Sunday, September 30, 2018

Great News, Pals! Your favourite fun-chums have joined forces - again!

These titles and more are now owned by Rebellion.
It's typical that on the weekend I went away for a holiday a huge news story broke regarding British comics. As you've no doubt already heard, on Friday it was announced that Rebellion have acquired the entire back catalogue of comics from TI Media, - comics originally owned by Amalgamated Press / Fleetway / IPC. They include titles dating back to the dawn of British comics in the 19th Century! 

A couple of years ago, Rebellion had made a similar purchase obtaining all the IPC/Fleetway comics from 1970 onwards, but now they own everything going back over 130 years. This means that old favourites such as The Steel Claw, The Spider, Grimly Feendish, and even Weary Willie and Tired Tim are now part of the same company that owns 2000AD... just as it was many years ago. 

What can we expect Rebellion to do with this important acquisition? It's too early for them to reveal their plans but it's a fair guess that some reprint collections will be on the cards as part of their Treasury of British Comics line. It's also likely we'll see updated, grittier versions of classic characters, but I hope they don't stray too far from the optimism and heroism the characters had.

Do you have any preferences you'd like to see as reprint collections? Not that this blog has any influence on what Rebellion do of course. Just comment below on what you'd like to see. (Within reason, bearing in mind the books have to be commercially profitable. It's unlikely we'll see an Alfie the Air Tramp archive for example, enjoyable as some of us find John Jukes' artwork.) 

My preferences would be...

The Best of Power Comics. Selecting stories from Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! by Leo Baxendale, Graham Allen, Brian Lewis, and more. (Ken Reid's work having already been reprinted.) Would be nice to have Mike Higgs in there too, although he owns The Cloak so it would need negotiation.

Johnny Future. Collecting the whole Missing Link / Johnny Future series by Alf Wallace and Luis Berjemo.

Football Family Robinson. Good lighthearted soccer strip from Jag (and then Tiger) with colour art by Joe Colquhoun (and later John Gillatt). 

Kelly's Eye. From Knockout, and then Valiant, with art by Solano Lopez.

The Swots and The Blots. Not necessarily the Ron Spencer strips from the original Smash! series but definitely the revamped series by Leo Baxendale that began in the second series of Smash! in 1969.

...plus I'm sure there are loads of gripping adventure serials that although might not be commercially viable as stand alone books would make good "floppy" collections bagged with Judge Dredd Megazine (as with the recent Lawless Touch collection).   

Whatever Rebellion decide to do with the strips, this is excellent news for fans of British comics and their history!




23 comments:

John Kerry said...

Reading the item you linked to the one property I can see being reprinted in some form is The Trigan Empire strip. Personally other series I would like to see are The Spider; Robot Archie; Carson's Cubs Sexton Blake; The Steel Claw; Raven on the Wing; Janus Stark and Johnny Cougar. I also hope Yellowknife of the Yard stays buried.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, Trigan Empire is a very strong possibility, I agree. Same goes for Janus Stark.

The early Steel Claw stories were collected by Titan several years ago but I guess there are still some who missed it or would buy it again.

pete doree said...

I just want Look-In, Lew. Bolton's Bionic Woman, Ranson's Sapphire & Steel, anything by Burns, the list is endless.

Steve Maslin said...

Janus Stark, Simon Test and Cursitor Doom would be a dream come true.

Richard Langford said...

As you say, Rebellion already had ownership of the comics from the 70s onwards - and this is my era of comic buying. I really hope they do more with the humour comics of the time - Buster, Whoopee, Monster Fun etc. Not much has been done with this so far apart from the Faceache book. Some nice compilations rather than focussing on one character would be nice.

Manic Man said...

I still think there might be a market not just for strip collections but comics in general in that you can put a years worth of a weekly title (or maybe better for half a year.. a years worth of 16 page weekly would be 832 pages... and some of the bigger ones would have more) into a single hardback collection. It would also give a chance for people to see/enjoy some of the lesser strips and materials that wouldn't be put into a collection by it's own.

Though the problem with some strips like Look-in, is the licence holders of the stuff it was based on. I'm still not 100% sure how the best of collections got some of the rights, but I did notice a lot of the 'more popular' tie-In shows didn't really get a look in ^_^

Lew Stringer said...

I'm sure some Look-In material will get reprinted eventually, Pete. The obstacle there of course is negotiating with the companies that own the rights to the various TV shows, - and possibly also negotiating the right to use likenesses of some actors. Personally I'd like to see Mike Noble's Look-In work collected, such as the early Timeslip stories, Follyfoot, Robin of Sherwood etc.


Cursitor Doom would be a good one, Steve! It was going to be published by Bear Alley Books a few years ago until a spanner was thrown into the works when rights changed hands but that won't be a problem for Rebellion now they own it.

Peter Gray said...

Anything by Leo Baxendale...Reg parlett...is the quick answer..

Wonder if they will do something with Comiccuts..Funny Wonder..Film Fun..Chips..etc..will be interesting...you never know..

Very good news! Maybe you should go away again.. ;)

Lew Stringer said...

I think the problem with doing a huge omnibus-sized book, Ryan (Manic), would be that it'd be too expensive for most fans of that vintage material. Also, much as I'd like to see collections of Comic Cuts, Chips, etc, I know I'm very much in the minority. There's no point in Rebellion spending time and money on books that only a dozen or so people would be interested in.

Even when I've covered that material on my blog, the hits have dropped drastically. Unfortunately most comic fans are only interested in their own nostalgia. (I've never understood that either, and think they're missing out on good stuff, but it's their choice.)

What I would like to see is a book, or a series in Judge Dredd Megazine, covering the history of the AP/Fleetway/Odhams/IPC comics, with selected extracts of strips. However, I'm also aware that many readers would just flip past such features.

Lew Stringer said...

I'd like to see more of the humour material reprinted too, Richard. Ken Reid was brilliant, but there's a lot more that deserves attention too. Thing is, the direct sale audience of comic shop retailers and customers have never been too welcoming of traditional UK children's humour comics. You'd think that comic fans would treat all comics with equal respect, but superheroes have always dominated. Presumably Rebellion are reaching out to the general public... people who go in Waterstones etc... who are more likely to be interested in humour comics.

I dunno, but I think it's fair to say that if Rebellion didn't have some solid plans worked out for the majority of the material they've purchased they wouldn't have bothered buying it. They know what they're doing with 2000AD etc so I'm confident they'll pleasantly surprise us with plans for the classic material.

Keith Richardson said...

I'm loving Johnny Future - never read it before...

Kal said...

Interested to see if Rebellion are open to licensing stuff for publication by third parties, as TI Media did with the Ken Reid Power Pack by Irmantas.

As to what I'd like: Humour. Can see Baxendale and Reid stuff being likely, but won't be holding my breath for much from anyone else.

Lew Stringer said...

It's brilliantly barmy isn't it, Keith? If you haven't already found it yet, there's a 14 page story in full colour in the back of Fantastic Annual 1969.

Griff said...

Adam Eterno for me please.

Now, who owns all the old TV21/Countdown material? Would love to see a collection of the strips from those.

Lew Stringer said...

Good point, Kal. It would be nice to see Hibernia or others having permission to do reprints of strips that might not be considered as candidates for Rebellion's Treasury line.

Lew Stringer said...

Griff, John Freeman explained the rights situation re: TV21 and Countdown at the link to his site. Here it is again:

https://downthetubes.net/?p=101020

Steve Maslin said...

Lew

I like your idea of selected extracts.

I really enjoy the Dandy & Beano book from the Thomson archives that comes out each year. Something that collected humour and action stories along with covers would be grat.

Nutty Big D said...

I'd like to see that early Smash serial that ran to several pages per issue, The Legend Testers.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes! The Legend Testers would make a great book. Fantastic art by Jordi Bernet.

Javier Ramirez said...

"Cursitor Doom would be a good one, Steve! It was going to be published by Bear Alley Books a few years ago until a spanner was thrown into the works when rights changed hands but that won't be a problem for Rebellion now they own it."


Actually it was published Lew, along with "Phantom Patrol", and I have them both. Steve printed an initial small number of test books to see if everything was printed properly and after checking them out, he started selling them online and was ready to print the remaining copies of the 300-books-per-collection deal. That 's when Time Inc asked for more money for the rights, and Steve cancelled the printing of the rest of the books...

Lew Stringer said...

Ah yes, sorry. I bought Phantom Patrol but didn't bother with Cursitor Doom as I already have the stories, - then forgot it had been published! Thanks for correcting me.

SLOW ROBOT said...

Thanks to consolidation, a lot of the IP created by the former ITV companies that appeared in LOOK-IN is now held by ITV. So a licensing deal with ITV Studios shouldn't be too problematic as long as the price is right and there isn't any underlying rights (or additional fees) held - for example - by the show's original creator or cast.

Of course, there are exceptions. The archives of Thames TV (production powerhouse of the network during the LOOK-IN years) and Southern TV (a big producer of children's shows) reside elsewhere.

Most problematic are shows originally produced by TVS (although I'm not sure which - if any - were given the LOOK-IN strip treatment... with, I think, the exception of NUMBER 73) which thanks to a succession of bungled changes of ownership now reside with Disney (although it is unlikely they have even noticed) but without the paperwork needed to release or repeat the programmes.

Strips based on US imports might be more of an issue... although that didn't stop Carlton Books from licensing some (like BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY) for a couple of decade-themed hardbacks.

Lew Stringer said...

I guess we'll find out in due course when Rebellion announce what plans they have. Personally I'm not too bothered about Look-In but I can see how collections of tv favourites would help to reach new markets such as fan bases for Space 1999, Robin of Sherwood, etc.

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