Monday, September 24, 2018

Preview: BLACK MAX Volume 1

After the ridiculously manic over-reaction to American comics imports in the 1950s, (see here) horror comics for kids were effectively banned in Britain under the (Children and Young Persons) Harmful Publications Act. However, publishers knew that children loved monster stories, and that a well-told horror comic wouldn't really do them any harm. They were prevented from blatantly publishing horror comics, but did manage to inject elements of such stories into their traditional adventure comics. 
One such strip was Black Max, a serial that ran throughout the short-lived Thunder anthology weekly in 1970/71, and then into the merged Lion and Thunder. Black Max was basically presented as a war story, featuring arial combat in World War One, but it was its horror element that was its main attraction. 
Episode one art by Eric Bradbury.

That horror came in the form of giant mutated bats created by evil scientist Baron Maximilien Von Klorr, who used them to attack the Allied forces. Written by Frank Pepper and Ken Mennell, it was one of the more memorable series in Thunder, and deservedly became very popular with the readers. (On a personal note, it was also a favourite of my dad's, who started reading comics again a few years before he died.)
First page of episode two. Art by Alfonso Font.

Now, Rebellion are collecting the early chapters in a book to be released on October 4th. Black Max Volume 1 reprints all the episodes from Thunder, plus the first few months of its continuation in the merged Lion and Thunder. The artwork is by the amazing Alfonso Font (who also provides an introduction and new cover), although the episode from Thunder No.1 was drawn by Eric Bradbury. (Presumably Bradbury's episode would have been drawn for the dummy issue of Thunder, and he may have been too busy to do the series once the comic got the green light months later.) Bradbury of course was a master of atmospheric horror in British comics. Font's style is lighter, but equally dramatic and his bats are the stuff of nightmares.

Black Max is a superb collection. Alfonso Font's work deserves to be seen and appreciated by a modern audience so I hope comic shops have ordered this marvellous book. If your local comic shop won't stock it, you can order it directly from the publisher here:

CREATIVE TEAM: Frank Pepper, Ken Mennell (w) Eric Bradbury, Alfonso Font (a)
RELEASE DATE: 4th October (UK) 24th October (US)
PAPERBACK, 115 pages
PRICE: £10.99 (UK) $16.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086551

Ace fighter pilot Baron Maximilien Von Klorr is the scourge of the skies, menacing the Allied forces during the bloodiest battles in WWI. Skilled, ruthless and in possession of two giant, mutated kingbats who fight by his side, Von Klorr AKA Black Max is almost unstoppable. Only the brave pilots of the Royal Flying Corps, including Lieutenant Tom Wilson, oppose the Black Max's complete dominance of the air. Thrilling supernatural war comics from the pages of classic British comics Lion and Thunder!

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

New comics event for Scotland

A new event for fans of British comics is coming to Scotland! Long-time UK comics enthusiast Colin Noble is the man behind Legend, the British Comics Minimart, in Lochore, Fife, on September 29th and 30th.

"Lochore is one of the Benarty mining villages that is still trying to find their way after the demise of the mining industry in Fife", says Colin. 

"Nothing exciting about yet another comics event you would say, but this is slightly different as the dealers and stall holders are only bringing their British comic stock.  This will be the biggest massing of British comics in over 10 years as the early 2000s used to see 1000s of British comics at the Glasgow comic marts and the National Hotel marts in Russell Square, London." Colin continued.

"As their popularity began to wane, fewer and fewer dealers would bring any British comics to any event.  Which is where we are now with even one dealer bringing a box of British comics to an event being hailed as a major find for a British comics collector."

It certainly sounds promising, and there'll be guests too! 
"As I play fair with people, I am going to hopefully see the biggest meeting of Commando comic contributors since Keith Robson’s retirement do!" announced Colin.  

"Those that have agreed to attend are Ian Kennedy (Sunday only), David Alexander (McBam Brothers, Electric Soup) and Graeme Neil Reid (2000AD, Commando).  Pop ins might include Colin MacNeil (Starblazer, 2000AD, Warhammer, Megazine) and Ferg Handley (Commando, Football PSM).  If I am really lucky some of the comic creators who live in Fife might pop in such as Gary Erskine, (Dan Dare, Star Wars, 2000AD, DC, Dark Horse and Image) Andrew Christine and Roger Kettle (Wizard, Nutty, Beau Peep, A Man Called Horace, Andy Capp) amongst others"

Colin is making sure that Legend is affordable to all. "I have watched how expensive events have become over the years so the event is priced to be enjoyed by all with adults being charged £1 and any U-16 getting in free.  Comics will be for sale with prices ranging from 50 pence to how much!  It also helps that Lochore is free parking so a family can come down, go to the local Meadows Country Park and then come back to the Comics Mart.  Alternatively, the family could drop off the family nerd, go do the shopping or anything else without being moaned at and then collect a happy geek with an armful of comics that they never knew existed!"

It's a bit too far North for me to travel but it sounds like an ideal event for the many fans of UK comics who live in Scotland! Here's the details…

Legend Britrish Comics Minimart,
September 29th and 30th 2018
Lochore Miners Welfare Social Club
Open 12 - 5pm. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

2000AD: All-new line up for Prog 2100

2000AD reaches issue 2100 this coming Wednesday. A fantastic achievement for any comic! 2000AD is the only surviving British adventure weekly comic from the 1970s, although other comics such as Viz (published every five weeks) and Doctor Who Magazine (began as a weekly, went monthly) have been around since 1979.

In celebration of this milestone, Prog 2100 will have more pages for this week, and more stories, and is the ideal jumping-on point with an all-new line up, - plus a cover by American comics megastar George Perez! Here's the info, with a preview of some of the strips...

UK and DIGITAL: 26th September 2018 £3.99
NORTH AMERICA: 26th October 2018 $7.99

In this issue:

JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE by Rob Williams (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

BRINK: HIGH SOCIETY by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)

SKIP TRACER: LEGION by James Peaty (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Dylan Teague (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: DEATH'S DARK ANGELS by Alan Grant (w) Jake Lynch (a) Simon Bowland (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: TIGHT GROUPING by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Available in print: newsagents and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital: 2000 AD webshop, 2000 AD apps for iPadAndroid, and Windows 10

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Amazing artwork up for auction from top comics artists

Those of us who were guests at Nice Comic Con in Bedford this year were invited by the organiser to each contribute an A3 piece of artwork for an auction to raise funds for next year's event. That auction goes live tomorrow (Friday 21st September, UK time) and will end on Saturday 29th September. 
You can peruse the art in the auction at this link:

You'll have to register with Catawiki before you can bid, so that's important.
Art by DaNi.
Artwork includes pieces by Ryan Brown, Simon Bisley, Ian Churchill, Aneke, DaNi, Dylan Teague, Doug Braithwaite, Alan Davis and many more. My contribution is my original artwork for my convention banner, featuring Combat Colin, Pete and his Pimple, Brickman, and more characters...
Good luck to all of you who'll be bidding! 
Art by Esad Ribic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mighty World of Marvel celebrates the career of Steve Ditko

The latest issue of Panini UK's The Mighty World of Marvel is somewhat special. The 100 page edition has over half of its pages devoted to the work of Steve Ditko, who passed away recently.

Editor Scott Gray has written a 9 page feature on Ditko's life and career, illustrated with many panels by the artist. MWOM had already been reprinting 1960s Doctor Strange strips so there's also the latest episode, which is The Lady From Nowhere by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and George Roussos that originally appeared in Strange Tales No.124. 

There are also several other vintage strips by the artist reprinted, including There'll Be Some Changes Made, which was Steve Ditko's first Marvel work from 1956!

Other Ditko strips in this issue are two more short stories from the early 1960s, and a long-unused Human Torch/Hulk story inked by Karl Kessel.

This issue also includes non-Ditko strips such as the regular ongoing Champions and Guardians of the Galaxy sagas. 

It's a great issue and well worth the paltry £4.50 it'll cost you to own a copy. On sale now in WH Smiths and selected newsagents! 

The Dalek Audio Annual is coming this Christmas!

My favourite annual of the 1960s was The Dalek World, which I had on Christmas Day 1965. I poured over its pages, reading it and re-reading it countless times. Subsequently, due to that, and the Doctor Who projector set I had the same day, I often associate Daleks with Christmas. 

It's been many years since any Dalek annual appeared but this December will see the release of The Dalek Audio Annual, with a fantastic cover in the style of those bygone books. The audio CD will feature readings by Doctor Who cast members Nicholas Briggs, Louise Jameson, and Matthew Waterhouse of stories from Dalek Annuals of the 1970s. 

It sounds like a nice item that'll be perfect for Christmas Day (and hopefully there'll be a Christmas episode of Doctor Who that day too). You can pre-order The Dalek Audio Annual from comic shops or from Amazon at this link...

Misty and Scream Special - webshop exclusive cover

As previously reported, following last year's successful Scream and Misty Halloween Special, Rebellion will be publishing another all-new edition for this Halloween. 

The standard cover will be by Kyle Hotz (below) and sold in newsagents and comic shops from October 17th, but there's also a variant Misty cover edition by Lenka Šimečková that you can only obtain by ordering it directly from the publisher at this link:

With more treats than tricks, this issue features Black Max by Kek-W and Simon Coleby, 13th Floor by Guy Adams, John Stokes and Frazer Irving, Black Beth by Alec Worley and DaNi, Best Friends Forever by Lizzie Boyle and Yishan Li, and Decomposition Jones by Richard McAuliffe and Steve Mannion.

There'll be more details about this hotly anticipated special next month!

Monday, September 17, 2018

A choice of two Who

As revealed on The Times Ladies Twitter page ( the next issue of Doctor Who Magazine gives the buyer a choice. You can have the Deluxe Edition, exclusive to WH Smith which comes in a card envelope (above) with a Souvenir Guide, Audio Adventures CD, poster, and art cards for £9.99 or the regular edition (below) with no extras (but still a great mag) for £5.99. The content of the magazine is identical in both options.

The magazine is packed with features including interviews with the stars of the new series and previews of the first few episodes. Oh, and there's another Daft Dimension strip by me featuring those Daft Daleks...

Doctor Who Magazine No.530 goes on sale on Thursday 20th September. This is a good jumping on point for new readers as the brand new series of Doctor Who starring Jodie Whittaker begins on Sunday 7th October. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE celebrates 400 issues!

Any British comic in living memory that reaches 400 issues is worthy of respect, and Judge Dredd Megazine celebrates its 400th issue milestone on Wednesday. An impressive achievement. Even more so because the comic is monthly, meaning that it's been running for over 25 years. (The first issue came out in 1990.) Very few comics have even managed a fraction of that. Most impressive of all is that the quality of content is still incredibly high, attracting some of the top creators in comics. 

Issue 400 will have even more pages than usual, and will begin a set of new stories, making it a perfect jumping on point for readers old and new. If you've never bought the comic, or have lapsed a while back, now's your chance to get on board one of the best ongoing comics being pubished. 

Here's the rundown of contents, plus a few preview pages...

UK and DIGITAL: 12th September 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 12th October 2018 $6.75

In this issue:

JUDGE DREDD: THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY by John Wagner (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

LAWLESS: ASHES TO ASHES by Dan Abnett () Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BLUNT II by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)

DEVLIN WAUGH: CALL ME BY THY NAME by Ales Kot (w) Mike Dowling (a) Quinton Winter (c) Simon Bowland (l)

STORM WARNING: OVER MY DEAD BODY by John Reppion, Leah Moore (w), Jimmy Broxton (a) 

THE DARK JUDGES: THE TORTURE GARDEN by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: JORDAN RAMZY by Alan Grant (w) Inaki Miracnda (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Interviews: Alan Hebden, Steve MacManus, Andy Diggle, Ian Gibson, David Bishop, Alan Barnes, John Tomlinson

Bagged reprint: First Shots - first Dredd stories by key new generation artists including Staz Johnson, Tan Eng Haut, Ianki Miranda, Sam Hart, Len O'Grady, PJ Holden.

Next week in 2000AD...

Here's an advance preview of a few pages from 2000AD Prog 2099, on sale Wednesday 19th September. The incredibly high standard of artwork every week in this comic never ceases to amaze me.

UK and DIGITAL: 19th September 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 19th October 2018 $6.75

In this issue:

JUDGE DREDD: THE BOOTH CONSPIRACY by TC Eglington (w) Staz Johnson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

SURVIVAL GEEKS: SLACK N' HASH by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

MECHASTOPHELES: TRUE FAITH by Gordon Rennie, Lawrence Rennie (w) Karl Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)

FUTURE SHOCKS: TALK'S CHEAP by Mark McCann (w) Adam Brown (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

THE ORDER: THE NEW WORLD by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

This Saturday: ICE 2018!

One of the best comics conventions in the country returns to Birmingham this Saturday when ICE, the International Comic Expo, takes place at the BCEC in Hill Street (just over the road from the rear exit of New Street Station).

There's a fine line-up of guests including John Wagner, Dan Cornwell, Ryan Brown, Rodney Ramos, John McCrea, and many more.

You'll find me at table 37, next to fellow Beano artist Laura Howell. I've indicated it in yellow in the image below...

I'll be bringing along my comics Combat Colin, Derek the Troll, and Pedantic Stan for anyone to buy, and doing sketches on request all day.
Between 2pm and 3pm I'll be joining Laura Howell, Nigel Parkinson, and Hunt Emerson on stage as we're being interviewed about our work on The Beano, to celebrate the comic's 80th anniversary.

ICE 2018 is all about comics. No actors or wrestlers, just 100% comics guests. I hope to see some of you there!


Also taking place on Saturday alongside ICE, and with its own stand-alone show on Sunday, is Comics Uncovered, a seminar for those who want to break into comics. You can find out all about it here:


Meanwhile, this week in 1934...

It's been ages since I posted anything about old comics, and it's mainly been due to the time involved in research. I'm still busy, but here's a quick glimpse into the past with the cover scanned from my collection of The Joker No.359, which was in newsagents exactly 84 years ago in 1934.

It's full of typical slapstick fun that was common in British comics of the time, using the comic strip format perfectly in a visual sequence involving a pie. Artwork by John Jukes. 

The full comic had 8 pages, tabloid size (ie: same size as the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, etc) and was printed on green paper. All for just 1d. (Half a new pence.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Stand by for THE TEMPEST No.2

You know it's a good week when a new comic by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill is released. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest No.2 is out now and it's another brilliant issue.

UPDATE: Although it is out now in the USA, it won't be in UK comic shops until the 19th September. (Thanks to Kevin O'Neill for the info.)

With so many comics these days having such standard covers (often characters looking angry or moody) it's a refreshing change that The Tempest is shaking things up every issue with spoofs of bygone British comics. Last month it was a homage to Classics Illustrated. This month it's TV21 that gets the treatment. (Next issue will have a Misty / Tammy homage.) 

The story itself is packed with references to old characters from comics, film, tv, and literature. It wouldn't be The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen otherwise. Most readers should spot the Captain Marvel and James Bond references, but it's possible that only me, Steve Holland, and the ghost of Denis Gifford will notice some of the others. (The Larks! Useless Eustace!) However, it doesn't matter if most people don't recognise The Purple Hood or Mark Tyme, etc. The whole comic has such a well told sense of mad fun that it carries the reader along and the main plot isn't dependent on knowing who the incidental characters are parodying. 
Alan Moore's scripts are still head and shoulders above those of many of his contemporaries. Others have attempted the type of story where everything in fiction is connected, but no one does it better. Kevin O'Neill's art is as superb and intricate as always. An artist who's given 100% throughout his career. 

The bonus features this issue include a spotlight on the shoddy way that Frank Bellamy's Eagle art was treated by publishers, and a pin-up of Electrogirl. Sizzlin'!

If you want a top quality comic, pick up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest today. 

(W) Alan Moore (A/CA) Kevin O'Neill
  Opening with a 1919 deathmatch between two American superhumans in the ruins of Utopia, the second issue of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's final volume of the beloved comic series takes its readers on a breath-taking ride over a waterfall of storytelling styles, from a startling 21st century Lincoln Island and its current incarnation of the legendary Captain Nemo, through a New York coping with an ageing costume-hero population, to a London where a drastic escalation is commenced by the rejuvenated sociopath controlling MI5. All this, and a further reprinted adventure of 1960s super-team The Seven Stars awaits in issue two of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume IV: The Tempest.
In Shops: Sep 12, 2018
SRP: $4.99

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