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Monday, July 31, 2017

London Film and Comic Con 2017: a fantastic experience!

It was the London Film and Comic Con over the weekend and it truly was one of the best events I've been to in nearly 40 years of conventions. The show took place at Olympia, and was huge, taking up several massive halls. With such a set up, there's always the danger of the comics section being overlooked by some visitors but that didn't happen this year, and the layout of the event was superb. 

A few months back, writer Tony Lee offered to take on the task of organising the comics side of things and he did us all proud. Many thanks to him for looking after the comics guests so well and making sure everything was running ok (I hope you have time for a good rest this week, Tony!). Thanks also to Jason Joiner for putting on the show and making it all possible, along with Paul Jones, David Nelson, Debbie, Claire, Garrit, Daniel, Franco Lou, Kathy, the other green room girls the tech guys (and girl), Carol Anne and Luke and the others. 

If anyone thinks that running a convention is easy, think again! Apart from the organisation of the event, there's a million and one things to deal with that can cause stress (often by outside forces or people unconnected to the con not doing their job properly; traffic delays, hotel receptionists, etc). With an event the size of this one, even more can go wrong, so it's a credit to the professionalism of the LFCC team that any problems were swiftly ironed out and everyone had a very pleasant experience.

It was definitely the busiest and most successful convention I've attended (and I've been a guest at cons since 1984). Thanks to the many people who visited my table over the three days, from those who grew up reading my work in the 1980s and 90s to today's new readers. The best thing about attending conventions is meeting the readers, past and present, and LFCC was an exceptional event in that regard, with people travelling from all over the country (and beyond). I was very touched that some said they came especially to see me, and it was a pleasure to chat with them and draw sketches. By Saturday afternoon I'd sold out of the stack of Combat Colin comics I'd bought with me and by Sunday only had a handful of my other comics left. (I still have some at home for mail order but will be arranging for a second printing soon.)

Last but not least, thanks for the great company of fellow guests Mike Collins, David Leach, Pau Vassileva, Nick Roche, William Simpson, Ian Richardson, GM Jordan, Leah Moore, John Reppion, DaNi, Emmeline Pidgen, Jessica Martin, Marv Wolfman, Simon Furman, John-Paul Bove, Tim Pilcher, Jess Bradley, Dan Boultwood, Emma Vieceli, Lee Sullivan, Al Ewing,Paul Goodenough, Ian Sharman, Aneke, and many more, and to Irma Page for being a great host for the panel a few of us did on Saturday.

One of the many highlights was meeting Marv Wolfman. Yes, the Marv Wolfman, writer of the superb Tomb of Dracula series for Marvel in the 1970s, Teen Titans, and much more. 

With it being three full days (nine hours a day) it was certainly the longest show I've done, but I enjoyed it so much I felt sad when it was over. I don't know if Tony and the team will be running it again next summer, but LFCC2017 will always be remembered with much fondness and smiles.

Here's a few photos from the weekend...

The 1966 Batmobile looks as cool as it did 50 years ago. What a car!

Below, ready for action on the Friday morning, having just set up my stall.

Below: Brian Meenhan, who I'd corresponded with on the Comics UK Forum many times over the years. Good to finally put a face to the name. 

Someone asked me to draw Felix and His Amazing Underpants from Viz, so I thought I'd make it topical for the event.

Below: When someone with a sword asks for a photograph, you don't refuse. :)

Nice to meet new people at the show. Fellow guest Emmeline Pidgen. Check out her work here:

Below: Jess Bradley, regular contributor to The Phoenix. See her website here:

Good to have my old mate David Leach as a table neighbour on Sunday. Buy his digital Psycho Gran comics for just £1.49 each at ComiXology:

Below: Brilliant artist Geoff Senior. Check out his work here:

All the way from Athens, talented artist DaNi will be one of the contributors to Rebellion's Scream and Misty Special this Halloween! See her artwork here: and her Facebook page here:

Out for a meal on Friday night with (left to right) Mike Collins, the legendary Marv Wolfman, DaNi, Pau Vassilena, Will Simpson (Game of Thrones storyboard artist).

Below: GM Jordan and Ian Sharman at the Markosia comics stall. 

...but the smiles turn to frowns in the early hours when Tim Pilcher (Humanoids books) and GM Jordan realise the bar has closed. (A blessing in disguise considering we all needed to be up around 6.30am.)

Below: Doctor Who storyboard artist Mike Collins gives us an enigmatic look because he knows all the secrets of the Doctor Who Christmas episode... but he's not telling!

Below: Talented Lee Sullivan sketching a Transformer...

Speaking of whom, some people in comics have sometimes confused me with Lee Sullivan. I can't imagine why. :)

Below: Another incredible lookalike, as we compare chrome heads...

The UK comics industry today

John Freeman has worked as a writer and editor in British comics for over 30 years so he knows his stuff! Today, in response to a recent discussion on social media about the UK comics industry, John has posted a long and thoughtful article on his Down the Tubes blog. It's essential reading for anyone interested in comics, and should be of particular interest to those who need to know more about the workings of the industry and how it's evolved. Hop over there and enjoy...

Coming up in 2000AD...

Here's the info and preview pages of what you can expect to see in this week's 2000AD, on sale this Wednesday, 2nd August.

UK & DIGITAL: 1st August 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 1st September 2017 $7.99

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: Ouroboros by Michael Carroll (w) Paul Marshal (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

The Alienist: Inhuman Natures by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beebie (w) Eoin Coveney (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Greysuit: Foul Play by Pat Mills (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Grey Area: Lutwot Holiday by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Hunted: Furies by Gordon Rennie (w) PJ Holden (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Panini gets slicker

The latest releases of Panini UK's Marvel Collectors' Editions show a marked upgrade in paper quality. Both Mighty World of Marvel No.11 and Essential X-Men No.13 have sturdier covers and a glossier interior paper stock, similar to Panini's graphic novels. Reproduction in the Panini comics has always been good, but now it's very sharp with colours that pop. Far superior to the original American editions in fact!

Whether this will be permanent, or just temporary, I don't know, but it's a welcome improvement. Personally I'm not keen on glossy comics as they reflect the light if you have a window behind you and it can be distracting, but if it means better reproduction then I'm for it. (I also like MWOM's new cover design, boxing in the main art with vignettes of characters along the side.)

Stories in these 76 page comics are:
MWOM 11 reprints Guardians of the Galaxy No.5, Silver Surfer No.8, Ms Marvel No.9, and Civil War 2: Choosing Sides No.2.

Essential X-Men No.13 reprints Civil War 2: X-Men No.3 and 4, All-New X-Men nos.13 and 14. 

Both comics have 76 pages for the great price of £3.99. Available from WH Smith, comic shops, and selected newsagents.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Leo Baxendale's CLEVER DICK (1970)

Leo Baxendale produced some excellent laugh-out-loud strips in his career and one of those he created for IPC was Clever Dick, the boy inventor. It started in Buster dated 7th February 1970 (shown above) and must have proved popular as it continued until 1982. 

When Leo quit mainstream comics in 1974/75 I understand his son Martin took over the strip. (I thought Tom Paterson may have worked on it too, but not according to Steve Holland's Buster Index.) 

The strips are still funny today, and it'd be good to see a collection published by Rebellion at some point. Here's a couple of examples of the ones I have...

Latest COMMANDO news

Direct from D.C. Thomson, here's the details of the four issues of Commando that are published today...

Diving into familiar territory, like the Dunkirk retreat, issues 5039-5042 also feature many surprises like the air battles fought over the Burmese jungle, the battle torn streets of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, and even, perhaps, a glimpse of the future...

5039: Home of Heroes:
Saved in Time!

After being struck by lightning while parachute training, Frankie Walsh had a supreme advantage in the Second World War: he could see the future! Alan Hedben’s latest Commando story is a mixture of action battles and Science Fiction intrigue. Frankie has premonitions of plane crashes and German ambushes, allowing him to save the day in the nick of time. But how are these forewarnings possible? And who is the mysterious man who seems to be behind them?

A classic Commando pairing, Morhain and Rodriguez deliver the interior artwork, using jagged panels to signify the transition to Frankie’s premonitions, the serrated edges filling the reader with unease as the potential and deadly fates of our heroes are revealed. And, wrapping up this neat little package is Ian Kennedy’s cover, showing a mysterious figure garbed in a suitable Science Fiction get up, while keeping the Commando theme in check with planes and parachutes falling disconnected around him.

|Story | Alan Hebden| Art | Morhain & Rodriguez | Cover | Ian Kennedy |

5040: Gold Collection
Hoodoo Mission

“Then came then savage confusion of the British retreat to Dunkirk…”

A Dispatch Rider during the British retreat, Mike “Wheels” Riley left his post to save injured men on the road to Dunkirk. But they were already gone. When Riley catches up with his C.O. he’s told more men died because of his absence. Tormented by guilt, Riley transfers to the Tanks Corps. in North Africa, but it seems that the ghosts of his past still haunt him in this Gold issue classic from Feldwick.

The interior tank shots from Biesla really stand out, captivating the reader in the dark claustrophobia of metal and machine, as well as the men who rode in them. Meanwhile, Ken Barr’s thrilling cover is exactly the opposite, showing Riley as completely exposed and vulnerable, fleeing a firing Junker as he races towards us on his trusty motorbike.

|Story | Feldwick | Art | Bielsa | Cover | Ken Barr |
Originally Commando No 350 (August 1968)

5041: Action and Adventure:
The Reporters!

Focusing on the Spanish Civil War, ‘The Reporters’ looks at the intermediate period between both World Wars, as tension in Europe rises. Here, while three internal armies fight to gain control of Spain, English reporter Pete Beckford and photographer Owen Carver try to cover all sides, interviewing the different factions. But, in a metafictional twist, Ferg Handley’s story becomes less about the actual war, and more about the imposed objectivism of those involved in documenting war, as bias and opinion are repressed…even in the heat of battle.

With loving attention given to the Spanish street signs and graffiti in the background, you know that Madrid native Carlos Pino truly enjoyed illustrating this issue, and his cover is equally dynamic, centring on both our heroes and their weapons of choice; the purple of the title beautifully mimicking the purple of the torn flag behind them.

|Story | Ferg Handley | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino|

5042: Silver Collection
Squadron Pride

As expected in an issue titled ‘Squadron Pride’, Ian Clark’s story focuses on an ensemble rag-tag team of pilots and ground crew, determined to prove their worth fighting the Japanese in Burma.

With search lights criss-crossing in the background, illuminating smoke, fog and the action of the aerial battle, Ian Kennedy successfully manages to bring colour to this nocturnal scene, the blues and greens complimenting the colour of the aircraft, while contrasting the red and orange of the flames engulfing them.  And featuring such terrific night battles, Jose Maria Jorge’s interior artwork really shines in this issue. The black mass of night sky around the lone Brewsters really adds to the tension, where anything at all could be lurking in that blackness – and it often is!

|Story | Ian Clark | Art |Jose Maria Jorge | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No 2645 (March 1993)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Brickman Begins: Sold Out!

Published in 2005 by U.S. company Active Images, Brickman Begins! collected all my earliest Brickman strips from 1979 to 1996, along with a stack of all-new guest art pages by comics royalty such as Alan Davis, Tim Sale, Hunt Emerson and many more.

The 152 page book was sold worldwide in comics shops and online, and I had several hundred myself to sell by post and at conventions. As from today, Brickman Begins! is SOLD OUT. My thanks to all of you who bought a copy over the years! It's long out of print so no longer available from Active Images either.

I'll be honouring the orders I've received up to today of course with the few remaining books, but I've now deleted it from my online shop.

There's a possibility I may do a reprint of sorts at some time next year, via Amazon's Print On Demand service. There will be differences from the first printing though, as I won't imitate Active Images' design and bonus pages obviously as that was just for their edition. Any new edition I do of the book will just focus on the comic strip pages, but at present that's only a plan for the future. 

All my other comics are still available though! You can order those from my online shop at this link:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

London calling! LFCC this weekend!

This weekend it's the huge London Film and Comic Con that runs for three days at Olympia (28th to 30th July). There are at least 50 comics guests attending plus loads of actors from film and TV, authors, and even a few wrestlers! Some really big names there this year! This is the major comics/fantasy media event of the summer so I hope to see some of you there.

You'll find us on the first floor, and this floor plan shows you where to find the comics guests...

I'll be at Table 21 for all three days selling my comics and drawing sketches on request but I'm also booked to do a panel etc., so here's my schedule. (Bear in mind it may be subject to change but this is how it stands at present.)


2PM: SIGNING (45 Minutes) – Signing Area


12PM: SIGNING (45 Minutes) – Signing Area

12PM: ARTISTS PORTFOLIO SESSION (45 Minutes) – Portfolio Room

You can see the schedules for all the artists/writers at this link:

For all the info about the event; ticket prices, directions to the venue, etc. see here:

See you there! If you have any questions specifically for me about the show, post them below and I'll try to answer them before the weekend. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Leo Baxendale's Big Chief Pow Wow

In the mid to late 1960s, Leo Baxendale quit freelancing for Odhams and set his sights on the better paying Fleetway comics instead. One of the strips he produced there was Big Chief Pow Wow for Buster comic. The strip ran from 14th September 1968 to 31st January 1970. (Some were fill-ins by other artists.)

Here's a small selection of Leo's pages. 

Thor: Ragnarok, - Official Trailer

The San Diego Comic Con took place this weekend (no, I wasn't there) and amongst the promos unveiled there was this dazzling new poster for Thor: Ragnarok, the 17th film in the Marvel Studios movie universe. I really like it; well composed, a change from the norm, and so colourful! 

A new trailer was released too. Want to see it? Click below...

If you want to catch up with what's happening in Thor's world on the newsstands, the latest issue of Marvel Legends is out now in WH Smith and selected newsagents. Here's the cover to look out for, and the content info...

Marvel Legends Vol. 3 #13. On sale 20th July 2017.
76 Action-Packed pages featuring Marvel’s ‘Big 3’ – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor! £3.99!

A Civil War II chapter! While Civil War II rages, behind the scenes Captain America has his own plans! 

Plus, A Civil War II chapter! War Machine is dead! And why does Doctor Doom want be Tony Stark's BFF?!!

Also, Thor is dying! Roxxon Island is going to crush New York! Can Jane Foster save the Goddess of Thunder in time?!! (Waitaminute! Isn't Foster actually Thor?!!)

By Nick Spencer, Jesús Saiz, Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman!
Includes material reprinted from Captain America: Steve Rogers #5, Invincible Iron Man Vol. 8 #13, and Thor #11 and 12!


While I'm at it, want to see the poster for next year's Black Panther movie too? Here you go. It's another thing of beauty...

...and moving even further ahead, here's the official poster for Avengers Infinity War, released in May 2018, starring everyone...

Christmas Special 2017 Trailer – Doctor Who – BBC

This looks like it'll be a brilliant ending for Peter Capaldi's tenure as Doctor Who.

"The Twelfth Doctor comes face to face with his past in his final adventure. Twice Upon A Time coming Christmas 2017."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

BUSTER AND COR!! - First merged issue (1974)

At fifteen years old in 1974 I was going through my "British comics are just for kids" phase and didn't really appreciate what a good comic the merged Buster and Cor!! was. At the time, I was beginning to "grow out" of humour comics and stopped buying Buster shortly after. 

In truth, Buster and Cor!! was a solid comic with some great talent working on it. At 15, I was too old for it of course, but in retrospect, looking at it from a creative viewpoint, it was one of the best comics around at that time. Let's take a look at a few of the strips from this first merged issue...

One of the significant things about this issue is that the Buster strip itself saw a change of artist from Angel Nadal to Reg Parlett (who also drew the front cover). I'd grown up with Nadal's version and wasn't too keen on the change, but it can't be denied that Parlett was ideally suited to the strip and its fast paced slapstick situations...

The merger also saw some new strips starting that week that hadn't been seen in either Buster or Cor!! before. One of which was Snooper, by the always-wonderful Leo Baxendale...

Whenever comics merged, it was always a concern that some favourites would be pushed out. Thankfully, Ken Reid's excellent Faceache strip had proved popular to survive. (A collection of Faceache strips will be published by Rebellion in November.)

Another new strip was Marney the Fox, written by Scott Goodall and drawn by John Stokes. It was rare for strips in Buster to tug on the emotions as much as Marney did but it made for compelling reading. (Marney the Fox is another collection coming from Rebellion this year, and the one I'm looking forward to the most.)

Val's Vanishing Cream was one of the strips that had transferred over from Cor!! and was drawn by Mike Lacey. A typical IPC humour strip in that it featured a kid with a gimmick. That could restrict the humour somewhat but this is a good episode...

This issue gave the comic the opportunity to fill in new readers with the backstory of Fishboy before he embarked on a new adventure. A kind of British equivalent to Aquaman, this is another strip by Scott Goodall and John Stokes that deserves collecting.

There was a lot of good material in this issue and this was just a sample of pages. Rebellion now own a lot of classic material ripe for reprinting so I hope that readers support the Treasury of British Comics books so that we see more!

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