green Lantern/Green Arrow issues, an interview with Mike Mignola, mini-interviews with Stan Lee and Chris Claremont, reviews, news, and other material packed into 132 pages. There's also a bonus comic in the form of Sidekick No.1 which features 36 pages of previews of upcoming comics such as the next Grandville book by Bryan Talbot and book 2 of The Rainbow Orchid by Garen Ewing.
I know there's been criticism of the hefty £7.99 price tag of this magazine but having given it some thought Comic Heroes is fairly priced compared to similar genre magazines. Crikey! is a fiver for 52 pages, Alter Ego is about £6 now for 80 pages, and Doctor Who Magazine is £4.20 for 68 pages. In relation to that, £8 for 148 pages of Comic Heroes sounds reasonable to me, and with the small typeface that CH uses there's a lot packed into each issue.
It's not an easy time to launch a new magazine, particularly one with a minority interest, but I hope fans of the medium get behind Comic Heroes and support it. The next issue will be out on September 16th but for the moment issue 2 should provide a good summer's read.
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