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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Bid on a Combat Colin original!

Just a quick reminder that the eBay auction for this new piece of Combat Colin artwork ends on Saturday afternoon. All bids are very much appreciated. Thanks, and good luck!

Out today from Panini UK...

These modern day equivalents of Fantastic and Terrific are in WH Smiths and selected newsagents now!

AVENGERS UNIVERSE #13. On sale 29th November. £4.50.

76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Three awesome stories!
The Avengers and the Champions fight their way to the heart of the High Evolutionary’s power – but the price of victory may be too much for them to bear! By Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos and Jesus Saiz!
The Uncanny Avengers take on the Juggernaut, and Quicksilver makes a BIG mistake! By Jim Zub and Sean Izaakse!
A classic 1960s Marvel tale! The first adventure of Captain America’s second generation Avengers, by Stan Lee and Don Heck!
Featuring material first printed in Champions #14, Avengers #674, Uncanny Avengers #29 and Avengers (vol 1) #17.

WOLVERINE & DEADPOOL #12. On sale 29th November. £4.50. 

76 pages of mutants and mayhem! Three killer stories!
Wolverine and her family battle the Orphans of X and The Hand! By Tom Taylor and Jaunn Cabal!
Old Man Logan returns to New York, and challenges the might of the Kingpin! By Ed Brisson and Dalibor Talajic!
Deadpool and Old Man Logan battle through an army to save a young mutant girl! By Declan Shalvey and Mike Henderson!

Featuring material first printed in All-New Wolverine #29, Old Man Logan #36 and Deadpool vs Old Man Logan #3-4.

Official Facebook page:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Save Our Striker!

Weekly British comics are sadly a rarity these days. There's Beano, The Phoenix, 2000AD, Striker, and (in digital form only) Aces Weekly. It was good to see Striker return to newsstands this year after an absence of 13 years, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Now, after 12 issues, it needs your help again.

Publisher Pete Nash has launched a new Kickstarter campaign to fund issues 13 through to 24 of Striker. At least £45,000 is needed, and it's already off to a good start with the figure up to £13,755 as I type these words. 

What is Striker? It's a 32 page football comic about fictional team Warbury, told in comic strip form using CGI techniques. The strip itself has been around a looong time, starting as a newspaper series in The Sun in 1985, and as a newsstand comic that ran from 2003 to 2005. That's the shorthand version. You'll find the long, complex story elsewhere. 

Striker doesn't just focus on the match. The current story involves gangsters, and crime often features in the storylines. The comic may not appeal to everyone. It definitely has a "bloke down the pub" feel to it, and although it's pitched at all ages, the scenes of semi-nude women in the first run of the comic were controversial. An aspect that has wisely been absent from the new series of comics. 

An acquired taste then, but Striker is a comic that deserves respect. Like The Phoenix, it fought against beliefs that WH Smith would not take new comics that are not based on a toy or TV show, and got itself out there. Admittedly, it hasn't been without problems. WH Smith cocked up distribution of issue 2, and then told Nash that a later issue of the comic was unsuitable for all ages because it featured a criminal with a gun on the cover. Yet Pete Nash stuck to his guns, if you'll pardon the pun, and the comic is still there. 

If you want to back Striker to ensure it survives for another 12 issues, visit the Kickstarter page here:

Remember, no money is taken unless the project reaches its target. 

The Striker website is here:

Out now! SNIPER ELITE: RESISTANCE graphic novel

The three-issue Sniper Elite: Resistance mini series, recently published by Rebellion, has been collected into a graphic novel that is available from this week. 

Rebellion are really dominating the UK comics market these days, with their superb line of books collecting classic British strips, their numerous 2000AD graphic novels, the Vigilant and Scream and Misty specials, the excitingly new Roy of the Rovers books, and of course the ongoing 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine titles. Sniper Elite: Resistance was very interesting in that it was sold in newsagents, proving that it is possible to convince WH Smith to stock a mini series. Let's hope more brand new comics follow suit next year!

Sniper Elite is also interesting in that it's a damn good story, and well illustrated. Sporting the old Battle logo as an imprint, it's a worthy modern day successor to that well-loved comic.

CREATIVE TEAM: Keith Richardson (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Quinton Winter (c) Jim Campbell (l)
RELEASE DATE: 29th November (UK) 27th November (US)
PAPERBACK, 98 pages
PRICE: £12.99 (UK) $16.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086599

Spinning out of the world-wide smash video game series, Sniper Elite, the legendary sniper for the Special Operations Executive, Karl Fairburne, must parachute into occupied France on a mission to destroy a secret weapon, but instead of a silent mission of sabotage he finds the local resistance compromised and the SS waiting to play a deadly game of cat and mouse in the terrified streets of an ancient town.

Available in print from: 2000 AD webshop, book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond.

Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop & apps for iPadAndroid and Windows 10

New COMMANDO comics out this week

Here's the latest news, direct from D.C. Thomson....

Brand new Commando issues 5179-5182 are coming soon! Take to the trenches with our “Angels on Wheels”, discovery the lineage of the lost son of a German Count, delve once more into no man’s land to rescue the final Weekes’ sibling, and fight the Fokker Scourge! Plus, get your copies of 5179 or 5181 for your chance to win a model CORGI Sopwith F1 Camel AND a Fokker D.VII!

5179: Home of Heroes: Harriet’s War

In the dark, the cries of the wounded men on the front line echoed, their hoarse voices calling for the ‘angels on wheels’ to come save them. One such angel was Harriet Weekes, an ambulance driver in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. As the fourth and only female Weekes sibling, Harriet had joined up to do her part in the war just like her brothers. Some said she was reckless. Some said she drove like a bat out of Hades. But when there were people who needed her help, she was an angel on wheels.

Issue 4 of ‘The Weekes’ War’!

| Story | Andrew Knighton | Art | Khato | Cover | Ian Kennedy |

5180: Gold Collection: Father and Son

For many generations, there had been a Count von Regenskirch in the German Army. This duty had passed from father to son – but then, during the First World War, the Count was killed and his small son disappeared.

But that child was not dead. Grown to manhood, he now stood proudly in military uniform. But it was the wrong uniform, the wrong country, and he was now fighting against Germany. What strange twist of fate had caused this mystery?

| Story | CG Walker | Art | Carmona | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 1530 (July 1981). Reprinted No. 2875 (August 1995).

5181: Action and Adventure: Tommy’s War

November 11th, 1918. Armistice.

The war was over… or so most thought, but some still held to the regime of battle, and kept a tight hold of their prisoners.

All the Weekes family wanted was to be together again, but Tommy lay far away on the other side of the shrapnel filled fields
of No Man’s Land. It was all or nothing, and the Weekes family would do anything to get Tommy back!

Issue 5 of ‘The Weekes’ War’!

| Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Defeo & Morhain | Cover | Ian Kennedy |

5182: Silver Collection: Battling Boneshakers

They were “wood-and-wire wonders”, these early aircraft of World War One – hard enough to fly, let alone fight in! To make things worse for the pilots of the newly formed Royal Flying Corps, the enemy were quick enough to perfect a gun that fired successfully through the propeller arc of their Fokker Eindeckers.

Men like Gus Mathieson had their work cut out to survive – even using their puny pistols until a British gun could be developed to counter the “Fokker Scourge”.

| Story | KP MacKenzie | Art | Gordon C Livingstone | Cover | Janek Matysiak |
Originally Commando No. 2906 (November 1995).

Monday, November 26, 2018

The year Britain got the Horrors over Horror Comics

An original British horror comic from 1954 published by Gerald Swan.
I'm not in the habit of reposting old blog posts as it's just as easy for a reader to find an old topic by using the search window. However, I recently read an article which seemed to imply that Britain never had horror comics, and therefore never had an anti-comics campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth! A little bit of research would reveal that not only was there a full-blown media panic over horror comics in the UK in the 1950s, it actually led to a parliamentary bill to deter them!

Here's the full story of what I wrote 8 years ago, accompanied by newspaper clippings from the 1950s British papers...

On 23rd September 1954 two Glasgow policemen were called out to witness an alarming sight: hundreds of children, some armed with knives and sharpened sticks, were patrolling a graveyard hunting a vampire.

Thus began the legend of the "Gorbals Vampire" and although, naturally, no vampire was found, a scapegoat for the children's behaviour was: imported American comic books. After this, the floodgates of paranoia opened and the church and media began attacking comics relentlessly.

Just how intense was the anti-comics crusade in the UK? Fierce and hysterical. American "horror comics" became completely demonized in the media and church leaders condemned the stories as being "evil" and actual products of Satan.
I thought I'd research it a bit more and find a few of the actual clippings from the newspapers of the day. Here are a sample, just from September to November 1954, starting with the Daily Mirror's reportage of the incident (above) and then the reports and opinions of the Daily Express as the paranoia swiftly reached fever pitch. Click on the clippings to see them in a larger and more legible size...

The tragedy of the story is that there was never any foundation that comics were the incentive for the churchyard incident. Not a shred of evidence that comics "warped" children. Millions of comics were sold, yet millions of readers grew up to be normal rational adults. But the seeds of doubt were sown, nasty malicious rumours spread by church leaders and newspaper editors that damaged the reputation of comics forever. The hysteria caused parliament to react. In 1955 the (Children and Young Persons) Harmful Publications Act came into force to forbid the importation or publication of horror comics in the UK that are likely to fall into the hands of children. (Although it didn't seem to prevent the resurgence of the imported horror comics in the 1970s.) Even to this day some people still think there was some truth to the "dangers" of comic books and even amongst some British comic collectors there is an attitude that American comics are inferior and vulgar.

The establishment loves to create demons. A century ago it was "Penny Dreadfuls", in the 1980s it was "video nasties", then video games, and now it's the Internet that's the current scapegoat. Religious leaders and the media are always exploiting the paranoia of the public to hide the unpalatable truth: that humanity is flawed and the dark side comes from within. It's easier to blame external forces that "warp" people rather than face the fact that humans are nothing more than animals one step up from savages.

As readers here may know, several years ago Martin Barker wrote a fantastic book on the UK anti-comics crusade entitled A Haunt of Fears. Exposing the anti-American propaganda behind the campaign it's a fascinating read and well worth tracking down if you can.
A BBC news item on a Radio 4 programme that dealt with the subject:

The scan of the cover to Back From The Dead No.1 at the top of this post was taken from the book The Pictorial Guide to British 1950s Sci-Fi and Horror Comic Books compiled by Mike Morley and published by Ugly Duckling Press in 2012. You can read my review of the book here:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

British company Rebellion acquires new $100m space near Oxford to convert into global film studios

Press Release just in from Rebellion....

Oxford, UK. 25th November 2018: Rebellion, one of Europe’s leading media companies, has bought a $100m, 220,000 sq ft facility to convert into a film studio near to its Oxford headquarters. This ambitious expansion by the independent company, which is already one of the UK's biggest producers of video games, comic books, books, film and TV, is set to create up to 500 new jobs across Britain's film and television industry in the coming years.

Feature film production spend in the UK reached a record high of 1.9bn in 2017, with film-related industries contributing 13.2bn to the UK economy, according to research from Lambert Smith Hampton. However, the current studio infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the demand for new content from big media companies and projections show that, at the current rate of growth, the UK is in urgent need of 1.9m sq ft of additional studio space.

The new studio, located on the site of an old printing press, is just outside of the city of Oxford - a city steeped in cultural history and which has already served as the backdrop to Hollywood blockbusters, including the Harry Potter franchise. With multiple sound stages, the largest reaching 25,000 sq ft in size, the new facilities can accommodate productions from TV drama to large scale Hollywood productions.

The purchase marks the opening of Rebellion’s second film studio and will operate alongside its original 3-stage studio, home to Europe’s largest performance capture stage and Rebellion’s world-renowned motion-capture company Audiomotion.

The new space will house Rebellion’s forthcoming productions of the Judge Dredd TV sci-fi drama Mega-City One and the future-war feature Rogue Trooper, set to be directed by Duncan Jones, who also directed Moon and Source Code. The scale of the new site means Rebellion will also make sound stage and full production/post-production office space available to rent to the UK’s growing production sector. This will help increase the levels of inward investment into UK feature film production, which registered a 162% increase in 2017.

Rebellion is now the UK’s leading independent games developer and publisher and a prime mover of the resurrection of the UK comic book industry. As well as being one of Europe's top independent game developers and publishers, with best selling franchises such as Sniper Elite and Zombie Army, it is a major publisher of books and comic books, as well as the custodian of the world’s largest catalogue of English language comic book IP, thanks to the acquisition of the comics and fiction assets of the British publishing titan, formerly known as IPC.

Through its Audiomotion subsidiary, Rebellion has been closely involved in the production of feature films, TV and adverts for over 15 years, contributing to US and UK tent-pole productions as diverse as World War Z, A Monster Calls, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, Maleficent, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Iron Man 2, and The Watchmen.

Company founders and owners, CEO Jason Kingsley and CTO Chris Kingsley were producers on the 2012 feature film Dredd and announced the creation of Rebellion Productions in 2017, to develop and produce film and TV based on its comics and games IP.

Jason Kingsley said: “This studio purchase is incredibly exciting, not just for Rebellion but for the global film and television industry that is booming but in desperate need of further infrastructure to cope with the demands for new and engaging content.

“We know first-hand the creativity and talent here in the UK and this new studio will bring in projects from all over the world, offering opportunity and income to many people in the industry, as well as local companies and services. It also means there will be demand for more UK production and we can export more of our work globally.”

Chris Kingsley said: “The levels of growth in television content for streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon, have been astronomical in recent years. The demand for ongoing original content is bigger than ever and we’re seeing more big players wanting to get in on the action. This is very exciting for the domestic and global film industries but it’s also meant that our infrastructure is under increasing pressure.

“The new studios will help relieve some of that pressure whilst also adding to the growing figures of people employed in the UK film and TV industry, which has increased by 20% in the last five years. Our creative industries are appealing to other markets for our talent and generous tax reliefs - and we must ensure we have the studio space and infrastructure to keep furthering this ongoing growth.”

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: "I'm delighted to see one of the UK’s leading independent video game developers branching further into film and TV with this ambitious studio investment in Oxfordshire.

“This is yet another vote of confidence in our world-leading creative industries and the government is committed to stimulating creativity, broadening opportunities and securing even more growth for this booming sector.”

Stuart Fenegan, producer on Moon, Source Code, Warcraft: The Beginning, Mute, and the forthcoming Rogue Trooper said: “World class UK crews and Tax Credit mean studio availability has been scarce in recent years. Jason, Chris and the Rebellion team establishing another major UK studio is huge. Thrilled for them and at the prospect of being able to shoot Rogue Trooper on truly home turf.”

HSBC has handled the finance for the purchase and Roger Mould, HSBC UK Relationship Director in Thames Valley, said: “We’re delighted to support Rebellion with its exciting plans for expansion into the film and television industry. The substantial new development in Didcot will dramatically increase the studio space available for the burgeoning film and TV production sector and is ideally located with easy access from London. With its ambitious growth plans, we look forward to seeing what’s next for Rebellion in the future.”

Saturday, November 24, 2018

This original COMBAT COLIN art could be yours!

I don't sell my original 1980s pages of Combat Colin but here's an opportunity to obtain a genuine piece of Combat Colin artwork. Yes, it's a brand new piece I've drawn, and it's currently on eBay for the next week:
It's drawn in black ink on sturdy, quality Bristol Board, and measures 19cm by 17cm. I've given it a winter theme to make it topical! I won't be selling any more pieces of art this year so this could be an ideal Christmas present for the Combat Colin fan in your life, or for yourselves!

I've signed it, and will be happy to add a dedication to the winning bidder, or to whoever they want it personalised to. (No extra cost, naturally.)

I will of course package it securely to send to the winning bidder. 

All bids are very much appreciated. Good luck!

Cover preview: 2000AD Prog 2109

Thanks to Rebellion, here's a preview of the next issue of 2000AD.

UK and DIGITAL: 28th November 2018 £2.85
NORTH AMERICA: 28th December 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)

SINISTER DEXTER: THE SEA BENEATH THE CITY by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (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, November 23, 2018

Thoughts on 'Where Have I Been All My Life? A Memoir by Annette André'

Diverting from our usual topic of comics for today, I'd like to bring your attention to a book that may interest those of you who, like me, grew up during the golden age of British television. I'm sure you'll remember Annette AndrĂ©, a popular actress who guest starred in so many TV drama shows of the 1960s, most notably of course being a regular on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Well, now Annette has written her autobiography entitled Where Have I Been All My Life? 

Published by Ouoit Media, the 270 page hardback (plus 16 page photo section) covers Annete's life and career, with anecdotes of her experiences on and off the screen. It's a fascinating book, and the author has an engaging writing style that captivates the reader, making her memoirs an enjoyable read. 

From Annette's early days with a chronic illness we see the determination emerge that set her on the path that would lead to becoming one of the most recognisable faces on television. And because she has worked with and met so many stars, including Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Patrick McGoohan, Joan Crawford, Patrick McNee, Benny Hill, and many more, there's a lot to tell! It's a worthwhile read, and an interesting life's story well told, so I thoroughly recommend it!

You can order a copy of Where Have I Been All My Life? from the publisher's website here:

Better still, you could meet Annette and buy a signed book from her, as she'll be a guest at MCM Comic Con this weekend at the NEC, Birmingham! See here for tickets and more info:

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

STEEL COMMANDO joins the Treasury of British Comics line-up for 2019

Rebellion have announced their line-up of books for 2019, including collections of contemporary 2000AD stories and classic tales from British comics. A surprising new addition is Best of Steel Commando, which will reprint selected stories featuring the WW2 robot that originally appeared in Thunder in 1970. Unlike other books in the Treasury line, Best of Steel Commando will be in a smaller, digest format. Even the cover, re-using a Geoff Campion painting from Lion Annual 1977, has a logo that seems to homage D.C. Thomson's Commando digest comic.

Returning next year will be The Leopard from Lime Street in Volume 2 of his adventures reprinted from Buster of the 1970s. Bella at the Bar also returns for Book 2 of reprints from Tammy, and there's another Ken Reid book in the form of World Wide Weirdies, reprinting the marvellous back covers from Whoopee! 

Another classic collection brings us Dr.Mesmer's Revenge, reprinting the fondly remembered horror series from Lion in the early 1970s. 

Other books include titles I've mentioned in previous posts such as Sweeny Toddler, Wildcat, Fran of the Floods, and Death Wish.

I'm sure that's whetted your appetites for more information and you can find out all the details of these books, - and more, - by visiting the 2000AD site here:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

This week in 1978: CHEEKY WEEKLY

I haven't covered 1970s humour comics that frequently on my blog, mainly because I don't have many! I threw out most of them when I left school and have no regrets. However, I did buy an issue of Cheeky Weekly recently so I thought I'd post a few bits here as I know that, for some of you, it has fond memories. 

This is the issue that was in the shops exactly 40 years ago this week. Issue dated 25th November 1978, but as all comics then were dated in advance this would have been in shops on November 18th. 

The 32 pager kicked off with a large cover image by Mike Lacey, promoting Disaster Des, one of the characters inside. Beneath the image is the start of the Cheeky's Week strip, drawn by Frank McDiarmid. The strip continued on various pages inside, featuring Cheeky on each day of the week.

One of the popular interior strips was Six Million Dollar Gran, a spoof of TV's Six Million Dollar Man, but featuring a cyborg granny. Art by the brilliant Ian Knox.
Cheeky's Week featured regular supporting characters, and one of those was a shapely School Crossing Lady. A memorable character for many young readers!

With Christmas only being a few weeks away, the comic carried a John Menzies advert for some games that were around at the time. Prices have increased tenfold since then, but that's not too bad in 40 years. If only comics had increased so little. They'd only be 90p today!

Cheeky featured an 8 page section called The Mystery Comic, with stories that had an element of mystery... except for the cover strip, Tub, it seems!?! Decorative border and logo by Ed McHenry, Tub strip by Nigel Edwards.

Only two adventure strips featured in Cheeky at this time. One of them being Mystery Boy, distinctively drawn by John Richardson, who also illustrated many covers to Tammy.  

The centre pages of the comic were in full colour, featuring Elephant on the Run, which I hear proved popular. Artwork by Robert Nixon, one of the greats of British comics. 

The other adventure strip was The Terrible Trail to Taggart's Treasure, by the master of kids' horror comic strips, Eric Bradbury.

There was also an advert for that year's Krazy Annual. A time when IPC were producing numerous annuals for the Christmas market. 
These days, Rebellion own the rights to this material. Is there a potential audience for any collected strips from Cheeky, I wonder? An Elephant on the Run volume might appeal to younger children perhaps? I've no idea if the company plans to reprint any of this material or not, but time will tell!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mike Noble 1930 - 2018

It's with deep regret that I have to convey the news to any of you who haven't already heard that the artist Mike Noble passed away last week at the age of 88.

As I've mentioned on my blog before, Mike Noble was my favourite adventure strip artist, from when I first saw his Fireball XL5 strip in the pages of TV Century 21 back in 1965. His crisp, dynamic style turned each story into an exciting, explosive experience, making his adaptations of TV shows more thrilling than the programmes themselves. I was pleased, and privileged, that I had a chance to meet him at a comic con in Bristol several years ago and tell him how much his work meant to me. 

I was also pleased that Mike attended the event, to know how much his work was highly regarded. Not a lot of UK artists of his generation ever had that opportunity.

Mike Noble had a long and distinguished career in comics. Strips such as The Lone Ranger for TV Comic, Fireball XL5, Zero X, and Captain Scarlet for TV21, and Timeslip, Follyfoot, Robin of Sherwood and others for Look-In were just a few of his accomplishments. Even until recent times, he was still doing the occasional drawing, working with fellow artist Lee Sullivan (another lifelong fan of Mike's work) on limited edition prints. 

You can read a more detailed memoriam of Mike Noble's work over on John Freeman's Down the Tubes blog:

I'll always be grateful for being fortunate enough to grow up reading Mike Noble's strips that helped made childhood so enjoyable. My sincere condolences to his family and friends on their loss. 

The best way to remember Mike is through his artwork, which will always be with us. Here's a selection of his fantastic strips from the 1960s and 1970s. All images have been scanned from the physical comics in my collection and are copyright their respective publishers. 

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