Saturday, December 28, 2019

My top five classic comics recommendations of 2019

This year has once again seen a load of books reprinting classic British comic strips of the past. Frankly, they've all been great, and this is just my personal top five although I enjoyed more books than that. It hasn't been easy to minimise it to just five titles though, and really I consider all of these to be of equal merit...

In fifth place...
Misty Presents the Jordi Badia Romero Collection.
A nice idea to see the Misty collections change their direction from small soft backs reprinting serials to a big hardback focusing on one artist. Jordi Badia Romero deserves this quality treatment and the book reproduces the strips sharply and distinctly. Well worth buying.


In fourth place...
Roy of the Rovers: The Best of the 1950s.
This is the first Rebellion book to venture this far back and it was a joy to read these earliest adventures of Roy of the Rovers from the 1950s, reprinted from Tiger. Frank S. Pepper was a master of serial storytelling and each episode is a gripping page turner to see what happened next on and off the field. (Think of the kids of the 1950s who had to wait a whole week between instalments!) It's so good to see the early work of Joe Colquhoun, over 20 years before he'd work on Charley's War but the solid foundations of his style were developing nicely here. Worth every penny! (The Best of the 1960s book is also well worth buying, and The Best of the 1970s is coming next year.)


in third place...
Ken Reid's World Wide Weirdies
How could a Ken Reid collection not be in my top five? Another winner from Rebellion, with Ken's gruesome back pages from Whoopee! and Shiver and Shake reprinted in full colour. 


In second place...
Leo Baxendale's Sweeny Toddler

At last, Rebellion publish a Leo Baxendale collection, and its the early misadventures of that baby from hell, Sweeny Toddler. The sharp reproduction is remarkable considering the pages were scanned from old Shiver and Shake and Whoopee! comics of a time when the printing wasn't much cop. This is one of the last series that Leo did before leaving mainstream comics in 1975, and it's still timeless. It also features six pages "ghosted" by anonymous artists. Well worth buying, and I hope it's not long before we see Rebellion reprint some of Leo's other strips too. 


...and in first place...
Beano and The Dandy 1937 to 1988 Classic Comic Covers.
A fantastic full colour selection of 160 memorable comic covers celebrating Bonfire Night, Easter, New Year, free gifts, and more (such as the very first Biffo strip and Keyhole Kate's only appearance as a Dandy cover star). I have a couple of reservations though as the reproduction isn't quite as distinct between the colours and the black inks compared to its previous volume and it repeats several covers from that previous Christmas Covers edition. Don't let those minor niggles put you off though. This is an unmissable book of vintage comics material that gives us a glimpse into bygone days, and for that reason it gets the top spot in my selection.

All great books, all out now. Don't miss them!
Sweeny Toddler, Roy of the Rovers, Misty, and World Wide Weirdies are all available from the Treasury of British Comics:
https://treasuryofbritishcomics.com/catalogue

Beano and Dandy Classic Comic Covers is available from Phil-comics:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/274077259164

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