Wednesday, February 28, 2018

TOXIC gets a new look

The latest issue of Egmont's long-running successful boys' magazine Toxic has had a design makeover. The refresh sees the introduction of a tweaked logo, new layout, and a bigger page size. (Bit of trivia for collectors: Toxic is now the same dimensions that Oink! and Wham! used to be.)

The strips also get a new look, with new logo designs and colour in the gutters and margins to make the pages brighter than before. This month, Team Toxic face the return of their old enemy Sick Squid! Story and art by Lew Stringer. (Hey, that's me!)


Captain Gross finds it's tough to be the grossest hero in town. Story and art by Russ Carvell...

Features in this 40 page issue include articles on the movies Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Coco, an interview with Chris MD, space exploration, items on the Teen Titans Go! cartoon, the latest games, and more.



The mag comes bagged with four free gifts: Disc Shooter, bonus shooter, Last Jedi stickers, and Tango Poppin' Candy.

Toxic No.302 is out now from all good newsagents and supermarkets. £3.99

Visit the Toxic website for more info:
http://www.toxicmag.co.uk



Sunday, February 25, 2018

This week in 1968: TV21 No.163

To take our minds off the oncoming snow storm, let's go back to 1968 to see which issue of TV21 was out exactly 50 years ago this week. It was issue 163, and by this time the newspaper-style covers had been replaced with comic strip and Captain Scarlet dominated the comic.

The Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons TV series had debuted on TV a few months earlier so it made sense to make him the star of TV21. It was easier than producing a spin-off Captain Scarlet comic and it gave TV21 a boost. I do wonder though if revamping the comic so much was counter-productive to sales? I presume they must have been sliding anyway, so it was worth a shot.

What's notable about comics of the 1960s is how lively they were; full of movement and action, and no one did it better than Mike Noble...


The newspaper-style cover that TV21 had for its first 154 issues was now an interior feature as TV21 Stop Press. Perhaps for the best, with alarmist headlines like this. Ha! 
The centre pages featured Frank Bellamy's stunning work on Thunderbirds, and this was the week where this memorable panel of the Hood first appeared...

Full colour printing was still a luxury for most British comics in the 1960s. Adventure comics such as Valiant and Victor only carried one or two pages of full colour for example and were printed on newsprint. TV21 had top class glossy photogravure printing, allowing for painted artwork (as opposed to the flat colours of Lion or Buster). Artist Jim Watson used it to its best advantage with his vibrant colour work on Zero X. (Incidentally, the cliffhanger of this episode must be one of the strangest ever!)


There you have it. Just a few pages from this issue of TV21 from this week in 1968 (or 2068 as they preferred). Don't forget that you can click on the images to see them much larger to study the artwork. 

Snow's a'comin'. Wishing you all a safe week!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Frantic Fun (TERRIFIC, 1967)

It was the 1960s, and England was swinging like a pendulum do, or so the song told us. It was a great time for pop culture though, and Odhams were at the height of their powers with five weekly 'Power Comics'; Wham!, Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic, and Terrific. The first three had a nicely balanced mixture of home-grown humour and adventure strips alongside reprints of Marvel strips, whist Fantastic and Terrific mainly contained Marvel reprint and one originated adventure strip (The Missing Link/Johnny Future in Fantastic, Don Starr in Terrific).

What's often forgotten now is that a few issues of Terrific also contained originated gag cartoons under the title of Frantic Fun. How did these come about? Well, when Mike Higgs submitted his strip The Cloak to the editors of Pow!, he mentioned that he also had some gag cartoons with him. They liked what they saw, and decided to run those in Terrific

Back then, Mike Higgs signed his work as 'MiK' (or 'OMIK' as myself as some others misread it, due to the distinctively dotted 'i'.). Whilst The Cloak became one of Pow's main strips (and highly popular it was too), Frantic Fun was mainly a "filler" in Terrific. Even so, it was new content in a comic dominated by reprint, and they provided a nice light relief to all the drama on the other pages, so the cartoons deserve some recognition.

The cartoons that Mike drew started in Terrific No.6 on 13th May 1967 (cover dated 20th May), - the exact same day as The Cloak debuted in Pow! - and ran until No.10 (dated 17th June 1967). They'd clearly run out of Mike's cartoons by issue 10 as only one appeared, with others on the page drawn by 'J.Mead'. The feature ran for a few more issues (with J.Mead supplying cartoons) and was then quietly dropped.

I thought that readers of this blog might like to see those Frantic Fun cartoons by Mike Higgs as they're nice examples of his very early work, so here they all are. Mike's style developed in leaps and bounds over the next few years, so Odhams must have seen that his work had potential. 

I've scanned the whole pages to show them in context. The News from the floor of 64 page from Terrific No.8 also mentions Mike, along with fanzine editor Tony Roche. While Fleetway and D.C. Thomson kept their contributors anonymous at the time, Odhams were very happy to name their artists and writers, and even helped to spread the word about the early days of comics fandom.
TERRIFIC No.6, May 20th 1967
TERRIFIC No.7, May 27th 1967
TERRIFIC No.8, June 3rd 1967
TERRIFIC No.9, June 10th 1967
TERRIFIC No.10, June 17th 1967
As many of you know, years later I was fortunate enough to work as Mike's assistant for a short time in the mid 1980s, which gave me invaluable experience. I still see him regularly for a pie and a pint and am proud to call him my friend. I don't call him OMIK any more though. 

ABC Warriors hardback coming next month

March 22nd will see the publication of ABC Warriors: The Mek Files 04, a glorious hardback collection continuing the series written by Pat Mills will stunning digitally painted artwork by Clint Langley. I always think Mills and Langley's work is one of the highlights of 2000AD so it's good to see these stories collected. Here's the info from Rebellion, along with a preview of the first few pages...

CREATIVE TEAM: Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Simon Bowland
REGIONS: UK, worldwide digital
RELEASE DATE: 22nd March 2018
HARDCOVER
PRICE: £25 (UK) $35.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086230
DIAMOND: JAN181850


Continuing the legendary A.B.C. Warriors definitive collection series! Travelling across Mars to recruit their latest companion, the battle-scarred A.B.C. Warriors reminisce about their part in the Volgan War - a vicious conflict fought for oil on Earth. As the droids Hammerstein, Mongrol, Joe Pineapples, Deadlock and Blackblood all relate their memories of the war, old mysteries are revealed and ancient grudges are rekindled! This collects the first two parts of The Volgan War, Pat Mills and Clint Langley's brain-boggling A.B.C. Warriors epic!



Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond





Preview: the next issue of 2000AD

Here's a preview of the next issue of 2000AD, on sale this coming Wednesday...

UK & DIGITAL: 28th February 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 28th March 2018 $7.99
DIAMOND CODE: DEC171745
COVER: DAVE TAYLOR

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: LIVE EVIL by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)


SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l) 
Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 




Friday, February 23, 2018

Out now from Panini UK

AVENGERS UNIVERSE #3
76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Two amazing tales! £4.50!
The stunning finale to The Kang War! Avengers past and present have taken the fight to the heart of Kang's empire – is this the villain's last stand?! By Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo!
Doctor Doom returns - and he has an amazing offer for the Avengers! By Mark Waid, Jeremy Whitley and Phil Noto!
Featuring material first printed in Avengers #6-8.


WOLVERINE & DEADPOOL #2
76 pages of Mutants and Motormouths! Three fantastic adventures! £4.50!
Wolverine gets a new look and a deadly new adventure as a sinister alien threat strikes Earth! Guest-starring Ironheart! By Tom Taylor and Leonard Kirk!
Deadpool tries to stop a young woman from committing suicide – and wait till you see how! By Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli!
Deadpool faces Monark Starstalker and the sinister Collector! By Gerry Duggan and Mike Hawthorne!
Featuring material first printed in All-New Wolverine #19, Deadpool #20 and Deadpool #30.


The Essential Doctor Who Issue 13: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Ever since the TARDIS was first revealed in 1963, Doctor Who has presented a bewildering array
of alien technology and gadgetry. Human scientific knowledge can do nothing to explain the
mysteries of the astonishing devices and phenomena that the Doctor takes for granted.
This is the first publication devoted to the incredible ideas that the series has made its own.
Highlights include a comprehensive guide to the sonic screwdriver, the secrets of the Time Lords
and the weaponry of the Doctor’s most dangerous enemies.
The Essential Doctor Who: Science and Technology is published on 22 February, priced £9.99. It’s available from WH Smith and as a digital version from pocketmags.com


DISNEY PRESENTS No.119
Welcome to a magical issue packed with all your Disney favourites including Doc McStuffins, Moana, Elena of Avalor, Minnie Mouse, Sofia the First, Vampirina, Puppy Dog Pals, Tinker Bell and Zootropolis! There are loads of puzzles and games plus 2 fantastic Vampirina competitions. Don’t miss it!

Issue Number: 119
Price: £3.99
Covermounted Gift: Super Free gifts including Disney & Friends Sticker Album and stickers.
On sale: Thursday 22nd Feb – 28th March 2018

In memoriam: Robert Sutherland

I was sorry to hear this week of the death of Robert Sutherland, CEO of Redan Publishing. 

Robert was the publisher at Marvel UK throughout the 1980s, a time when many of us were starting out in British comics. He had the vision to see that the UK comics market needed to adapt to survive, and under his watch, Marvel UK shifted from superheroes towards successful licence-based titles such as The Transformers, Thundercats, and The Real Ghostbusters.

In 1990, he left Marvel to set up his own company, Redan Publishing, with his business partner Jenny O'Connor. Redan focused on the younger end of the market, primarily pre-schoolers, and built a highly successful portfolio of titles. One of which was Thunderbirds, launched in 1999. Previous Thunderbirds comics had been aimed at the 7 to 11 age group, but Redan's version was younger, concentrating on activity pages and basic photo-strips. It proved to be very successful, and was no doubt an entry point for many comics readers. 

I didn't know Robert well. I only met him once or twice, many years ago. Although perhaps not known to the average comics fan, Robert Sutherland was nevertheless an important and respected figure in the British publishing industry. Redan's successes in the market for early readers' titles has been impressively significant, and even today their Peppa Pig comic has sales twice that or more of most comics.  

The passing of Robert Sutherland has been met with sadness by those who knew and worked with him, and those of us who freelanced on titles he published over the last 30 plus years. Without his vision, the UK comics industry would have been a poorer place indeed. 

My sincere condolences to Robert's family and friends on their loss.




New STRONTIUM DOG collection coming in March!

On sale in four weeks' time is Strontium Dog: Repo Men, a new softback collection from Rebellion by the always-excellent John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. It features three Johnny Alpha stories: The Stix Fix, Repo Men, and The Judas Strain. Here's the info from the publisher...

CREATIVE TEAM: John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)
REGIONS: UK, worldwide digital
RELEASE DATE: 22nd March 2018
PAPERBACK, 146 pages
PRICE: £14.99 (UK) $18.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086438
DIAMOND: JAN181853


The Search/Destroy agent Johnny Alpha is still alive. Having wreaked vengeance against the humans that plotted the ‘final solution’ to mutant-kind, he is released from prison for one last job in deep space that only a Strontium Dog can do. And with the freedom of his friends on the line he has no choice but to accept… Now that their careers as bounty hunters are off the cards, his mutant friends have a new job proposition. They are hired to repossess ‘The Rock’ - an asteroid space-station owned by a galactic crime lord - and to succeed they must pull off a heist of galactic proportions!

Here's a four page preview...




Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond






COMIC SCENE is coming!

On sale soon will be a new magazine devoted to British comics past and present. Comic Scene is its name, and it's edited and published by Tony Foster. The mag promises to cover a wide range of subjects on UK comics and will feature regular columns by contributors such as Pat Mills and more.

At present, Comic Scene will only be available by subscription only, and you can order it from the following link:
https://tictail.com/ComicsFlix 

Tony Foster is also the man behind the Comicsflix website, which you can see here:
https://comicsflix.org




Thursday, February 22, 2018

America celebrates Action Comics No.1000

Blimey! is a blog dedicated to British comics, but sometimes a little U.S. comics news is irresistible. This April will see DC's Action Comics reach issue No.1000. British readers might think "so what?", as The Beano is approaching 4,000 issues, but Action Comics is monthly (or rather fortnightly at present) so it's taken a while to reach four digits. 

The landmark issue also coincides with the 80th anniversary of Superman (and Lois Lane too, let's not forget) and will be extra sized, featuring the return of Superman's red pants, although I'm sure the quality of the stories will be the main thing, right? The issue will have a choice of eight covers, with each representing one of the character's eight decades. Artists include Dave Gibbons and Jim Steranko, so it's going to be a really tough decision if you only choose one. My personal favourite is the Mike Allred cover (shown above) which captures the look of a mid-1960s Action Comics perfectly, even down to the go-go checks that DC used at the time! (Although I'll most likely buy the Dave Gibbons and Jim Steranko versions too, as they're also brilliant.)

To see the rest of the covers, visit the Comicon.com website here:
http://www.comicon.com/2018/02/22/action-comics-1000-release-variant-covers-celebrating-each-dynamic-decade-of-superman/




Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Combat Colin No.2 is out now!

Only available exclusively from me, Combat Colin No.2 has arrived from the printers and is now available to buy!

As with the first issue, No.2 has 40 pages packed with classic Combat Colin strips from the late 1980s. This issue starts with the ones when The Transformers and Action Force merged into one comic, and features almost 70 half page strips running from February 1988 to July 1989. 

You'll see Combat Colin and his sidekick Semi-Automatic Steve encounter villains such as Madprof and Mr.Magno for the first time, plus the return of the evil Aunt Arctic of the Antarctic, the secret of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, the introduction of the Giggly Sisters and much more!

Combat Colin was a strip I created for the Marvel UK comics in 1987 and when it ended in 1991, Marvel returned the rights to me. Most of the strips in issue 2 have been scanned directly from my original artwork, and I've added dates to the foot of every strip so you know where and when it first appeared.

Combat Colin No.2 has 40 pages comprising full colour covers and black and white interiors. Only £3.50 plus postage, and can be ordered here:
http://lewstringer.com/page7.htm


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