Monday, February 20, 2017

New to 2000AD? Start here...

If you've never read 2000AD and the prospect of jumping on board a 40 year old comic seems daunting, fear not. This Wednesday, the 2000AD 40th Anniversary Special comes with a free 2000AD 40th Anniversary Primer that features Fact Files on six characters, advice on which collections to buy first, and brief interviews with creators. 
Don't miss the 2000AD 40th Anniversary Special this Wednesday, 22nd February. All new material: 52 page comic (with a choice of two covers as shown below) plus 8 page Primer for just £3.99. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2000AD: The 40th anniversary celebrations continue

It's been exactly 40 years today since the first issue of 2000AD went on sale in newsagents across the UK on 19th February 1977. Since I've already looked back at Prog 1 in a previous post (see here) I thought that today I'd look to the future, to show you preview pages of the anniversary editions coming your way this Wednesday. 

There's not one but two editions of 2000AD out this coming week. The regular weekly edition plus the 2000AD 40th Anniversary Special! The special comes with a choice of two covers. The one above, by Carlos Ezquerra, or the one below by David Aja...

Here's the contents of this impressive special, along with a few sample pages...

UK & DIGITAL: 22 February 2017 £3.99
NORTH AMERICA: 22 March 2017 

In this issue:
Interlude 01 by Jock (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Judge Dredd: Blood by John Wagner (w) Carl Critchlow (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Interlude 02 by Rufus Dayglo (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Zombo: Z.O.M.B.0 by Al Ewing (w) Henry Flint (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Interlude 03 by Mark Sexton (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Ro-Busters: Seeing Red by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Terra-Meks poster by Cliff Robinson
Interlude 04 by Patrick Goddard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Durham Red: The Judas Strain by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Interlude 05 by Bryan Talbot (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Sláine: Red Branch by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Interlude 06 by Mike Collins (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Nikolai Dante: Devil May Care by Robbie Morrison (w) Simon Fraser (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

The same day sees 2000AD Prog 2019 published too. Here's the info and a few sample pages...
UK & DIGITAL: 22 February 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 22 March 2017 $7.99

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: Deep In The Heart by Michael Carroll (w) Henry Flint (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Kingmaker by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Kingdom: As It Is In Heaven by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
The Order:  Wyrm War by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Sinister Dexter: One-Hit Wonder by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 

Treat yourselves to some 2000AD goodness this week and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Gaston Lagaffe comes to the UK

This July, British publisher Cinebook will be adding another character to their huge line of English language European comic albums. Franquin's Gaston Lagaffe will be reprinted as Gomer Goof! 

The name change has caused some controversy already but there's a precedent because Fantagraphics used Gomer Goof when they translated some Gaston Lagaffe strips in the 1990s, so Cinebook are sticking with that. 

Gaston was created in 1957 by the Belgian cartoonist Andre Franquin for Spirou weekly. The lazy, accident-prone character has been hugely popular in Europe so let's hope British kids take to him too!

Gomer Goof Volume 1: Mind the Goof! will be published in July, in the European 48 page softback album format. Pre-orders are already available at Amazon.

See the Cinebook website for details of all the other Euro-comics in their line that are available from Waterstones and other bookshops:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

It's 2000AD's 40th anniversary!

2000AD celebrated 40 years of publishing with a convention in London last weekend, and from all accounts it was a fantastic day that gave readers an opportunity to meet contributors past and present. 

The actual anniversary of the comic is this weekend as Prog 1 hit the shops on Saturday February 19th 1977 (with the official launch day being Monday 21st February - see the ad below). Back in those days, comics carried the cover date of the following Saturday, misleading some modern fans to think it was actually published on 26th February. (In fact that's the day 2000AD Prog 2 came out.)

It's an impressive achievement that 2000AD is still being published, making it the most successful British adventure comic since Commando was launched in 1961. A special anniversary edition will appear next Wednesday, February 22nd, alongside the regular weekly issue.

2000AD was launched back in the days when new comics were always backed with TV advertising and heavily promoted in other comics from the same publisher. Here's a four page advert that appeared in Battle Picture Weekly the week before the launch...

Although 21st Feb was the official publication date it actually came out on the 19th.

This ad is the very first appearance in print of Judge Dredd!

I can remember buying the first issue (which I still have, now lacking its free plastic frisbee) and noticing how different 2000AD was compared to existing UK adventure weeklies such as Victor or Tiger. To be honest it took me a couple of weeks to get used to it, because I initially thought the splash pages and longer stories were too derivative of American comics. Admittedly at 17 (as I was in early 1977) I was going through an "I'm too old for British comics" phase so I wasn't exactly its intended readership. However by the second issue I was well and truly hooked and realised that this was something more distinctive than any other comics of the period, and that it could appeal to all ages. 

It was evident to me even then that the people behind the new venture understood that comics had to change to survive. (As Pat Mills, the creator of 2000AD has since verified.) Indeed, 2000AD had replaced Valiant on the schedules, which had folded a few months earlier, proving that the old style comics, great as they had been, were no longer appealing to boys of the 1970s. Comics have always needed to keep up with the tastes and styles of each generation and 2000AD was really on the ball. 

Here's a few things in that first issue that stood out to me back then... 

Opening up that first issue 40 years ago we were greeted with a dynamic "in yer face" way of introducing the strips that served to kick off the comic with a bang, whetting our appetites for what was to follow.

Invasion was the lead strip. I instantly recognised the artwork as that of "The Steel Claw artist" as I called him (an uncredited Jesus Blasco) so that appealed to me straight away.
Flesh and its bloody violence felt like something Action would have published before it was neutered. Unsurprisingly it was written by Pat Mills, who had been Action's original editor (and was editor of 2000AD). Time travel and dinosaurs? Great stuff.
Dan Dare was given the luxury of the full colour centre-spread in those days when comics were mainly black and white. Although I hadn't been a follower of the original Dan Dare I really didn't care for this version. However, Belardinelli's artwork drew me in. I liked it even more when Dave Gibbons took over the art duties later.
Dan Dare was intended to be the main attraction of those early issues but the true star of 2000AD was promoted on the following page. "Next week, meet... Judge Dredd". A pocket illustration by Carlos Ezquerra heralding a character who would become one of the most popular in comics.
M.A.C.H.1 was the strip I had a problem with. The character looked and dressed like Steve Austin from TV's Six Million Dollar Man and the strip was obviously inspired by the show. It felt somewhat derivative but as time went on M.A.C.H.1 put its own spin on things and developed in a far more interesting direction than any Bionic Man episodes.
Sports strips? Not for me usually, but Harlem Heroes was worth a look. Solid, enjoyable artwork by Dave Gibbons and, again, a story that soon developed in an interesting direction.
The one thing that 2000AD had more than any of its companions or rivals at that time was IMPACT! The strips were presented in a bold, exciting way, free from the quieter, formal layouts of Tiger and suchlike. Admittedly, DC Thomson's Warlord had done this first, and Battle was using this method too, but 2000AD did it better in my opinion, and the dark humour that became part of the comic was another bonus.

Although I still buy 2000AD every week I do miss the raucous style of those early issues, but we have to accept that time moves on. (Otherwise we'd all still be reading Comic Cuts by candlelight.) The original dynamic logo of 2000AD is still my favourite but it's probably not sophisticated enough for today's readers. Indeed, the loud, punky tone of those 1977 issues is perhaps too immature for the older demographic the comic is pitched at now. 

Photograph © Lew Stringer
2000AD still features work by some of the top talents in the comics industry giving us 32 pages of all-new Thrill-Power every Wednesday. The fact that it's survived when all the other weekly adventure comics have long shuffled off to that papershop in the sky proves that evolving its look and approach was the right thing to do.

Anyway, if you're not already a regular reader, treat yourself to 2000AD this coming Wednesday. I'll show some preview pages from the next issue this weekend.

Here's the TV ad for 2000AD Prog 1 that ran on television 40 years ago:

(If the YouTube video hasn't embedded properly on you device you can find it here: )

(This is an updated and revised version of a couple of posts from several years ago. All artwork scanned from my collection and Copyright ©Rebellion.)

As I mentioned at the top of this post, there was a 40th anniversary event for 2000AD in London last weekend. I wasn't there myself but from all accounts it was a great success enjoyed by all. John Freeman's Down the Tubes blog has some excellent reviews and photos from the day, which you can see here:

BEANO Free Gift Issue

Cover by Nigel Parkinson.
This week's Beano has an exclusive Beano Top Trumps card free inside. You'll find it lightly glued to page three, and there'll be a different one next week!

It's another fun-packed issue with 36 pages of all-new strips and features from the top graphic humourists in the UK comics industry. And me. 

Don't miss Beano No.3872, out now from all good newsagents and supermarkets for the regular price of £2.50.

See you at the Lakes in October!

I'm pleased to be able to announce another convention date for this year. I'll be a guest at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal (13th to 15th October 2017) along with people of incredible talent such as Sergio Aragonés, Stan Sakai, Brendan McCarthy, Emma Vieceli, Sean Phillips and many more. Hope to see you there! More info at the link...

Full guest list:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rok of the Reds reaches its penultimate issue

The fifth issue of Rok of the Reds is out and the story is really building to its climax now. The alien Rok, on Earth and disguised as footballer Kyle Dixon, is being tracked by two Executors from his homeworld. There are revelations and danger as the issue races towards its cliffhanger. 

As I've said before, even if, like me, you don't usually like football comics this will hook you. It has all the hallmarks of a classic British adventure strip but with a modern style. Dan Cornwell's artwork is a joy to behold, and Abby Bulmer's rich colouring complements it perfectly. Of course, with a script by John Wagner and Alan Grant, how could they fail to be inspired? If Valiant or Eagle had been updated and were being published today, Rok of the Reds would fit right in. (I thought the way the strip continued directly from the cover was a nice touch. It reminded me of the old UK comics.)

Don't let that comment mislead you into thinking that this is some retro comic though. Those of us who are old enough will recognise the spirit of traditional British comics in Rok of the Reds but it also stands as an equal alongside any modern comic from the UK or USA. A treat for both new readers and long time collectors.

Rok of the Reds No.5 is available from any good comics speciality shop, but if you have trouble finding it you can order a copy from the publisher BHP Comics...

...or contact the artist himself at his website...

Don't miss out! Rok of the Reds is a must-buy!

Scotland Yardie published by Knockabout

New from long-established British independent publisher Knockabout is Scotland Yardie written by Bobby Joseph and illustrated by Joseph Samuels. Here's the info...

With institutionalised racism at an all-time high, the Metropolitan Police embark on their yearly drive to recruit more ethnic people in the police force. With little or no success they bring over Jamaica's most feared policeman - Scotland Yardie, a ganja smoking, no-nonsense bad bwoy cop who breaks all the rules to enforce his own harsh sense of justice. But what happens when cultures clash? Can the average criminal handle the street -wise Jamaican Lethal Weapon rolling through downtown Brixton? Will south London ever be the same again? With his reluctant partner P.C. Ackee -Saltfish, Scotland Yardie embarks on an adventure that deals with the disappearing drug trade in Brixton, corruption, the death of innocent people at the hands of racist cops, assassinated cats, immigration fears and the emergence of the addictive blue chicken! 
This critically-acclaimed anarchic graphic novel is written by Bobby Joseph creator of cult, British comic books Skank Magazine & Black Eye and illustrated by Joseph Samuels. Published by Knockabout Comics - Britain's Biggest Independent UK comic book publisher. 
Here are some of the reviews: 

"Scotland Yardie is the epitome of satire." 

"Insanely funny with a nice line in social commentary and multiple cultural references throughout." 

"A familiar genre is getting a long-awaited and welcome overhaul. Brilliant." 

"Scotland Yardie is a legendary British comic." 

"So having been grinning at every stage before and while reading Scotland Yardie, I was still doing so for some time after, it’s impact still lingering..." 

"Brain-stopping satire..." 

"A great and ribald look at race matters in the London police, from an author with a solid sense of humour." 
Scotland Yardie is available in all good bookshops (and some bad ones too). 

And here: 

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Space Museum opens its doors

Here's a new website that'll be a delight for Doctor Who fans. The Space Museum is a resource of Doctor Who merchandise from the past, with images of comic strip covers, sweet cigarette cards, toys, you name it! Some of it is still under construction but the 1960s section has loads of images for you to view. Whether it's a nostalgic trip down memory lane or your first discovery of Dr.Who memorabilia history, you'll enjoy the visit. You can enter the museum here:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

GIGGLE (1967)

Those of us who were reading comics in the 1960s will remember all the classics; TV Century 21, Sparky, Wham!, Smash!, Pow!, Valiant... and then there was Giggle

Giggle seems to be a comic that passed some of us by. I certainly wasn't aware of it back then, not until it had been merged into Buster for a few months. Giggle was published by Fleetway Publications Ltd and its first issue was dated 29th April 1967. Priced at 5d (2d cheaper than its Fleetway companion comics), it was evident that it was trying to directly compete with the D.C. Thomson comics. Even Giggle's logo, with the framed 'G' had similarities to the logo used by The Dandy at the time, and the character Giggle the Playful Cat (who soon became Giggle's cover star) was evidently trying to mimic the popularity of Dandy cover star Korky the Cat.  Despite some nice lively art, he was no Korky...
Unfortunately, the reason that Giggle isn't as well remembered as most other '60s comics might be because it wasn't very remarkable. Clearly having a lower budget than other comics, most of Giggle's content was either reprint from old UK comics or translated European reprint. I'm not sure of the sources of all the European strips but Buck Bingo was clearly Lucky Luke. His ever-present cigarette was erased from his lips for the UK reprint, turning it into an ever-present pout instead!
Herlock Sholmes was by Yugolslav artist Julio Radilovic...

Dim Dan, The Film Stunt Man was evidently European, and drawn in a nice style but I can't quite place the artist. It looks Spanish to me. Can anyone provide more info?

The reprints from old British comics included The Gremlins from Knockout retitled as The Chuckles (art by Fred Robinson I believe)...

Niblo Nibbs by Eric Roberts, was originally from Film Fun (I have the original art for this page from when it was renamed Nippy Nibbs for a further reprint in Cor!!)...

Castaways to Danger is a curious reprint from somewhere, but I don't know where. I'm guessing it may have originally appeared in a girls' weekly. Furthermore, I think the art has been altered to change the gender of the native who steals the necklace from a girl to a boy, perhaps to appeal more to Giggle's mixed readership. Can anyone confirm this?

I think a few of Giggle's strips were brand new. I don't know who drew The Wild Bunch but I'm positive it's written by Roy Davis, a prolific Fleetway/Odhams scriptwriter. As Roy was also a cartoonist he used to supply his "scripts" as rough penciled comic pages. He wrote many of The Vampire Brats stories I drew for Buster and I recognise the distinctive rhythm of his storytelling and style of dialogue in this page...

I think The Space Travellers was new too. The art looks a bit like Mike White's work but I don't think it is by him.

Helpful Hettie is either brand new or a reprint from a girls' comic. The art is definitely by Reg Parlett...

Giggle lasted for just 38 weeks before merging into Buster, so it wasn't a success by any means. Why did it fail? There was an increasingly crowded market for comics in the mid-sixties and inevitably not all could survive. Perhaps the mixture of European content and old-fashioned looking UK reprints didn't help, and the fact that, compared to its colourful rivals at D.C. Thomson, Giggle looked very dull with 28 pages and only the front cover in colour. I'm only judging it by my perspective as an adult, as I never read it 50 years ago, but it seemed to lack the excitement and polish of its companion comics such as Valiant and Buster. For a comic calling itself Giggle it simply wasn't a great deal of fun. 
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