Monday, September 24, 2018

Preview: BLACK MAX Volume 1

After the ridiculously manic over-reaction to American comics imports in the 1950s, (see here) horror comics for kids were effectively banned in Britain under the (Children and Young Persons) Harmful Publications Act. However, publishers knew that children loved monster stories, and that a well-told horror comic wouldn't really do them any harm. They were prevented from blatantly publishing horror comics, but did manage to inject elements of such stories into their traditional adventure comics. 
One such strip was Black Max, a serial that ran throughout the short-lived Thunder anthology weekly in 1970/71, and then into the merged Lion and Thunder. Black Max was basically presented as a war story, featuring arial combat in World War One, but it was its horror element that was its main attraction. 
Episode one art by Eric Bradbury.

That horror came in the form of giant mutated bats created by evil scientist Baron Maximilien Von Klorr, who used them to attack the Allied forces. Written by Frank Pepper and Ken Mennell, it was one of the more memorable series in Thunder, and deservedly became very popular with the readers. (On a personal note, it was also a favourite of my dad's, who started reading comics again a few years before he died.)
First page of episode two. Art by Alfonso Font.

Now, Rebellion are collecting the early chapters in a book to be released on October 4th. Black Max Volume 1 reprints all the episodes from Thunder, plus the first few months of its continuation in the merged Lion and Thunder. The artwork is by the amazing Alfonso Font (who also provides an introduction and new cover), although the episode from Thunder No.1 was drawn by Eric Bradbury. (Presumably Bradbury's episode would have been drawn for the dummy issue of Thunder, and he may have been too busy to do the series once the comic got the green light months later.) Bradbury of course was a master of atmospheric horror in British comics. Font's style is lighter, but equally dramatic and his bats are the stuff of nightmares.

Black Max is a superb collection. Alfonso Font's work deserves to be seen and appreciated by a modern audience so I hope comic shops have ordered this marvellous book. If your local comic shop won't stock it, you can order it directly from the publisher here:

CREATIVE TEAM: Frank Pepper, Ken Mennell (w) Eric Bradbury, Alfonso Font (a)
RELEASE DATE: 4th October (UK) 24th October (US)
PAPERBACK, 115 pages
PRICE: £10.99 (UK) $16.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086551

Ace fighter pilot Baron Maximilien Von Klorr is the scourge of the skies, menacing the Allied forces during the bloodiest battles in WWI. Skilled, ruthless and in possession of two giant, mutated kingbats who fight by his side, Von Klorr AKA Black Max is almost unstoppable. Only the brave pilots of the Royal Flying Corps, including Lieutenant Tom Wilson, oppose the Black Max's complete dominance of the air. Thrilling supernatural war comics from the pages of classic British comics Lion and Thunder!

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

New comics event for Scotland

A new event for fans of British comics is coming to Scotland! Long-time UK comics enthusiast Colin Noble is the man behind Legend, the British Comics Minimart, in Lochore, Fife, on September 29th and 30th.

"Lochore is one of the Benarty mining villages that is still trying to find their way after the demise of the mining industry in Fife", says Colin. 

"Nothing exciting about yet another comics event you would say, but this is slightly different as the dealers and stall holders are only bringing their British comic stock.  This will be the biggest massing of British comics in over 10 years as the early 2000s used to see 1000s of British comics at the Glasgow comic marts and the National Hotel marts in Russell Square, London." Colin continued.

"As their popularity began to wane, fewer and fewer dealers would bring any British comics to any event.  Which is where we are now with even one dealer bringing a box of British comics to an event being hailed as a major find for a British comics collector."

It certainly sounds promising, and there'll be guests too! 
"As I play fair with people, I am going to hopefully see the biggest meeting of Commando comic contributors since Keith Robson’s retirement do!" announced Colin.  

"Those that have agreed to attend are Ian Kennedy (Sunday only), David Alexander (McBam Brothers, Electric Soup) and Graeme Neil Reid (2000AD, Commando).  Pop ins might include Colin MacNeil (Starblazer, 2000AD, Warhammer, Megazine) and Ferg Handley (Commando, Football PSM).  If I am really lucky some of the comic creators who live in Fife might pop in such as Gary Erskine, (Dan Dare, Star Wars, 2000AD, DC, Dark Horse and Image) Andrew Christine and Roger Kettle (Wizard, Nutty, Beau Peep, A Man Called Horace, Andy Capp) amongst others"

Colin is making sure that Legend is affordable to all. "I have watched how expensive events have become over the years so the event is priced to be enjoyed by all with adults being charged £1 and any U-16 getting in free.  Comics will be for sale with prices ranging from 50 pence to how much!  It also helps that Lochore is free parking so a family can come down, go to the local Meadows Country Park and then come back to the Comics Mart.  Alternatively, the family could drop off the family nerd, go do the shopping or anything else without being moaned at and then collect a happy geek with an armful of comics that they never knew existed!"

It's a bit too far North for me to travel but it sounds like an ideal event for the many fans of UK comics who live in Scotland! Here's the details…

Legend Britrish Comics Minimart,
September 29th and 30th 2018
Lochore Miners Welfare Social Club
Open 12 - 5pm. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

2000AD: All-new line up for Prog 2100

2000AD reaches issue 2100 this coming Wednesday. A fantastic achievement for any comic! 2000AD is the only surviving British adventure weekly comic from the 1970s, although other comics such as Viz (published every five weeks) and Doctor Who Magazine (began as a weekly, went monthly) have been around since 1979.

In celebration of this milestone, Prog 2100 will have more pages for this week, and more stories, and is the ideal jumping-on point with an all-new line up, - plus a cover by American comics megastar George Perez! Here's the info, with a preview of some of the strips...

UK and DIGITAL: 26th September 2018 £3.99
NORTH AMERICA: 26th October 2018 $7.99

In this issue:

JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

BRINK: HIGH SOCIETY by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)

SKIP TRACER: LEGION by James Peaty (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Dylan Teague (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: DEATH'S DARK ANGELS by Alan Grant (w) Jake Lynch (a) Simon Bowland (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: TIGHT GROUPING by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Available in print: newsagents and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital: 2000 AD webshop, 2000 AD apps for iPadAndroid, and Windows 10

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Amazing artwork up for auction from top comics artists

Those of us who were guests at Nice Comic Con in Bedford this year were invited by the organiser to each contribute an A3 piece of artwork for an auction to raise funds for next year's event. That auction goes live tomorrow (Friday 21st September, UK time) and will end on Saturday 29th September. 
You can peruse the art in the auction at this link:

You'll have to register with Catawiki before you can bid, so that's important.
Art by DaNi.
Artwork includes pieces by Ryan Brown, Simon Bisley, Ian Churchill, Aneke, DaNi, Dylan Teague, Doug Braithwaite, Alan Davis and many more. My contribution is my original artwork for my convention banner, featuring Combat Colin, Pete and his Pimple, Brickman, and more characters...
Good luck to all of you who'll be bidding! 
Art by Esad Ribic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mighty World of Marvel celebrates the career of Steve Ditko

The latest issue of Panini UK's The Mighty World of Marvel is somewhat special. The 100 page edition has over half of its pages devoted to the work of Steve Ditko, who passed away recently.

Editor Scott Gray has written a 9 page feature on Ditko's life and career, illustrated with many panels by the artist. MWOM had already been reprinting 1960s Doctor Strange strips so there's also the latest episode, which is The Lady From Nowhere by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and George Roussos that originally appeared in Strange Tales No.124. 

There are also several other vintage strips by the artist reprinted, including There'll Be Some Changes Made, which was Steve Ditko's first Marvel work from 1956!

Other Ditko strips in this issue are two more short stories from the early 1960s, and a long-unused Human Torch/Hulk story inked by Karl Kessel.

This issue also includes non-Ditko strips such as the regular ongoing Champions and Guardians of the Galaxy sagas. 

It's a great issue and well worth the paltry £4.50 it'll cost you to own a copy. On sale now in WH Smiths and selected newsagents! 

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