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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More classics from the 1980s collected

Ireland-based publishers Hibernia Comics, who have previously published collections of strips such as The Tower King and The Thirteenth Floor (see here) have recently released two more books, - and they're the best yet. 

First up is The Best of Library of Death, which reprints the short self-contained horror shockers from 1980s weekly Scream! As the comic's editor Ian Rimmer explains in his introduction, the beauty of these stories is that he was able to commission a variety of writers and artists. And what talent! In this collection there are strips by Ron Smith, Mike Western, Cam Kennedy, Steve Parkhouse, José Casanovas and more. There's a couple of early Dave Gibbons strips too, which although used in the 1986 Scream! Holiday Special had originally been commissioned in 1973 for an aborted IPC horror comic.

I'd forgotten what a high standard of work had appeared in Scream! Although it wasn't a 'blood and gore' horror comic it certainly had some creepy moments of terror in its strips such as The Punch and Judy Horror Show illustrated by Brendan McCarthy.

Fans of Steve Dillon should be interested in this too, with the five page Beware the Werewolf strip illustrated by the artist from a script by Simon Furman.

The other book published by Hibernia this week is Baker's Half-Dozen, collecting the complete war serial from Speed comic (1980). 

Although 2000AD was already running credits at the time, Speed had more of a 'traditional' (ie: old fashioned) attitude about it and the creators of the strip were uncredited. There's no certainty who wrote Baker's Half-Dozen (possibly Angus Allen) but there's no mistaking the dynamic artwork by the excellent Mike Western.

The plot is typical boys' comic fare; fast moving, uncomplicated and full of potential for action at any given moment. "North Africa, 1942. Six allied soldiers led by the violent and mysterious Sergeant Baker - had formed themselves into a fast-moving desert raiding force." 

It's the powerful, tough artwork of Mike Western that makes the strip memorable. Western was one of Fleetway/IPC's top artists, - and one of the best comic artists the UK has seen. If you're already a fan of his work you'll know this book is essential for your collection. If you're not so familiar with him (he died in 2008) this is the chance to own some of his best material. 

Both The Best of Library of Death and Baker's Half-Dozen have excellent sharp printing and are squarebound softback books. Publisher David McDonald is doing a wonderful job bringing these classics back with the permission of Egmont UK. As I've said before, I think that independently licensed books like these are the only way we'll see certain British strips back in print. Let's hope Hibernia Comics continue to delight us with such productions.

You can order copies of the books from the Hibernia Comics website here:


Big D said...

I might check both of those out. They look pretty interesting.

Can I just say how happy I am that British comics are getting more reprints these days?
They were a big part of my childhood and it's really nice to be able to go on a proper nostalgia trip.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes it's good to see the classic material reprinted. Egmont seem agreeable to let Hibernia produce these books and Steve Holland's Bear Alley Books are reprinting some DC Thomson material with permission too.

I only wish IPC (or Time Inc or whoever owns the rights now) would reprint some of the pre-1970 strips they own, or at least license them out to another publisher at an affordable rate.

Jason Towers said...

What Big D said.

Lew, thanks for spotlighting Hibernia -- they're doing a great job and deserve more attention. Thanks also for mentioning Bear Alley Books, which I hadn't heard of before.

Lew Stringer said...

You're welcome Jason. David at Hibernia and Steve at Bear Alley put a lot of time and care into their books and they're well worth buying.

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