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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Titan launch SUICIDE SQUAD No.1

Hoping to cash in on the popularity of the upcoming movie, Titan Comics have today launched Suicide Squad in their own 76 page monthly comic, available from WH Smith and various newsagents. To be more accurate, the full title of the comic is DC Legends: Suicide Squad, perhaps with the intention of changing the main feature at a later date.

The comic reprints three stories from DC Comics of recent years. As the PR says, "The Suicide Squad are sent on a mission to Moscow, but Harley Quinn is aggrieved by the sight of one of her teammates – the Joker’s Daughter, who’s wearing the face of her ex-love, the Joker! Meanwhile, master assassins Deathstroke and Deadshot butt heads over who’s the best – but reluctantly have to join forces."

Titan will also be launching a Harley Quinn comic in two weeks' time, on 14th July, bringing the range of British DC Comics back to seven titles. (Sadly, Batman continues to be missing in action in some branches of WH Smith, and isn't even on Smith's ordering system. Titan have been made aware of the problem which has now been ongoing for at least five months.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

This week in 1962: THE TOPPER

The Topper had a very long run, from 1953 to 1990, then was relaunched as The Beezer and Topper from 1990 to 1993. For most of its original run, The Topper was a large format, A3 sized comic, unmissable on the stands. 

Here's a few pages from issue No.491, that was on sale this week in 1962. The Mickey the Monkey cover strip is by Dudley Watkins, albeit in quite a loose style for him. (Understandable, considering he was drawing at least half a dozen regular pages a week at this stage.)

In her usual position on page two was Beryl the Peril, drawn by Davy Law. The last panel may seem alarming to modern sensibilities but many strips ended with the child being beaten in those days. The humour came from the inventiveness of the deed but it happened so regularly it sometimes felt like a lazy solution to a story. 
The Topper only had 12 pages a week in these (relatively) early issues. (It increased to 16 in 1964.) In the centrespread of this edition was the second chapter of the adventure serial The Last Warriors, drawn by Ron Smith. Stunningly detailed artwork...

One of the comic's most popular strips was Send For Kelly, drawn by the brilliant George Martin. Secret Agents were in vogue in the 1960s and this series was not only a great spoof of the genre but a superb strip in its own right.
For many years, The Topper ran Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy strip in its pages, reprinting the American newspaper strip. In 1962 it was also featuring another U.S. strip from the Sunday papers; The Katzenjammer Kids, renamed The Bustem Boys for British readers...
On the back page of this issue, Dudley Watkins' glorious adaptation of Treasure Island, - but this too was a reprint, as it had previously appeared in The Topper in 1953... and before that in The People's Journal in 1949... as well as being collected in book form in 1950 and 1959. A popular strip! (Source of that info: Topper Tales by Ray Moore.)
The Topper was a great comic, and a favourite of mine in the late sixties. Long gone now, but still fondly remembered by many.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

DWM 501 preview

The 500th issue celebrations continue this Thursday when Doctor Who Magazine No.501 arrives in the shops. The issue comes bagged with posters and prints, and there's an exclusive interview with Tom Baker, as well as other features on the 4th Doctor. There's lots more too of course, including news, reviews, a new 12th Doctor comic strip, plus another Daft Dimension strip by me. Don't miss it! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Magnificent MACC-POW!

One of the many nice things about being invited to conventions is that you get to visit places you might otherwise never think of going to. Such was the case with my first visit to Macclesfield last Saturday for the Macc-Pow! comics event.

I arrived at Macclesfield station early on Saturday morning to be greeted by Spider-Man himself (or maybe one of his alternate Earth versions)! When fellow Aces Weekly artist Emma Chinnery arrived on the following train, we were given a short and enjoyable guided tour through the scenic route of the town by Spidey with photographer Fiona Bailey and her daughter. 

Macc-Pow! was part of the Barnaby Festival, a local annual event that had its origins in the 11th Century and was revived several years ago celebrating the local arts and culture. This was the first year to include a comics convention, which was thanks to the hard work of comics creator Marc Jackson and his team. 

The convention was quite a small event but it had a good footfall of visitors all day keeping myself and the other guests busy. Speaking of those other guests, it included Leah Moore (writer of Albion, and Black Shuck with her husband John Reppion), Paul Grist (creator of Kane and Jack Staff), and Sean Phillips (artist of Criminal), all well known names in the world of comics. 
Sean Phillips and Leah Moore.
Paul Grist.

All the comics creators were in the main hall alongside exhibitors and dealers such as Wow! Comics, a new independent comics shop in Manchester.

Outside of the hall, there was a corridor decorated with numerous character designs by local schoolchildren, the promising artists of the future. 

In other rooms there were cartoons being shown, and a live link up to artist James Kochalka in the USA so that Marc Jackson could interview him. Power of the internet! (James had also supplied many small pieces of original art that were for sale.) 
James Kochalka via the wonder of the web!

Marc with art by James Kochalka.

It was a family-friendly event and indeed it did attract a far greater number of families than other conventions I've attended. Mostly members of the general public, rather than seasoned comics fans, but of course they were all familiar with The Beano! This was a good thing, as it meant that Macc-Pow! was making people aware that comics are still around in a diverse number of styles.

Here's a few words from Marc Jackson about the event...

"When setting out back in October to put on Macclesfield’s first-ever comic convention (within the Barnaby Festival) I was basically entering the unknown. I’ve been to a few conventions and been lucky enough to be a guest at one as well, so I knew what to do and more importantly, what not to do. The most important thing, was to value everyone involved and look after them all. I wanted a mini-con that embraced my love of comics, showcased exceptional artwork and was family friendly and had something for everyone. I wanted the youngsters to engage with it and generally welcome my hometown and visitors from far and wide, to the wild world of comics. So, with handwork, determination, lots of help from family, friends, Barnaby volunteers and an extremely well-polished brass neck, I think I managed to do it. It was a great day and if we only did this once, Saturday 25th of June in Macclesfield in Cheshire, will go down in the annuls of comic history as a great day for funny books! Thanks to everyone who came, our amazing guests, up and coming artists and each and everyone one of our visitors! MACC-POW!"
With organizer Marc Jackson.
I think Macc-Pow! can definitely be considered a success and I hope it returns next year. My thanks to Marc and his team, as well as my comics pals, for a fun and uplifting day! 

Here are a few more photos of the day. The outdoor shots with Spider-Man are by Fiona Bailey ( while the others are by Richard Buck ( 

Thunderbirds Are Go mag revamped

The current issue of Thunderbirds Are Go magazine sees a significant change. The screen-grab photostrip adaptations of TV episodes are gone, replaced by artwork, with the episode Tunnels of Time recreated as an (uncredited) 8 page comic strip.

There's also the regular features and activity pages, and the mag comes bagged with two exclusive good quality gifts; a Top Secret Mission Log Book (a hardback notebook with a combination lock) and a Tag Badge made of fabric. 

Thunderbirds Are Go No.10, published by D.C. Thomson, is in the shops now. £3.99.

Bacon Bits

Last week's copy of Big Issue North featured a three page article by Dan Whitehead on the legendary Oink! comic. It covered the history of the much-loved publication and contained comments by editors Tony Husband and Patrick Gallagher plus TV's Charlie Brooker (who was just 15 when he contributed his hilarious strips to Oink!). Dan was a reader of it himself as a boy so it's great to know that the comic helped inspire him to pursue a creative career. Oink! - Long gone but never forgotten!   
Help those less fortunate by buying the Big Issue from a street vendor. Weekly, £2.50. (£1.25 goes to the vendor. Please buy from badged vendors only.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New art prints!

When I published Brickman Returns! last September the plan was to do more comics featuring my old characters. As it's turned out, I've been too busy with mainstream comics work to start on another title just yet, so for the time being I've decided to publish a few prints. 

Just delivered from the printers this morning is The 7 Ages of Fan, a drawing I did in 1998 that a lot of people wanted as a print, and now it is, in luxurious full colour, A4 size. Secondly, an A5 size print featuring six of my characters, (with brief info about each on the reverse). They join the two postcard-size prints of Combat Colin and Derek the Troll I did recently and all will be on sale at Macc-Pow! this Saturday (with mail order availability soon). I'll also have issues of Brickman Returns and Brickman Begins with me too, and I'll be drawing sketches on commission, so drop by my table!

...and if you can't make it to Macclesfield but you're going to the Exeter Film and Comic Con this weekend, look out for Nigel Parkinson's table as he'll be selling Brickman Returns too! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New graphic novels coming soon

"Where are the British comics these days?" Look to the bookshops my friends. Don't just browse the newsagents. London based publisher SelfMadeHero are releasing a number of graphic novels this Autumn. Here's the details from their press release...

New Graphic Novels and Visual Narratives for Autumn 2016
SelfMadeHero brightens up the Autumn with a range of graphic novels that includes biographies of the controversial Roger Casement and the eccentric Salvador Dalí, highly anticipated new work from award-winning creators Box Brown and Rob Davis, adaptations of short stories by Deborah Levy and M.R. James, original fiction from one of the Netherland’s brightest young talents, and a gift book to encourage gratitude.


[Paperback | RRP £12.99 | 136pp | Colour]
Writer/artist: Fionnuala Doran
Human rights campaigner, Irish patriot, British traitor. Knighted for his humanitarian work after exposing human rights abuses in the Congo and South America, Roger Casement’s commitment to Irish independence saw him imprisoned after the Easter Rising of 1916. He was put on trial – and finally hanged – for treason, but before that he was “exposed” as a homosexual. With the establishment gathering evidence against him, he delivered one of the most celebrated courtroom speeches of all time. Written and drawn by Irish artist Fionnuala Doran, this is a poignant celebration of an extraordinary life in the centenary year of Casement’s death.

ONE YEAR WISER: A Gratitude Journal
[Hardback | RRP £11.99 | 240pp | B&W]
Writer/artist: Mike Medaglia
Following on from the hugely popular One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations and One Year Wiser: The Colouring Book, artist and Zen Buddhist practitioner Mike Medaglia has created a journal to encourage you to stay mindful of everything you have to be grateful for, and to keep a record of the moments that make life worth living. An enjoyable way to remember all the wonderful things that happen to you.

[Hardback | RRP £14.99 | 160pp | B&W]
Writer/artist: Aimée de Jongh
Simon Antonisse, a bookseller, has hit hard times. Contemplating the closure of his family business, he withdraws deeper and deeper into himself. When he witnesses a suicide, it brings up feelings and memories he’d rather forget. But when he meets the mysterious Regina, she helps him confront his past – and imagine a better future. An emotionally perceptive and compelling tale from one of the finest young Dutch comics artists.

[Paperback | RRP £12.99 | 104pp | Colour]
Writer: Deborah Levy; Artist: Andrzej Klimowski
Highly respected novelist and Booker Prize nominee Deborah Levy (Swimming Home, Hot Milk) has adapted the short story "Stardust Nation" (from her Black Vodka collection) into an absurdly funny and unsettling graphic novel. Drawn by Andrzej Klimowski (Behind The Curtain), it takes us into the world of Nikos Gazidis, who seems to have unwittingly crashed into the consciousness of his boss. An unforgettable graphic novel about memory, empathy and how we are, all of us, connected. Originally scheduled for release in spring 2016, this will now be published in September.


TETRIS: The Games People Play
[Paperback | RRP £12.99 | 256pp | Colour]
Writer/artist: Box Brown
You’ve played the game – now you can read the book. Created by the Russian Alexey Pajitnov, the simple but addictive video game was a twentieth century phenomenon. This graphic novel explores its creation in 1980s against the backdrop of the Cold War and its subsequent success, taking in bidding wars, backroom deals, miscommunications and copyright theft. Written and drawn by Box Brown, best-selling author of Andre The Giant: Life and Legend.

[Paperback | RRP £12.99 | 160pp | B&W/Colour]
Writer/artist: Edmond Baudoin
Renowned French comics artist Baudoin explores the surreal life and times of Salvador Dalí, capturing his eccentric behaviour and reflecting on his artistic legacy. Commissioned by the Pompidou Centre, Dalí is a fascinating portrait of one of the world’s most talented painters and self-publicists.
The latest in SelfMadeHero’s Art Masters series.

Vol. 1
[Paperback | RRP £9.99 | 64pp | Colour]
Writer: M.R. James; Adapters: John Reppion and Leah Moore; Artists: various
Adapted from the short stories of M.R. James, master of the English ghost story, this volume reimagines four of his most compelling stories in graphic form. These atmospheric, terrifying supernatural stories are to be read on a dark winter’s night with the wind blowing outside and the fire dwindling to a glow. M.R. James has an enormous influential on many horror writers including Ruth Rendell and Neil Gaiman.


[Paperback | RRP £12.99 | 160pp | B&W]
Writer/artist: Rob Davis
Sequel to the darkly surreal The Motherless Oven, that won the British Comic Award in 2015. Vera’s mother is the omnipotent Weather Clock; she presides over the satellite town of Head Acre, which hovers a few hundred feet above Bear Park. Her father is a can opener; he spends most of his time in Vera’s pocket. Stranded in the dark wood beyond Bear Park’s boundary fence, Vera hatches a plan to save her friend Scarper Lee from his certain fate – but can she make an unlikely hero of herself? The Motherless Oven was also nominated for the “Best Graphic Album” Prize at the 2015 Eisner Awards.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Comic oddities: STARCOM (1987)

This 8 page A4 size comic, Starcom,  was presented as a pull-out in the middle of a comic or magazine in 1987. (I've long forgotten which title.) It was a promotional item for a new range of toys but what makes it interesting to comics collectors is that it features a six page comic strip drawn by Garry Leach. (Just five years after he produced the memorable visuals for the Marvelman revival with writer Alan Moore for Warrior.)
The 3-D technique for comics was back in vogue at the time and Starcom used it to give a wonderful aspect to Garry's already fantastic artwork. It came free with a pair of 3-D specs, which I'm afraid you'll need to see these pages in all their glory. (Or any 3-D specs from other comics should do the job too.) Failing that, you could improvise your own 3-D Specs by holding a piece of transparent red plastic/film over your left eye and green transparent plastic/film over the right eye. 

Here's a few examples from the comic. As always, click on the pages to see them much larger.

The back page of the comic showed the actual toys the strip was based on. They're unfamiliar to me as I was long past the age of playing with toys by 1987 but I'm sure that some of you must have fond childhood memories of them. Feel free to post your comments below about the toys and/or Garry Leach's great artwork.
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