Friday, December 14, 2018

Preview of WILDCAT: TURBO JONES

Wildcat was a very short-lived IPC comic of 1988/89 that deserved to last longer than it did. Now that Rebellion have the rights they're about to publish a collection of some of the stories as their latest book in the wonderful Treasury of British Comics line of classics. 

Available next month, Wildcat: Turbo Jones features some top class artwork by Ian Kennedy, Vanyo, Keith Page, and an uncredited full colour story by John Gilliat. Scripts are by Barrie Tomlinson. I'm sure its publication will delight fans of the comic and will also attract readers who haven't seen it before. This is cracking old-style adventure comic enjoyment! 

CREATIVE TEAM: Barrie Tomlinson (w) Ian Kennedy, Vanyo, Keith Page (a) 
RELEASE DATE: 10th January 2019 (UK) 23rd January 2019 (US)
PAPERBACK, 146 pages
PRICE: £14.99 (UK) $19.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086650
DIAMOND: NOV181944

In 2488 Earth history professor, Turbo Jones predicted that the planet would be destroyed in 2500 by a vast meteoroid storm. Ridiculed by the world’s leaders, Turbo spent the next twelve years constructing a huge spaceship and employing a group of volunteers to help him leave the Earth and find a new home in the stars…

After months in space, Turbo and his senior staff including former mercenary Loner, the mysterious Kitten Magee and the last survivor of Xgangbe-4, Joe Alien, have found a potential new home.  Now they need to get down onto the planet and make sure that it is safe for the five hundred colonists and livestock aboard the Wildcat…

Available in print from: 2000 AD webshop, book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond.


Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop, apps for iPadAndroid Windows 10










Hotdog and Mustard! New comic from Marc Jackson

The ever-busy Marc Jackson, publisher of Goof!,  has a brand new comic out next week. It's called Hotdog and Mustard and will be published on 20th December, - but you can pre-order it right now!
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/651523612/new-hotdog-and-mustard-available-for-pre/

Marc describes it as "Hotdog is a big dog, Mustard is a small dog. When Mustard cheekily opens his owners mail, they embark on a crazy day that involves a robot, a carpet, a plane crash and Don Johnson! All told in real-time the comic is designed to be read out loud and is perfect for first time comic fans, with big, bold bright pages and plenty of wackiness and laughs!"

I've seen a preview and, as you'd expect from Marc, it's a fast paced fun adventure in his inimitable style. Anything can happen in a Marc Jackson comic, and that's just how comics should be. This is indeed ideal for younger readers and the only drawback is that it's being published a tad to close to Christmas to make it as a stocking stuffer, - but treat them to it for the New Year!

Here's a preview of the first few pages...




Thursday, December 13, 2018

TV21 STINGRAY SPECIAL (1965)

For comic collectors, there comes a moment when you realise it's time to stop buying back issues. Usually when the house is full of comics that took you 50 years to buy and you know you don't have another 50 years ahead of you to read them all again. The other incentive to stop is when you realise you've acquired all the issues you ever wanted. 

TV 21 Stingray Special was a comic I had when it was published in 1965, but as I didn't start collecting until 1967 I binned it after reading it. I've re-acquired all the other comics from that period I wanted, - and more, - by completing runs that I'd hadn't originally, but this Special had proven to be elusive, - until last week. (I'd bid on copies in the past but had missed out.)

Like the final piece in a jigsaw puzzle, it gave me a sense of completion to buy it on eBay. It wasn't cheap, but it's in great condition and, if this is to be the last back issue I buy, then it'll have been worth it. 

TV21 Stingray Special was the very first "summer special" for TV Century 21, although there would be two more that year (TV Century 21 Summer Extra and TV Century 21 International Extra). It included two free sticker badges made of fabric, which I wore proudly on a summer blazer I had. (Hey, I was only six.) 

As the title suggests, the 48 pages are completely dedicated to Stingray and no other strip from the TV21 weekly. Stingray was very popular on TV at the time and was yet to be overtaken by the debut of Thunderbirds later that year. The contents are a mixture of comic strips, a couple of prose stories, and what modern fans would now call "filler", with puzzles, games, and articles on sealife, sea faring vessels etc. 
The opening spread gives us an introduction by "Troy Tempest" (in reality editor Alan Fennell) and an Oink the Seal half pager drawn by George Parlett (brother of fellow cartoonist Reg Parlett). Oink was an occasional comedy-relief character in the Stingray TV series...
Next we get a four page Stingray prose story, Barracuda 5, illustrated with photos from the show. As the publisher City Magazines worked in close association with A.P. Films (and later Century 21 Publishing) photos were easy to come by for the comic. Especially with the editor also being a writer on Gerry Anderson's shows! 
Here's another Oink the Seal story by George Parlett from the issue, this time in colour. The top class 'Photogravure' printing method was perfect for reproducing painted artwork. 
Nest, a Stingray story, Double Trap, illustrated by Ron Turner, one of the best artists of the period. Good as Photogravure printing was, it was also expensive, so the first two pages of the story were in black and white, and the last two in colour. Turner was ideal for this, being accomplished in both black and white and rich colour artwork. Here are pages one and four of the story...

After several pages of puzzles and features (far too many, I thought) the centrespread of the comic features a board game. I remember playing this back then with my mum. It was always nice to have a board game in the middle of a summer special.
After a few more feature pages and another prose story, we come to The Big Freeze, a four page Stingray strip drawn by Ron Embleton. Again, two pages in colour, two in black and white, but such quirks were commonplace in Sixties comics and we didn't mind. 
A few more puzzles and suchlike and we have the final strip which features Marina, Girl from the Sea. It tells the story of how Marina came to be Titan's slave, which was never revealed on TV, and ends with scenes adapted from the first Stingray episode where Troy and Phones free Marina. 
I don't know who drew the Marina strip. It's a bit awkward in places because although the artist is skilled he's trying to draw the characters' bodies too much like the TV puppets instead of representing them as humans with realistic proportions, as other artists did.
...and that was the TV21 Stingray Special. Some parts of it rang bells from my childhood, but most of it I hadn't recalled. A tad too many feature pages, and only 15 and a half pages of strip out of 48 pages, no doubt to keep it in budget. However, the quality of art by Turner, Parlett, and Embleton is first rate and overall it's a nice thing to have... again, after 53 years! 

If these strips seem familiar to those of you who are younger than me it's because they were reprinted in Egmont's Stingray comics of the 1990s, but for my money you can't beat the original comics in their large tabloid size! 




Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Review: APOLLO

Those of us old enough to remember the 1960s and the "space race" will know it was a genuinely exciting time to be a child. The endeavours for humans to reach out beyond Earth were rarely out of the news, and it became part of the zeitgeist, influencing children's fiction and toys. We devoured anything to do with outer space. The decade ended perfectly with man finally landing on the Moon in 1969, a moment that those of us who watched it on TV will remember in amazement forevermore. The picture quality wasn't up to much, but that only made us appreciate the distance those images were travelling from. Wondrous times.

The story of that first Moon landing is ideal for comics, depending on the creators of course. In lesser hands, 150 pages of three blokes cooped up in a space rocket and jumping about on the Moon for a while wouldn't be that satisfactory, but Apollo is handled by creators who know their stuff and have produced a compelling read. 
Written by Matt Fitch and Chris Baker, and drawn by Mike Collins (with colours by Kris Carter and Jason Cardy), Apollo uses techniques to keep the story moving along in a visually interesting way that's well suited to comics. The book begins with the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969, then there's a flashback to the tragedy of Apollo One to show us how precarious those missions could be. There are numerous other flashbacks during Apollo 11's journey, telling us more about the three astronaut's personal lives, hopes and fears. Fitch, Baker, and Collins build up the tension well, and even though we know how things turned out, there are still some moments of anxiety for the reader. That's a sign of a good comic, to pull the reader in and keep those pages turning.
Mike Collins is a good choice as artist, and not just because he shares the same name as one of Apollo 11's crew. His 35 years of experience as a professional artist have enabled him to draw anything with ease, and choose layouts that keep the pages interesting and varied. 
The colours by Kris Carter and Jason Cardy suit the art well, although the use of the Photoshop Colour Halftone filter is a little distracting at times. I was a bit disappointed that some dialogue used the F-bomb several times, which I felt was unnecessary. Not that I'm prudish, but because I think Apollo would have been perfect for school libraries, and that language would presumably prevent that. Don't let these small quibbles put you off though. For mid-teens and adults, this book is ideal.

The back of the book has an appendix with technical drawings of the spacecraft plus bios of the main characters, which is a nice bonus. Apollo is a great record of one of the most important events in history, and deserves a place on your bookshelf.

Apollo by Matt Fitch, Chris Baker, and Mike Collins. Graphic novel published by SelfMadeHero, London. £15.99 hardback. ISBN 978-1-910593-50-9




TOXIC No.315 is out now!

Despite the metallic red and green foil cover colours, the latest Toxic magazine is decidedly unfestive. Even so, it's another fun issue that would make a good stocking stuffer. For £4.99 readers get Toxic No.315, plus an additional 32 page Fortnite magazine, and a bunch of gifts.

Inside Toxic's 40 pages there are bright and breezy features on the latest movies and games for kids, plus puzzles, pin-ups, and of course the comic strips! 

This time, Team Toxic (written and drawn by me) continues from the previous issue where we left them powerless, and now three of their most persistent baddies turn up to take over the city! How can they be stopped? Find out in Toxic No.315, out now from newsagents and supermarkets all over the UK!
If you want to subscribe to Toxic, or buy individual issues by post, you can do it by visiting this link:





The Christmas EPIC magazine (2018)

The latest issue of D.C. Thomson's Epic is out today, with a special festive polybag and cover. There are a few Christmas features and puzzles inside too, but unfortunately none of the strips have a Christmas theme. Nevertheless, there are laughs with Over Reaction Man by Alex Collier and Steve Bright...

...and Hygiene High by Niall Murray and, er, me! 

Plus a few mini-strips, uncredited.

Epic No.154 is available from newsagents and supermarkets priced £4.99.





Reviews

I'm woefully behind on my comics reviews, so I'm catching up by putting a bunch of them together in this post and a couple more later today. The reviews are briefer than I'd intended, but I hope it brings some good comics to people's attention anyway.

First up we have Frankenstein, Texas by Dan Whitehead and David Hitchcock. As the title suggests, Frankenstein and his monster arrive in America. Unexpectedly, a Western setting suits the iconic characters well, thanks to the skills of the creators of this 64 page comic. Smooth writing from Dan Whitehead, and detailed, atmospheric artwork from David Hitchcock, whose work I've admired for several years now.
It's a cracking story and despite some violence and mild cussing, I'd say it was suitable for older children to adults. There are some very nice bonus back up illustrations too from guest artists DaNi, John McCrea, PJ Holden, Jerry Paris, and Doug Slack. You can order a copy from this website:
https://gumroad.com/l/franktx

Writer Dan Whitehead.

Also by the same writer is Hex Loader No.3, continuing the contemporary supernatural story. Again, good writing that flows well, and nice realistic artwork by Conor Boyle. 
My only gripe is that there's no resumé page/captions so one has to remember what happened in previous issues. Not easy when the comic is only published once a year and you've mislaid the previous two amongst piles of other comics. (Or is that just me?) Worth following though, and you can buy all three from this link:
http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hexloader/



Next up we have Starfall, published by Blackhat Comics. This was backed by people supporting the creator's Patreon page and the result is a 32 page full colour comic. Written by Adam Blackhat and drawn/coloured by Valentina Sannais, Starfall is an adult superhero story. 
The artist, Valentina Sannais, is an emerging new talent and one to watch. There's good figurework in her drawing and I really like her unusual but appealing use of colour. The script moves along at a good pace and packs a lot in. 
Artist Valentina Sannais.
I'm not quite sure how you can get a print copy other than from Val's table at comic cons, but you can support their Patreon and read the online comics at this link:
https://www.patreon.com/starfallwebcomic



The final publication in this review section is Back, Sack and Crack (and Brain), a 224 page graphic novel by Robert Wells. Comics can be about any subject, and the subject here are the embarrassing health problems suffered by the author. Yes, it's autobiographical, and Robert takes us through every detail of the chronic pain he's endured in his bowels, his back, and his testicles, and the treatment (and sometimes mis-diagnoses) he's received. 
It's not a book for the squeamish, but Robert's art is very matter-of-fact and his cleanline style helps to make it more palatable. I have to confess I was left thinking "Did I really need to know all that?" but, and it's a big but, I'm sure it could help people in similar situations to know what they might expect. There's a lot of dark humour in there too, in case you were concerned it was a dry medical record. If you like slice-of-life stories then you can't get more down to earth than this. 

Back, Sack and Crack (and Brain) by Robert Wells is available from bookshops such as Page 45 and Waterstones. ISBN 978-1-4721-3675-6




Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Christmas / New Year DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE

Here's the polybag cover for Doctor Who Magazine No.533, which goes on sale on Thursday 13th December. It includes an exclusive preview of the New Year’s Day Special, plus an interview with Sharon D Clarke, Out of the TARDIS with Frazer Hines, the DWM Christmas Quiz, a free poster & much more!

...and, although there's not a Christmas Day episode of Doctor Who this year, there will be a festive Daft Dimension from me in the magazine. Here's an extract of one panel...

Doctor Who Magazine No.533, out from Thursday in all good newsagents and supermarkets!





Nick Fury in Suspense

I loved Alan Class comics. For those of you who have never heard of them, they were 68 page black and white reprints of American comics. You'd get a mixture of strips from Marvel, Charlton, and ACG packaged into each issue. The selections were mostly random, so you might have a Fantastic Four story in there one month, but a Spider-Man one in the next issue, - regardless of whether the stories were cliffhangers or not. 

Alan Class was the publisher and the comics ran for years, eventually becoming reprints of reprints, and with a publication frequency as random as their content, until one day they stopped altogether.

I wrote about them a few years ago (here) but the reason they're on my mind again today is that I just noticed that the eBay seller phil-comics has an issue of Amazing Stories of Suspense No.94 up for auction, which reprints Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD No.4 from 1968. Yep, the one with that iconic cover by one of my favourtite artists, Jim Steranko, that many artists have since homaged in their own work. (The story inside is drawn by Frank Springer, by the way.)

This is the first time I've seen this issue since it was in the shops around 1969 so I thought I'd post the cover here, and of course acknowledge Phil with a link to his eBay page where you'll find many wonderful old comics:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/philcomics

If you're interested in bidding on this comic, here's the link:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Amazing-Stories-of-Suspense-comic-94-1960s-A-Class-JB-FR-GD-phil-comics/273592447466




The next four COMMANDO comics


5183: Home of Heroes: Raid over Heilbronn

Among the snowy clouds above Germany hides many eager Me 109s waiting to poach a fat British Bomber! Iain McLaughlin weaves a tale of isolation and tension aboard a Lancaster on the long, fraught journey to its target. But will the men aboard W-for-William return from their bombing raid over Heilbronn?

| Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Paolo Ongaro | Cover | Janek Matysiak |


5184: Gold Collection: Coward in the Cockpit

Imagine a pilot being frightened of the plane beneath him! Well, Sergeant Pilot Jack Warren might have had trouble performing in the cockpit, but once you got him on the ground with a captured Luger in his hand he was a different man!  

| Story | Wilkinson | Art | Fleming | Cover | Buccheri |
Originally Commando No. 280 (August 1967).


5185: Action and Adventure: The June Winter

Jason Cobley tackles the controversial action of the Falkland’s War in his second ever issue of Commando! Yomp with the marines of 3 Commando after entering a war on the other side of the world, where many didn’t understand why Britain was fighting so hard to keep the Falkland Islands… but they would find out.

| Story | Jason Cobley | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino |


5186: Silver Collection: Mystery of the Sands

Lieutenant Chris Craven was a traitor! Or at least that’s what everyone had thought… For over fifty years, the mystery of Craven lay undiscovered in the North African desert but the men who served with him would finally learn the truth!

| Story | CG Walker | Art | Gual | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2894 (October 1995).


Monday, December 10, 2018

A classic WHAM! cover


I've always liked this Tiddlers cover by Leo Baxendale, ever since I saw it used as an advert for the weekly back in a Wham! Annual in the 1960s. I recently bought this issue and I like the art even more now I've seen it in its published size. Wham! No.71, dated 23rd October 1965. (There's no way a children's comic today would put a kid dressed as Hitler on the cover, or show such an assault on a teacher. Wham! could be irresponsible but Baxendale always made it look funny.)

As I've mentioned before, you can easily spot Leo's art for Odhams as he signed most of it. Several artists were told to imitate his style, and ones such as Mike Lacey, Mike Brown, and Graham Allen did a superb job (and were funny creatives in their own right) but always look for the signature. If it's absent, chances are it's not by Leo Baxendale. (Also remember that Leo never drew any pages for the Odhams annuals, so eBay sellers claiming otherwise are wrong. And... Leo left Odhams in 1966, so later issues of Wham! - and no issues of Pow! - feature his work, only that of people drawing in his style. 

These days, Rebellion own the rights to these old comics, so maybe they'll collect some classic Wham! material one day. There's nothing scheduled for 2019, but perhaps in the 2020s you'll be able to buy the collected Tiddlers or Eagle-Eye, Junior Spy. Who knows? 



Sunday, December 09, 2018

Terry Bave

I've just heard the sad news that the cartoonist Terry Bave has passed away. I received a message from his son which read:

"Hi, it with deep heart to let you know that Terry Bave passed away, after a short illness, on 6th December 2018. He was drawing, despite his illness, right up to the end. His last creation being an wedding anniversary card in October to his wife. They had been married 66 years. He will be missed by all his family and friends, and countless comic followers.
All the best,
Russell Bave (Terry's son)"

Terry was born in Bristol in 1931 and had been freelancing as an illustrator since the 1950s. In the 1960s he approached Odhams for work and was given Sammy Shrink to draw in Wham!, taking over from the original artist David Jenner. Sammy would prove to be a huge hit, and was revived in the early 1970s for Whizzer and Chips and ran for many years.

Terry's clean, pleasant style was always very popular with the readers, as were the scripts, mainly written with his wife Shiela. Terry and Shiela came up with many new characters for the expanding IPC line of comics in the 1970s, having continued success with strips such as Me and my Shadow, Jimmy Jeckle and Master Hyde, The Slimms, Calculator Kid, Donovan's Dad, and many more.

In the 1990s he found work with D.C. Thomson, becoming the new regular artist on Winker Watson for The Dandy, and later he published his autobiography Cartoons and Comic Strips. He retired in 2007. 
My sincere condolences to Terry's family and friends at this sad time. Fans of his work will also be saddened but the best way to remember him is through the thousands of pages he drew over his long career, bringing fun and smiles to millions of children. Here are just a few examples....
Sammy Shrink from POW AND WHAM (1968)
Swots and Blots from SMASH! FUN BOOK 1971
Me and my Shadow from WHIZZER AND CHIPS No.1 (1969)
Bertie Bumpkin from JET no.1 (1971)
Puzzle page from BUSTER AND MONSTER FUN HOLIDAY SPECIAL (1990)
Good Guy from BUSTER (1994)
Terry Bave's autobiography, Cartoons and Comic Strips, is available from Lulu here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/terry-bave/cartoons-and-comic-strips/paperback/product-20625272.html

John Freeman has written a lengthy memoriam on his Down The Tubes blog:
https://downthetubes.net/?p=102852



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