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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

For Halloween... MONSTER MASH!

I've showed this before but for the benefit of newer readers, here it is again!

One of the enjoyable things about working for Oink! comic back in the 1980s was the opportunity to do numerous one-off or short run strips as well as regular characters. Monster Mash appeared in Oink! No.13, the Halloween issue for 1986, and was a collaboration between editor Mark Rogers and myself.

Mark had originally sent me an idea for a story called The School Dinner Monster and asked if I had any ideas to add to it. I added a few bits and bobs to the plot and dialogue, and thought the title Monster Mash was catchier. I gave the name 'Pigzilla' to the giant robot pig, although Mark changed that to the much more inspired Pigswilla.

As Oink! was printed on quality paper (as opposed to the newsprint of its companion comics Buster, Whizzer & Chips etc) I knew we could be a bit more adventurous with the rendering of the artwork so I thought a grey wash would give it more depth. I was really pleased with how the strip turned out and it remains one of my favourite pieces all these years later. The artwork is a bit rough in places but I'm still happy with it.

I felt that with Monster Mash and some of the other material that myself and other contributors did for Oink! that we were stepping outside the usual conventions of British humour comics and moving away from the standard schoolkid-with-gimmick that had dominated IPC's comics since 1969. And we were all having great fun doing it. This comedy-adventure, comic horror stuff was what comics should have been doing more of in my opinion.

As it turned out, it seemed most readers still preferred the more traditional schoolkid strips, and Oink! folded after just two and a half years. Then again, Whizzer & Chips folded a few years later, and that was the most traditional "safe" comic in IPC's stable. Perhaps it was just a sign that readers were being distracted by video games.

Happy Halloween!

Artwork now Copyright © 2018 Rebellion Publishing Limited. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

COMMANDO commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Armistice with a five part story

D.C. Thomson's long-running Commando comic commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 this November with The Weekes' War, - five related issues with an all-new story in each. Here's the PR from the editor with all the info...

100 years ago. One war. Five Stories.

Commando presents ‘The Weekes’ War’, a special five-part series depicting the end of the First World War as you’ve never seen it before!

Never has a Commando series tackled the shared experiences of one family with five different interwoven narratives. In this one of a kind, one-off series, Commando brings together a collaboration of eight different artists and writers, working as one to show you the final days before the Armistice of 11 November 1918 from five different perspectives.

Follow the story of the five Weekes siblings’ survival on the front line, behind enemy lines, aboard a battleship, in the skies above the trenches, and right down in the mud. Five issues about five siblings struggling to survive the conflict. But will they all make it back home?

“We put some of our best creators on this unique project to commemorate 100 years since Armistice.

On the Commando Team, we feel it’s important to honour the men and women involved in the First World War by telling their stories.

The creators and editorial team have crafted an innovative Commando Comics experience. We hope that the readers will enjoy each self-contained story and the series as a whole.” – Gordon Tait, Commando Editor.

The series also features a set of collectable matching covers illustrated by legendary comic artist Ian Kennedy.

Not only is this brand new exciting series coming your way, for the entirety of November Commando is publishing never before reprinted World War One issues to tell a holistic story of the Great War.

5173: Danny’s War

The eldest of the siblings, Captain Danny Weekes is right in the thick of it, down in the trenches. Desperate to find a solution that will end this messy war once and for all, he is sent on a suicide mission behind enemy lines. His cause is just, but his methods are maverick – Danny is going to force the enemy generals to surrender – no matter what the cost.

| Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Defeo & Morhain | Cover | Ian Kennedy| On sale 1st November

5175: Michael’s War

The only Weekes the take to the sky, Michael had seen his friends fly away and never return. Then, when his Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 went down over no man’s land, he found himself out of his depth with a gang of German communist rebels.

| Story | Richard Davis | Art | Defeo & Morhain | Cover | Ian Kennedy| On sale 15th November

5177: Billy’s War

Youngest of the Weekes, Billy has a lot on his shoulders. Forever looked upon as the baby of the family, Billy felt he had more to prove than the others in order to truly get his seat at the table. When the German Navy retreated, Billy thought he’d never get his chance. That was until a U-boat ignored the return to port order – and Billy’s Royal Navy Destroyer was tasked with taking them down!

| Story | Heath Ackley | Art | Klacik & Defeo | Cover | Ian Kennedy | On sale 15th November

5179: Harriet’s War

Being the only female Weekes sibling wasn’t going to hold Harriet back! As soon as her brothers signed up – she did too, immediately entering the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry to do her bit on the front lines. She took risks and drove like a bat out of hell to rescue men who needed her. Nothing and nowhere was too dangerous for a Weekes!

| Story | Andrew Knighton | Art | Khato | Cover | Ian Kennedy | On sale 29th November

5181: Tommy’s War

The last Weekes is missing! The Armistice had been signed and Tommy was nowhere to be seen. But the Weekes weren’t a family who left their people behind – ever! And they were going to find Tommy and bring him home.

| Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Defeo & Morhain | Cover | Ian Kennedy | On sale 29th November

Monster Parade lives again!

It's not a comic but this may be of interest to some of you. Sixty years ago in the USA, Monster Parade No.1 was published; a collection of features and stories in the trashy horror mood of the times. It only lasted a few issues and copies are very rare but now the people at Scary Monster Magazine have published a facsimile edition of that first issue to commemorate its 60th anniversary.

Who could resist a cover like that? Focus on the mummy, folks. It's a horror mag, honest! ;-)

Get hip, daddy-o, and find out more at the Scary Monsters website by clicking HERE.

...and if you're in the UK like me, you can order copies from Hemlock Books here:

The latest issue (No.110) of Scary Monsters is out this week as well! A great American mag in the tradition of monster mags of the past. Order that from the links above too.

Introducing Doorknocker Donna!

A reminder that The Dandy Annual 2019 is in the shops now, ready to buy as a gift for Christmas... or simply for a good read for yourselves! I've drawn a few new Keyhole Kate pages for it again, and this year I've created a new nemesis for Kate. Meet Doorknocker Donna, who frames Kate for banging on doors! 

How can Kate resolve this and clear her name? Find out in The Dandy Annual! Available from all good bookshops and supermarkets NOW!

Also available to buy online directly from the publisher:

Monday, October 29, 2018

Isle of Menace

Available from today, a special set of Christmas stamps for the Isle of Man featuring Dennis and Gnasher! Exclusively drawn by Nigel Parkinson.

Even if you don't live on the Isle of Man you can still order a set from here:

Can Minnie the Manx be far behind? 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Comic Scene No.3 out now

The third issue of Tony Foster's Comic Scene is out now and available to buy from some comic shops or directly from the publisher here:

This issue has a war comics theme, and includes articles on Fury, Commando, Rogue Trooper, Black Max and more. I'm not convinced theme issues are a good idea as I worry they might put off more readers than they attract, but this issue is also balanced with articles on Stan Lee's UK convention visits, independent comics, and the new Roy of the Rovers. 

Comic Scene is still a young magazine and still on a learning curve. For example, the previous issue's interview with the Beano's Emily McGorman-Bruce was illustrated with Nigel Parkinson's artwork, not Emily's. Other features were sadly lacking in comic art to illustrate their relevant points. However, things have noticeably improved with this issue, and I'm sure will continue to improve in the future.

Comic Scene is the only print magazine dedicated to UK comics, and as such deserves to be supported by every one of us who are interested in British comics past and present or who work in the industry. These days, when the media talk about comics they often mean American superhero comics. Even the recent HMV comics promo week was only promoting American material. British comics are in danger of being overlooked all the time, and the industry cannot afford to let that continue. It's refreshing to see Comic Scene trying to address this, and Tony Foster deserves our respect and support in his endeavours. Let's hope the magazine has a long run!

Comic Scene No.3, 72 full colour A4 pages, is available now, as are back issues and subscriptions:

Prog Preview: Next week's 2000AD

Courtesy of Rebellion Publishing, here's the info and a few preview pages of the next issue of 2000AD, on sale Wednesday! 

UK and DIGITAL: 31st October 2018 £2.85
NORTH AMERICA: 30th November 2018 $6.75

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)

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

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

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

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

Friday, October 26, 2018

Out now! COMBAT COLIN No.3

Only available exclusively from my online shop, Combat Colin No.3 is another 40 page collection of Combat Colin strips that originally appeared in Marvel UK's Transformers comic back in 1989/90. 
This third issue enters the era where the strip had developed into the comedy-action saga that proved popular with readers, - and was my favourite period of he strip to work on too!
Combat Colin (and his loyal assistant Semi-Automatic Steve) encounter alien menaces and monsters in the form of The Brain and The Gunge, new villains such as The Amazing Dave and Bankrobber Man make their debut, and our heroes find themselves trapped in The Place of No Return, and take a journey to Mars! 
PLUS bonus back up features!

Combat Colin No.3, 40 pages (4 colour covers, 36 black and white interiors). Only £3.50 plus postage and packing. Available now from: 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Basil and Bert vs 'Ateful Adolf (1940)

Children's comics of the wartime period often tried to raise the spirits of their readers by poking fun at Hitler and his cronies. Such was the case with this example from The Jester No.1998, dated February 24th 1940. Basil and Bert were private detectives created by Don Newhouse and Roy Wilson, although by the time this strip appeared I believe the art was by George Parlett. (Source: Encyclopedia of Comic Characters by Denis Gifford, 1987.)

This was part of a series of self-contained adventures of Basil and Bert in 'Nastyland' encountering 'General Snoring' (a parody of Goering) and 'Ateful Adolph. Hopefully, showing the vile Nazis as complete buffoons helped the readers cope a little better with the hardships of the times. Maybe it's also the best way to deal with the Nazis of today, - to portray them as the complete losers they truly are. 

The Jester was published by The Amalgamated Press from February 1924 to May 1940, and merged into The Funny Wonder. Today, it's one of the titles recently bought by Rebellion Publishing. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A look at JINGLES from 1949

I did a post on this title a few years ago, but that was a slightly earlier issue. Here are a few pages from Jingles No.571, dated July 25th 1949. Another tabloid-sized comic published by The Amalgamated Press from Fleetway House in Farrington Street, London. 

A.P. still dominated the UK comic scene at this time but their rivals in Dundee were proving to be fierce competitors and readers were preferring the more modern-looking Beano and Dandy to comics such as Jingles which were looking quite old fashioned by this time.

Nevertheless, Jingles is a nice lively comic and features some top class cartoonists of the period. The cover strip, Dreamy Dennis, is by Albert Pease I believe.

The adventure strip Strongheart, The Wonder Dog of the Woods, was one of several "heroic dog" strips in comics. (The best remembered being The Dandy's Black Bob.) However, Strongheart preceded Black Bob, and the strip was based on the dog of the same name that starred in films in the 1920s. Sadly, Strongheart was long gone by the time this strip appeared. The comic strip was drawn by Hilda Boswell, one of the few women working in comics back then.

Jolly Jingles, the strip sharing the page with Strongheart, was drawn by George Parlett, brother to Reg Parlett...
Jimmy Jolly and his Magic Brolly was drawn by the master of golden age slapstick comics, Roy Wilson. Other A.P. cartoonists of the time were instructed to mimic Wilson's style, which is why it's sometimes difficult to identify who drew what. Roy Wilson's style influenced the look of comics from A.P., and later Fleetway and IPC, for years, and elements are still noticeable today. (I've certainly absorbed some of his techniques into my style but I'd never consider myself in his league of course.)

On the back page, another adventure serial. Nicely illustrated, but I'm afraid I don't know who drew it. I feel I should, as the style looks familiar. Can anyone identify the artist?
Jingles ran from 1934 to 1954, then merged into TV Fun. The copyright to this material would now be part of Rebellion Publishing's recent acquisition I believe. It would be nice to see some strips from this period back in print, just for the sake of the heritage of British comics if nothing else. Roy Wilson certainly deserves a collection of some of his work. However, one has to be realistic and it's unlikely that many readers would actually buy such a book. People tend to mainly be interested in the sphere of their own nostalgia unfortunately. Personally, I've always found the whole history and development of comics to be fascinating, but there aren't enough of us to support reprints of material of this vintage. Or are there? What do you think?

Flyer for The Boys' Leader (1903)

Inserted with the issue of The Comic Home Journal that I showed in my previous post was this tabloid-sized single sheet advertising a new publication, The Boys' Leader No.1. 

The advert featured the full cover of the new paper on one side, and on the other it contained an extract from the story Winning His Spurs and showed the cover of Funny Pips.
Seems that Funny Pips was an 8 page publication, given free with The Boys' Leader. I'm guessing that the Leader concentrated on prose stories whilst Funny Pips featured humour strips, - or perhaps they both contained a mixture of strips and text stories? Information on these old titles it hard to find so if anyone knows more, please let me know by commenting below. 
What I found interesting about Funny Pips is that the strip features Sunny Jim. Some of you may remember him as the mascot for Force wheat flakes, first introduced as a breakfast cereal in 1901. This makes Sunny Jim one of the earliest uses of a licensed character in a British comic. (I had a Sunny Jim glove puppet when I was a child.)

The Boys' Leader ran for ten years, ending in 1913. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Comic Home Journal

It's been a while since we looked at an old comic so let's crank up the Blimey Timey Machine and see where we end up. It's 1903, we're 115 years in the past, and you're looking at a copy of The Comic Home Journal, a rather stodgy title for one of the early British comics.

The Comic Home Journal ran from 1895 to 1904, so this 1903 issue was from a year before its closure. It was published by Alfred Harmsworth (later The Amalgamated Press). It would be replaced by Butterfly, a more modern comic (well, for 1904) and aimed at a younger audience.

The format was typical of the time; 8 tabloid sized pages (the size of today's Daily Mirror or Sunday Post, etc) and printed on pink paper. The contents were a 50/50 mixture of prose stories and comic strips. 

Typical of British comics of the period, the strips are all uncredited. The cover strip seems to be either influenced by American newspaper strips of the time or a retitled reprint. I'm not sure because I can find no information on it.

The centre pages of the comic were similar to other comics of the day in that they featured an assortment of short strips and cartoons. Here's a selection...

The Flip-Flop Twins definitely show an American influence, with the dialogue on the shirts a complete steal from The Yellow Kid...

The back page is notable because it features Lanky Larry and Bloated Bill, a strip by Tom Browne, the pioneer of the British humour comics style. Browne was the creator of Weary Willie and Tired Tim for Chips, and their success led to similar strips, usually by imitators of Browne's style. In this case, Browne is imitating his own creations.

The Comic Home Journal must look very unappealing to modern tastes but this style was very popular over 100 years ago and we should respect that. Artistic styles and tastes change, and always will, but the purpose of humour comics, - to entertain and amuse, - remains constant.

Great comic display at New Street Station!

I've often criticised newsagents and supermarkets for not displaying comics properly so it's good to see one that's doing it really well. My thanks to Stephen Parry for this photo of the Panini and Titan comics at WH Smith at Birmingham New Street Station. All the comics are clearly displayed in a shelving display that attracts attention and interest. This is how to grab the attention of potential new readers, not by hiding them behind the counter like some branches of Smiths do! Well done to the New Street Station branch!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cover preview: 2000AD Prog 2104

Here's the cover to next week's 2000AD, on sale Wednesday. 

Contents as follows...

UK and DIGITAL: 24th October 2018 £2.85
NORTH AMERICA: 24th November 2018 $6.75

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)

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

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

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Panini UK to pay tribute to Marie Severin

Main cover art: Jim Cheung.
Next month's issue of The Mighty World of Marvel will be a 100 page edition to include a tribute to the artist Marie Severin, who passed away recently.

The comic, published by Panini UK in Kent, will carry an article on her career plus two humour strips reprinted from Not Brand Echh, the satirical comic that Marvel published in the 1960s.
The Inedible Bulk! Art by Marie Severin.
I'm pleased that editor Scott Gray has chosen humour strips to represent Marie Severin's work as she was an excellent cartoonist as well as being great at the dramatic stuff. 

The rest of the issue will continue the regular serials Guardians of the Galaxy, Hawkeye, and the Lee/Ditko Doctor Strange stories as well as beginning the Thing and Human Torch serial from Marvel 2 In One.

The Mighty World of Marvel No.9 goes on sale on 15th November, priced $4.50.

The current issue (below) has just been published and is in WH Smith, comic shops, and selected newsagents now.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Combat Colin No.3 to debut at Nottingham Comic Con this Saturday

This Saturday, 20th October, is the date for Nottingham Comic Con, a one-day event that's totally dedicated to comics and their creators. One of the comics on offer will be Combat Colin No.3, which will debut exclusively at the event. 

I'll be bringing along copies of the comic to sell on my table, and they won't be available anywhere else. (You'll be able to buy them from my online shop later next week.) 

Combat Colin No.3 is another 40 page issue (4 colour covers and 36 black and white interiors, U.S. comic book size) for £3.50. It reprints all the Combat Colin strips that originally appeared in Marvel UK's Transformers comic from July 1989 to February 1990. 

This issue reaches the era of Combat Colin stories where the strip really hit its stride, becoming even more fantastic in its themes with battles against monsters and aliens. It sees the introduction of The Gunge, The Brain, The Amazing Dave, and more, explains how the Atomic Underpants work, sees Colin trapped in The Place of No Return, and ends with an adventure on Mars! Fast-paced daft adventures for all ages.

I'll also be bringing along copies of Combat Colin 1 and 2, and Derek the Troll to the convention so see you at Nottingham Comic Con this Saturday! More info about the event here:

Ken Reid's CREEPY CREATIONS ready to pre-order!

Ken Reid fans have been very lucky these past 12 months with no less than three collections of his work published... and here comes a fourth! You can now pre-order Creepy Creations from the publisher's website ahead of its publication date next month. 

The book is in full colour and reprints the excellent illustrations that Ken did for Shiver and Shake back in 1973/74. This ranks amongst his best work and shouldn't be missed! For the purposes of being a comprehensive collection, the volume also includes the fill-ins by Reg Parlett and Robert Nixon, which are worthy additions to the book.
In the back of the book there's also a preview of another humour collection, not by Ken, that's coming in 2019. A book that will delight many... but Rebellion will reveal all about that soon!

Now available to pre-order - Ken Reid's CREEPY CREATIONS!

  • RELEASE DATE: 29th November (UK) 5th December (US)
  • HARDCOVER, 117 pages
  • PRICE: £17.99 (UK) $21.99 (US)
  • ISBN: 9781781086605
  • DIAMOND: OCT181869

10th March 1973 saw the first issue of Shiver and Shake released on the newsstands in Great Britain. Like its stablemate Whizzer and Chips, it was two comics in one, with Shiver mainly consisting of horror-themed comedy strips. On the back page of the comic, readers were treated to ‘A crazy “Monster Piece” for you to cut out and collect!’, and thus the Creepy Creations were born!
That first gloriously gruesome entry from Ken Reid was titled ‘The One-Eyed Wonk of Wigan’. Readers were invited to send in their sketches for further instalments. Winners would receive a pound note for their work and see their creation brought to full-colour life by various Shiver and Shake artists (mainly by Reid).

The Creepy Creations were a grand triumph. Seventy-nine appeared in total, with further entries appearing in annuals and specials.

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