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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Eaglemoss to launch Marvel Fact Files Classic Specials

Marvel Fact Files is a weekly partwork that Eaglemoss have been publishing for over 200 issues, featuring articles and new artwork by UK creators. (I wrote a couple of articles for it myself a while back.) Now the publishers are launching a six-part mini series companion mag called Marvel Fact Files Classic Special. The new magazine will focus solely on the original Avengers from 1960s Marvel comics, and each issue will be accompanied by an exclusive figurine. Issue 1, available October 2nd, features Iron Man.

Here's how Eaglemoss are promoting issue 1...

"Who? or what is the newest most breath-taking, most sensational superhero of all...? High-flying golden Avenger IRON MAN of course!
Iron Man is our first 1960s Avenger to join this incredible collection of Classic Avengers a mini series part of Marvel Fact Files. This detailed Iron Man figurine captures the golden avenger in an action pose showing the essence of the original Marvel comic artwork. He is wearing his instantly recognisable classic red-and-gold armour with his distinctive ‘horned’ mask. Standing over 12 cm Tall Iron Man is ready to join his fellow Avengers!
Iron Man comes with a 16-page magazine is packed with detailed information on billionaire philanthropist, looking at the history of the most important events in Iron Man's comic career."

Marvel Fact Files Classic Special No.2 features Captain America...

Marvel Fact Files Classic Special No.3 features Giant-Man...

Marvel Fact Files Classic Special No.4 features The Incredible Hulk...

Presumably issues 5 and 6 will feature The Wasp and Thor. The price for this figurine/magazine combo isn't cheap at £19.99 an issue, but they should be highly collectable. As far as I know, this will be a nationwide launch, not a test run, but I'll update this article if I hear differently. 

Eaglemoss website:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Deed-A-Day Danny by Hugh McNeill

Deed-A-Day Danny began as a half-page black and white strip in A.P.'s rival to The Beano, The Knock-Out Comic No.1, dated March 4th 1939. (Later simplified to just Knockout Comic.) The character of Danny was a well-meaning boy scout whose attempts to be helpful usually backfired. 
The first Deed-A-Day Danny strip from Knock-Out No.1 (1939).
The strip proved popular enough to be moved to the front cover of Knock-Out with issue 15. There it remained throughout the war years and a few years beyond. The strip ended in 1954.

The artist was Hugh McNeill, who had created Pansy Potter for The Beano No.1 in 1938 before freelancing for their rival company. He continued to work for A.P. after the war, notably as the main artist on the nursery weekly Jack and Jill in the 1950s, and as the second artist to draw the Buster strip for Buster comic in the early 1960s. He passed away in 1979. You can read more about him at Steve Holland's excellent Bear Alley blog here:

His covers for Knockout in the 1940s were lively and full of fun, so I thought I'd show a handful of them here today. All images are scanned from my collection of the actual comics.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jack Kirby's Centenary

Jack Kirby (1917 - 1994) was born 100 years ago today and his impact on comics and popular culture can never be underestimated. He was the co-creator of Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel's Thor and many more and his work conveyed a power, inventiveness, and dynamism never equalled.

When he took control of his own work with comics such as The New Gods, The Forever People and OMAC for DC Comics his work became even more creative and surreal (see the spread above from OMAC No.3, February 1975). Hollywood special effects are only just starting to catch up with Kirby's creativity, but Jack did it all on the printed page decades ago. 

The first work of Kirby's I saw was when Smash! weekly began reprinting The Incredible Hulk, starting in Smash! No.16, 21st May 1966. (Yes, they started by reprinting Hulk No.2, not No.1.) It was heavily inked by Steve Ditko, but as Ditko was a genius too that only added to its power. That image of the Hulk emerging from the swamp seared itself into my mind forever and I became a fan of Jack Kirby's work for life.
While none of us know what lies beyond our physical existence it wouldn't surprise me at all if Jack Kirby had become some celestial being and part of the universe. Happy 100th to Jack "King" Kirby!

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Remember the other week when I said my old book BRICKMAN BEGINS had sold out? Well, the book's publisher Richard Starkings found a few remaining copies and winged them over to me from the USA! 

They're complete and unread although the covers are a little bit scuffed in places so I've reduced the price a little to compensate. BUT for £9 (inc.p&p, UK only) you're getting 152 pages of some of my very earliest work collated into one digest-sized book, including a load of all-new guest artist pages by Charlie Adlard, Dave Gibbons, Tim Sale, and other comics gods. 

These few dozen books really are the last unsold copies left on the planet, so if you're interested, you can buy one from me at my online shop. Mature readers only though, 'cos there's a few rude bits in it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Crimson Ball!

Until its later decades, The Dandy used to feature some distinctive adventure serials alongside its humour content. One of which was The Crimson Ball, which ran from issue No.1144 (26th October 1963) to No.1174 (23rd May 1964) and in The Dandy Book 1965 (published 1964). 

The artist was Jack Glass, who had been a frequent contributor to the weekly since the first issue in 1937. The plot was quite bizarre, and had a childlike quality that appealed to its readers; a giant ball appears one day and coaxes a schoolboy to lead it to the nearest airfield, whereupon it begins smashing up the aircraft.

Later episodes revealed that the ball had a "master"; a foreign spy inside the ball, controlling its mechanisms. Why this spy needed a schoolboy to lead him to the airfield isn't made clear, (didn't he know how to read a map?) but it was a way to introduce an ongoing young character that the readers could relate to and root for. 

Yes, the premise was very basic and naive but that was part of its charm. A story that readers could easily emulate with their toys. I loved this strip when I was four years old. It was actually the first adventure series I read. By the time I first saw it in 1964, I'd missed the early chapters but I recently bought The Dandy No.1144 where the story began in 1963, so I thought I'd show that first chapter here today. I won't show how the series ends in case D.C. Thomson ever reprint the whole saga, (although that's not looking likely). I hope you enjoy this peek into the past.

From The Dandy Book 1965, opposite a Ken Reid page.

State of the industry: follow up

Following my post the other week about the state of UK comics in newsagents today, and how scruffy shelf displays could be detrimental to sales, Phil Boyce sent me a few photos of his local shop. These shots are from Easons in Belfast, and, as you can see, the presentation of the comics and magazines are neat and well organised, with logos (and sometimes full covers) clearly shown. 

Phil tells me that he took these photos on a busy lunchtime, but that he's never seen the displays in an untidy state like those I showed from my local shops. It just goes to prove that with the right attitude from retailers, today's comics and bulky bagged magazines can look attractive and presentable with the right sort of shelving design and attention from staff. 

Good on Easons for making the effort to ensure their stock looks appealing and well presented. It's not rocket science that if you have stock, you want to sell it, not put customers off by making them rummage through tightly packed comics where they can barely see what's what.

Thanks to Phil Boyce for letting me use the photos. If you don't already know, Phil runs the superb Oink! Blog which is always worth a visit:

Preview: 2000AD Prog 2046

Preview of the cover and a couple of interior pages of next week's 2000AD...

UK & DIGITAL: 30th August 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 30th September 2017 $7.99

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: War Bugs by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwall (a) Abigail Bulmer (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)
Tharg's 3rillers: Mechastopheles by Gordon Rennie, Lawrence Rennie (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Hope: ... For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) (c) Simon Bowland (l)

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Out now from Panini UK...

A quick look at the comics published by Panini UK this week and available in WH Smith and newsagents now...

MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #12. On sale 24th August!
76 pages of Marvel Universe adventure! Three awesome stories! £3.99!
The Guardians of the Galaxy face a chilling opponent in a new story: ‘Mother Entropy’ is by Jim Starlin and Alan Davis!
A Civil War II chapter! Ms Marvel fights Becky as Bruno clings to life! By G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona!
A Civil War II chapter! Nick Fury tracks down the man behind the SHIELD mutiny! By Declan Shalvey!
Featuring material first printed in GOTG: Mother Entropy #1-2, Ms Marvel #10 and Civil War II: Choosing Sides #3.

DEADPOOL UNLEASHED #5. On sale 24th August!
100-page special! Three new stories begin! £3.99!
Deadpool and Hawkeye face a deadly threat on Halloween! By Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli!
Deadpool and the Mercs battle Negasonic Teenage Warhead! By Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello!
Deadpool meets Howard the Duck – and gets a total species makeover!!! By Stuart Moore and Jacopo Camagni!
Featuring material first printed in Deadpool: Mercs for Money #1-2, Deadpool the Duck #1 and Hawkeye vs Deadpool #0.

ESSENTIAL X-MEN #14. On sale 24th August!
76 pages of Mutant Mayhem! £3.99!
Mutants and aliens are one thing, but demons?! The Goblin Queen hits Miami, and the X-Men can't stop her! By Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley! 
Monet's condition worsens as her brother Emplate gains in strength! By Cullen Bunn and Greg Land!

Featuring material first printed in Uncanny X-Men #11-13 and All-New X-Men #15.

...and a reminder again that DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE No.516 is on sale now too!
For more details, see here:

Titan relaunch The Simpsons comic in a new format

London-based Titan Comics have just launched All-New Simpsons Comics; a revival of their previous long running Simpsons Comics in a new format. Instead of the larger magazine-sized format, All-New Simpsons Comics is in the 76 page U.S. comicbook size format like Titan's DC Comics reprints. 

Issue No.1 is on sale now in WH Smith and selected newsagents. Here's a couple of preview pages...

For more info and subscription details, see here:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Tellybugs (1966)

The Tellybugs was published in the early issues of Smash! in 1966, and these examples are taken from the first Smash! Annual 1967 (published in 1966). 

At first glance, The Tellybugs looked a little old fashioned for a relatively hip comic like Smash! but it was perhaps the most relatable strip in the comic. The domestic setting looked very 1960s, which despite what some historians might tell you, was more mundane than the flower-power scenario they paint it as. The dad in The Tellybugs looked and dressed just like most dads of the time, and the television going "wonky" was always a likelihood. I remember a few times when "a valve went" in our old set.

The artwork was by Cyril Price, as I thought, but George Parlett often drew the strip so this may be his work. 

The Odhams "Power Comics" were brilliant for stuff like this. Some might say they were a bit too reckless. There's no way that a children's annual today could feature a story where a character fiddles around with live electronics or throws a bucket of water over a TV set. Even back then it was edgy, but that was part of the appeal of Smash!, Pow! and Wham! They felt a bit dangerous, but at the same time they were actually treating readers with respect. They didn't put any warnings on the strips. They didn't feel they needed to. They respected our intelligence not to imitate scenes from the comics. We'll never see their like again.

Preview: Are you ready for ROBO HATS?

Cartoonist Marc Jackson will soon be publishing a new comic, and he's allowed Blimey! to show an exclusive preview of the first five pages! Known for his retro/modern style on strips such as Ka-Punch! for Comic Heroes magazine, Marc says that his new comic, Robo Hats will have more of an adventure tone.

"I’m billing it as an adventure comic, story driven and not gag driven, but still with humour in there, of course! The story follows Hannah and Howard Hats as they receive a mysterious package, that leads them to an incredible discovery and a wild adventure in space and time" revealed Marc. 

"It’s going to be 4 issues, 20 pages plus cover each one and is a continuing story. Hoping to get one issue out every 2 months."

Robo Hats will launch at The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival that takes place in Kendal over the weekend of 13th to 15th October.

"The comic launches at LICAF and I’ll post the 1st 5 pages online for free on the Monday before. Then, the remaining 15, 5 pages a week, just after the festival. Then, the same again for the following issues, which hopefully will arrive every 2 months" said Marc. 

You can see more of Marc's work at his website:

...and on Facebook:

2000 AD: The Ultimate Collection out today

In newsagents now!

More info:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ron Turner's THE CASTAWAYS (1972)

Ron Turner had a long and impressive career in comics and illustration, dating back to the late 1930s. He was particularly notable for his science fiction book covers for Vargo Statten's novels in the 1950s and for the Rick Random stories. (If you can still find a copy, I urge you to buy this wonderful collection.)

I first saw his artwork in the mid-1960s when he did a few fill-ins on the Gerry Anderson strips for TV21 specials, and of course his long run on The Daleks strip on the back page of the weekly. By the 1970s he was freelancing on the IPC comics, and the examples I'm showing here are of a series called The Castaways that he drew for Whizzer and Chips in 1972 (24th June and 8th July issues). I don't think it ran for long, and may not be well known (or well remembered) today so I thought I'd post a couple of samples. The story is the well-trodden "kids stranded on island" idea, but it's always good to see Ron Turner artwork and the distinctive inking techniques he used. 

COMMANDO comics in shops this week

Here's the info direct from D.C. Thomson on the four issues of Commando that will be on sale from Thursday 24th August...

Brand new Commando issues 5047-5050 are on sale soon! With classic and new adventures, our Commandos are certainly kept busy: infiltrating U-Boats in the Atlantic, crash-landing in the North African Desert, unearthing mysterious Viking relics and dodging dud grenades, it’s all just another day’s work…

5047: Home of Heroes: The Battle to Britain

Janek’s life-like cover shows rival ships off the coast of Greenland, the bleak, icy water, just as threatening as the warships battling on them, while Vicente Alcazar’s thick black lines and heavy shading brings a moody darkness to Iain McLaughlin’s original story.

Set in Autumn, 1941, America had not yet joined in the Second World War, but that didn’t stop people like Charlie Dayton getting involved. Never shying away from a fight, Charlie’s strong views usually turned into something a bit more physical, so when the war in Europe started, Charlie knew he couldn’t stand by and wait for the battle to reach his shores. That was when he hopped aboard an English cargo ship, bound for Britain and the war that awaited him.

|Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Vicente Alcazar | Cover | Janek Matysiak |

5048: Gold Collection: Trouble Hunter

When R.A.F. air-gunner Fred Cotton crash-lands in the desert, it’s up to his brother Harry to rescue him. Omre’s story is one of fraternity: both blood brothers and not, as Harry must team up with the stubborn and by the books Sergeant Wilcox on his mission to save Fred.

With cover and interior artwork by the late Gordon C. Livingstone, you know that you’re in for a treat. The thin line strokes, expert shading and detail that Livingstone is famed for shines through in this issue, most notably during a sandstorm, where Livingstone draws hundreds of wispy lines to show to the harsh winds. Livingstone’s cover, however, is full of strong, contrasting block colours, the blue of Harry’s uniform juxtaposed against the yellow and orange of the desert sky.

|Story | Omre | Art | Gordon C. Livingstone | Cover | Gordon C. Livingstone |
Originally Commando No 378 (1969) Reprinted No 1111 (1977)

5049: Action and Adventure: The Blood of the Vikings

Another original tale from Shane Filer, when S.S. Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Heiden finds Viking relics in France, he believes they will make a grand gift for the Fuhrer, but he has no idea what he has uncovered… Set mainly in the 8th-9th century, we follow Frankish orphan Thorvald, raised by the Vikings who raided his village as he re-joins his kin in their fight against the invading Danes.

With cover and interior art by Carlos Pino, the attention to detail in the armour and weaponry really adds to this issue, making it stand out as a new classic for readers, while his morose coloured cover shows Thorvald as every inch the Viking god he is perceived as.

|Story | Shane Filer | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino |

5050: Silver Collection: Grenade!

A prolific Commando writer, Alan Hebden’s titular grenade is the centre of action in this issue, taking on a personality if its own, as the somewhat supernatural weapon favours some, while goes against others, with its own comical sense of poetic justice.  

Jeff Bevan’s cover shows the eponymous grenade front and centre, a hero in its own right, certainly showing plenty of character throughout, while the muted greens and browns give a classic war look to this issue. Meanwhile, Dennis McLoughlin’s interior artwork is equally attentive, drawing most panels during rain showers in the Italian countryside, with both white and black lines to show the falling droplets.

|Story | Alan Hebden | Art | Dennis McLoughlin | Cover | Jeff Bevan|
Originally Commando No 2640 (1993)  

Roger by Reid

It's sometimes forgotten that the iconic Roger the Dodger was co-created by the great Ken Reid. He was the original artist on the strip when it debuted in The Beano in 1953 and drew it until issue 1152 in 1964, before moving on from freelancing for D.C. Thomson to work on Frankie Stein for Odhams' new Wham! comic. 

I showed Ken's last work for Beano and Dandy here:

The page I'm showing today is a Roger the Dodger strip that appeared in The Beano No.1150, dated 1st August 1964, just two weeks before Ken's last Roger strip. There have been several great artists who have worked on the strip over the decades since Ken left, but I don't think anyone has quite captured that same sneaky, cheeky look in the same way that Ken did. After all, he designed the character and gave him that personality and "soul" so to speak. 

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