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Sunday, July 31, 2016

JINGLES No.525 (1947)

It has to be said that, even for 1947, Jingles was looking quite old fashioned in its design and tone, compared to its lively rivals Dandy and Beano. The format of Jingles was the same that the publishers (Amalgamated Press) had been using since the end of the 19th Century; 8 tabloid pages with an equal balance of strips and text stories. However, at least Jingles had full colour on its front cover; something lacking in most of its sister papers from A.P.

Jingles had been launched in January 1934. According to the late Denis Gifford, "Jingles was the first AP experiment in upgrading their penny comics to appeal to middle-class readers and their parents. It was their first two-colour penny comic, and its immediate success led to the publication of a companion comic, Tiptop. Golden followed, and shortly the traditional penny comics, Chips and Comic Cuts, also went into two colours, as did Jolly Comic." 

Although its cover was printed in two colours for the first six years, Jingles upgraded to full colour covers in 1940. However, wartime paper shortages also caused it to change from weekly to fortnightly that year too. A frequency that lasted until 1952. Jingles ended in 1954, merging into T.V. Fun.

Here are a few examples from issue No.525, dated September 20th 1947. The Dreamy Dennis strip on the cover above is drawn by Albert Pease, using the old daydream theme with funny results.

On page 5, Strongheart, The Wonder Dog of the Woods, drawn by Hilda Boswell, one of the few women artists working in British comics back then. (More information at Steve Holland's Bear Alley blog here:

Beneath the Strongheart strip was Jolly Jingles, by George Parlett...

On page 6, Little Jim Jolly and his Magic Brolly, drawn by George's brother, Reg Parlett. After which, a text story Twilight Tales, as a cautionary anti-bullying tale...

On page 8, the back page, a complete adventure story, My Big Thrill. Unusually for AP, it credits an artist, Tony Brent, unless that's a pseudonym...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

50 years ago: WORLD CUP WILLIE

It's 50 years to the day since the 1966 World Cup and England's memorable victory against Germany that England fans haven't stopped going on about ever since. I've never been a football fan but I did watch that match on TV with my dad (who also wasn't a footie fan but we were swept up with the excitement of the times). What I did like, as a 7 year old back then, was the England mascot World Cup Willie. This cartoon lion appeared on various bits of merchandise including badges, T-shirts, and even bars of nougat. 
One of the best items was the World Cup Willie Rolykin, similar to the Rolykins of the Daleks and Batman that were also around then produced by Louis Marx. I'm not a toy collector as such but I have saved a few toys I had as a child. As you can see from the photos, the 'Rolykin' was a plastic figure (4cm tall) that had a metal ball bearing in the base so you could roll it along smoothly. If memory serves me right, this simple but enjoyable toy was only 1/- (5p). 

There was also a World Cup Willie comic strip in TV Comic for a while. Here's a page from September 1966, drawn by Bill Mevin I think...

Do you have any memories of this mascot you'd like to share? If so, post a comment below. 

It's free! MOOSE KID COMICS No.3

What could possibly be better than a brand new issue of a comic? How's about a brand new issue of a comic that's free? Yes, Moose Kid Comics is back again and the third packed issue can be downloaded or read online free at the website:

Moose Kid Comics is the brainchild of cartoonist Jamie Smart, who has gathered together a host of top contributors including Tom Paterson, Rachael Smith, Marc Jackson, Roger Langridge, and many more. 

If you're interested in reading more about the comic, John Freeman has the details over on his Down the Tubes blog here:

Moose Kid Comics! For kids and big kids everywhere!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: ROK OF THE REDS No.2

The second issue of this SF football comic Rok of the Reds moves the story along superbly, thanks to the experienced writing skills of John Wagner and Alan Grant. They really are the two top writers in British comics, delivering a script that is clearly told, absorbing, advances the plot, and has a great cliffhanger.

Dan Cornwell once again proves to be a good choice as artist, with a style that has elements of traditional British comics but also a modern attitude to page composition. As with John and Alan's writing, Dan's visual storytelling abilities carry the adventure along effortlessly. There's no confusion here as to what's going on, as is often the case with some modern comics. 

This episode sees the alien Rok assume the form and memories of arrogant footballer Kyle Dixon, adapting his attitudes to fit in with the humans. Can he maintain his secret? There are echoes of Alan Grant's old Doomlord series here, but Rok goes its own way. 

For anyone bemoaning that "they don't do comics like they used to", this is perfect for you. It's like a contemporary take on the sort of serials that would have appeared in Lion or Scorcher in the 1970s. That said, it should also appeal to today's readers too. And don't be put off if you're not a football fan. I'm not either, but I still found it completely gripping. 

The best news of all is that issue 3 is out already, so I should have that in a few days time. You can buy all three issues from the publisher's website here...

If you're at the London Film and Comic Con this weekend, be sure to visit John Wagner's table in the Comics Zone, where he'll have copies to sell, and I'm sure he'll be happy to sign them for you. 

You can also buy copies from the artist, Dan Cornwell, by contacting him on his website:

Brickman of Clay

I really like this! Long-time comics fan Mel Horton has made a model of my Brickman character out of clay, based on a drawing I did for him at a convention this year. I feel honoured that he chose one of my characters to make, considering that Mel is a big fan of the old Odhams comics. It'd be great to see him do a Grimly Feendish or Cloak one next wouldn't it? 

Mel has a blog too, where he's created some nicely animated Smash! covers. Check it out here:

If you haven't already bought any Brickman titles, they're still available from my online shop, but the digest book Brickman Begins! (published by Active Images, 2005) is now in short supply and once it's gone, it's gone! Order them from here:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Panini previews

Essential X-Men No.1, on sale 25th August.
Here are the covers to Panini's revamp of their Marvel Collectors' Editions. As noted the other week, now that they're featuring the post-Secret Wars stories, they're re-starting most of their comics with new volumes. 

So far, it looks like The Mighty World of Marvel will be the only one to continue its current numbering, with issue No.29 on sale 25th August, the same day as Essential X-Men (Vol.4) No.1. 

These comics also bring the reprints closer to their original publication date, with most stories only a year (or less) behind the American comics. With each issue containing 100 pages (settling back to 76 pages with the second issues) there's never been a better time for new and lapsed readers to jump on board. 
Marvel Legends (Vol.3) No.1, on sale 18th August.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Latest COMMANDO news

Fresh from D.C. Thomson, here's the lowdown on the four issues of Commando that will be in shops from tomorrow. Two reprint, two brand new issues...

Commando issues 4935-4938 – On Sale 28th July 2016

Commando No 4935 – Firebrand!
 Siblings Ian and John Jenkins were both R.A.F. pilots. Ian was the elder, calm and confident. John was younger and hot-headed, a definite firebrand. Based in the North-East of Scotland, they protected the coast against attack from the marauding Luftwaffe.
   However, when tragedy struck, John found himself embroiled in a mystery — one that involved death, destruction and even espionage. And it seemed there was a family connection. The firebrand was determined to find the answers…whatever the cost.

Story: Colin Watson
Art: Janek Matysiak
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4936 – Fighter Ace
 “Flame Squadron” they were called in the R.A.F. But to the baffled pilots of the Luftwaffe they were known as “Flame Devils”.
   When an aircraft was shot to pieces, cartwheeling across the sky in a mass of flames, somewhere in that blazing Spitfire a cool fighting brain still functioned, a finger still pressed the firing button. Long after any pilot must have perished, each plane carried on flying.
   As the Luftwaffe’s terror grew, one of Germany’s top spies was sent to ferret out the secret of the “Flame Devils”…

 This curio from 1966 has a vaguely supernatural premise about indestructible Spitfire pilots who can seemingly survive the flames of aerial battle — Commando with a pulp fiction, or even science-fiction, flavour. Then, however, author Boutland’s (first name unknown) story veers into espionage territory, making it more of a traditional tale — but one that’s certainly well-drawn by Arias and with a moody action cover painted by Buccheri.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Fighter Ace, originally Commando No 206 (March 1966), re-issued as No 843 (June 1974)

Story: Boutland
Art: Arias
Cover: Buccheri

Commando No 4937 – Making His Mark
 When World War II broke out Mark Enfield quit his office job and enlisted in the army. Although enthusiastic, he was quite puny and unfit. Nor was he a very good shot — and many noted the irony that he shared his surname with the famous Lee Enfield rifle that they used.
  .He became a target of bullies among his fellow recruits in basic training and this continued when they went into battle.
   However, Mark was determined to stand up to his detractors once and for all, especially when his unit was tasked with destroying a strategically important bridge which was in enemy hands.

Story: George Low
Art: John Ridgway
Cover: John Ridgway

Commando No 4938 – Burning Skies
 During the war most people served in the same unit all the time. However, Jack Banham was different. He was in an Italian jail, then a front-line trench with the Greek army, then the observer’s cockpit of an Italian biplane. At one time he was even a colonel in the Greek army…
…Or was it the Greek air force? Months afterwards he still wasn’t sure. Not that it mattered, for by that time he was a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm!

 In some ways it’s a pity that this tale’s original working title wasn’t used. Veteran Commando author R.A. Montague called it ‘Jack Of All Trades’. This neatly sums up the multifarious activities of our protagonist, Jack Banham — on his journey from being a civilian treasure hunter to a soldier, then eventually fighting in aircraft.
   This relentless yarn rarely pauses for breath. Proof once more that Commando’s 63-page format allows a story room to go to unexpected places.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Burning Skies, originally Commando No 1116, (April 1977), re-issued as No 2436 (January 1991)

Story: R.A. Montague
Art: Maidagan
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Con Cancellation

With deep regret I'm afraid I'm unable to attend the London Film and Comic Con this coming weekend. I have to meet deadlines and I'm running behind schedule. I often take pages with me to events, to draw between meeting readers, but with the best will in the world I still wouldn't get as much done as I would if I stayed at home. 

With juggling so many events and deadlines this year I suppose it was inevitable that it'd affect things eventually. Work has to take priority in these situations and I couldn't risk being away for four days at the moment. My apologies to everyone who was hoping to see me there.

The next event I'll be at will be the Bristol Comic Expo on Saturday 6th August. A one-day event. For more info, see here:

By the way, if you're at the Manchester MCM con this weekend, my Beano pals Nigel Parkinson and Nika Nartova will be selling copies of my Brickman Returns! comic. Drop by and say hello.

Monday, July 25, 2016

DWM 502 preview

Here's the cover to the bagged issue of Doctor Who Magazine No.502, in the shops this Thursday, 28th July. It's another bumper issue with exclusive news, strips, interviews, features, and it comes with bonus items of the second part of a huge poster and four art cards. There'll be another Daft Dimension strip in there by me too. Here's a detail from one panel...

Doctor Who Magazine No.502, only £5.99.

Johnny Red ends, Hookjaw begins!

The delayed eighth and final issue of Titan's Johnny Red mini-series is now scheduled to be published on 3rd August, with a spectacular wraparound cover by Keith Burns. Then, in December, Titan Comics launch an all-new Hookjaw series, written by Si Spurrier and drawn by Conor Boyle, inspired by the popular strip that appeared in Action weekly 40 years ago. 
Cover from the Multiversity Comics website.

More info on the five issue Hookjaw mini-series can be read on the Multiversity Comics website here:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Review: Spaceship Away No.39

Every issue of Spaceship Away is always a worthwhile read and this edition is spectacular. Published three times a year, the latest issue is packed with material that's sure to appeal to fans of classic Dan Dare and 'space' comics in general. 

The all-new adventures of the original Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future continue with new episodes of Parsecular Tales and Mercury Revenant, both written and illustrated by Tim Booth. Fantastically detailed work capturing the spirit and look of the old Eagle strips. However, as I've said before, with a three month gap between issues the serials really need a 'Story so far' box, on page two if not on the strips themselves. I'm afraid I've lost track of the plot and don't have time to re-read the previous 23 episodes. 

A 'new' Jet Morgan serial begins in this issue by Charles Chilton and Ferdinado Tacconi; edited and re-lettered reprints from the 1950s. 

There's also episode five of Nick Hazard and the Planet of Doom; a classic by Ron Turner, newly coloured by Martin Baines. Plus the return of the humour strip Davy Rocket. (Sadly uncredited. Why?)

Spaceship Away also has a generous number of superbly illustrated features and this issue really spoils us with an interview with Ian Kennedy on his 1980s Dan Dare work. There's also Eagle's coverage of the space race, and classic Dan Dare artist Greta Tomlinson talking about her life and work. There's a few other bits and bobs too, such as a new back page illustration by Don Harley and a wonderful brand new centrespread painting by Ian Kennedy (easily worth the cover price alone).

Spaceship Away is an essential read for anyone interested in Dan Dare, classic UK comics, and aficionados of great comic art. So that's everyone reading this blog then! You can order a copy directly from the publisher at this link:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cons to come

I've attended nine conventions this year so far and I'm still only 3/4 of the way through the 'road trip'. Next up is the London Film and Comic Con, a three-day media event from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st July inclusive, at Olympia. There's a great line up of guests from comics, film, TV, and more and you can find out all the details at their website here:

Just a week later, on Saturday 6th August, I'll be in Bristol for the return of the much-missed Bristol Comic Expo. A one-day event back under the organizational skills of mighty Mike Allwood. More info here:

Then, on Saturday 10th September, it's over to Birmingham in time for the wonderful International Comic Expo (ICE 2016). You can find out all about it here:

I hope to see you at one, if not all, of those shows! I'll be there with comics and prints, and doing sketches. At present I have no events planned after September, but you never know! I'm always open to invites if I'm available!

In the shops now...

Just time for a very quick rundown of some of the comics available this week in British newsagents. First up the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special is very welcome. The traditional Summer Special is a rarity these days so it's great to see Rebellion upholding the tradition. I'll get the negative point out of the way first though; remember how IPC's Holiday Specials started out with 96 pages back in the 1960s, then reduced to to 64 in the 1970s, and slimmed down more to 48 pages years later? Sadly, this year, the 2000AD special is just the size of the weekly, at 32 pages. However... there is a fantastic free Judge Dredd poster by Chris Weston, plus all-new strips featuring old favourites Judge Dredd, Ace Trucking Co., Sinister Dexter, Robo-Hunter, and Rogue Trooper with creative talent including John Wagner, Brendan McCarthy, Nigel Dobbyn, Dan Abnett, Tom Foster, Jimmy Broxton and more. Never mind the width, feel the quality! 

The weekly 2000AD (Prog 1990) is once again packed with greatness. Judge Dredd, Brink, Black Shuck, Outlier, Scarlet Traces, with creators including Colin MacNeill, Dan Abnett, Inj Culbard, Leah Moore, John Reppion, Steve Yeowell, Ian Edginton, D'Israeli and more. Who could resist?

Judge Dredd Megazine No.374 is another whopper of an issue at 64 pages thick, including Judge Dredd, Realm of the Damned, Blunt, Lawless, and extra features. Carlos Ezquerra, Alec Worlsy, Pye Parr, Boo Cook, Phil Winslade and more. Mega!

Titan Comics have launched a Harley Quinn mini-series and No.1 (of 3) is out now. 76 pages reprinting three Harley Quinn DC comics by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with various artists. 

Panini UK bring Marvel Legends to a close with issue 24, but it's relaunched next month with a new first issue as part of the company's refresh of their Marvel Collectors Editions. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America star, with creators such as Stuart Immonen and Jason Aaron contributing. 

For younger readers there is of course The Beano, and this week's issue is set to keep kids busy in the first week of their holidays as the comic comes bagged with several gifts. One of which is the Gnash-Attacker Glider kit, a new design of an old-school free gift many of you will be familiar with. All the usual favourite strips are included such as Dennis and Gnasher, The Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, and I'm glad to say my Pup Parade page is still running.

D.C. Thomson's newest title Danger Mouse No.1 is out now. 36 pages of all-new fun, including an 8 page comic strip adventure written by Alex Collier but with anonymous artists, a page of short funnies, and other exclusive artwork. It also comes bagged with a few good quality gifts; an invisible ink pen, notebook, and ultra-violet light to read your secret messages, plus a Danger Mouse eyepatch! 

Panini have a new issue of Doctor Who Adventures out today, with artwork from Russ Leach, Grant Perkins, and more.

There's also a Guardians of the Galaxy comic (a one-off I think) featuring strips using screen grabs from the cartoon show, and last but not least, another issue of The Phoenix in selected WH Smith and Waitrose branches. 

Plus various independent comics available from comic shops and mail order. So UK comics are still surviving, despite what some may claim. To keep up to date with developments always check out john Freeman's brilliant Down the Tubes blog on a daily basis:
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