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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This week's BEANO...

Here's Nigel Parkinson's cover to this week's Beano, that went on sale today. Yes, it's a snap election issue, with Bash Street school holding an election for school president! 

The rest of the issue contains all the usual favourites, but sadly it's the end of my Beano contributions for now as both Pup Parade and Ivy the Terrible end their current runs. I usually write my own material but Pup Parade was written by Beano editor John Anderson this week. (Even though it's still all credited to me in the comic, but credit where credit's due so I wanted to clarify that.) I hope to be back in the comic in the future but nothing is planned so far.

Beano No.3887, - out now! £2.50


One of the best new British comics of the year is Anno Dracula: 1895 Seven Days in Mayhem, a five-issue mini-series published by London's Titan Comics. The comic is a spin-off of the Anno Dracula novels by Kim Newman, and as Newman is also the writer of the comic it's fair to say it's definitely canon. 

Here's the synopsis:
It is 1895. Prince Dracula has ruled Great Britain for ten years, spreading vampirism through every level of society.
On the eve of Dracula’s Jubilee, radical forces gather to oppose the tyrant. Kate Reed, vampire journalist and free-thinker, takes a seat on the revolutionary Council of Seven Days, though she learns that the anarchist group harbours a traitor in its midst.
The Grey Men, Dracula’s dreaded secret police, have been ordered to quash all resistance to the rule of the arch-vampire.

With intrigue on all sides, the scene is set for an explosive addition to the Anno Dracula series.

The artwork by Paul McCaffrey and colourist Kevin Enhart is absolutely stunning. Here's a preview of the first few pages of issue No.1...

The first three issues are already out and are worth tracking down. Issue four is scheduled for June. Digital copies are also available to buy via ComiXology.

Issue 2.

Issue 3.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Two more new comics from Titan

The myth that British comics are dead continues to be disproven with two new titles on sale in comics speciality shops today from Titan Comics. Here's a quick resumé of them...

Nick Kyme
Fabricio Guerra Jack Jadson

The most vicious and dangerous fantasy football tournament you will ever encounter!
Dive into the action as a rag-tag team of humans, the Hochland Harbingers, attempt to claw their way to the top of the Blood Bowl league!
Can Dreng Sturmblud, a former star player who has crashed to rock-bottom, help the Harbingers fend off the terrifying opposition?!
Bone-crunching sports action in the fantasy world of Warhammer, written by Nick Kyme (Warhammer 40,000) with art by Jack Jadson (Teen Titans, Birds of Prey) brand-new edition of the board game has been a runaway success - adding to the game’s global appeal and huge fanbase!

John Shackleford
Aaron Alexovich

Enter the terrifying and unpredictable comic series based on one of the most hotly-anticipated games of 2017!

Comic written by John Shakleford and illustrated by Aaron Alexovich (Invader Zim, Serenity Rose) the game follows Six, a young girl in a yellow raincoat, as she explores the horrifying world of The Maw, looking for a way out!

COMMANDO Nos.5023 to 5026 out this week

Direct from D.C. Thomson, here's the info on the latest Commando comics that will be in the shops on 1st June...

Covering the skies, both our Gold and Silver reprints tackle the air battles of World War 2, fighting above Europe and North Africa, as our heroes face not only the enemy, but the Allies too.  Meanwhile, ‘Justice Served’ and ‘The Castle’ are both set in the heart of Europe during the fall of the Nazis as different nations rally together for the final push.

But no matter the setting, there’s always plenty of action wherever our Commandos go!

5023: Home of Heroes:
Justice Served

In this all new adventure, George Low’s Tommy hero is Corporal Mike Lowry, the only survivor of S.S. Lieutenant Hans Hueter’s machine gun massacre. Nursed back to health by a French farmer, Mike trains to be a Commando and, determined to avenge his squad, returns to France ready to serve justice to the Nazi brutes.

Complementing Low’s story, Janek’s cover hails just that justice – a Spitfire firing at retreating German half-tracks and, as usual, Rezzonico’s artwork is marvellous, taking full advantage of the story by filling the frames with detailed backgrounds and careful shading to add depth.

|Story | George Low | Art | Rezzonico | Cover | Janek Matysiak |

5024: Gold Collection
Glory Hunter

Ken Barr’s dark, dramatic cover prepares and excites the reader for the noir depictions of sky battles in Auraleon’s interior artwork, as the thick paint strokes of red, blending into the violet night sky, provide a perfect contrast against the thin, smooth lines of the Halifax and crashing Junkers Ju 88.

In McOwan’s story, Sam Blake wanted nothing more than to join the R.A.F. – even crossing the Atlantic from Canada to sign up. But when he gets there, none of the other pilots care about his aviation experience over the pond. Then, when Blake unknowingly shoots down an Allied plane and no one believes him, he is booted from fighter squadron and put in a bomber. But little does Blake know that one of his C.O.s has uncovered this accidental friendly fire and he wants Blake to pay…

|Story | McOwan | Art | Auraleon | Cover | Ken Barr |
Originally Commando No 309 (January 1968) Reprinted No 1007 (February 1976)

5025: Action and Adventure:
The Castle

David Alexander’s moody cover shows the eponymous castle shrouded in fog and forest, towering over the mountains in the distance. But is this stone beacon of light enough to protect the Allied prisoners within from a German assault?

Find out in Ferg Handley’s action packed story about Olympic medallist Marco Conte, an Italian P.O.W. held by the Nazis in Castle Falcone. That is, until April, 1945, when The Third Reich was on its knees, and the Nazi guards abandoned the castle, leaving the prisoners at the mercy of the heartless Oberst Horst Metzner, who was fast approaching…

As always, Jaume Forns’s interior artwork is charming in its depiction of the characters, notably the smarmy, rat-faced Metzer, yet is also unswerving in its attention to the various uniforms and insignias.

|Story | Ferg Handley | Art | Jaume Forns | Cover | David Alexander |

5026: Silver Collection
To Be a Pilot…

In the Second World War, many sons followed their fathers into battle, and Jan Solecik, K.P. MacKenzie’s Polish pilot protagonist, was no different. But when Jan’s father is gunned down by Nazis, Jan is even more eager to take to the skies, certain that’s where the war will be won.

Known for his thick, dark lines, Gordon C. Livingstone’s artwork is instantly recognised as a Commando favourite, though for this issue he forgoes producing the cover art, leaving that to Commando veteran Ian Kennedy. A stunning cover, as expected, Kennedy’s cover depicts another fiery sky battle, this time between a Wellington and Fiat CR42, though with a less brooding sky.

|Story | K. P. MacKenzie | Art | Gordon C. Livingstone | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No 2058 (January 1987) Reprinted No 3467 (October 2001)

Monday, May 29, 2017

CRACKER No.1 (1975)

Two weeks after the final issue of Buzz was published, D.C. Thomson launched a comic that was clearly intended as a replacement. Cracker No.1 arrived on Saturday 11th January 1975, complete with 'Squeeze and Squeak' free gift. (This was basically two balloons with a tiny squeaker attached between them. Squeeze the smaller balloon, and the air passing through caused the squeak.)

As we saw in my previous post, Buzz was a 16 page tabloid comic. Perhaps realising that tabloid comics were going out of favour, Thomsons made Cracker an A4 size comic, like Beano, Dandy, and Sparky. However, Cracker had 32 pages, more than any other Thomson humour comic of the time, presumably to compete with IPC's 32 page funnies. 

Cracker's host was 'Sammy', a somewhat ugly and unpleasant looking kid that I couldn't imagine any reader identifying with. While it made a refreshing change to IPC's rather bland looking characters such as Sid or Toy Boy, 'Sammy' looked like he'd seen and done unspeakable evil. 
Cracker had a lively content of strips, including a couple of adventure serials. Stories featuring castaways had been a popular theme in UK comics for decades, and Castaways on Planet Doom featured a family mysteriously transported to another world. It also featured the most powerful binoculars in the universe apparently...

Billy the Kid and Pongo was pretty much Cracker's version of Dennis and Gnasher, even to the point of it being drawn by Gordon Bell, who had ghosted Dennis the Menace lots of times.
The centre four pages of Cracker were the Schooldaze section, featuring school-based strips. The centrespread featured The Headhunters, which was basically a continuation of Skookum Skool from the defunct Buzz, featuring the same class. Art by Ken Harrison... 

Kid gangs using a shed as their gang hut had been used in The Beezer's Banana Bunch and Pow's The Group, and Cracker had Curly's Commandos with the same premise. Art by Barrie Appleby...

The other adventure strip in the comic was indeed a cracker; Iron Hand, wonderfully illustrated by Paddy Brennan, one of Thomson's best artists...

Cracker included a few comedy feature pages too, such as this one on the back page...

Sadly, the 1970s were unstable times for British comics and Cracker only managed 87 weekly issues before merging into The Beezer in 1976. 

Beano writer Tommy Donbavand recounts his battle with cancer in a new book

Cover by Nigel Parkinson.
Author Tommy Donbavand, whose credits include Doctor Who, The Beano, and Scream Street, is publishing an e-book recounting his battle with throat cancer. Here's Tommy in his own words...

"In July 2016, I was coming to the end of a month long stay in hospital, including a terrifying week in intensive care. In July 2017, I will be launching a book which tells the story of my battle against stage four throat cancer, how I dealt with the painful side effects of my chemo and radiotherapy, and why falling out of bed literally saved my life.

Taken from my blog of the same name, Tommy v Cancer is a roller coaster ride of emotion from start to finish. You'll laugh in one chapter, cry in another, and frequently wonder what on earth I'm blathering on about in the rest! Plus, there is a TON of NEW CONTENT! Learn why I sent my brother complete gibberish by text, how I was released from hospital and cracked a rib WITHIN 20 MINUTES of being home, and why my GP resigned from her surgery because of me (really!)

Tommy v Cancer is available to pre-order NOW, and here's the great news - if you buy the book now, you'll get a whopping 25% off the launch day price! 

Once you've pre-ordered, you can forget all about it, as the book will automatically be delivered to your Kindle reader or app on 13th July (or earlier, if I can manage it!) Plus, the more people who pre-order, the higher the book will sit in the rankings, which means more people will see it, and so on!"

For UK readers: - £2.99

For readers in the US: - $2.99

Readers in the rest of the world, just search for 'Tommy v Cancer' at your local Amazon website. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BUZZ No.1 (1973)

In 1973 D.C. Thomson launched their first new humour weekly since Sparky eight years earlier. Its name was Buzz and it was in the 16 page tabloid format like Topper and Beezer. This seemed unusual at the time, considering that the tabloid size wasn't as popular as it used to be. 

Perhaps its size proved to be a disadvantage, as Buzz only lasted for two years before merging into Topper. For today though, let's have a look at a few pages from Buzz No.1, published on Saturday 13th January 1973...

The cover strip, Hop, Skip and Jock, was drawn by Mal Judge, who had been the original artist on Billy Whizz for The Beano. The Buzz cover strip ended with a busy large panel every week in the style of Casey Court in Chips of decades earlier.

Buzz featured no adventure strips and was 100% dedicated to humour. Amongst its contents was Skookum Skool, a typical "naughty classroom" strip, drawn by Ken Harrison...

Like Topper and Beezer, Buzz had 16 pages consisting of 8 in full colour and 8 in red spot colour. The centre pages of the early issues featured The Twitz of the Ritz drawn by Bill Ritchie...

Another strip drawn by Ken Harrison was Jimmy Jinx and what he thinks, featuring a boy struggling with his conscience...

On the back page was Calamity Kate, drawn by George Martin, a master of visual slapstick...

I was 13 when it was launched so I was a bit too old for Buzz but I'm sure it had its followers who enjoyed it. The comic is barely mentioned these days and I suspect some collectors have never heard of it. If you have any thoughts about Buzz, leave a comment below...

Jump onboard ACES WEEKLY for a new volume!

If you still haven't given Aces Weekly a try, you're missing out on an award-winning digital comic with ALL-NEW content from some of the top creators in the UK and beyond. Don't just take my word for it. Listen to the publisher himself, David Lloyd...

Aces Weekly Volume 28, starts on May 29 for 7 glittering weeks ! Subscribe NOW for JUST £1 per week, before tomorrow, and the massive, Volume 27, comes to you fully-formed, all parts collected, instantly, to read now, entire! Upcoming Volume 28 has the familiar fantastic and the super new, including, Stephen Baskerville, Marc makes comics, Manoel Magalhães, and Paul Rainey! £1 per week! All done! No coupons needed!

Here's a few previews of what's coming up...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Fab 4000 project attracts Hollywood talent

News from Tim Quinn of a very worthy project including a concert at The Cavern on Monday 29th May...

A project created by the children of St Vincent’s School for the blind in Liverpool has inspired two Hollywood stars to fly over and pay a visit to the school. Chyler Leigh, star of the US TV series, ‘Supergirl’, and her musician/actor husband, Nathan West, were so impressed by the students’ creation of a brand new super-hero comic book featuring the pupils themselves showing how everyone can help to make the world a better place, even without super-powers, that they have arranged to drop into the school and give a few drama lessons at the end of May.
Word about the comic book spread through the cast of ‘Supergirl’ who all agree that it is a beautiful idea. Chyler and Nathan intend to help make the comic book go global via a website they are creating. They have also arranged to play 2 benefit concerts for the school at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club on 29th May. Chyler will be singing with Nathan’s band, East of Eli on the night and they will be welcoming the school choir on stage for a few numbers. They are also promising special surprise guests to join them on the gig, and will be holding a celebrity auction of Hollywood items. 
Before her role in ‘Supergirl’, Chyler was one of the leads in the award winning TV series ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. 

Tim Quinn writes:

Having spent many years of my career editing the extraordinary characters of Marvel Comics, the last thing I expected on my return to my hometown of Liverpool was to find real-life super-heroes wandering the corridors of a local school. But that is exactly what happened when I visited St Vincent’s School. I’d been invited into the school by the Head Teacher, Dr John Patterson who told me that his pupils were crazy for all things super-hero.  I hadn’t realised it was a school for the blind until I turned up there early one morning. I was moved to see that all of the students were dressed as super-heroes. It was an extraordinary sight to see them walking the school corridors with capes, masks, canes and seeing eye dogs.  
Sitting chatting with the students later that morning, I asked them what it was about super-heroes that they enjoyed so much.
“I love the colours,” said a girl, blind from birth.
“I like that they want to help everybody,” explained another student.
The children had been pulled into the super-hero world by listening to the award winning American TV series ‘Supergirl’.

Turns out that the students also enjoyed helping everybody. They had come up with a project to raise funds to send to people suffering from the blight of Black Fly in Africa. The dreaded Black Fly lays eggs in water systems causing people to go blind. Obviously a cause close to the children of St Vincent’s hearts. I’ve found a lot of heart at St Vincent’s School.

Inspired by the children, I worked with a fellow Marvel artist to create a brand new super-hero team based on St Vincent’s amazing pupils. The comic book tells the story of how they have come together to help people less fortunate than themselves. We call the team THE FAB 4000 – The World’s Largest Super-hero Team. We invite readers from other schools to get involved and become members of the team by following a simple super-hero charter that is featured in the comic.

I’m very happy to relate that the work of St Vincent’s pupils has come to the attention of the stars of ‘Supergirl’. Chyler Leigh and her actor/musician husband Nathan West were so moved to hear the story that they have arranged to fly over to the UK to visit the school and produce 2 benefit concerts for the school at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Chyler and Nathan will be making a documentary about the children of the school and their extraordinary concept while they are in town. Chyler explains, “We think this idea is brilliant and we want to help to make it go global. We are so looking forward to our first visit to Merseyside.”

Flying straight from the cast of TV’s ‘Supergirl’ series, actress Chyler Leigh and her actor/musician husband Nathan West’s band East of Eli will be playing 2 very special gigs at Liverpool’s Cavern Club at 4pm and 8pm on Monday 29th May. The concerts are to benefit Liverpool’s St Vincent’s School for the blind. Chyler and Nathan are also bringing unique Hollywood and DC Comics items to include in an auction during the shows. PLUS: A brand new comic book will be launched by the pair that night! Look out for ‘The FAB 4000!’
Tickets going fast from:

4pm show:

8pm show:

East of Eli and Chyler Leigh links:

A choice of monsters for the next DWM cover

Doctor Who Magazine No.513 arrives in the shops this coming Thursday, 1st June, and it gives buyers a choice of two covers. You can either go for the one featuring the all-new female leader of the Ice Warriors, or the one featuring the return of the first generation Cybermen. 

Or better still, buy both!

The 84 page magazine will feature loads of features as usual, plus part two of the 12th Doctor comic strip The Soul Garden by Scott Gray and Martin Garaghty, and another Daft Dimension by me. 

Yes, the Ice Warriors and the Cybermen are coming back to the TV series as the current season of Doctor Who races towards its climax. We're only just past halfway so far though, so don't miss episode 7 tonight! (Or, if you're reading this later, catch the show on BBC iPlayer.)

Doctor Who Magazine website:
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