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Tuesday, October 31, 2017


What better book to preview/review on Halloween than Rebellion's latest offering that will be out at the end of next month? Faceache: The First 100 Scrunges brings us a fine collection of the first couple of years of Ken Reid's marvellous Faceache strip. We get the complete run from Jet plus the early Buster and Jet appearances, taking us from 1971 to 1973.
I think it's important to point out that Faceache did have a few fill-ins during this period, and they're included too. A total of 17 pages are clearly not by Ken Reid, but by Barrie Appleby (uncredited). I'm not sure why Rebellion felt it necessary to include the ghosted strips as they're not part of any continuity, and they feel a bit out of place in a book sub-titled The Ken Reid Years
Barrie Appleby's Faceache.
Still, focusing on the positives, we have lots of glorious Ken Reid pages reproduced very sharply and cleanly, with Ricky Rubberneck (Faceache's real name) gurning into increasingly bizarre contortions throughout a succession of brilliant slapstick situations. Personally, I think Ken's work was at its peak during the 1960s when he was freelancing for Odhams, but Faceache is amongst his best work for IPC and it's great to see it collected at last.
The book has two introductions; one by Alan Moore, which is guaranteed to bring the book to the attention of people who might otherwise ignore it, so that's good, and one by Ken's son, who reveals some behind-the-scenes anecdotes that are a touching and worthy addition to the book.

The book ends with a nice reveal of another Ken Reid book coming soon, which will be wonderful to see. I'll say no more. I hope there'll be another Faceache collection too, as the character, and Ken Reid's work, deserves a place on every comic fan's bookshelf. In British comics, producing humour strips sometimes feels like working in a ghetto within a ghetto, and so much material has been ignored or overlooked by fans and pros alike, so it's admirable that Rebellion are acknowledging one of the finest and funniest humour artists the UK has ever produced. Treat yourselves for Christmas to this marvellous first volume and let's hope there'll be many more!

Here's the PR material with more info...

REGIONS: UK, worldwide digital
RELEASE DATE: 30th November 2017
PAPERBACK, 118 pages
PRICE: £14.99 (UK) $22.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086018

Hilarious face-changing adventures by one of the greats of British comics! Ken Reid is consistently name-checked by the greats of comics - from Alan Moore to Kevin O'Neill, John Wagner to Pat Mills - for his unique art that is matched only by his enduring sense of humor. In a hardcover edition befitting his status as one of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, we present his timeless Faceache - the humorous adventures of Ricky Rubberneck, the boy with a "bendable bonce" whose skin stretches like rubber. At will, he could scrunge his face into anything, whether it's mimicking others or turning into grotesque creatures, but always coming a cropper! This is the first collection of this long lost classic from the hugely popular and long-running Buster comic.

Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond

Sunday, October 29, 2017

WHAM! No.1 (1964)

One comic that had eluded me until recently was Wham! No.1. I didn't have it when I was a child, and in later years I always lost out on the bidding for it on eBay... until a few weeks ago, when I won a copy for far less than it usually sells for these days. It's a little tatty at the spine, but it's clean and complete, so I thought I'd show a few pages from it here today.

You probably know how Wham! came about, but if not, here's a recap: in 1964, Odhams Press wanted to produce a rival comic D.C. Thomson's Beano. The editors convinced Leo Baxendale to quit The Beano to develop stories for their new comic, which Leo envisioned as a sort of "Super-Beano" (or Wham! as it became) poaching Thomson's top talent. However, most of Thomson's artists would not leave the security of long-established comics to work on the new rival publication. Although the end result wasn't quite the "Super-Beano" that Leo had hoped for, Wham! still turned out to be a fresh and funny addition to the growing number of weekly comics in the Sixties.

Incredibly, in the first issue of Wham!, Leo Baxendale drew 17 of its 24 pages himself. Four of which were in full colour. Naturally, no one could keep up that tremendous output every week, so following issues saw other artists join the comic to imitate Leo's style on many of the strips. Meanwhile, over at The Beano, other artists were also imitating Leo's style on the strips he'd left (such as Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids). As the 1960s moved on, Leo became the most imitated humour artist in the business, and elements of his popular style are still evident in comics today. 

Back to that first issue of Wham!, published Monday 15th June 1964, here's the strip that greeted readers as the opened the comic; General Nitt and his Barmy Army...

The Wacks was one strip that was swiftly taken over by another artist (Gordon Hogg) but for issue 1, Leo drew it himself...
The Tiddlers was very much Wham's version of The Bash Street Kids, but the twist was that teacher (Super Sir) was as wild as the kids. Sadly, this idea was dropped later, with Super Sir replaced by a teacher in conflict with the pupils. 

The centre pages gave us the first episode of Eagle-Eye, Junior Spy, a spoof of the popular spy genre of the time. The most important part of the strip though was its introduction of the baddie, Grimly Feendish, who would eclipse Eagle-Eye in popularity and go on to have his own long-running strip in Smash! (as well as a song about him years later by The Damned).

Another strip of note was Georgie's Germs, a gross version of The Beezer's Numskulls, that saw dirty kid Georgie having to deal with various ailments every week. This was another strip that other artists took over, but Leo set it off to a great start. 

With issue 4, Ken Reid joined the comic, bringing us Frankie Stein (see here) and Wham! became more manic than ever. It may not have been the "Super-Beano" that Leo had hoped for, but Wham! still turned out to be a great comic, with a cheeky, anarchic attitude, and still very fondly remembered by many. It inspired Odhams to launch companion comics for it, and soon we had Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic and Terrific, collectively known as the "Power Comics" that helped make the Sixties a great time to be a child.

You can read about the first issues of those other comics here:

Halloween comics!

Over the years, Halloween has taken over from Bonfire Night themes in children's comics. Here are the covers of the latest issues of Beano and The Phoenix, in shops now (if you're lucky enough to have local shops that stock them). Alternatively, you could subscribe to each comic at their websites:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Combat Correspondence

I've made quite a bit of progress on Combat Colin No.2 this week. I've been scanning loads of pages, and was pleased to find that I had the original artwork for all the strips I needed, except one (which I scanned from the comic). 

This issue will reprint all the Combat Colin strips that appeared in The Transformers Nos.153 to 224 (February 1988, through to summer 1989). It was a half page strip throughout this run so the comic will pack a lot in, running two half pagers to each page. The exception will be a four parter that featured characters owned by Marvel Comics, so I can't use that, but I've included a synopsis of that story.

I've laid out most of the comic this week, with just the covers and letters page to do now. Yes, there's going to be a letters page, so if you bought Combat Colin No.1 and you have any thoughts on it, send me an e-mail to and it may appear in the next issue. 

I'm aiming to publish Combat Colin No.2 in late November, and will post updates here and on my other blog, so look out for more news soon!

Preview: 2000AD Prog 2055

In 1986, cartoons of pig's bottoms on the cover of Oink! caused consternation from a certain High Street news chain, so who knows what the sight of monster nipples will do to them when this issue of 2000AD arrives in shops on Wednesday. Hopefully they'll realise that the image won't plunge society into a pit of perversion, and life will continue along its merry way.

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: BLACK SNOWS by Michael Carroll (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

INDIGO PRIME: A DYING ART by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l)

SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: AZTEC CAMERADERIE by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Nemesis the Warlock back in print

The fifth and latest book in the partwork series 2000AD The Ultimate Collection is Nemesis the Warlock Volume One, by Pat Mills, Kevin O'Neill, and Jesus Redondo. It was a joy to find a copy in my corner shop today and I plonked down my £9.99 for this splendid hardback without hesitation. 

These early Nemesis the Warlock stories have been a firm favourite of mine since their debut in the 1980s, and Kev O'Neill has been one of my favourite artists since then too. I already have the stories in softback, but I couldn't resist this fine hardback. The only drawback is the page size is a bit smaller than its original publication in 2000AD, but the pin-sharp reproduction makes everything clear so that's not a problem.
Nemesis the Warlock was the most bizarre and fascinating series to appear in 2000AD back in the early 1980s. Set in an oppressive future where the dictatorial, bigoted sadist Torquemada rules over the Terran empire, opposed by freedom fighter (or terrorist if you prefer) Nemesis, an alien. Yep, we're asked to root for the aliens and despise the humans, - and it works. That's just a brief summary, and it's more complex than that, especially as the series develops, but Nemesis the Warlock is an incredible story that well deserves a place on anyone's bookshelf. 

With Pat Mills as the writer, you can't really go wrong, and coupled with Kevin O'Neill's darkly comic, spiky artwork, it's a winning combination. Kev was always a big fan of Ken Reid, and you can see some influences here, even though Kevin has a distinctive style of his own, and he takes that black comedy into even more twisted and glorious directions.
This new collection reprints the first three series of Nemesis the Warlock, plus the early strips that introduced the characters. In case you didn't know, series two is drawn by Jesus Redondo. It's quite a departure from Kev's work, but Redondo is a top class illustrator in his own right so it's worth including here.
Nemesis the Warlock Volume One also includes an article on the series as a back up feature, complete with full colour reproductions of Nemesis' cover appearances on 2000AD. It would have been nice to have seen these covers reproduced one to a page instead of small size, but the reproduction is clear enough.

If you've never read these first Nemesis the Warlock stories, treat yourself to a copy of this book. You should find it in WH Smith, newsagents, and comics speciality shops, or you can subscribe to the partworks here:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: RETRO TALES No.1

You may remember Simon Williams from his artistry on the originated Marvel strips published by Panini UK a few years ago, when he produced fantastic work for comics like Marvel Heroes. A master of dynamic superhero storytelling and a fan of 1970s comics, Simon has now put his talents to use on the first issue of Retro Tales, and it's a blast!
Not only a brilliant artist, but also a witty writer and great designer, Simon has produced Retro Tales to look like a forgotten American comic from the 1970s, and it really is spot on. The 24 page comic gives us a 10 page adventure with the Discotronic Funk Commandos, a soul/funk inspired supeerhero team facing off against punk-inspired villains such as Squid Vicious, Blockhead, and Mohawk.
It's an affectionate pitch-perfect parody of '70s superhero comics with the added bonus of loads of song title puns and references. The result is a comic that's such great fun to read! 
The artwork of Simon Williams has a true classic Marvel feel to it, and a storytelling clarity that many of today's artists simply lack. Retro Tales is a joy to read, but at the same time I felt sad that Simon isn't the regular artist on The Incredible Hulk (his favourite character). Marvel should sign him up immediately!

The rest of the comic gives us a YMCAgent pin-up, black and white, unlettered pages of art as a bonus feature, a YMCAgent single pager spoofing the old Hostess Fruit Pies adverts, unpublished art, and more. I hope Simon finds time to produce a second issue soon!

With so many modern superhero comics being grim, slow-paced efforts, Retro Tales makes for a very refreshing change. If you're interested in buying a copy, message Simon Williams directly at his Twitter page here:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Not, it's not a dare. The Scream! and Misty Halloween Special will be on sale in Tesco from tomorrow! Here's the info that Rebellion have posted on social media...

The Scream! and Misty Special is coming to Tesco Extra stores across the UK - watch out for issues at these locations from tomorrow!

Belfast / Banbridge, Belfast / Craigavon / Inverness / Cobden Road Street, Glasgow / Greenock / Maryhill Road, Glasgow / Coatbridge / Rutherglen, Glasgow / Barhead, Road, Glasgow / Kilmarnock / Irvine / Elgin / Inverurie / Wick, Airport / Beckton, London / Broadstairs / Weybridge / Thurrock / Basildon / Addlestone / Ipswich / Dereham / Westcliff on Sea / Eastbourne / Dover / Fforestfach, Swansea / Carmarthen / Southport / Leyland / Blackpool / Batley / Rotherham / Bishop, Auckland / Cleveland, Co. Durham / Saville Street, Sheffield / Middlesbrough / Grimsby / Chorley / Prescot / Wrexham / Penrhos, Holyhead / Warrington / Burnley / Newton, Aycliffe / Bidston / Broughton, Cheshire / Barnsley / Peterborough / Lichfield / Sutton Coldfield / West Bromwich / Walsall / Cambridge / St, Neots / Cradley Heath / Kingston, Milton Keynes / Redditch / Nuneaton / Dudley / Corby / Newcastle Upon Tyne / Gateshead, Tyne and Wear / Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff / Cirencester / Gloucester / Excelsior Road, Cardiff / Plymouth / Pengam Green, Cardiff / Llantrisant / Merthyr Tydfil / Redruth / Yate, Gloucestershire / Bradley Stoke / Newport / Trowbridge / Nottingham / Beaumont Leys, Leicester / Ashby-de-la-zouch / Hamilton, Leicester / Long Eaton, Nottingham / Hanley / Beeston, Nottinghamshire / Jubilee Way, Mansfield / Chesterfield Road, Mansfield / Lincoln / Bulwell, Nottinghamshire / Irlam, Manchester / Gorton, Manchester / Wigan / Oldham / Worsley, Manchester / Colwyn Street, Salford / Toxteth, Liverpool / Stretford, Manchester / Purley, Croydon / Horsham / Twickenham / Isleworth / Staines / Sandhurst / Slough / Shoreham / Poole / Neasden, London / Worthing / Watford / Cheshunt / Hatfield

Copies are still available from WH Smiths and all good newsagents.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Preview: INFINITY No.6

Not a comic, but a magazine that will appeal to many of you, Infinity is a British mag that is dedicated to classic film and television (with occasional articles on comics). Here's an advance look at issue No.6, which spotlights The Prisoner TV series in this, its 50th anniversary year. (Cover art by Mark Maddox.) There'll also be many features on other items too, as you can see from the cover. 

You'll find Infinity in WH Smith and selected newsagents. (My local Smiths still insists it's a children's magazine and stocks it with the nursery comics, but most sensible branches will put it next to 2000AD, SFX, etc.)

Infinity No.6 will be out on Thursday 23rd November. The current issue (No.5) is still available in shops and this is the cover to look for...

If you're a fan of The Prisoner, this is the website for you:

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mick McMahon returns to Judge Dredd!

Next week's issue of 2000AD (Prog 2054) sees one of the comic's original artists return to illustrate a one-off Judge Dredd story. The renowned Mick McMahon is back, drawing Lord of the Fyreflies, with colours by Chris Blythe. An instant collector's item! 

In fact, it's a very solid issue all round, with top class material from cover to cover. Here's a preview of the issue, courtesy of Rebellion...

UK & DIGITAL: 25th October 2017 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 25th October 2017 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: LORD OF THE FYREFLIES by rory McConville (w) Mick McMahon (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

INDIGO PRIME: A DYING ART by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l)

SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: AZTEC CAMERADERIE by SDan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

See you in Loughborough!

This Sunday (22nd October) I'll be at Loughborough Comic-Con, at Loughborough Leisure Centre. As well as the guests listed above, there'll also be stars from television including Sophie Aldred, Hannah Spearritt, Danny John-Jules and more! Come along and join us!

Out now from Panini UK...

MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #14. On sale 19th October!
100-page special! Five fantastic stories! £3.99!
The Champions are born! Marvel's teenage heroes are striking out on their own, and they're going to do things their way! A hot new series begins by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos!
The Black Widow returns – and now she's got the Weeping Lion working for her! By Chris Samnee and Mark Waid!
The Guardians of the Galaxy face a showdown with the dreaded Mother Entropy! By Jim Starlin and Alan Davis!
A Civil War II chapter! Nick Fury discovers the shocking truth behind the secret SHIELD cult! By Declan Shalvey!
A special Captain America adventure set in World War II by Stan Lee and Bruce Timm!

Featuring material first printed in Champions #1, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy #5, Black Widow #7, Marvel 75th Anniversary #1 and Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5-6.

ESSENTIAL X-MEN #16. On sale 19th October!
76 pages of mutant mayhem! £3.99!
Storm is caught between Cyclops and Medusa as the mutant/Inhuman conflict accelerates! Don't miss ‘Death of X’ by Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire and Aaron Kuder!
Pslyocke battles her way across the world – and is ambushed by Mystique! By Cullen Bunn and Greg Land!
Featuring material first printed in Death of X #2-3 and Uncanny X-Men #14-15.

DEADPOOL UNLEASHED #7. On sale 19th October!
76 pages of the Merc with a Mouth! Three wild adventures! £3.99!
There's a new Mercs for Money team – but Domino is running it! Can Deadpool cope with his reduced status?! By Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello!
Deadpool the Duck tackles the sinister Roxxon Corporation! By Stuart Moore and Jacopo Camagni!
Deadpool and Hawkeye battle mind-controlled cosplaying assassins! By Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni!

Featuring material first printed in Deadpool: Mercs for Money #5, Deadpool the Duck #3 and Hawkeye vs Deadpool #1-2.

The Spirit of the Lakes

One spectacular comic I bought last weekend at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival was The Spirit, a massive (broadsheet) sized 12 page comic featuring strips by the top talent in the industry.

The one-off comic was produced for the Festival, to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Will Eisner, The Spirit's creator. With a wonderful cover by Becky Cloonan, each interior page features a tribute strip of The Spirit by the following creators:
Brendan McCarthy, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Graham Dury and Simon Thorp, Chris Samee, John M Burns, Sergio Aragones, Peter Milligan and Duncan Fregredo, Seth, Jason Latour, Johnathan Ross and Bryan Hitch, and a back cover illustration by Michael Cho.

There's also a tribute written by Neil Gaiman, and an article by Chris Murray and John McShane on how Will Eisner influenced a change in direction of British comics. 

The comic was edited by Sean Phillips and is truly a classy production. This deserves a place in everyone's collection, and if you'd like a copy you can buy one directly from the comic shop Page 45 in Nottingham or from their website:

Panini UK launch BEN 10 Magazine

Panini UK have just launched the first issue of a new Ben 10 Magazine, based on the popular Cartoon Network show. The 36 page mag, aimed at 4 to 8 year olds, includes a brand new 8 page comic strip drawn by Russ Leach (who was previously the artist on Doctor Who Adventures). Good to see new strip created for the mag instead of reprint.
Here's more info...

Follow the heroic exploits of Ben Tennyson, Grandpa Max and Cousin Gwen in the NEW official magazine. 10-year-old Ben does what any kid his age would do if he possessed the most powerful device in the universe, the Omnitrix – he uses it at every available opportunity!
This extra-special first issue will include a super-awesome free gift, plus the first episode of a BRAND NEW alien-bashing comic strip story. There's also a selection of villainous puzzles and fantastic prizes to be won!
Unleash your inner hero across 36 action-packed pages!

Issue Number: 1

Price: £3.99

Covermounted Gift: FREE blaster!

On sale: Thurs 18th October 2017

To see more of Russ Leach's work, visit his website here:

Panini Comics UK website:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The first MINNIE THE MINX! (1953)

Over on Beano.Com this week they've uploaded the very first Minnie the Minx strip, when she debuted in The Beano back in 1953. 

The artwork is by Leo Baxendale, but it's from his early days as a cartoonist when he was still experimenting with his style. Minnie looks somewhat different to how we know her today, and Leo's style was less confident and not as distinct. 

Leo would of course go on to become the most influential artist in British comics from the 1950s to the present day, so it just goes to prove that artists should be given a chance to develop their styles, and strips should be given time to grow. 

See the full strip over at here:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A good weekend at the Lakes!

My thanks to Julie Tait, Carole Tait, Sandra Wood, and the whole team for organising The Lakes International Comic Art Festival last weekend. It was a pleasure to be a guest again at such a well organised and diverse event. As always at such shows it's great to meet the readers, catch up with old friends, and meet new people too. Thanks to John Freeman, Marc Jackson, Davey Jones, Jim Stewart, Eli Winter, Steve MacManus, Rian Hughes, John McShane, Pete Renshaw, Jeremy Briggs, Hunt Emerson and Jane, Tony Bennett, Tim Pilcher, John and Sandra of Metaphrog, Emma Vieceli, Steve McGarry, Brad Brooks, Emmeline Pidgen, Andrew Jolly, Peter Doherty, Graham Dury, Simon Thorp, Charlie Adlard, Bryan Talbot, Steve White, and many more for being good company, even though I only saw some of you briefly. Hope you all enjoyed the weekend too.

I didn't get a chance to take many photos but here's a few...

Even the Clocktower looked good, despite the scaffolding, thanks to the huge banner promoting the show!

Kendal is a very picturesque town. The hotel I stayed in is a converted 18th Century tannery. (Far more comfortable inside than the exterior would suggest!) 

My thanks to everyone who attended my Comics Gold talk (a whirlwind presentation on the history of UK comics). Special thanks to John Freeman for co-hosting it.

The talks and interviews mostly took place at the Brewery Arts Centre (shown at the top of this post) with exhibitors a short distance down the road at the Clock Tower. (This photo was taken towards the end of the event when things were quietening down.)

Saturday evening gave us a chance to relax with live entertainment, including the band Blue Harvest at popular town centre pub Ruskins...

I missed most of the panels but on Sunday I did catch the prolific artist Steve McGarry giving a fascinating and entertaining talk on the history of football comics.

By 4pm on Sunday I had to dash off to catch my train home but I'd had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend! No doubt more in-depth reviews of LICAF will be appearing online soon so look out for them! (In fact, this one over at the Page 45 site is pretty comprehensive: )

All photos in this report ©2017 Lew Stringer.


The next event I'll be at will be Loughborough Comic-Con, this coming Sunday, 22nd October, at Loughborough Leisure Centre. See you there!

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