Sunday, July 21, 2019

Review: REVEREND CROSS No.7

There's sometimes a concern with independent comics that they might not survive beyond the first couple of issues, either due to lack of sales or creative disinterest. Fortunately for us, that's clearly not the case with Reverend Cross, which has recently reached its 7th issue and is still going strong.

Dubbed "the first ever vicar action hero", Reverend Cross is fast-paced escapist entertainment. As with the previous issue, No.7 contains four short, self-contained stories. All are written by John A. Short, with artwork by Aaron Murphy, Andrew Richmond, Gabrielle Noble, and Richard Pester. The excellent cover art is by David Hitchcock.

This is an "Origin Special", giving us some details on Abigail Cross' backstory as well as stories set in the present. Publisher/writer John A. Short has chosen a good selection of artists for this issue, giving us a variety of styles. It goes to prove that the character is strong enough to still be distinctive even when illustrated by various hands, thanks not just to the artists but also to John's confident and professional scripts.

With a cover price of just £2.99 (plus postage), Reverend Cross No.7 is well worth your time. You can order it, and back issues, directly from the publisher Kult Creations at their web shop here:
http://reverendcross.blogspot.com


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Review: ANDERSONIC No.25

I loved Saturdays when I was a child because it meant comics day! Sure, comics came out on some other days too (Dandy on Monday, Topper on Wednesday, etc) but most of them were published on Saturday. Plus it wasn't a school day, so even better!

Saturdays in 1971 meant it was the day Countdown was out, my favourite comic of the early Seventies. Basically a rebranded version of TV21, Countdown was the place for comic strip versions of Gerry Anderson shows, plus Doctor Who!

One of the main selling points for Countdown was the UFO strip, which sometimes featured on the covers. And that's my roundabout way of explaining why I like this issue of Andersonic so much. The covers are designed as a perfect homage to Countdown comic, from the logo to the UFO cover strip! 

I don't buy Andersonic very often so I didn't know it carried an ongoing UFO strip. It's superbly crafted by writer Graeme Bassett and artist Richard Farrell and would fit perfectly in a modern-day version of Countdown if such a thing existed. 

The rest of the contents of this slick 44 page A5 size well designed fanzine feature articles relating to various Gerry Anderson shows, and the highlight of the issue is an interesting interview with Joy Cuff, who sculpted many of the Thunderbirds puppets. 

Andersonic is a great read for any aficionado of those classic TV shows. The current issue is No.25 and it, and back issues, can be bought from their website here:
http://andersonic.co.uk/page13.htm





50 Year Flashback: MAN ON THE MOON!

Exactly half a century ago, on July 20th 1969, humans first set foot on the Moon. An incredible achievement recorded by the world's media. I remember it well. A perfect crescendo to a fantastic decade! 

Here's how the Daily Mirror reported it the next day. As this is a blog about British comics I thought you'd also like to see the comic strips and cartoons that issue contained. As you can seem there were a lot more than the Mirror carries these days! The Daily Mirror was a great paper in the 1960s, not just for its excellent news coverage but also for its numerous strips and cartoons. We'll never see such days again.

Andy Capp by Reg Smythe.
Useless Eustace by Jack Greenall.

Garth by John Allard. Larks by Jack Dunkley. Flutters by Ian Gammidge and Len Gamblin.

Perishers by Maurice Dodd and Dennis Collins.

Playboy! by David Rowe.
You'll notice that only one cartoon, the slot usually taken for topical/political cartoons, mentions the Moon mission. That one was probably drawn just before the deadline, as most political cartoons are. My guess is that others wanted to make sure everything went well first, as the mission could have so easily ended in disaster. Thankfully it didn't, and the historic achievement is one we can look back on with happy memories.

Note: I scanned these from a facsimile edition of the Daily Mirror. It seems there might have been some tinkering with the front cover as genuine editions are slightly different. 



Friday, July 19, 2019

The funniest comic strips ever

A gentle reminder that the two-volume set The Power Pack of Ken Reid is still available from their publisher. These luxurious hardbacks reprint all of Ken Reid's work for Odhams from Wham!, Smash! and Pow! in the 1960s. Most of it has never been reprinted before!

Frankie Stein, the Friendly Monster! The good-natured but ghastly Frankie, created by Professor Cube who subsequently also wants to get rid of him! 

Jasper McGrasper! The Victorian miser and his penny-pinching schemes that invariably backfire!

Queen of the Seas! Enoch, Bert, and their narrowboat, - a recipe for disaster!

Dare-A-Day Davy! He can't resist a dare... even though they're bound to lead to near-fatal consequences for him! 

The Nervs! The microscopic blue-collar workers inside Fatty's innards who work overtime to deal with his constant appetite! 

Plus extensive articles on Ken Reid's life and career, accompanied with rare unseen sketches and artwork!

Some of the most bizarre, and funniest, strips ever seen in British comics. All perfect vehicles for Ken Reid's manic humour. The reproduction of the strips is top notch! Not to be missed!

The books can be bought together, or separately from the publisher Irmantas Povilaika at his website here:
https://www.kazoop-comics-shop.com


To The Death!

As many of you will remember, Simon Furman and Geoff Senior were a team supreme when they worked together on Marvel UK's Transformers comic in the 1980s. Now they're back together again, producing their brand new creator-owned comic To the Death!

It's a gritty, fast-paced tale of future war with tough dialogue and suitably dynamic battle scenes. The main protagonist, Aleksy Dryagin, returns from war in space to settle back into a family life, - but it becomes impossible when he's marked for death between Tri-Corp and an organisation called White Noise. But Aleksy isn't going down without a fight..


Geoff Senior's art style is a lot looser here than it was 30 years ago, but the colours play a bigger part in the finished product. It gives the comic a distinctive look and conveys the story well.

Issue 1 ends on an explosive cliffhanger, but the comic is scheduled to be monthly so 4 or 5 weeks isn't long to wait! I understand it's a 10 issue mini-series, so it'll be quite an epic!

To the Death No.1, 52 pages, full colour, is £4.99 and you can buy it, and also subscribe, at https://getmycomics.com/ToTheDeath



Review: STAND IN YOUR POWER

I'm finally going to find time to get through the backlog of books and comics I promised to review so, firstly, apologies for the delay and, secondly, let's get on with it, - kicking off with Stand in Your Power, the new book from Rachael Smith. 

Other reviewers have called the book "emotionally brave" and they're not wrong. It's a revealing autobiographical story of a period of Rachael's life where her boyfriend had ended their relationship, and how she dealt with that... as well as her depression. Now, in less talented hands that could be a very dull and downbeat story, but Rachael's own natural sense of humour gives the book a lift in all the right places and engages the reader. 

That's not to mean it's flippant of course. Not at all. Rachael deals with the subject matter realistically and responsibly, and in an appealing way. There are pages where she talks about how she self-harmed, and it's quite upsetting, especially for those who know Rachael but didn't know about these incidents. Thoughtfully, Rachael has colour-coded those pages in green, so if readers feel it may be too harrowing they can skip that chapter. I hope they won't though, because it carries an important message.

Stand in Your Power is a sequel of sorts to Wired Up Wrong, Rachael's previous book that I reviewed here. Both are very accessible books, helped immensely by the format; square pages, with no more than four panels a page. Rachael's art style is very easy on the eye and pleasant to see, showcasing her skills at facial expressions and composition. 

I hate to use the cliché "emotional rollercoaster" but that's how it felt reading this book, as Rachael shares her highs and lows with us and it's a book of laughter and tears. The book ends on an uplifting note though, with life improving for Rachael, and I came away from it feeling happy for her and also grateful that she'd shared so much that I know will help others cope with their dark days. 

I'll go as far to say that Stand in Your Power is an important book because of how it'll help others relate. Depression is something people are more willing to talk about now than they did a few decades ago, and this book is ideal to encourage that. 

You can buy Stand in Your Power and Rachael Smith's other books from her Etsy store here:
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/641892488/stand-in-your-power

Rachael will also be one of the guests at the London Film and Comic Con at Olympia next weekend (26th to 28th July) and you'll be able to buy the book at her table in the Comics Zone:
https://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com







Advance preview: 2000AD Prog 2141

Let me show you your future, Earthlets! Here's an advance look at next week's 2000AD, which will be in the shops on Wednesday! Fantastic cover by Chris Weston, who also illustrates the Judge Dredd story inside. Worth the cover price alone!

UK and DIGITAL: 24th July 2019 £2.85
NORTH AMERICA: 24th August 2019 $32.80 (per pack)
DIAMOND: JUL192141
COVER: CHRIS WESTON

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD:  CONTROL by Rob Williams (w) Chris Weston (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)


INDIGO PRIME: FALL OF THE HOUSE OF VISTA by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

ANDERSON, PSI-DIVISION: MARTYRS by Emma Beeby (w) Aneke (a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) Simon Bowland (l)


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

THISTLEBONE by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davis (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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Out today! The final issue of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: THE TEMPEST

It all ends here! I've followed the work of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill throughout their careers so it's with a heavy heart that I'll be reading this final comic of theirs before they retire from the funnybook business. They leave us with a fantastic legacy of work though, with comics that never compromised and always followed their own path. Very few in this industry have achieved that.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest No.6 is in comic stores today and it wraps up the 20-year story of the League in suitably "meta" fashion, as the kids say today. I haven't seen a copy yet so I'll review it when I do, but for now I thought I'd give you a "heads up" (as the kids also say) so you don't miss this milestone issue! 

Each issue of The Tempest has featured a parody of a British comic on its cover and it's appropriate that this final issue has a spoof of the early 2000AD cover design, as that comic was the one that launched Alan and Kevin into the spotlight. Don't miss it!


(W) Alan Moore (A/CA) Kevin O'Neill
In Moore and O'Neill's final comic book, this issue masquerading as a British science-fiction weekly, the plot-strands of our concluding volume and loose ends from twenty years of continuity are tied in an ingenious starry bow, as Mina Murray and her legendary confederates transition from the world of fiction past and present to the world of fiction future. Planets end in visual spectacle, lovers are united in the matrimonial event of the millenium, and deadly enemies draw close in the conclusion of their fatal dances. This is your last call for the immaculate crescendo of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. IV, The Tempest.


Friday, July 12, 2019

50 Year Flashback: STAR TREK arrives in the UK

Although Star Trek had debuted on TV in the USA in 1966 it wasn't until this day in 1969 that it was broadcast in the UK. The BBC kicked off with the episode Where No Man Has Gone Before at 5.15pm on Saturday 12th July 1969, and millions of us were immediately enraptured. 

However, many of us had already been following the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise since January 1969, when it appeared as a comic strip in the first issue of Joe 90 Top Secret, a 20 page glossy tabloid-sized anthology weekly that also featured Land of the Giants, The Champions, and of course Joe 90 himself. Although beautifully illustrated by Harry Lindfield, the scripts suffered from either insufficient information supplied by Paramount or a bad transatlantic phone connection... with Captain Kirk referred to as Captain Kurt for the first few weeks! 


Nevertheless, the Star Trek strip was exciting and fast paced, and in full colour! A big deal back when the majority of UK viewers still had black and white televisions. Even so, the strip made colour mistakes with the uniforms, sometimes giving Kirk a red tunic. It's a wonder he survived!

City Magazines, the publishers of Joe 90 Top Secret,  were on the ball when Star Trek arrived on British TV. That same week they featured Star Trek on the cover, and also on the covers of the following three issues. 


Sadly the fate of the comic was already sealed and it was set to merge with TV21 a few weeks later. However, the popularity of Star Trek ensured it a place in the new TV21 and Joe 90 comic, where it later became the regular cover strip. 

Art by Mike Noble.

In 1971, TV21 merged into Valiant, but the Star Trek strip survived, drawn by John Stokes, becoming the regular centre-page attraction (apart from the second episode which appeared on Valiant's cover). 
Cover by Mike Western.


Star Trek's British strip finally ended in the Christmas 1973 issue of Valiant. Its run in comics had actually lasted as a five-year mission, although that was more likely due to the length of the license the publishers had been contracted to rather than any deliberate homage to the Enterprise's tour of duty. 

Personally, I've never been into Star Trek fandom, and wouldn't consider myself a Trekkie (or Trekker, or whatever the favoured term is) but I did really enjoy the original series. I watched some of the newer Star Trek series too, which were ok, but I'm not fussed to ever watch them again. I do like Star Trek: Discovery, but, again, not enough to watch the episodes more than once. The original series remains my favourite; a colourful Western in space with a great cast, likeable characters, and solid writing. 

Incidentally, several Star Trek actors including William Shatner and Walter Koenig will be amongst the guests at the London Film and Comic Con at the end of this month! So will I, come to mention it. Check it out:
https://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com

Do you have any thoughts about Star Trek, either the TV shows, the strips, or the merchandise? If so, share your comments below...
Sugar Smacks was my favourite cereal 50 years ago because of free gifts like these.

All images scanned from my collection. 




Cover previews: Next week's 2000AD and JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE

The latest info from Rebellion HQ...

2000AD Prog 2140

UK and DIGITAL: 17th July 2019 £2.85
NORTH AMERICA: 17th August 2019 $32.80 (per pack)
DIAMOND: JUL192141
COVER: SIMON DAVIS
In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: THE SAMARITAN by Kenneth Niemand (w) Staz Johnson (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
INDIGO PRIME: FALL OF THE HOUSE OF VISTA by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
ANDERSON, PSI-DIVISION: MARTYRS by Emma Beeby (w) Aneke (a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) Simon Bowland (l)
ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
THISTLEBONE by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davis (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)



JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE No.410
UK and DIGITAL: 17th July 2019 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 17th August 2019 $13
DIAMOND: MAY191879
COVER: MIKE DOWLING

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: RED QUEEN'S GAMBIT by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
DEMARCO, P.I. by :aura Bailey (w) Paul Williams (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
DIAMOND DOGS by James Peaty (w) Warren Pleece (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THE RETURNERS: CHANDU by Si Spencer (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland (l)
ANDERSON, PSI-DIV by Maura McHugh (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Pippa Mather (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Features: Interviews with Aneke, Erica Schultz, Brian Corcoran, Maura McHugh, Ollie Masters; Four-Colour Classics: Speed
Bagged reprint: Psi-Judge Anderson: The Candidate

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