Friday, November 04, 2011
Strip Magazine is here!
After delays outside the publisher's control the first issue of the new British adventure comic Strip Magazine has finally arrived in comic shops.
It's an impressive debut. Kicking off with an eye-catching cover by PJ Holden we're treated to 68 glossy pages for a mere £2.99. Considering that most US comics now cost around £2.20 for 20 story pages Strip Magazine is a definite bargain. (There's also a free gift in the form of an A2 sized Mirabilis poster.)
The comic is packed with brand new comic strips and a few features about UK comics, plus, by arrangement with Egmont, the return of Hook Jaw (from the notorious Action weekly of 1976) in colourised reprints with new lettering by Jim Campbell (replacing the flat typeface used on the original).
Intended for an all-ages readership Strip Magazine features an emphasis on action-adventure rather than a reliance of talking heads or gore. The strips move at a fast pace but still cram a lot in to establish the characters and plots. Subsequently that can lead to a bit of overload in places, somewhat like being introduced to loads of new people at a party and expecting to remember everyone's names while the music's blaring out. This is particularly evident in the lead strip Black Ops Extreme, which is a brilliantly lively opening for a new comic but might need a couple of re-reads to remember who's who.
Every strip in the new comic has good things going for it, from the aforementioned fast moving Black Ops Extreme and Recovery Incorporated, to the humourous touches of the alternate-Earth complete story On Her Majesty's Hush-Hush Service. There's an interesting supernatural element to Warpaint (and a great cliffhanger), and some very nice John Ridgway artwork in Age of Heroes.
Above: A panel from Hush-Hush by Keith Page.
The articles in the first issue include an interview with Black Ops' artist PJ Holden, a feature on the history of Action by Moose Harris, and items about Print Media's graphic novels. There's also a couple of humour strips; Cosmic Patrol by Mauricet and Janssens, and Autospy & Ape by Toxic's John Rushby.
If I have any criticism it's that, as yet, there's not really one strong standout character that could be the next Dan Dare, Judge Dredd, or Steel Claw. However it's possible that Mia Raven of Recovery Incorporated might prove me wrong after a few issues. (Personally I'd have simply called the strip Raven. Strips with the names of the hero tend to be more memorable than the organizations they work for. I doubt Roy of the Rovers would have had the same impact had it been titled Melchester Rovers for example.)
It's early days yet though and Strip Magazine is off to a great start. There's not a dud strip in the comic and all the stories contain action and intrigue. What more could you ask for? Comparisons to 2000AD and CLiNT will be inevitable, but perhaps unfair. 2000AD has had over 30 years to build up its fanbase and its characters, whilst CLiNT is deliberately post-watershed and ultra-violent. Strip Magazine has its own approach and is closer in spirit to all-ages traditional UK comics such as Lion but uses contemporary storytelling techniques and attitudes. Let's hope this is the beginning of a long and successful new era for UK comics. Issue 2 is scheduled to be published on December 1st.
Strip Magazine No.1 is available from comic specialist shops such as Forbidden Planet (not newsagents). It's also available to download on the iPad, and postal subscriptions will also soon be available. See the official website for more details: