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Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Daredevils: the posters

When I wrote my overview of the 1983 comic The Daredevils last week I promised I'd be showing you the posters that appeared in the issues. Without further ado, here are all 10 posters that appeared as centre-page pull-outs in every issue (except No.3, which carried an advert). These were brand new pieces of art commissioned by editor Bernie Jaye from some of the UK's finest talents. I don't think most of them have ever been reprinted. Marvel may have even forgotten about them. 

Issue No.1, January 1983: Daredevil by Garry Leach. 

Issue No.2, February 1983: Spider-Man by Paul Neary.

Issue No.4, April 1983: Black Panther by Mick Austin.

Issue No.5, May 1983: The Special Executive by Alan Davis.

Issue No.6, June 1983: Mephisto by John Higgins.

Issue No.7, July 1983. Art by Alan Davis. A promotional poster that readers were encouraged to ask their newsagents to place in their shop. If the shop agreed, and gave the reader a note confirming it, Marvel would send the reader a replacement poster signed by Alan Moore and Alan Davis. Did any of you out there get involved in this promotion? 

Issue No.8, August 1983: Elektra by Dave Weir. 

Issue No.9, September 1983: Brotherhood of Evil Mutants by... not sure. Could it be the work of Jerry Paris? Let me know if you can identify the style.

Issue No.10, October 1983: The Fury by Alan Davis. 

Issue No.11, November 1983: Merlin and Roma by Alan Davis.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Here comes Summer!

Summer Specials for both The Dandy and The Beano should be arriving in the shops in June, or you could order them directly from the publisher DC Thomson. (Update: Available around June 16th.) 

Yes, although The Dandy sadly ended as a weekly in 2012 it still continues as a Summer Special and an Annual. I'm not sure how much of The Dandy Summer Special 2015 is new or how much is classic reprint, but I know some of its contents are new. (Nothing by me in there I'm afraid.)
According to the cover blurb, The Beano Summer Activity Special contains "All New Beanotown Adventures", but I haven't seen either Special yet so I don't have a clue as to the contents. Covers for both issues are by Nigel Parkinson.

I presume that, as with last year's editions, both publications will be in the squarebound 'bookazine' format with card covers. 

Summer has well and truly arrived!
D.C. Thomson have moved into merchandise quite a bit in recent years, with various items available using their comic brands. Amongst the items you can now buy are a Dennis the Menace long-sleeved stripey T-shirt, a box of 100 Beano postcards, and T-shirts featuring covers from Jackie comics magazine. Check out the DC Thomson Shop for more information.  

All images in this post are Copyright © D.C. Thomson and Co. Ltd.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The latest Doctor Who Magazine

You can't go wrong with Daleks on the cover and this new CG image of the original early 1960s style Daleks graces the front of Doctor Who Magazine No.487, on sale this Thursday 28th May.

The 84 page issue will be once again packed with features, plus another 12 page chapter of the comic strip Blood and Ice by Jacqueline Rayner, Martin Geraghty, David Roach and James Offredi. Jacqueline's script has been compelling so far and I'm keen to see where Part Three takes us.

There'll also be another Daft Dimension strip by me. Here's a little preview of one panel in the rough pencil stage and my completed version. Yes, The Doctor and Clara visit Blackpool... in 1894!

Can't tell you any more than that I'm afraid as my complimentary copy hasn't arrived yet due to the Bank Holiday postal delay, but look for the issue in newsagents and supermarkets this Thursday! £4.99. 

The official website will no doubt be updated this week with more info: 

New ICE poster

Here's the latest poster for the International Comics Expo (ICE 2015) event on September 5th (plus the Comics Uncovered event on the following day). I'm proud to be part of such a great line up and I hope that many of you will be there! To find out more, go to the website here: 

So... will I see you there? Are you a regular attendee of comic events or are you a cautious newbie? (These events are always friendly and informal so if you've never been to one, take the plunge!) Post your opinions below...

Monday, May 25, 2015


By the early 1980s Marvel UK had progressed considerably since the company's early days of reprint weeklies edited from New York and packaged by a London office. Now based in Kentish Town Road, Marvel UK had expanded its staff and its commitment to producing home-grown material. In January 1983 they launched The Daredevils, a 52 page monthly with a mixture of reprint and brand new material.

It's often thought that The Daredevils was intended to rival Dez Skinn's Warrior, which was likely to be the case. (Dez, an ex-Marvel UK editor, had set up Warrior the previous year.) I remember Alan Moore remarking that he and Alan Davis were in the strange position of competing with themselves, as they were doing Marvelman for Warrior at the very same time they were producing new Captain Britain stories for The Daredevils.

The Daredevils No.1 kicked off with a new cover by Paul Neary, and, inside, a new 8 page Captain Britain episode (which would increase to 12 pages in later issues). 

The comic's editor was Bernie Jaye, although Alan had a large influence in suggesting feature ideas which Bernie was happy to accommodate. For example, for the first issue Alan also wrote a six page article on Frank Miller's Daredevil (being a perfect accompaniment to the reprints of Miller's Daredevil strip in the comic), and a regular Fanzine Reviews column. 

I get a little annoyed when I hear some fans today claiming that Alan Moore hates fandom. In fact it's complete bol... well, to put it politely, nothing could be further from the truth, as proven in the pages of The Daredevils. Alan had his roots in comics fandom and was always encouraging new creators. With his Fanzine Reviews pages he went out of his way to promote fanzines he'd often paid for himself. This was a big deal for those of us starting out back then. No other British comic was promoting 'zines in this way, but here was Alan Moore giving us free publicity in a comic sold on the High Street. 

Another regular feature in The Daredevils was Frank Plowright's News Feature, looking at upcoming American comics. It even promoted those published by Marvel's rivals.

Humour was provided in the form of the Earth 33 1/3rd mini-strip by the ever-brilliant Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett.

There was also an Early Artwork feature, with each issue showing the very early work of top creators such as Dave Gibbons, Garry Leach, and David Lloyd...

The first few issues of The Daredevils also featured serialized Spider-Man reprints by Stan Lee and John Romita, although these were dropped after issue 4 to make room for more British material. The comic was rapidly developing into something unique and unmissable; a publication that not only featured comic strips but embraced them with well written articles and features. 

Every issue (except No.3) featured a full colour centrefold poster with new artwork by UK talent. I'll be showing these in more detail in a few days time. 

Issue 6 saw the start of a series of Night Raven text stories written by Alan Moore, with art by David Lloyd on the first chapter and Alan Davis in following issues.

The Daredevils No.7 (July 1983) has a personal significance for me because it's where my first professional comics work appeared. Again, this was due to encouragement from Alan Moore who introduced me to Bernie Jaye at a Westminster Comic Mart. Alan bigged me up, Bernie asked me to submit some ideas to her, I sent off a bunch of What If cartoons and they started appearing from issue 7. I'll always be grateful to Alan and Bernie for giving me my first break. Here's that very first one...

Issue 8 saw the publication of a great Daredevil spoof by Alan Moore, Mike Collins, and Mark Farmer. Grit brazenly parodied the Frank Miller Daredevil strips that were appearing in the same comic. This was Mike Collins' first professional work, again thanks to Alan Moore's input. Here it is...

Sadly, despite The Daredevils being one of the most unique and entertaining comics in the UK, it wasn't to last. With sales lower than hoped, Marvel UK pulled the plug with issue 11, merging it with The Mighty World of Marvel the following month. Disappointed, Bernie Jaye and Alan Moore quit, although some new material did continue for a while in MWOM. Other writers took over Captain Britain, Night Raven, and the comics/fanzine reviews. 

The Daredevils lasted just under a year, but what a year! If you've never seen it, the issues are worth collecting. Marvel UK went on to produce more new material of course (and I went on to do Captain Wally, Robo-Capers, Combat Colin, and more for the company) but they never did another publication with such a great mixture of strips and comics features. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rarest ACTION in Auction! (UPDATED)

Back in 1976 when IPC were forced to suspend Action weekly because of its violent and anti-authoritarian content there was one issue that was never distributed. Only 30 issues of the issue dated 23rd October are thought to exist now and one in great condition is currently on eBay!
The bidding ends on 31st May and at time of writing (23rd May) the bids have already reached £521. Far too high for my pocket but it'll be interesting to see how much it finally goes for. 

If you want to bid, or just follow the auction, go to the phil-comics page by clicking here

My thanks to Hibernia Comics for bringing this to my attention. Images taken from phil-comics' eBay page.

UPDATE 26/5/2015: On his Down the Tubes blog, John Freeman has dug a bit deeper on the background to this story and found that a full print run of this issue was printed, but the large majority were pulped. See here for the details:

UPDATE 31/5/2015: The winning bid was a staggering £2,555.00. Blimey! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SCORE 'n' ROAR No.1 (1970)

With their first new boys' adventure comic Scorcher having been established for several months, IPC launched another football weekly on Saturday 12th September 1970. Score 'n' Roar used the same gimmick that IPC's Whizzer and Chips had pioneered a year earlier; two 'rival' comics in one. 16 page Roar was inside 16 page Score and could be separated by opening up the staples.

Kicking off the new comic the first strip was Jack of United, superbly drawn by Barrie Mitchell. A fairly standard football strip about two rival brothers but the interesting thing was that the plot concerning Jack's brother Jimmy continued into his own strip, Jimmy of City, in Roar.

Unlike Scorcher's newsprint format, Score 'n' Roar had the benefit of expensive photogravure printing. This enabled an excellent reproduction of photographs and the comic took full advantage of this by including several feature pages. Score had its opinion page written by 'The Captain'. I'm presuming the chap in the photo may be the comic's editor Dave Hunt. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
Cannonball Craig was somewhat like Scorcher's Billy's Boots in that its star was a youngster who was useless at football until aided by artificial means. In Billy's case it was his magic boots, and in Craig's case it was... wait for it... nuclear irradiated bubble-and-squeak! The artwork on this first chapter is by Mike Western, but Mike White drew later episodes.

Here's how Roar was bound into the centre of Score...
Roar's first strip was the aforementioned Jimmy of City by Barrie Mitchell, continued from Jack of United in Score...
Roar had its own opinion page headed by 'The Inside Man'. I'm pretty sure that the photo is of Bob Paynter, group editor of IPC's humour comics. He was a bit greyer when I knew him but that was 14 years later. I doubt Bob actually wrote the column but comics often used photos of staff members in this way. 
The great Tom Kerr was on board, illustrating the two page Peter the Cat strip. The name was inspired by real-life goalkeeper Peter Bonetti who was nicknamed 'The Cat', but the strip is not about him. 
The centre pages featured Mark Your Man, an Agatha Christie style mystery involving a process of elimination of the suspects. Art on episode one by Geoff Campion, but John Catchpole drew later episodes...
A supernatural three-pager next, with Phantom of the Forest about a ghost footballer. Art by Eric Bradbury, but Jesus Blasco drew later episodes. (I'm guessing that so many of the strips soon lost their original artists because the first episodes would have been produced many months earlier for the dummy issue and perhaps they couldn't fit the extra workload in regularly.)

The Mudlarks next, with art by Ted Kearon.
Back to the second half of Score for the next strip, and the one that was destined to become the most popular and enduring. Here's the very first episode of Nipper, illustrated by the Solano Lopez studio giving it a bleak, grimy look befitting the setting of the fictional industrial town it was set in. Nipper was actually written more like a story from a girls' comic, with an aspect of pathos and the underdog's struggle against his situation. He even had a cruel guardian. Clearly this touched a chord with readers and the strip survived for many years, transferring to Scorcher, and later Tiger, when the comics merged. I don't know who the writer was on these early Nipper strips but Nat Munger is a great name for a bad guy!  

After the grim despair of Nipper, the comic lightened things up for its last strip with Lord Rumsey's Rovers, a comedy drama drawn by Douglas Maxted (although another artist soon took over in subsequent weeks).
Overall, I felt that Score 'n' Roar was a better comic than Scorcher. Its stories seemed stronger and the better paper enabled good photo features. It soon added a humour strip, Trouble Shooter by Graham Allen, and you can see an example of that on a post I did seven years ago (click here). Sadly the comic didn't survive for long. Its paper quality declined and merged with itself in 1971, dropping the Roar part of the title, and then Score merged into Scorcher with the issue dated 3rd July 1971. 
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