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Monday, February 27, 2017

Faceache, Marney, Leopardboy, One-Eyed Jack... coming back!

Marney the Fox © Rebellion A/S. Art by John Stokes.
I've known about this for a while but was sworn to secrecy, but now the news is out there. Rebellion have announced which classic Fleetway strips they're bringing back to print this year, and they're all glorious. The collective name for the books is The Treasury of British Comics...

You already knew about One-Eyed Jack by John Wagner and John Cooper, but today Rebellion have announced that other books will include:

Misty Book 2: The Sentinels and End of the Line. 

The Leopard from Lime Street drawn by Mike Western and Eric Bradbury.

Marney the Fox: the wonderful adventure strip from Buster by Scott Goodall and John Stokes. 

...and... just drink in this great news...

Faceache by Ken Reid, from Jet and Buster

Are you excited yet? For more info, check out this link:

UPDATE 28/2/17: Comics journalist Heidi MacDonald now has expanded details of the books, and more artwork, on her excellent blog The Beat:

Titan launch new UK Batman comic

Titan Comics are launching a new Batman title to be sold in newsagents. All-Star Batman No.1 will reprint stories from DC's All-Star Batman and Nightwing titles. There'll also be a double-sided pull-out poster in every issue. 

According to their PR, All-Star Batman No.1 is out now. Here's the content info for issue 1...

 ‘My Own Worst Enemy' - Parts 1 and 2
 Batman is taking one of his most duplicitous villains out of Gotham City to a mysterious destination, but when a bounty is put on Batman’s head, any villain with something to hide is on their tail. The scene is set for a cross-country chase, with everyone gunning for Batman!

Nightwing – ‘Rebirth’

After the events of the 'Robin War', Dick Grayson tries to decide on who he really is – is he Robin, Agent 37, or is he Nightwing? With a little help from Damian, Batmanand his ‘arch-frenemy’ Midnighter, Dick has to find a new purpose in life! But what are the Court of Owls planning?

Titan also publish a long-running Batman comic... if you can find it. Some branches of WH Smith (such as my local one) haven't stocked it for about a year, and claim it doesn't exist! I can only assume it's been wrongly deleted from their database. Hopefully All-Star Batman won't suffer the same fate, but to make sure of your copies you can always subscribe directly from the publishers at this link:

Tank Girl goes to war

Tank Girl first appeared in the British comic Deadline back in 1988, with the punky, boozy, anarchic character immediately proving to be a success for its creators Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett. Although Deadline folded in 1995, you can't keep a good Tank Girl down and the character has resurfaced in several comics and mini-series since. 

These days, London-based Titan Comics publish brand new Tank Girl comics, and her current mini-series, Tank Girl Gold, concluded this week. However, it leads right into a new mini-series, World War Tank Girl, starting in March. 

One of the stunning variant covers to issue 1 is shown above, with art by Chris Wahl, which I'm sure you'll agree is worth the cover price alone. 

World War Tank Girl, which sends the character back to WW2, will be written by Alan Martin and illustrated by Brett Parson, whose art has proven to be perfect for the series. I really like his work, which is why I'm happy to promote the comic here. Here's his regular cover to issue one...
If you've never read a Tank Girl comic before, give it a go. Its irreverent humour may or may not be to your tastes but a well-crafted comic is always worth looking at and you'll be supporting British comics. Hopefully you'll be hooked! World War Tank Girl No.1 will only be available in comics shops, not newsagents, and will arrive on March 29th.

For more cover images and info of upcoming Titan Comics visit their website:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

40 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 40 years ago today. It was issue 2, which appeared in newsagents on Saturday February 26th 1977.

Four decades later, Dredd is as popular as ever, with its black humour being a great part of that success. The appeal of the strip may fly over the heads of some, (usually people who have hardly ever read it) but the character's longevity proves that many people appreciate the balance of gritty science fiction and socio-political satire and insight.

Clearly no one back in 1977 knew that Dredd would swiftly become the comic's biggest hit. Indeed they were still promoting Dan Dare as the main attraction with the cover illustration showing the monster from the Dare strip, 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.

Created by writer John Wagner, Dredd was 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.
This issue also 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.
Judge Dredd is one of the few comics characters who has aged in real time and is 40 years older than he was in his debut strip. 22nd Century science has aided him in that respect to keep him active, but readers have long wondered if Dredd's clone may replace him on the beat. Time will tell! 


This is an updated version of a blog post from five years ago. Images are scanned and photographed from the issue I had then, but I've since sold it to a collector for over £600. Someone must have really liked Judge Dredd! 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The origin of Weary Willie and Tired Tim

The first Willie and Tim strip, 1896, scanned from The Penguin Book of Comics (1971).
Tom Browne was the most influential artist who worked in comics in the late 19th/early 20th Century. He created Weary Willie and Tired Tim, the two affable wandering tramps who were the cover stars of Illustrated Chips from 1896 to its final issue in 1953. Browne himself only drew the strip until 1909, (succeeded by Percy Cocking) but it inspired many imitators and Browne's art style was also imitated by numerous artists. 

Certain characteristics of his style; the body language and mannerisms, are still evident in British comics today because they've been handed down from artist to artist, whether consciously or not. I certainly recognise that some of the gestures and facial expressions of my characters stem back to Tom Browne's initial template, although I would never regard my abilities as anywhere near his league of course. 

In 1909 one of the Brush, Pen and Pencil series of books on artists focused on Tom Browne. I have the second edition, from 1930, and although it mainly covers Browne's other endeavours such as his paintings and magazine illustration, there is a mention of his famous Weary Willie and Tired Tim strip. I've scanned the relevant pages for you to read. Click to enlarge them...

It says that Tom Browne moved on from the strip in 1909, although it's worth bearing in mind that he sadly passed away a year later so illness may have played a part. We can only speculate on whether he would have returned to comics had he lived longer than his all-too-short 39 years. 

I wrote a longer piece on Tom Browne a few years ago, and you can read it here:

I was honoured to hear from Mr.Browne's great-grandson and family after I wrote that piece. 

I'll be showing more of Tom Browne's illustration work soon. 

Prog Preview: 2000AD Prog 2020

Here's your weekly preview pages of the upcoming issue of 2000AD, courtesy of the publishers Rebellion. On sale next Wednesday from newsagents and comic shops.

UK & DIGITAL: 1 March 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 1 April 2017 $7.99

In this issue:

Judge Dredd: Thick Skin by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Kingmaker by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Kingdom: As It Is In Heaven by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

The Order:  Wyrm War by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Sinister Dexter: Electric Landlady by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Jimmy Joy, the TV Boy (CHIPS, 1953)

Those of you around my age may remember a sixties strip called Charlie's Choice in Smash!, that featured a boy's magic TV set that enabled characters to enter our world. Well, there was a precedent of sorts in the 1950s with Jimmy Joy, the TV Boy, that ran in Chips from 1952 to the final issue in 1953. 

The difference was that Jimmy's set worked the other way; allowing Jimmy to enter through the screen into the TV programmes. The artwork was by Albert Pease, a long standing and excellent cartoonist for the Amalgamated Press comics. Here are a couple of examples from 1953. (Yes, Chips was printed on pink paper.)

...and for comparison, here's an episode of Charlie's Choice, with art by Brian Lewis, from Smash! No.109 (2nd March 1968)....

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fantastic PHOENIX cover

Sometimes, comics are worth buying just for the cover alone, so it's a bonus when the contents are good too. Case in point being the current issue of The Phoenix. A really nice stylish cover design by Lorenzo Etherington for the Von Doogan strip inside. That's bloomin' art that is, mate! 

Other contents include Part 2 of The Pie Thief by Faz Choudhury, the start of a new Mega Robo Bros adventure by Neill Cameron, Bunny vs Monkey by Jamie Smart, Squid Squad by Dan Boultwood, and more. 

The Phoenix No.268 is £3.25 from selected branches of W.H. Smith and Waitrose, and various comic shops.

Another BEANO free gift

There's a free Beano Top Trumps card featuring Pup Parade inside this week's issue! Nigel Parkinson did the art for that, while I drew the Pup Parade strip that relates to the gift. (Beano editor John Anderson wrote the script for this week's Pups story.) I've always liked strips that used the free gift as a theme so I jumped at the chance to do this one. 

There's a ton of other strips in the comic too of course, featuring Dennis and Gnasher, Billy Whizz, Minnie the Minx and all the favourites. There's another Ivy the Terrible by me too. 

Don't miss Beano No.3873, on sale now!

Happy 40th to 2000AD... again!

Comic Cuts called itself "The King of Comics", so perhaps 2000AD is the Queen of Comics because it has two birthdays every year. There's the actual birthday, 19th February, the date that issue No.1 went on sale in newsagents, and then there's the official birthday, 26th February, which was only the cover date (the date the comic was replaced on the shelves with the next issue). 

Somewhere along the way, long ago, someone confused the two, thinking cover dates were launch dates, and 2000AD has been celebrating its birthday on 26th February for years. To confuse things even more, this year they're celebrating it today, 22nd February, simply because it's today that the latest issue goes on sale. 

It's ironic that a comic called 2000AD would get its birth-date wrong for so many years, but pedantry aside, congratulations to the creative droids who have worked on the comic over the last four decades. I did a bit of work for a couple of 2000AD Annuals in the 1980s, writing articles and credited as a "Research Droid", so save me a slice of cake! Here's to many more years for the Galaxy's Greatest Comic!

Today sees the publication of the latest issue, (that's the cover above, beside Prog 1) plus the 2000AD 40th Anniversary Special. I previewed those the other day but if you missed it you'll find the post here:

If you want to see what the first issue looked like, see this post:

Titan's Three

Who says British comics are dead? Here's a quick glimpse at the covers of three that are published by London-based Titan Comics today. 

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor reaches the fifth and final issue of the entertaining mini-series by Paul Cornell and Christopher Jones. This has been very enjoyable and I hope a second series will be possible.

Tank Girl: Gold No.4 is also a final issue, but a new Tank Girl series starts soon! Story by Alan Martin, art by Brett Parson. Good stuff!

Hook Jaw No.3 by Si Spurrier and Conor Boyle continues the all-new revival of the classic 1970s Action strip. 

For more info on these titles and all of Titan's other range of comics, visit their website:

Titan Comics are available from comics speciality stores. 

More Fifties horrors from PS Publishing

British company PS Publishing are bringing back more pre-code American horror comics soon with the publication of three hardback volumes of classic terror. The sort of comics that caused anxious parents to get paranoid in the 1950s, thinking they'd corrupt their kids! Now those stories live again in deluxe collections for collectors and historians! Here's the info from their website...

Pre-Code Classics: OUT OF THE SHADOWS Vol.1
Bookshop ISBN: 978-1-78636-071-7
Slipcase ISBN: 978-1-78636-072-4
Page Count: 180 Pages
Dimensions: 260 x 180mm
Bookshop Product information:
Standard Comics did not believe in #1 issues. They were convinced that comics sold better if they appeared to have been around for awhile, and therefore they started all their horror titles with #5. Those titles were The Unseen, Out of the Shadows, and Adventures into Darkness, each lasting about ten issues of fairly well-done E.C. imitations. They also produced a suspense one-shot, Who Is Next? #5, that deserves mention -- it features a town terrorized by a serial killer.
Artists include George Roussos, Alex Toth, Jerry Grandenetti, George Tuska, Art Saaf, Ruben Moreira, Rocco Mastroserio, Ross Andru and Jack Katz.
This first volume features the Standard Comics issues of Out Of The Shadows, Issues 5-9 July 1952 to July 1953.

Pre-Code Classics: NIGHTMARE Vol.1
Bookshop ISBN: 978-1-78636-069-4
Slipcase ISBN: 978-1-78636-070-0
Page Count: 180 Pages
Dimensions: 260 x 180mm
Bookshop Product information:
St. John was a mid-sized comics publisher with a varied list of titles, and in June 1952 they joined the horror binge with two titles, Strange Terrors and Weird Horrors. Strange Terrors ended after seven issues, to be replaced by Nightmare #3, picking up from the Ziff-Davis series. However -- and I can’t explain this, only report it -- they then combined the title Nightmare with the numbering from Weird Horrors, so that Weird Horrors #9 and Nightmare #3 were followed by Nightmare #10. And after Nightmare #13 the title was changed to Amazing Ghost Stories for its final three issues.
Artists include Everett Raymond Kinstler, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, Murphy Anderson,. Gene Colan, Bernie Krigstein, Matt Baker, George Tuska and Bob Powell
This single volume features the St John issues of Nightmare, Issue #3 October 1953 and Issues 10-13 December 1953 to August 1954.

Pre-Code Classics: STRANGE TERRORS Vol.1
Bookshop ISBN: 978-1-78636-077-9
Slipcase ISBN: 978-1-78636-078-6
Page Count: 180 Pages
Dimensions: 260 x 180mm
Bookshop Product information:
Just when you thought maybe we’d run out of nasty comicbooks here comes Strange Terrors from St. John—issues 1 thru 5, June to December 1952 . . . just cos you knows we loves ya! Artists include Don Perlin, Rafael Astarita, Paul Gattuso, Ralph Mayo, George Meyerriecks, Bob Forgione, Joe Kubert, George Tuska and William Ekgren. They’re all here—witches, vampires, walking corpses, ghosts, ghouls and goblins galore.
Artists include Don Perlin, Rafael Astarita, Paul Gattuso,Mayo, George Meyerriecks, Bob Forgione, Joe Kubert, George Tuska and William Ekgren.
This first volume features the St. John issues of Strange Terrors Volume 1 issues 1 - 5 June 1952 to December 1952.

Order the books directly from the publisher here:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spidey keeps swinging

From his debut in 1962, Spider-Man has proven to be Marvel's most popular character. That goes for the UK too, ever since his appearance in British weekly Pow! in 1967.

The modern-day home for Spidey strips in the UK is The Astonishing Spider-Man which has been running for over 20 years. It's published fortnightly and has 76 pages for just £3.99. A great bargain!

Here's the contents of the current issue...

Astonishing Spider-Man Vol.6 #14. On sale 16th February 2017. 
76 pages of Astounding Action-Packed Arachnid-Adventure! Only £3.99!
Power Play continues! Regent is taking out the Avengers one-by-one and adding their powers to his own! Can Spider-Man and Iron Man stop him before it’s too late?!! 
Also: Spider-Man and Deadpool confront patient Zero!
Plus: Ultimate Spider-Man confronts his deadliest foe ever… his grandmother!
By Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Brain Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness.
Includes material reprinted from Amazing Spider-Man #14, Spider-Man #3, and Spider-Man/Deadpool #8.

This week's COMMANDO releases

Thanks to D.C. Thomson for the latest info on the four issue of Commando that will be in shops this week...

Commando Issues 4995 - 4998 - On Sale 23rd February 2017

Commando – 4995 – The Village
By spring, 1945, the Reich’s forces were in full retreat and Allied troops were pushing into Germany. So when Sergeant Matt Geary and his small squadron moved into the small village of Langhirten, he wasn’t expecting much resistance.
They took the village from the S.S. battalion easily and they repelled the German’s counterattack with little issue. But after the S.S.’s third attempt to seize back the village, Matt became suspicious. Langhirten had no strategic value and the Germans were supposed to be retreating… So what was so important about Langhirten?
What secrets were hidden in… The Village?

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando – 4996 – Hurricane!
Imagine a Russian squadron whose ancient biplanes have been swept out of the sky by speedy Me 109s. They’re thirsting for revenge.
Then comes along Kirk Roland with a trainload of superfast Hurricanes, ready to risk his life in teaching the Russian pilots how to hit back hard. You’d have thought they would welcome him with open arms!
But they didn’t. They hated Kirk, and his planes, from the moment he arrived.

Story: Newark
Art: Repetto
Cover: Ken Barr

Introduction -
Prepare for take-off with another high-flying adventure from the Commando archives! Newark explores the winning, but often tense, relationship between Britain’s R.A.F. pilots and Soviet Russia’s air force in this tale of team work. Steeped in history, Newark celebrates the collaboration between the allies, but also confronts the differing opinions held during this time. It is particularly interesting to see Soviet Russia’s female pilots (the first women pilots in the world to be allowed to fly combat missions) being represented and well-respected in this issue.
Accompanied by Repetto’s astonishing artwork, Hurricane! is a fast-paced air adventure, worthy of another outing.

The Commando Team.
Hurricane!, originally Commando No. 296 (November 1967)

Commando - 4997 – Hidden Nazis
In 1945, after the German surrender, Nazis guilty of heinous war crimes attempted to flee or conceal themselves in post-war Germany. Lieutenant Sam Watling’s job was to find them.
But he had help. An unknown hand aided Sam in his quest for justice, unmarked envelopes and tips were left at his desk – behind them a secret informant.
Someone was helping Sam catch Hidden Nazis.

Story: George Low
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando - 4998 – Jailbreak Heroes
Three men on the run – but running into danger instead of away from it. For when ex-Sergeant Mike Stone got the chance to escape from Polworth Military Prison in England, he decided to head back to the front line in France to seek revenge on the cowardly officer who had betrayed him.
And the honest ex-Sergeant was surprised to find how glad he was when two other jailbirds, Alf Barstow and Lefty Briggs, insisted on tagging along too…

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Introduction -
Nothing propels a storyline better than a personal vendetta. Forlorn and bitter, Mike Stone is desperate to clear his name after being falsely imprisoned for cowardice and striking an officer. The urgency of Veteran writer, Alan Hebden’s plot is coupled perfectly with Keith Shone’s masterful interior art.
Ian Kennedy shines once again and provides a dynamic cover illustration which does its job splendidly, framing the tone of the action contained within this Commando’s pages.

The Commando Team.

Jailbreak Heroes, originally Commando No. 2493 (August 1991)
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