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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Elephantmen: War Toys No.1

First off, I'll declare my interest in this title as I write/draw/colour/letter the Brickman back up strip for the comic. Any bias aside, this is still one of the best comic books out there.

Elephantmen: War Toys is a three-issue mini series replacing the regular Elephantmen comic for a few months. (Elephantmen returns in 2008, with No.12.) This mini-series gives writer/editor Richard Starkings and artist Moritat the opportunity to step outside the regular continuity and tell the back story of the "Elephantmen", the genetically created human-animal hybrids. The "War Toys" being the footsoldiers created by the Mappo organization purely for the purpose of war. A sobering reminder that war serves corporate interests. This is a war story for mature sensibilities, thankfully leagues above the juvenile gung-ho antics that besmirched British boy's comics for so long.

If the 22 page lead story wasn't value for money in itself, which it surely is (the comic costs no more than the standard 32 page Marvel or DC title), the rest of the 44 page comic features a package of bonus features:

* Previews of upcoming covers.

* Sketches and convention photos from Elephantmen's first year. (4 pages)

* Feature on cover artist Boo Cook. (3 pages)

* Richard Starkings' recollections of John Burns' Countdown strip, illustrated with plenty of artwork from that 1971 sf series. (4 pages)

* Sketchbook feature on the artwork of Ladronn. (5 pages)

* The latest Brickman strip, co-featuring Combat Colin. (1 page)

As you can see, being an ex-pat, Richard Starkings ensures that the comic has a degree of "Britishness" about it, with his regular features on British artists (Gerry Haylock scheduled for issue 2), my humour back up strip, and now Boo Cook on covers. The whole package with its "extras" feels like a special-release DVD, or perhaps more like the British comics of the past which relied on more than one story to fill the pages. Mention should also be made of John 'JG' Roshell, who gives the comic its distinct design and who always produces top class work.

Elephantmen: War Toys No.1 costs $2.99 and is published by Image Comics. As you can see from the top of this article, there's a choice of two covers: one by Ladronn, one by Boo Cook. Both are excellent.

The comic is available only in comic speciality shops (not newsa
gents). Sadly, some shops seem to under-order on this title, but they should be able to order you a copy from the distributors if requested.

More info on this comic:

Website of Richard Starkings' Active Images:

Comicraft (the comic book font company) website:

Website of publisher Image Comics:

Click on this image to see a fantastic video preview of Elephantmen: War Toys:

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