Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The end is nigh

Here's the cover to the penultimate issue of The Dandy, in the shops today. This is the last regular-sized issue, as next week the comic ends its record-breaking 75 year run with a 100 page special. (But more on that another day.)

This issue wraps up a number of strips and, curiously, features several Christmas-themed strips. (Presumably because there won't be a Christmas Dandy on the shelves this year.) Andy Fanton's Secret Agent Sir draws to a close and there are strips and features by Stu Munro, Alexander Matthews, Jamie Smart, Wayne Thompson, Nigel Auchterlounie and more. All funny stuff!

The cover is once again a classic piece of Charlie Grigg artwork. This time it's taken from The Dandy Book 1987, Charlie's last annual cover. 

Don't miss The Dandy No.3609. Out now at £1.99 - and prepare to shed tears of sadness and laughter with the big final edition next week.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The day Biffo met Billy the Cat


Looking through my Beano collection for character reference for a puzzle page I'm currently drawing I found this old issue dated January 13th 1968. It's always been a long-standing tradition for Beano characters to wander into each other's strips but this was an unusual instance of an adventure strip character meeting a humour character - on the cover, no less. 

This is possibly the only time Dudley Watkins drew Billy the Cat. The character appeared in his own strip inside drawn, as usual, by Dave Sutherland in a style not unlike that of Dudley Watkins, strangely enough. So this is Dudley Watkins mimicking a style that was influenced by his own! 

Anyway, as you can see from the name penciled on the top of the comic, this is the very copy I had reserved for me when I was a child. I haven't kept all my old Beanos from that period but this Biffo/Billy team-up impressed me so much that I held on to it. I hope you enjoy it too. 

London's ABC Show - This coming Sunday

Artwork by Mike Higgs
Sunday December 2nd sees another of the popular quarterly comic shows at the usual venue, the Royal National Hotel in Bedford Way, just a short direct walk from Euston Station. This time, The ABC Show will be themed around The Dandy comic in an unofficial tie in with the 75th anniversary of the long-running weekly as its final print edition draws near. 

There will be a number of Dandy artists as guests (subject to availability of course) including Nigel Parkinson, Gary Northfield, Henry Davies, Laura Howell, and myself. 

Also on hand will be Hunt Emerson with his new book Dante's Inferno, and I've just heard from the man himself that Bryan Talbot will be there, signing his latest Grandville book. 

There'll also be lots of comics for sale from the world of British comics and beyond, including original artwork from various comics of yesteryear and back issues of classic weeklies. Here's a scan of the flyer with the full details. See you there? http://londoncomicmart.co.uk/

Sunday, November 25, 2012

IPC's big 1972 launch: Donald and Mickey

  
IPC Magazines had an equal amount of hits and misses when they set out to dominate the UK comics market in the 1970s. One of the successes was Donald and Mickey, a 24 page weekly based around the famous Walt Disney characters. 


The characters were no strangers to British comics of course, with Mickey Mouse Weekly (1936 to 1957) having the most longevity. Therefore IPC decided that a new generation might be receptive to a Disney comic and in late February 1972 Donald and Mickey No.1 was launched. (With a catchy/annoying theme song in the TV ads if I recall correctly.)


Issue 1 was dated 4th March 1972, but issue 2 carried no cover date, and No.3 arrived with a 1st April date. I can only assume a few weeks were skipped due to industrial action, - something that plagued IPC on occasion throughout the Seventies. (UPDATE: The delay must have been due to the numerous power cuts of the period. Thanks to Jeremy Briggs for pointing me towards this post on Steve Holland's blog: http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2007/04/seven-days-week-epilogue.html. I'd forgotten all about those power cuts of early 1972 but I now recall doing homework by candlelight! Here's an archive news item from the time, from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/1972/feb/16/fromthearchive )


Unusually for a British comic of the time, every page was in colour. 16 in full colour, and 8 with blue ink on salmon-pink paper. This in itself gave the comic a feeling of vitality. The contents were mainly reprints from the American Disney titles produced by Gold Key comics, but the artwork on some covers and editorial pages were often new, - illustrated by Colin Wyatt, a superb artist with a clean style. 


The full colour pages were given to the main Disney characters as one would expect. As I mentioned, these strips were reprints from American comics such as Walt Disney's Comics and Stories with the panels edited and reformatted to fit more on a page. Sometimes titles would be changed completely, such as The Monster and The Money Tree from Uncle Scrooge No.83 (1969) becoming The Money Leak. Dialogue in the stories was also tweaked and re-lettered to give it a more British slant.


I don't know if the most famous artist of Donald Duck comics, Carl Barks, had any work reprinted in Donald and Mickey but I assume he must have at some stage. However the early issues feature strips from various other artists such as Kay Wright and Tony Strobl. 

Art: Kay Wright

Art: Tony Strobl
As was usual with many UK humour comics of the time, Donald and Mickey also carried a couple of adventure strips for balance. These were brand new stories, drawn specially for the weekly. They'd often feature adaptations of Disney movies, kicking off with Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Disney's big movie of 1972.



The other adventure strip in the early issues was Captain Nemo, using characters and designs inspired by Disney's 1954 movie adaptation of Jules Verne's classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Artwork by Sam Fair...



However, perhaps Nemo didn't prove too popular, or perhaps IPC simply wanted to keep the contents from getting static, because a few months later the strip was replaced by Robin Hood, again with art by Sam Fair...



The popularity of Donald and Mickey led to IPC producing a companion comic, Goofy, in October 1973. However, this comic flopped after just 29 weeks, merging into its stablemate. Donald and Mickey continued until 6th September 1975 when it switched billing to Mickey and Donald for seven issues, preparing for its relaunch as Mickey Mouse No.1 dated 25th October 1975. However, just to confuse matters, IPC also launched Donald Duck in his own title a month earlier (27th September 1975).


Donald didn't fare too well on his own and his comic merged into Mickey Mouse with the 31st January 1976 issue. Mickey prospered for a few years, but as interest in traditional Disney characters waned, the comic was relaunched as Mickey Magazine in December 1980. It lasted just 17 issues, ending with the 28th March 1981 issue. A year later, London Editions gained the Disney license, launching Disney Magazine in February 1982.

These days, Disney is represented in the UK with magazines such as Disney Club Penguin. Sadly the traditional comic strip adventures of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse don't seem to appeal to modern British kids. Yet, a short hop over to Norway reveals that Donald Duck is still that country's most popular comic. (A few years ago, sales were a million a month, - astounding for a country with a population of just four million!) It's curious how tastes can differ between countries.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Artwork auction

I have another couple of pieces of my artwork up for auction on eBay at present. Bidding ends tomorrow (Sunday). 

This time there's a complete Suicidal Syd full page strip I drew for a Christmas Viz from a few years ago. There's also a brand-new Combat Colin A4 sketch I did this week. (The Colin sketch has never been published, so it's exclusive to eBay.)

Click here to visit my eBay page.

All bids welcome! Good luck!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Christmas VIZ is here!

  
The Christmas issue of Viz is out now with 52 festive pages plus a free 2013 calendar pull-out. Amongst the Christmas crackers are The Fat Slags, Drunken Bakers, Sid the Sexist, Aldridge Prior (He's a Hopeless Liar), and Paul Palmer drawing the brilliant Mormon Wisdom

I have a couple of strips in there too: The Pathetic Sharks and Suicidal Syd.


This is the last issue that will be on sale this year (next one comes out 10th January) so pick it up for a seasonal stocking stuffer. Viz No.221, £3.20.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Classic Korky returns!


Here's the cover to today's issue of The Dandy (No.3608). Yes, it's the return of the classic version of Korky the Cat with an illustration taken from the cover of The Dandy Book 1967, drawn by Charlie Grigg. (There's a Korky strip inside by Charlie too, also reprinted from that same annual.)

Normally I wouldn't appreciate reprints on covers but this is such an iconic image that it deserves to be seen by today's generation of Dandy readers. There have been many versions of Korky over the years from diverse artists such as James Crichton (the character's original artist in 1937), Robert Nixon, Gordon Bell, Dave Windett, Henry Davies, and, most recently, Phil Corbett. (I even had a crack at Korky myself for a couple of Fun-Size Dandy comics about 12 years ago.) 

For me though, it's Charlie Grigg's version that captures the essence of the character. Whereas Biffo the Bear in The Beano was basically a goody-goody, Korky the Cat was more of an anti-hero. He could be helpful one week, and downright mischievous and sly the next, thinking up ways to outsmart the game keeper or local bullies. He had a cruel streak, too. Look at the sheer glee on his face as he flattens those mice beneath a giant snowball!



When I was a child in the sixties I was always eager to see whether Korky "won" or "lost" that week, because it could often go either way for him. That unpredictability, coupled with Charlie Grigg's fantastic artwork, made Korky a deserving cover star in my view so I'm glad to see him back there this week. 

I'm also chuffed that I have a 'Madvertisement' in this week's issue: Snowman in a Box. I drew this a while back, not knowing which issue it'd be used in, so I'm very pleased that it's inside the one with classic Korky on the cover. 

The Dandy No.3608, 36 full colour pages for £1.99. On sale now!

+++++++++++++++++

By the way, as you know, The Dandy will end its 75 year run in two short weeks so to make sure of your copy of the big 100 page final issue be sure to order a copy directly from D.C. Thomson - just in case your newsagent can't get enough copies. (And according to one newsagent, his supplier has denied him extra copies.) Order your copy now:
https://www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/Product-The_Last_Dandy(20121016)-DCS(2)-LASTD(2352).aspx




From Sonic to Spidey


As you know, this blog mainly focuses on British comics old and new but I'm sure you won't mind a brief diversion to mention the latest issue of Marvel Amazing Spider-Man from Marvel U.S. as it may appeal to those of you who used to read Sonic the Comic! What?

Richard Elson, who used to be the regular artist on Sonic the Comic and has since illustrated Kingdom for 2000AD as well as numerous other strips (even a Dennis the Menace or two long ago) is the guest artist on Amazing Spider-Man No.698 which is out in comic shops today! If that in itself hasn't piqued your interest, perhaps the fact that this is a key issue will get you rushing to your nearest comic store. Yes, there's a major revelation in this issue that is a turning point for ol' Spidey. This is truly a collector's item! 

Coincidentally, I guessed what the big reveal was at least a month ago (my theory is out there on the Internet somewhere). It's what I would have done if I was writing the comic, so I'm very curious to see where this goes. For all I know there might even be another twist before the series reaches its final issue with No.700. No spoilers will be published here though so if you leave a comment don't reveal anything or you'll spoil it for others. 

Written by Dan Slott, Amazing Spider-Man has been on a roll for the last several months and it looks like things aren't slowing down any time soon. If you haven't read the comic for a while, give it a try! As you can see from the page I scanned above, Rich has captured Spider-Man perfectly. Classic stuff! Richard's next Marvel job is drawing the new series of Morbius the Living Vampire, on sale soon.

Amazing Spider-Man No.698 is out today so snap it up quickly! Here's the cover to look for. (Artwork by Paolo Rivera.)



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Commando 4551 to 4554 - out this week


Thanks to Commando editor Calum Laird at D.C. Thomson for the latest cover images and story info...

Commando No 4551 – Hell’s Cauldron

Jelly, Titch and Smiler are back in action. Led by their “boss” Guy Tenby, the Convict Commandos are thrown into the middle of an assassination plot in Yugoslavia.
   They’re used to being kept in the dark by Guy but this time, even he doesn’t seem to know what’s going on. And that could have fatal consequences for all of them.

Writer: Alan Hebden
Art: Benet
Cover: Benet


Commando No 4552 – The Sergeant And The Squad

He was a tough loner, a veteran of the war in Far East, a survivor of the terrors of the jungle and a hundred brutal fights against the Japanese. The last thing he wanted was to take a group of raw recruits under his wing.
   To them he was more a like a machine than a man  and a killing machine at that  gruff, remorseless and cold. To them was the only man who could get them through the war.
   But some of those rookies worried that they’d end up just like…The Sergeant

Writer: Ferg Handley
Art: Olivera
Cover: Janek Matysiak


Commando No 4553 – Sky Ace

This is the inside story of two ace British fighter pilots, and the strange and deadly rivalry that drove them to outfly, outshoot and outdare each other through every risky second of their dog-fights with the mighty Luftwaffe.
   They did things with fighters no aircraft were built to do, writing the story of their feuds with each other in the skies over Southern England in the flaming wreckage of dozens of Nazi planes. They became a legend in their own lifetimes.
   Between these covers, for the first time, is their glorious story.

Introduction

   I have no idea if Mr Maitland  who wrote this story  was ex-RAF, but he certainly gives the dialogue an authentic period feel. You feel as though you’re part of a wartime squadron, drinking in the atmosphere.
   His efforts are aided and abetted by the efforts of Messrs Ford and Barr – Ford’s very fine black and white work and Barr’s bright, bold cover match the atmosphere of the story beautifully.
   Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it’s not just atmospheric, it’s a cracking story too.

Calum Laird, Editor

Phantom Fighters originally Commando No 29 (July 1962)

Story: Maitland
Art: Peter Ford
Cover: Ken Barr


Commando No 4554 – The Chef Who Went to War

Stanley Simpson couldn’t stand life in the Catering Corps. He desperately wanted to be a fighting soldier.
   Well, the German Army was heading straight for the kitchen where Stan worked, so his first taste of action was going to come a lot sooner than he reckoned!

Introduction

Get ready for a delicious Commando caper, cooked up by a trio of talented Commando legends  our compliments to writer Alan Hebden, inside artist Denis McLoughlin and cover illustrator Ian Kennedy.
   Set against the run-up to Dunkirk, The Chef Who Went To War is classic Commando fare. It features a man who wants to get out of the kitchen and fight, as well as his cowardly mate who it seems, ‘Can’t cook, won’t cook.’ And, unfortunately, ‘Can’t fight, won’t fight’ either!
   You may want to take your time and savour this mouth-watering story. Or you may wish to bolt it all down quickly in one go. Either way, enjoy.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

The Chef Who Went To War, originally Commando No 2141 (December 1987)

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Denis McLoughlin
Cover: Ian Kennedy

ROK release two new audio comics


Latest bulletin from editor John Freeman...

MEET RICK FURY - RAPPER ON THE RAMPAGE! 
Don't just read this comic - hear it! ROK Records is proud to present the first free audio-enhanced issue of FURIOUS, starring none other than Geordie rapping superstar Rick Fury!

Featuring a full soundtrack that brings the story added life and excitement, FURIOUS is set in an alternate, dangerous Britain where Northern England has been leased to China to pay Britain's enormous debts and Scotland is an independent nation. On the streets of South Shields - now Shanghai North - the rebellious population are subject to absolute rule, where many forms of entertainment are banned and street gangs enforce the law of the occupying nation!

Rick Fury and fellow rap star Layla Lu voice the audio comic script from Rick Fury himself (assisted by Ben Kendrick) with art by Marc Olivent, colour from Kirsty Swan, lettered by Jim Campbell.

The ongoing FURIOUS audio comic is just one more step in artist/rapper Rick Fury's path to global domination! Rick's exceptional talent puts him at the forefront of his profession, bringing a fresh look to Hip Hop, rapping about everyday situations and life in general.

This free comic includes the option to buy Rick's latest single "Rage", which will unlock an exclusive Rick Fury video within the app!
- Official Rick Fury audio comic - voiced by Rick and Layla Lu!
- Full colour action comic with swipe to read navigation
- Exclusive Rick Fury video (on in-app purchase of his single, "Rage")
- Click-to-listen full audio soundtrack
- Don't just read this comic -- hear it!

FURIOUS Episode 1 for iphone, iPad and iTouch: https://itunes.apple.com/app/rick-fury/id573928983?mt=8

FURIOUS Episode 1 for Android devices: http://bit.ly/rick-fury-comic01

ZEZI - THE STORY SO FAR
19th November 2012: Don't just read this comic - hear it! Rok Records is proud to present the FREE official audio-enhanced ZEZI COMIC, telling the story of Birmingham's top rap act!

 Featuring a full soundtrack that brings the story added life and excitement, find out about ZeZi's rise - the triumphs, the setbacks, the personal tragedy that has shaped their success in different ways!



Birmingham born rapper, singer, song-writer Bc Da Bossman has been involved in writing and producing music since he was very young, crafting his skills with an assist from a music project organised by the band UB40 at Dep Studios Birmingham at just 16. Armed with these skills BC developed himself as an artist, working with some of Birmingham’s most accomplished musicians, rappers and engineers such as the B15 Project, MSI & Asylum and Pato Banton. But the music really came together with the formation of ZeZi and neither he or fellow band members DeNiro Capo, Durty Sqwurt and P.O.V. have looked back since.



Now, the winners of Radio 1's Freestyle Competition and the New Style Radio Competition have worked with ROK Records to bring their fans this special comic, charting how they came together, the near-tragic shooting that almost put paid to their plans but in the end, steeled them for greatness - and the story of their greatest fan, Taivann, whose life was cruelly cut short.



Working from a story by BC Da Bossman himself, top script writer and novelist Jasper Bark has crafted this bio-comic, drawn by Marc Olivent, coloured by Kirsty Swan and lettered by Jim Campbell.



This free comic includes the option to buy ZeZi's latest single "Spend It All", which will unlock an EXCLUSIVE ZeZi video within the app!
- Official ZeZi audio comic - voiced by the band themselves!

- Full colour action comic with swipe to read navigation

- Exclusive ZeZi video (on in-app purchase of Spend It All")

- Click-to-listen full audio soundtrack

- Don't just read this comic, hear it!

Zezi for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/app/zezi/id573944649

ZeZi for Android devices: http://bit.ly/zezi-comic

Monday, November 19, 2012

Remembering a Valiant era

  
Books on British comics are few and far between these days so when a new one comes along it should be celebrated, - especially one as well produced as this. To be accurate, running at 36 pages, One-Eyed Jack and the Death of Valiant is more of a booklet than a book, but it covers its subject matter thoroughly with well written text and sharply reproduced images.

 
Valiant was Fleetway's flagship adventure comic for boys, which ran from 1962 until 1976, when it merged into Battle. The booklet focuses on the last years of the comic, serving as a postmortem of sorts as to why it folded. Don't get the impression it's too downbeat though, as the writer David McDonald offers us a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the era. There are new interviews with editor/writer John Wagner and artist John Cooper, who drew the cop strip One-Eyed Jack. This is a story of a comic that needed to toughen up to adapt to changing times in a period when the old-style adventure comics were nearing their end. With John Wagner as its new editor, the Valiant of 1975 became an edgier comic, reflecting the new direction that Battle Picture Weekly had taken and preceding Action, which would debut the following year. However, for Valiant, it was perhaps a case of changing too much, too late.    

Even so, the new direction gave us the aforementioned One-Eyed Jack, the tough New York cop who would in a way become a kind of prototype for Judge Dredd. The booklet reprints an early One-Eyed Jack strip in full, along with the complete first episode of Death Wish, another strip that Wagner brought into Valiant.

There's also a fascinating feature on the work of Jan Shepheard, who was an art editor at Fleetway/IPC and on Valiant throughout its run. It's good to see Jan get her due as she created many of the distinctive story logos seen in IPC comics over the years including those for Judge Dredd and The Return of The Claw. Kevin O'Neill is also interviewed regarding the logo designs he himself created, and of his time working with Jan. 


This is really an essential book for anyone interested in the history of UK comics and the workings of IPC of the period. One-Eyed Jack and the Death of Valiant can be purchased directly from the publisher Hibernia Comics for just £3.99 (or as a digital download for only £1.50). 
http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hibernia/   


You'll notice that the weblink also shows that Hibernia's Doomlord collection is also still available. Published a few years back under official license from the copyright holders, it's a very nicely produced 72 page volume reprinting The Deathlords of Nox story from the 1980s Eagle. With scripts by Alan Grant and John Wagner and artwork by Heinzl, the story is actually far better than I remembered and is well worth a read. It costs just £5 from the link above. (And while you're at it, buy Tales from the Emerald Isle too, - a worthy 2000AD tribute stripzine with some good artwork.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Knockabout's INFERNO is hot stuff

  
A new book from cartoonist supreme Hunt Emerson is always a welcome sight and his latest work is even better than expectations. Together with writer Kevin Jackson, Hunt has produced an adaptation of Dante's Inferno, - an 88 page softback book published by Knockabout.

The original 14th Century poem that Dante wrote is said to be heavy going in places, although is apparently taught in schools. (Not at the comprehensive school I attended though, that's for sure.) To my shame I've never even attempted to read it but from all accounts this richly illustrated graphic album is an ingeniously entertaining adaptation of it. 


Even if, like me, you've never read Dante's verse I'm sure you'll still find this book highly enjoyable. I know I did. Hunt Emerson has been cartooning since the 1970s and although he's always been one of the greats each new book he produces still seems to outdo the previous one in terms of detail, comedy timing, composition and sheer drawing skill. Dante's descent into the levels of Hell is depicted as a series of hilariously exaggerated scenarios in sharply delineated brush strokes. This is the standard all of us in the business need to aspire to. He makes the rest of us look like chimps scratching in the dirt with sticks. (Mine's a pint next time we meet, Hunt.) 



The script by Kevin Jackson is equally amusing, reworking the ancient poem into a comedy for the ages with some brilliantly funny dialogue. This Emerson/Jackson partnership works well and I hope we'll see more books from them in the future. 

In short: Dante's Inferno is the best British comic published this year. Buy it! http://www.knockabout.com/shop/

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This week's BEANO

Click to enlarge image.
The new-look Beano enters its second week with another packed issue. Plenty of top quality artwork from Nigel Parkinson this week including him taking on Minnie the Minx! (Taking on the artwork that is, not challenging her to a catapult duel.)

There's also another nice retro/modern Billy Whizz by Wilbur Dawburn, loads of other strips (including Rasher by yours truly) and... a cameo by 1950s Beano star Jonah in the free pull-out poster comic, Gnaws, drawn by Barrie Appleby (with the poster image on the reverse by that man Parkinson).

The Beano No.3661 - in the shops now! (Although you may have to trek around a few shops if my local newsagents are anything to go by.) 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Egmont classics now available as digital comics

  
Some of the most fondly remembered adventure strips of the 1970s and 1980s are now available as digital downloads from the iTunes store. Egmont's Classic Comics imprint (using the old 1970 Fleetway "fireball" design for its logo) is re-presenting stories from Battle Picture Weekly, Roy of the Rovers, Misty, and Scream for readers with iPhone or iPad devices at very reasonable prices. 



Here's the official press release:

EGMONT EXPANDS DIGITAL CLASSIC COMICS OFFERING

A collection of fondly-remembered classic comics is now available digitally

London 13th November 2012 - Egmont UK’s Classic Comics imprint was created to re-publish the wealth of classic comics in their archive.

Four volumes of Roy the Rovers kicked off our e-comic publishing in June this year and now we are excited to announce the launch of further classics on popular comic series from the 70s and 80s.

A fifth Roy of the Rovers has been made available along with publications from Misty and The Thirteenth Floor.  From Battle Picture Weekly we will be publishing various strips including Johnny Red, Major Eazy and the ground- breaking Charley’s War.  Some of the biggest names in British comics were involved in the creation of these stories, including Pat Mills and John Wagner.





David Riley, Managing Director of Egmont Publishing Group, said: “Roy, Battle, Misty…these are iconic magazines which still have a place in the national consciousness. They deserve to be brought back; their appeal also has the potential to transcend the generation gap and reach an entirely new, younger audience. With the limitless possibilities offered up by digital publishing, there has never been a better time to bring these comics to the fore.”



Follow these links to obtain your digital downloads:

MISTY: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/misty-comic-tales-from-mist/id573167123?mt=11



MAJOR EAZY: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/major-eazy-comic/id575022887?mt=11


https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/major-eazy-comic-part-2/id575022909?mt=11




CHARLEY'S WAR: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/charleys-war/id575535490?mt=11


https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/charleys-war-comic-part-two/id575567566?mt=11


ROY OF THE ROVERS: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/roy-rovers-comic-volume-5/id568395894?mt=11


THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/thirteenth-floor-comic-part/id573170121?mt=11


https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/thirteenth-floor-comic-part/id573174728?mt=11 



Monday, November 12, 2012

Going out in style


The end is nigh for the print edition of The Dandy, with just a few weeks to go until its final issue on December 4th. But what an issue it promises to be! It's been revealed today by the editor that the last issue will be a gigantic 100 pager! (Presumably that includes the facsimile reprint of issue No.1.) 

I've drawn a full page strip plus a few mini-strips for the final issue. I won't reveal what they are as I feel there are far too many spoilers about comics on the net as it is (and I've been as guilty as anyone of doing this). The joy of discovering the delights of a comic on the day it's published seem to be long gone. In the future will people remember the impact a comic had on them as they bought it from a newsagent, or just the memories of spoilers being revealed on blogs, forums, and Facebook? 

No doubt revelations will break as soon as readers receive their subscription copies but for now let's look forward to the surprises. I don't know which strips other artists have drawn for the issue but one of the things I've contributed is a strip I've never drawn before, or ever expected to draw. And it was brilliant to be asked to do it. 

(Incidentally, the logo above is not the one that will be used on the comic. It's just a quick mash up I did in Photoshop.) 

Keep your eye on the countdown clock:
http://www.dandy.com/ 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

This week in 1970: SMASH! goes on hiatus

  
1970 wasn't a good year for IPC Magazines. Industrial action by printers had caused some of their comics to skip occasional weeks in the summer and worse was to come. This issue of Smash! dated November 14th 1970 would be the last one published that year. The strikes also affected Buster, Lion, Valiant, and some of the girls' comics. They would not return to shelves until the issues dated 6th February 1971. The strike had a devastating effect on sales and probably hastened the end of Smash! as it merged into Valiant in April 1971. 

As readers, we were unaware at the time that this week in 1970 would see so many favourite comics go on an enforced three month hiatus. 

This issue of Smash! once again featured a dynamic cover by Eric Bradbury, illustrating a scene from the Simon Test story inside. Annoyingly, these scenes were usually of the cliffhanger itself, so we had to wait a week to see them resolved... or three months in this case. 

Simon Test and the Curse of the Conqueror was the opening strip inside, again with artwork from Eric Bradbury. 

 
Master of the Marsh had been running in Smash! since the comic's revamp in 1969. Artwork by Solano Lopez.

 
Erik the Viking was a renamed reprint of the 1960s strip Karl the Viking, which had originally appeared in Lion. Great artwork by Don Lawrence. (Deluxe hardback collections of Karl the Viking strips can be bought online by clicking this link.)


The centre pages of Smash! was the home of The Swots and the Blots. Truly funny stuff by Leo Baxendale. Many collectors believe that Leo had always illustrated this strip but that's incorrect. He only became the artist when IPC took over the comic in 1969, - but his run on the strip is a real highlight of British comics.



A favourite strip by many, The Incredible Adventures of Janus Stark was another that had joined the comic with its revamp. The dark, moody artwork of Solano Lopez was perfect for the grittiness and squalor of the strip's Victorian-era setting. He was excellent at giving his characters a distinctive look. The urchins are wretched, the Governor is weak, and the schoolmaster looks genuinely malicious. Lopez paints such a grim world of shadows and dirt that no one would wish to live there but it makes for compelling comics. Striding through it all is Janus Stark, like a cross between Oscar Wilde and an East End hard case.



 
Smash! had been the home of several superheroes during its run, from the Hulk reprints in the 1960s, to the home-grown adventures of Tri-Man in 1969. By 1970, another one graced its pages, albeit a rather daft one called Birdman of Baratoga. "By my feathers!"


Another Leo Baxendale strip, Sam's Spook, rounded off the comic. Reproduction wasn't too good on this page for some reason but here it is anyway...


Finally, a request for readers to "Order a regular copy today!" - not knowing that there wouldn't be another issue that year. So, sadly, no Christmas issue for 1970 but here's the closest thing; an ad for some of the Christmas games produced by Spears for that era...


When the comics did resume in February they picked up right from where they left off (as artwork would have already been produced before the strike hit). I'm sure that many, like me, were happy to see the comics return, but no doubt others had given up by then.
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