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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dandy deadlines

Here's a sneak preview of this week's Kid Cops strip which will be in The Dandy on Wednesday. Once again it's a case of Health and Safety gone mad in a crime against common sense. Can Kid Cops crack it?

It's another hectic week here at Stringer Manor with another Kid Cops strip to do plus finishing off my pages for The Dandy Annual 2013 which will be out in late summer. As you may have read elsewhere, in celebration of The Dandy's 75 anniversary this year the Annual will be featuring the return of many old characters drawn by today's artists. You'll see delights such as Monkey Bizness by Mike D, Keyhole Kate by Laura Howell, and Winker Watson by Wilbur Dawburn plus much more.

I'm doing two characters for the annual. I'd like to keep quiet about which ones they are for now, as it's nice to leave some surprises until closer to publication date I think. However I will say that one is from the 1940s and the other made his debut in the 1950s. It's great fun to be working on them and I hope I do them justice.

Anyway, back to the drawing board. I will resurface later in the week...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Action packed UK news stands in May

May 2012 will see Strip Magazine stretch its reach outside of comic shops and onto UK news stands as well, starting with issue 7, reports the official website. That's the presentation cover above, with the finalized cover and content likely to be a bit different.

"The initial plan for the title's new stand presence is to target a selected range of top high street stores, but not supermarkets at this time." said editor John Freeman.

In the very same month, CLiNT magazine will be relaunched to encourage UK shops to order more copies, with a new first issue numbered 2.1 including a batch of new stories such as The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, reports Comic Book Resources.

Shades of the old rivalry between IPC's Action and DC Thomson's Bullet, although in truth I'm sure that Strip and CLiNT see each other as complimentary titles that can happily coexist in the far different UK comic marketplace of today. (Besides, CLiNT is adults only whilst Strip Magazine is for all-ages.)

More details of these exciting revamps as more information becomes available.

There will also be another adventure comic on the stands by then. A new children's title based on a licensed property and featuring strip content originated in the UK. More on that soon as well!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

35 Years of Judge Dredd

You wouldn't know it from the cover but this was the issue of 2000AD which featured the very first Judge Dredd strip, on sale exactly 35 years ago today. Prog 2, which appeared in newsagents on Saturday February 26th 1977.

Clearly no one at the time knew that Dredd would swiftly become the comic's biggest hit. Indeed they were still promoting Dan Dare as the main attraction, but Dredd's debut had something that set it head and shoulders above other UK adventure strips at the time. I for one had been a little bit indifferent about issue 1, but this issue hooked me for life, mostly due to Judge Dredd I think.

Although designed by Carlos Ezquerra, (who drew the first strip that was shelved for later use) the first published Judge Dredd story was drawn by Mike McMahon. It's a powerful opening chapter.

Back then, Dredd's adventures were self contained. Not only did this help make the strip more accessible to new readers it also gave the writers the opportunity to explore different aspects of Mega City One every week, building up the foundation of Dredd's world. The initial story concluded on the back page, giving us our first glimpse of Dredd's uniform in colour, using the basic primary colours available for newsprint at the time.

The rest of the issue featured more of the strips we'd seen in issue one, including another dynamic centre spread by Massimo Belardinelli. A far cry from previous IPC adventure comics which had featured tame strips such as Billy's Boots (Scorcher) or Phil the Fluter (Thunder) in the centre pages.

Prog 2 included another debut, - the first published page Kevin O'Neill drew for 2000AD. This was a feature on Harlem Heroes Power Gear, situated opposite the latest Harlem Heroes by Dave Gibbons.

If you're wondering what the free gift looked like, here it is. Biotronic Stickers! Back in the days when free gifts were simply placed inside the comic, not Sellotaped to the cover or sealed with the comic inside a plastic bag.

I remember when Judge Dredd's popularity prompted readers to ask if he'd ever get his own comic. Such requests were politely dismissed. Back then the reasoning was that removing Dredd to his own title would severely weaken 2000AD. It was felt that the alternative of using Dredd in both comics and finding new writers to do the additional Dredd stories wouldn't match the standard of John Wagner's scripts. But eventually they found a way and launched Judge Dredd Megazine whilst keeping Dredd in 2000AD as well, and having John Wagner write the stories for both comics in most issues.

Later this year will see the release of the new Judge Dredd movie, simply entitled Dredd. From what I've seen so far it looks very low budget, but a lot could hopefully be added in post production to make Mega City One look less like a multi-story car park. Time will tell!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Comic Heroes 11 out now

Just a quick plug for the latest issue of the UK's top comics news mag Comic Heroes which is available now from WH Smith, Tesco, and many other newsagents, comic shops etc.

Issue 11 features items on Judge Dredd, Massimo Belardinelli, Nick Abadzis on Hugo Tate, David Hine and Shaky Kane's Bulletproof Coffin, Peter Hogan on Tom Strong, and many other articles. There's also a bunch of extras for your £7.99 with three 2000AD pin badges, the Sidekick comic (featuring preview pages of upcoming comics), and a DC Comics poster.

All good stuff and a long entertaining read. For more details, plus subscription information or how to buy the digital version, see the website here:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Putting The Clock back (into comics)

The Clock was the first masked crime fighter from the early days of American comic books and was created by writer-artist George Brenner for Funny Picture Stories in 1936. Indeed he could be considered the first comic book superhero (discounting newspaper strip hero The Phantom), pre-dating Superman's debut in Action Comics by two years.

The last full appearance of The Clock was nearly seventy years ago and as he's now apparently in the public domain independent comic publisher Kult Creations have revived him for The Clock Strikes! - a nicely produced one shot British comic that's on sale now.

John A. Short is the scriptwriter for the comic and, together with artist Vincent Danks (of Harker fame), The Clock has been toughened up for a contemporary readership. The story is still set in the 1930s though, which suits this sort of noir detective thriller best.

The design of The Clock has been tweaked somewhat. Originally the character's face was hidden by a sort of black handkerchief attached to his hat. A unique but fairly silly idea that wouldn't work for this gritter update. Now he wears a full black face mask.

The Clock Strikes! is a great self contained read and it's a shame this is only a one-off as there are plot elements that could be developed into a series. Hopefully it'll sell well enough to see Kult Creations publish a sequel or mini-series.

John Short moves the story along at a brisk pace, and Vincent Danks produces impressive photo-realistic artwork. This is easily on a par with mainstream comics and worth your support.

If you're attending the Cardiff Comic Expo this weekend ( you can buy a copy from the Kult Creations stand. Alternatively they'll also be at the Bristol Comic Expo in May ( ) or you can buy it directly from their website here:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Black Bob rescues time-traveling wrestler from well

Here's Nigel Parkinson's lively cover to The Dandy No.3572 which is out now. Celeb School has been running for a few weeks now but it's good to see it promoted on the cover, and with a great illustration too. Nigel is a master of celebrity caricatures and the fact that this strip is about kid versions of the celebs makes it even harder to capture likenesses. But Nigel has managed it with ease.

No doubt some readers will be dismayed that seven pages are taken up with a special advertising feature inside for Mario Party 9 but at least it's mainly reprint pages they replace. Anyway, advertising helps keep finances smooth for the publishers so the occasional promo like this does no harm.

It's another cracking issue and well worth a look if you haven't picked up a copy for a while. As well as plenty of funny stuff from Nigel Auchterlounie, Wayne Thompson, Jamie Smart and others there's the return of Black Bob! What? Yes, the Dandy Wonder Dog (and his master Andrew Glenn) make a guest appearance in the Nuke Noodle strip by Alexander Matthews - and it's brilliant!

The last time Black Bob appeared in a humour strip was years ago in One Menace and his Dog, once of the Beano library mini-comics. But this time it's twice as barmy. A few purists will no doubt hate it, but hopefully most comic enthusiasts will see the funny side. Not that it's entirely in-jokey as it also works for readers who have never heard of the clever collie. Worth the £1.99 cover price alone I reckon.

Also this week, Andy Fanton's new series Bad Grandad makes its debut. All good stuff!

Subscribe and get 15 issues for £15:

2000AD's 35th Birthday Prog

When 2000AD was launched in 1977 very few expected the comic to survive this long. Least of all the editors, which is one reason they gave it a then "futuristic" title which would date as soon as we entered the 21st Century.

For years, speculation to the point of tedium imagined that the comic would be re-titled 3000AD by now, but the comic wisely stood its ground. After all, what's in a name? "Viz" is a nonsense word, "Dandy" and "Beano" are archaic terms, but the comics soldier on regardless.

Here we are then, at 2000AD's grand 35th anniversary, and the special bumper edition out today delivers the goods. There's a slight price increase for this week to £2.60 but for your extra 25p you get 20 extra pages featuring bonus stories reviving two old characters plus previews of strips to come. There's also an excellent free giant poster by Chris Weston featuring a gathering of characters from past and present.

Chris Weston's artwork is also used for one of the choice of covers to this issue. The other cover being by Mick McMahon. Yes, one of the original greats is back for this special edition and as ever, Mick's work is stunning. He's reinvented himself several times over the years and every time his style advances into a new direction that works brilliantly and uniquely. It's been said before, but Mick is an artist's artist. One of the giants that are always going to be leagues ahead of the rest of us.

I felt that one downside of the issue was that most of the strips are in mid-serial which may be confusing for new readers picking up this anniversary edition. I'd have thought it might have been better to have this as a 'boom issue' as we used to call them, with all strips kicking off at the start of new serials rather than with parts 7 or 9. Perhaps it wasn't possible to schedule for that.

But that's a minor quibble. The main thing is this is a very good issue indeed, and good value too, so if you haven't bought a copy yet, rev up your jetpack and get to your local thrill-merchants now!

Mick McMahon has a website, and it's brilliant:

You can see Mick's preliminary drawings for the cover here:

2000AD website:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Birthday to 2000AD

2000AD Prog 1 was published on Saturday February 19th 1977, so today is the 35th anniversary of the comic. It's an impressive achievement that it's still being published, making it the most successful British adventure comic since Commando was launched in 1961. A special anniversary issue will appear this Wednesday, February 22nd.

2000AD was launched back in the days when new comics were always backed with TV advertising and heavily promoted in other comics from the same publisher. (You can see the four page ad that heralded the launch in a blog post I did five years ago here: )

I can remember buying the first issue (that's the very copy I bought, shown above, now lacking its free plastic frisbee) and noticing how different 2000AD was compared to existing UK adventure weeklies such as Victor or Tiger. To be honest it took me a couple of weeks to get used to it, and I initially thought the splash pages and longer stories were too derivative of American comics. Admittedly at 17 (as I was in early 1977) I was going through an "I'm too old for British comics" phase so I wasn't exactly its intended readership. However by issue 2 I was hooked and realized that this was something that could appeal to all ages and that the people behind the new venture understood that comics had to change to survive. Indeed, 2000AD had replaced Valiant, proving that the old style comics, great as they had been, were no longer appealing to boys of the 1970s.

I don't have the time or the inclination to write an in-depth analysis on the comic, and it has been discussed widely over the years anyway, so I'll just show a few scenes from issue 1 that stood out for me at the time.

I felt the intro page was a bit of a "filler" back then, but it was a typical 2000AD "in yer face" way of introducing the strips and kicked off the comic with a bang.

Invasion was the lead strip. I instantly recognized the artwork as that of "The Steel Claw artist" as I called him (an uncredited Jesus Blasco) so that appealed to me straight away.

Flesh and its bloody violence felt like something Action would have published before it was neutered. Unsurprisingly it was written by Pat Mills, who had been Action's original editor (and was editor of 2000AD). Time travel and dinosaurs? Great stuff.

Dan Dare was given the luxury of the full colour centrespread in those days when comics were mainly black and white. Although I hadn't been a follower of the original Dan Dare I really didn't care for this version. However, Belardinelli's artwork drew me in.

Dan Dare was intended to be the main attraction of those early issues but the true star of 2000AD was promoted on the following page. "Next week, meet... Judge Dredd". A pocket illustration by Carlos Ezquerra heralding a character who would become legend.

Now, M.A.C.H.1 was the strip I had a problem with. The character looked and dressed like Steve Austin from TV's Six Million Dollar Man and the strip was obviously inspired by the show. No matter though. As time went on M.A.C.H.1 put its own spin on things and developed towards a far more interesting direction than any Bionic Man episodes.

Sports strips? Not for me usually, but Harlem Heroes was worth a look. Solid, enjoyable artwork by Dave Gibbons and, again, a story that developed into an interesting direction.

The one thing that 2000AD had more than any of its companions or rivals at that time was IMPACT! The strips were presented in a bold, exciting way, free from the formula layouts of Tiger and suchlike. Admittedly, DC Thomson's Warlord had done this first, but 2000AD did it better in my opinion, and the black humour that became part of the comic was another bonus.

Although I still buy 2000AD every week I do miss the style of those early issues. That original dynamic logo is probably considered not sophisticated enough for today's readers. Indeed, the loud, punky tone of those 1977 issues is perhaps too immature for the older demographic the comic is pitched at now. A shame, because although the weekly still features work by some of the top talents in the industry I feel the comic itself has lost some of its edge along the way. But, comics can't stand still and the fact that it survives proves it can still find an audience.

Anyway, if you're not already a regular reader, treat yourself to 2000AD this coming Wednesday with a cover by none other than Mike McMahon, extra strips, and a free poster to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic!

The original 1977 TV ad for 2000AD No.1:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Latest sales figures of UK comics

Above: A preview of next week's Kid Cops from The Dandy No.3572, on sale Wednesday 22nd February.

The ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) figures have just been released for publications from July to December 2011. As you may recall, the previous figures (Jan - June 2011) delivered quite a shock in regards to The Dandy, which was apparently down from 15,012 from its 2010 figures to 7,448.

There were fears that this would decrease even more, particularly as some shops no longer stock it (readers can't buy it if they can't find it) but there's some good news in that the sales seem to have stabilized. The latest figures are 7,489. A tiny increase but better than a decrease.

The issues with cover mounted toys sold above average, including the bumper Christmas issue. As distribution was better on those issues that must be taken into consideration. Getting the comic noticed is half the battle, and as some shops stuff the comics in the shelves upside down, back to front, or out of reach of children, the fact that sales have stabilized is some sort of achievement.

It's not cause to be complacent though. As production and distribution costs rise, comics still need to increase sales to survive.

The Dandy's stablemate The Beano saw a rise from 37,145 to 38,333 but its monthly version, BeanoMax saw a fall from 24,438 to 22,094. (Hopefully the fresh new cover design instigated this month will improve its fortunes.) Meanwhile, Egmont's Toxic climbed from 40,503 to 41,521. Viz fell from 67,851 to 64,233 but still remains the top selling UK comic featuring originated material (excluding nursery magazines).

You can see the full details of all the UK comics (well, the ones that submit their data) over at John Freeman's Down the Tubes site here. It's a rewarding and well researched website and shows how sales have fallen considerably on all titles over the past five years with several titles losing half their readers over that time.

The information is visibly at odds with the notion voiced elsewhere by a couple of relentless critics who always single out The Dandy and assert that declining sales of that comic are mainly due to readers disliking the modern artwork. As sales of all comics, magazines, and newspapers have plunged over the years there are obviously other factors at play apart from content that should be considered. Therefore it's a pity that "content" is regularly pinpointed by one or two spiteful people posting snide and sometimes personally insulting comments on their blogs to try and demoralize the editors, writers, artists and readers who are actively doing something to keep comics alive.

The Down The Tubes site also carries information on sales figures of comics in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, it was standard for an individual comic to sell a quarter of a million or even half a million copies a week! Of course that was an era before video games, computers, mobile phones, weekend adventure holidays or hanging around fast food burger bars posed a distraction from reading matter. However, the very fact that there are still several thousand kids in the UK who do still read comics is something to be pleased about.

ABC website:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TOXIC No.199 out today

Just a quick plug for the latest issue of Toxic which is out today and on sale for the next three weeks. It's a bumper 48 page issue, bagged with a bunch of novelties for £3.99. That should keep kids quiet for a while.

Inside, there's numerous fun features and strips including a reprint of a classic Team Toxic story I did a few years ago. There's a couple of new pages by me too, in the form of the new I-Spy double page spread which this week has a football theme.

As it's a current issue I can't really show you the spread full size but here's a tiny version of it to give you a taster. The idea is similar to the Funny Find-It spreads I did for Egmont's Know How magazine several years ago, but a bit cheekier.

This year marks Toxic's 10th anniversary and the landmark 200th issue is only a few weeks away. More details on that soon!

Current Commando comics

I'm busy working on pages for The Dandy Annual 2013 but there's just time for a quick press release courtesy of Commando editor Calum Laird about the four issues on sale this week. Take it away Calum...

Commando No 4471: The Flaming Dagger

As a 12-year-old living in Paris in the early days of the Second World War, Isaac Vidal hoped that freedom would soon come again to France. He had every confidence that it would for did not his favourite comic have a battling British hero who would thwart the Nazis at every turn?
His optimism was not shared by all, for the Flaming Dagger was a character from fiction and everybody knows that fictitious heroes never win wars. Do they?

Story: Stephen Walsh
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando No 4474: Battle In The Snow

December, 1944. In the midst of the German Ardennes Offensive, an American GI — Corporal Joe Wallace — regains consciousness after a skirmish. Suffering from a head wound, he has no memory of who he is or what happened to him and his buddies.
As he fights to regain his memory, Joe has to battle for his very survival…

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4473: Killer Ship

Every night as darkness spread over the Mediterranean, sailors of the German Navy who were on duty grew nervous and uneasy. For this was the time the ghost ship would strike.
Out of the night would roar a sleek, black E-boat with the skull and crossbones flying from its masthead.
And on its bridge stood a British sailor as bold as any pirate of the Spanish Main, Lieutenant Bart Mason of the British Navy — running his own private war.

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

1962 was the second year of Commando’s history and they struck gold time after time. Writers like Eric Hebden used their full imagination to come up with classic characters and plots, just like here. Eric’s son Alan has the same talent.
Cecil Rigby’s inside artwork works very well here, with a strong line and skillful use of black for the night scenes. There’s very little you can say about Ken Barr’s cover art that hasn’t been said before, but his capture of the speed of the killer E-boat really is something. You can almost smell the salt and the diesel!

Killer Ship, originally Commando No 44 (Nov 1962)

Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Cecil Rigby
Cover: Ken Barr

Commando No 4474: Hit ‘Em Hard!

Nick Bonner led a squadron of Curtiss Kittyhawks against Axis forces in North Africa in 1941. They were slogging it out with the Italians for supremacy of the skies. It was a tough fight, but one which was about to take a savage new twist when a ruthless group of Luftwaffe pilots arrived…

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

This super air tale from 1987 was written by Alan Hebden, who still crafts many a cracking script for us today. Interestingly, Alan’s dad, Eric, was also a veteran Commando author. Check out his sterling work on “Killer Ship”, (No 4473) the 1962 classic reprinted alongside this story.
The inside art here was by the great Jose Maria Jorge, another Commando stalwart, who sadly died in 2010 and is much missed. It’s a small consolation but at least his dynamic, wonderfully-detailed black and white line art is still with us to enjoy all over again.

Hit ‘Em Hard! Originally Commando No 2111 (August 1987)

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Jose Maria Jorge
Cover: Tony Corbett

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The day Dave Gibbons drew for Oink!

Oink! was always a comic willing to try something fresh and different and to set itself apart from the standard formula of the other IPC humour comics. So when I asked editor Mark Rogers if he'd be interested in a strip drawn by Dave Gibbons, Mark jumped at the chance.

Dave had drawn for several British comics in the past of course, most notably 2000AD, but by this time had moved on to the US market. This was 1988 and Watchmen had become one of the hottest and most important comics in decades. I'd known Dave as a friend for several years by then from attending the monthly Comic Marts at Westminster Central Hall, and the lunchtimes in the nearby Westminster Arms - then the watering hole of almost the whole UK comics industry. If I remember correctly, Dave had told me his son was a reader of Oink! (and of Transformers) so Dave was happy to contribute to the comic and we'd discussed this before I pitched the idea to Oink's editors.

I'd worked with Dave before, when he'd contributed a guest page I'd scripted for my 1986 Brickman special, and we'd team up again in 1989 on The Glut for Knockabout's Seven Deadly Sins book. (That time with Dave writing and me drawing.) Obviously I knew that, whatever I wrote, Dave would turn in a marvelous job even if I'd just posted him my shopping list as a script, so I hoped my humble effort was worthy of his impeccable talents.

Anyway, judge for yourselves as The Superhero's Day Off was the end result of our collaboration. Ever the professional, Dave went the extra mile and added additional funny details that were not in my script, such as the kid reading Oink!, the newspaper headline, and the dog's face turning blue. I believe the superhero hailing the bus, and its impact, was Dave's idea too. (I seem to recall my script just had the hero standing in a mighty pose. Dave's twist was funnier.) Dave also coloured and lettered the page by the way, including designing that eye-catching logo. Fantastic work.

The page appeared in Oink! No.49, dated 6th February 1988, with the cover running a small blurb saying "Watch Out - New superhero strip by Dave Gibbons inside". However I'd guess that many comic fans have never seen it simply because they didn't follow humour comics so hopefully this finally gives them the chance to catch it.

And if you want to keep up with what Dave Gibbons is doing now, don't miss the first issue of The Secret Service, a brand new comic book written by Mark Millar which will be on sale in comic shops this month!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Surviving in the 21st Century

This week's issues of both The Dandy and The Beano add 8 extra pages and come with cover mounted toys. They also have increased cover prices, adding a pound to the regular prices of each comic. Readers may have slowly become accustomed to this as a part of modern marketing technique (the cover mounts are no longer called "free gifts") but what's caused the most consternation this time is that The Dandy is skipping a week, and the next issue won't be published until February 22nd.

Naturally this has brought about concern from some readers, fearful that it may see The Dandy return to the fortnightly frequency it had during its Xtreme run of 2007 to 2010. However, fans can rest assured that this isn't the case. The weekly frequency, and usual price, will resume next issue.

It's gradually becoming an accepted norm in comics now that special-promotion issues are published in relation to school holidays. The theory being that you do a special issue (with more pages and cover mounted or bagged toys) that's on sale for a week or two longer, presumably with the potential of selling more copies. This may be a new development for The Dandy, but Toxic and some other titles have been doing it for a few years now and apparently it works. It was inevitable that other comics would follow suit.

The downside of this of course is that it means slightly less issues per year, and less income for the artists (unless we're lucky enough to compensate for it on other comics). There's also a risk that if there's too much of a gap between issues you'll lose reader loyalty, which is the reason IPC, DC Thomson, etc never did monthly comics years ago. (A month seems a lonnng time to wait when you're a child.) However it's hard to argue against a marketing technique that, these days, seems to pay off, and if it increases the sales of a title in the long term then it's better for all concerned.

Readers and creators who have followed comics for several years will understandably be dismayed by this, but publishing comics today is far tougher than it was in the 20th Century. We'd all prefer to see British comics return to the way they were in our youth, both in presentation and marketing, but the realities of publishing and retail aren't sympathetic to that. Much as I hate the term, the "business model" has changed. Time moves on, and the best that comics can do is to adapt, adjust their budget, and find ways of staying viable whilst getting on with the main task of entertaining the readers.

Strangely enough, American publishers operate with a completely opposite marketing technique. Several titles from Marvel Comics have increased their frequency in order to boost finances. Amazing Spider-Man is regularly published twice a month now (as is the UK edition Astonishing Spider-Man) and some other US titles also double up some months. Of course the readership of Marvel Comics is older than that of The Dandy and they're more invested in a soap-style "fix" so the more "episodes" the merrier. (Although some Marvel readers have expressed concern over the affordability of the increased frequency.)

Like anything, comics have to adapt to survive, and if the occasional boom issues/skip weeks work then we all benefit in the long run. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, so when The Dandy returns in two weeks time, give it a big hug.

The Dandy No.3571, with 44 pages and cover mounted Dart Shooter, is on sale now priced £2.99.

Subscribe and avoid price boosts by getting 15 issues for only £15:

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Viz now available as an App

Viz, the adult comic which started out as a self-published mag with a print run of 200 copies, then later went ballistic with sales of a million, now has its own App. Here's the press release from Rok Global with all the info...

ROK Global PLC, the mobile and web technology, applications and services company, has announced its latest mobile application, a highly innovative iPhone application featuring characters and content from the hugely popular adult comic ‘Viz’, has been launched on the iPhone App Store.

Developed for Dennis Publishing, the Viz Strip Teaser iPhone application will provide customers with all the latest Viz characters and content. One issue is included in the free download, with subsequent issues priced at £1.49.

“Viz is a national institution in the UK so we’re delighted to have been chosen to develop the magazine’s iPhone app which we’re confident will prove very popular indeed.” Said Jonathan Kendrick, Chairman of ROK Global.

ROK Global is the parent company of ROK Comics (, publishers of Team M.O.B.I.L.E. ( and the digital edition of Britain's adventure anthology STRIP Magazine for iPad.

ROK has pioneered many new technologies and services in the rapidly-evolving mobile and web space including high quality mass-market Mobile TV (which can be streamed, live and on-demand, over 2.5G as well as 3G and Wi-Fi) which it licenses to Mobile Operators, revenue-generating applications available direct to consumers via the leading application stores, mobile security technologies which it licenses to law enforcement agencies and multi-language text-to-speech technologies which it licenses to website owners.

Check out for more info and here to obtain the Viz Strip Teaser.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Comics exhibition at the V&A

I didn't know about this until I read about it on the Comics UK forum today but the Victoria and Albert Museum is currently hosting an exhibition of British adventure comics.

Entitled On Eagle's Wings: British adventure comics, 1950-1969 the exhibition covers the boom period of boys and girls adventure weeklies ushered in by Eagle in 1950 and runs from January 7th to May 27th. Free admission.

This was truly a golden era for UK comics, seeing the launches of Lion, Valiant, June, Victor, Bunty, Commando, Hornet, Tiger, TV21, and numerous other adventure titles that left a lasting impression on the British comics industry and the readers.

For more details visit the V&A website.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Preview: CLiNT No.14

CLiNT No.14 isn't on sale until February 16th but here's a glimpse at it in advance, courtesy of Titan Magazines.

The last few issues have seen the mag jettison the weaker material (eg: humourous articles that never really worked), scrap the celebrity photo covers (no more beardy Frankie Boyle staring out at you) and focus on comic strips and related features. It's a massive improvement and CLiNT really holds together much better now.

Issue 14 really delivers the goods. There's a full 25 pages of Kick-Ass 2 by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr and Tom Palmer, 23 pages of Superior by Millar, Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan, 25 pages of Graveyard of Empires by Mark Sable and Paul Azeceta, and a massive 12 page interview with Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, and Tom Brevoort on the future of Marvel Comics.

No Rex Royd this issue, which I have mixed feelings about although I was beginning to warm to the strip. (The episode in the previous issue was quite layered and intriguing. I just wish it was easier to follow.) Apparently issue 15 will give us a double length episode to compensate.

For me, Kick Ass 2 and Superior are still the strongest strips in CLiNT and I'll be sorry to see them end in issue 15. The hyper-violence tinged with black comedy perfectly suits what CLiNT is all about. That shouldn't be too surprising as Mark Millar is both the author of those strips and editor of the comic. The strips really pile on the destruction in these penultimate chapters with Millar and his artists really understanding the beat of producing exciting modern adventure stories.

I know the hyper-violence and bad language of CLiNT isn't to the tastes of some readers, and that's fair enough. My personal feeling is that if one can enjoy a variety of TV shows from Doctor Who to Spartacus: Blood and Sand, or a variety of music from Glenn Miller to the Sex Pistols, one might also appreciate a variety of comics from Commando to CLiNT. There's room for everything.

CLiNT No.14 goes on sale in UK newsagents and comic shops next week (February 16th). 100 pages for £4.25. Adults Only, kids. Sorry.

In the meantime, CLiNT No.13 is still on sale if you're lucky, featuring all the above-mentioned strips plus interviews with various comics pros including Garth Ennis. Here's the cover by Brian Hitch:

Monday, February 06, 2012

Mike White R.I.P.

Sad news just in. Mike White, artist of numerous British adventure strips passed away at the weekend after a long illness.

Mike's first regular strip was Jackaroo Joe for Valiant about a swagman from the Australian outback brought to the UK, preceding a similar plot in the film Crocodile Dundee by 21 years. Here's the first episode from issue dated 30th October 1965...

Mike White also drew many other series for Fleetway/IPC including Cannonball Craig for Score 'n' Roar and The Team Terry Kept in a Box for Lion. Here's the final episode of that strip from the last issue of Lion in 1974...

Mike also illustrated various strips for DC Thomson (usually one-off stories). His solid, professional style made him ideal for the boys' adventure comics. In 1976 the artist developed a grittier edge to his usually clean inkline when he illustrated Hell's Highway for the tough new IPC weekly Action.

Mike also used that darker, more detailed style of artwork when he became the artist of Action's most controversial series, Kids Rule OK. From the outset (shown below) this was one of the most brutally violent strips IPC had published and it (and other strips) led to the public outcry against the comic which saw Action suspend publication for several weeks to return in a diluted form.

Many comic fans will be most familiar with Mike White's work on 2000AD, particularly his collaboration with writer Alan Moore on the Time Twisters story The Reversible Man. This memorable complete story told of a man literally living his life in reverse. The story appeared in 2000AD Prog 308 in 1983.

Mike also had a popular run on Roy of the Rovers for six years, bringing a new dynamic energy to the strip. He also illustrated various stories for Commando, with his most recent work appearing last year.

Able to master both black and white and colour work Mike White's powerful images were perfect for British adventure comics. I'm sure that comic scholars with broader knowledge of Mike's work than I will soon be paying their tributes to the artist elsewhere with more details of his long and impressive career.

Yesterday on his own blog, artist Mike Perkins wrote: "I've had the honour to go drinking with Mike a few times and had always found him to be a lovely bloke - with a curmudgeonly streak - accompanied by a plethora of tales. He arrived in London during " The Swinging Sixties" and, by his accounts, he made the most of it - regaling me with tales of drinking Oliver Reed under the table and another, unmentionable tale, involving Felicity Kendal! It's my belief that he was in love with the theatre and felt compelled to pursue this as a career. I have no idea why he didn't but am glad that he chose the path he did - enriching so many lives with his artwork even if he himself believed he left no lasting impression unlike those talented "kids" Bolland and Gibbons. I like to think that, in our times drinking in the Lord Salisbury pub, I had persuaded him, just a tiny bit, that his work was, indeed, influential on, at least, my life."

My sincere condolences to Mr White's family and friends for their loss.

More information on Mike's work is on this page written by Steve Holland:
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