Wednesday, December 12, 2018

TOXIC No.315 is out now!

Despite the metallic red and green foil cover colours, the latest Toxic magazine is decidedly unfestive. Even so, it's another fun issue that would make a good stocking stuffer. For £4.99 readers get Toxic No.315, plus an additional 32 page Fortnite magazine, and a bunch of gifts.

Inside Toxic's 40 pages there are bright and breezy features on the latest movies and games for kids, plus puzzles, pin-ups, and of course the comic strips! 

This time, Team Toxic (written and drawn by me) continues from the previous issue where we left them powerless, and now three of their most persistent baddies turn up to take over the city! How can they be stopped? Find out in Toxic No.315, out now from newsagents and supermarkets all over the UK!
If you want to subscribe to Toxic, or buy individual issues by post, you can do it by visiting this link:

The Christmas EPIC magazine (2018)

The latest issue of D.C. Thomson's Epic is out today, with a special festive polybag and cover. There are a few Christmas features and puzzles inside too, but unfortunately none of the strips have a Christmas theme. Nevertheless, there are laughs with Over Reaction Man by Alex Collier and Steve Bright...

...and Hygiene High by Niall Murray and, er, me! 

Plus a few mini-strips, uncredited.

Epic No.154 is available from newsagents and supermarkets priced £4.99.


I'm woefully behind on my comics reviews, so I'm catching up by putting a bunch of them together in this post and a couple more later today. The reviews are briefer than I'd intended, but I hope it brings some good comics to people's attention anyway.

First up we have Frankenstein, Texas by Dan Whitehead and David Hitchcock. As the title suggests, Frankenstein and his monster arrive in America. Unexpectedly, a Western setting suits the iconic characters well, thanks to the skills of the creators of this 64 page comic. Smooth writing from Dan Whitehead, and detailed, atmospheric artwork from David Hitchcock, whose work I've admired for several years now.
It's a cracking story and despite some violence and mild cussing, I'd say it was suitable for older children to adults. There are some very nice bonus back up illustrations too from guest artists DaNi, John McCrea, PJ Holden, Jerry Paris, and Doug Slack. You can order a copy from this website:

Writer Dan Whitehead.

Also by the same writer is Hex Loader No.3, continuing the contemporary supernatural story. Again, good writing that flows well, and nice realistic artwork by Conor Boyle. 
My only gripe is that there's no resumé page/captions so one has to remember what happened in previous issues. Not easy when the comic is only published once a year and you've mislaid the previous two amongst piles of other comics. (Or is that just me?) Worth following though, and you can buy all three from this link:

Next up we have Starfall, published by Blackhat Comics. This was backed by people supporting the creator's Patreon page and the result is a 32 page full colour comic. Written by Adam Blackhat and drawn/coloured by Valentina Sannais, Starfall is an adult superhero story. 
The artist, Valentina Sannais, is an emerging new talent and one to watch. There's good figurework in her drawing and I really like her unusual but appealing use of colour. The script moves along at a good pace and packs a lot in. 
Artist Valentina Sannais.
I'm not quite sure how you can get a print copy other than from Val's table at comic cons, but you can support their Patreon and read the online comics at this link:

The final publication in this review section is Back, Sack and Crack (and Brain), a 224 page graphic novel by Robert Wells. Comics can be about any subject, and the subject here are the embarrassing health problems suffered by the author. Yes, it's autobiographical, and Robert takes us through every detail of the chronic pain he's endured in his bowels, his back, and his testicles, and the treatment (and sometimes mis-diagnoses) he's received. 
It's not a book for the squeamish, but Robert's art is very matter-of-fact and his cleanline style helps to make it more palatable. I have to confess I was left thinking "Did I really need to know all that?" but, and it's a big but, I'm sure it could help people in similar situations to know what they might expect. There's a lot of dark humour in there too, in case you were concerned it was a dry medical record. If you like slice-of-life stories then you can't get more down to earth than this. 

Back, Sack and Crack (and Brain) by Robert Wells is available from bookshops such as Page 45 and Waterstones. ISBN 978-1-4721-3675-6

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Christmas / New Year DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE

Here's the polybag cover for Doctor Who Magazine No.533, which goes on sale on Thursday 13th December. It includes an exclusive preview of the New Year’s Day Special, plus an interview with Sharon D Clarke, Out of the TARDIS with Frazer Hines, the DWM Christmas Quiz, a free poster & much more!

...and, although there's not a Christmas Day episode of Doctor Who this year, there will be a festive Daft Dimension from me in the magazine. Here's an extract of one panel...

Doctor Who Magazine No.533, out from Thursday in all good newsagents and supermarkets!

Nick Fury in Suspense

I loved Alan Class comics. For those of you who have never heard of them, they were 68 page black and white reprints of American comics. You'd get a mixture of strips from Marvel, Charlton, and ACG packaged into each issue. The selections were mostly random, so you might have a Fantastic Four story in there one month, but a Spider-Man one in the next issue, - regardless of whether the stories were cliffhangers or not. 

Alan Class was the publisher and the comics ran for years, eventually becoming reprints of reprints, and with a publication frequency as random as their content, until one day they stopped altogether.

I wrote about them a few years ago (here) but the reason they're on my mind again today is that I just noticed that the eBay seller phil-comics has an issue of Amazing Stories of Suspense No.94 up for auction, which reprints Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD No.4 from 1968. Yep, the one with that iconic cover by one of my favourtite artists, Jim Steranko, that many artists have since homaged in their own work. (The story inside is drawn by Frank Springer, by the way.)

This is the first time I've seen this issue since it was in the shops around 1969 so I thought I'd post the cover here, and of course acknowledge Phil with a link to his eBay page where you'll find many wonderful old comics:

If you're interested in bidding on this comic, here's the link:

The next four COMMANDO comics

5183: Home of Heroes: Raid over Heilbronn

Among the snowy clouds above Germany hides many eager Me 109s waiting to poach a fat British Bomber! Iain McLaughlin weaves a tale of isolation and tension aboard a Lancaster on the long, fraught journey to its target. But will the men aboard W-for-William return from their bombing raid over Heilbronn?

| Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Paolo Ongaro | Cover | Janek Matysiak |

5184: Gold Collection: Coward in the Cockpit

Imagine a pilot being frightened of the plane beneath him! Well, Sergeant Pilot Jack Warren might have had trouble performing in the cockpit, but once you got him on the ground with a captured Luger in his hand he was a different man!  

| Story | Wilkinson | Art | Fleming | Cover | Buccheri |
Originally Commando No. 280 (August 1967).

5185: Action and Adventure: The June Winter

Jason Cobley tackles the controversial action of the Falkland’s War in his second ever issue of Commando! Yomp with the marines of 3 Commando after entering a war on the other side of the world, where many didn’t understand why Britain was fighting so hard to keep the Falkland Islands… but they would find out.

| Story | Jason Cobley | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino |

5186: Silver Collection: Mystery of the Sands

Lieutenant Chris Craven was a traitor! Or at least that’s what everyone had thought… For over fifty years, the mystery of Craven lay undiscovered in the North African desert but the men who served with him would finally learn the truth!

| Story | CG Walker | Art | Gual | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2894 (October 1995).

Monday, December 10, 2018

A classic WHAM! cover

I've always liked this Tiddlers cover by Leo Baxendale, ever since I saw it used as an advert for the weekly back in a Wham! Annual in the 1960s. I recently bought this issue and I like the art even more now I've seen it in its published size. Wham! No.71, dated 23rd October 1965. (There's no way a children's comic today would put a kid dressed as Hitler on the cover, or show such an assault on a teacher. Wham! could be irresponsible but Baxendale always made it look funny.)

As I've mentioned before, you can easily spot Leo's art for Odhams as he signed most of it. Several artists were told to imitate his style, and ones such as Mike Lacey, Mike Brown, and Graham Allen did a superb job (and were funny creatives in their own right) but always look for the signature. If it's absent, chances are it's not by Leo Baxendale. (Also remember that Leo never drew any pages for the Odhams annuals, so eBay sellers claiming otherwise are wrong. And... Leo left Odhams in 1966, so later issues of Wham! - and no issues of Pow! - feature his work, only that of people drawing in his style. 

These days, Rebellion own the rights to these old comics, so maybe they'll collect some classic Wham! material one day. There's nothing scheduled for 2019, but perhaps in the 2020s you'll be able to buy the collected Tiddlers or Eagle-Eye, Junior Spy. Who knows? 

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Terry Bave

I've just heard the sad news that the cartoonist Terry Bave has passed away. I received a message from his son which read:

"Hi, it with deep heart to let you know that Terry Bave passed away, after a short illness, on 6th December 2018. He was drawing, despite his illness, right up to the end. His last creation being an wedding anniversary card in October to his wife. They had been married 66 years. He will be missed by all his family and friends, and countless comic followers.
All the best,
Russell Bave (Terry's son)"

Terry was born in Bristol in 1931 and had been freelancing as an illustrator since the 1950s. In the 1960s he approached Odhams for work and was given Sammy Shrink to draw in Wham!, taking over from the original artist David Jenner. Sammy would prove to be a huge hit, and was revived in the early 1970s for Whizzer and Chips and ran for many years.

Terry's clean, pleasant style was always very popular with the readers, as were the scripts, mainly written with his wife Shiela. Terry and Shiela came up with many new characters for the expanding IPC line of comics in the 1970s, having continued success with strips such as Me and my Shadow, Jimmy Jeckle and Master Hyde, The Slimms, Calculator Kid, Donovan's Dad, and many more.

In the 1990s he found work with D.C. Thomson, becoming the new regular artist on Winker Watson for The Dandy, and later he published his autobiography Cartoons and Comic Strips. He retired in 2007. 
My sincere condolences to Terry's family and friends at this sad time. Fans of his work will also be saddened but the best way to remember him is through the thousands of pages he drew over his long career, bringing fun and smiles to millions of children. Here are just a few examples....
Sammy Shrink from POW AND WHAM (1968)
Swots and Blots from SMASH! FUN BOOK 1971
Me and my Shadow from WHIZZER AND CHIPS No.1 (1969)
Bertie Bumpkin from JET no.1 (1971)
Good Guy from BUSTER (1994)
Terry Bave's autobiography, Cartoons and Comic Strips, is available from Lulu here:

John Freeman has written a lengthy memoriam on his Down The Tubes blog:

The second issue of FANSCENE is now available!

Issue 2 of Fanscene is now available to download for free, - and it's a mammoth 212 page edition!

Published by David Hathaway-Price and featuring articles by an array of writers, Fanscene No.2 celebrates 50 years of UK comic cons with articles on various events from the past half decade. The magazine is very nicely designed and features numerous photos and images from over the years. 

It's well worth your time, and even if you've been involved in fandom or the comics industry for years you'll still learn something new from all the personal recollections and history contained within. 

Visit this link to find out more and to download your copy:

The final issue of TV TORNADO

Comics based on TV shows were quite a thing in the mid-20th Century. From TV Comic and TV Fun to Look-In and Beeb, they met with varying degrees of success. in the 1960s City Magazines had joined the party with comics such as Yogi Bear's Own, Huckleberry Hound Weekly, and of course the hugely popular and best remembered TV Century 21

TV21 had a few companion comics that, apart from Lady Penelope weekly, didn't fare as well. Joe 90 Top Secret, Solo, ...and TV Tornado. The odd thing about TV Tornado was that some of its strips were not even based on TV shows, although it might have been great to have watched a Magnus Robot Fighter tv series in the 1960s.

I must confess I didn't think much to TV Tornado when I was a kid. I had the first issue and never bothered with it again. It seemed to be a very bland comic that didn't compare favourably to TV21 or American comics. Some of its content, such as the aforementioned Magnus Robot Fighter, were actually resized, edited reprints from U.S. Gold Key comics, but they lacked the dynamism of the Marvel Comics being reprinted in Fantastic at that time.

Seems that other kids felt the same, as TV Tornado only lasted 88 weeks before merging into TV21. (A merger that arguably weakened TV21.) However, I know that some have a soft spot for this comic so I thought I'd show a few extracts from the final issue...

By the way, TV Tornado was edited by Mick Anglo, who had created Marvelman in the 1950s. TV Tornado's fictional editor, Ed Storm, bore an uncanny resemblance to "The Skipper", the fictional editor of Super DC, which was launched in 1969. Even the page layouts looked similar. Hardly surprising, as the editor of Super DC was also... Mick Anglo! 

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Christmas 2000AD (2018)

The bumper 100 page Christmas issue of 2000AD arrives in newsagents on Wednesday 12th December, and remains on sale until the New Year. It's a fantastic issue, and the highlight for me is the 20 page first episode of Fiends of the Western Front. Action, intrigue, and surprises! You'll love it!

Here's the info on the issue plus a few preview pages...

UK and DIGITAL: 12th December 2018 £4.99
NORTH AMERICA: 12th January 2018 $9.99

In this issue:

Judge Dredd: Jingle All the Way by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Annie Parlhouse (l)

Caballistics, Inc.: Visiting Hour by Gordon Rennie (w) Dom Reardon (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Fall of Deadworld: Running Scared by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Skip Tracer: Louder Than Bombs by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Sláine: The Bogatyr by Pat Mills (w) Chris Weston (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Brink: High Society by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Fiends of the Western Front by Ian Edginton (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Durham Red: Three Gifts by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Available in print from: newsagents and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop and apps for iPadAndroidWindows 10

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