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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

This year's Dandy and Beano Summer Special covers revealed

D.C. Thomson have revealed the cover artwork for this year's Dandy Summer Special and Beano Summer Activity Special in two small images on their web shop. Cover artwork on Dandy is by Ken H. Harrison, whilst the Beano cover is handled by Nigel Parkinson. Both will be in the bookazine format they've used over the past few years.

The Beano special contains new material, and the Dandy special will feature selected reprints from its archives. 

They'll be in the shops this summer (naturally) but you can pre-order them from the publisher here:

By the way, I've written a brief article about the history of Summer Specials for issue 5 of Comic Scene which will also be out this summer! Support and subscribe to the mag here:

Don't miss your free FUNNY PAGES this Saturday!

Rebellion have certainly been increasing their output this year and they're not stopping yet! In comic shops this Saturday, 4th May, is Funny Pages, a special one-off packed with humour strips from yesteryear... and it's FREE!

Yes, Funny Pages is one of the comics that's part of the Free Comic Book Day scheme running across comic speciality shops in the UK and USA (not in newsagents). Hopefully your nearest retailer will have ordered it so you'll be able to pick one up on Saturday. (But buy some comics too, to keep the shop in business, ok?)

Funny Pages doesn't run any credits, apart from the few pages that artists signed back in the day, so I've compiled a contents list for you with all the artists I've identified...

COVER - Robert Nixon (main image of Frankie).

Faceache - Ken Reid
Deadly Hedley - Martin Baxendale
Sweeny Toddler - Tom Paterson
Birdman and Chicken - Andrew Christine
Disappearing Trix - Reg Parlett
Prambo - Steve Bright
Kid Kong - Robert Nixon
Sub - Ken Reid
Haunted House game - Jack Oliver
Gums - John Geering
X-Ray Specs - Mike Lacey
Milly O’Naire and Penny Less - Jimmy Hansen
Frankie Stein - Ken Reid
Martha’s Monster Make Up - Ken Reid
Watford Gapp - Tom Paterson
Ivor Lott and Tony Broke - Jim Crocker
Glugg - Gordon Hogg
Grimly Feendish - Stan McMurtry
I'm pleased to see a couple of Odhams strips in there from the 1960s (Glugg from Wham! and Grimly Feendish from Smash!) but surprised that there's no Leo Baxendale work included. I'd have liked to have seen some of Roy Wilson's work from the 1930s included too, but realistically that would have looked too ancient for most kids today. Because this is definitely aimed at kids, not just nostalgists, to show them that these strips still stand up today as funny stuff. This is a very nice selection indeed. 

Anyway, grab a Funny Pages this Saturday! Here's the PR and a few sample pages to whet your appetites...

CREATIVE TEAM: Ken Reid, Robert Nixon, Reg Parlett, Trevor Metfalfe, Steve Bright, Mike Lacey, Martin Baxendale, Sid Burgeon, Gordon Hogg (w+a)
WORLDWIDE and DIGITAL: 4th May 2019

It's time to put the funny back in funny pages! This Free Comic Book Day, the Treasury of British Comics presents a stack of silliness in a folio of frivolous foolishness with a trove of classic cartoon characters! Infant delinquent Sweeney Toddler commits crimes from the crib! Just when you thought it was safe to parody Steven Spielberg shark films, along comes the terror from the depths, GUMS! Martha's Monster Make-Up and Faceache strips are both a scream! The egg-straordinary adventures of super-zeroes Birdman and Chicken are sure to get you clucking; You can count on Deadley Hedley The Vampire Detective to be up to your neck in laughs when he joins a stake-out at a monster Christmas Party! A bounty of belly-laughs for kids of all ages!

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

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Another new Rebellion Special out this Wednesday!

Rebellion are publishing a load of specials this year, and following on from the Cor!! Buster Humour Special the other week comes the 2000AD Villains Takeover Special.

It'll be out this Wednesday, but ONLY in comic shops, not newsagents, and the price is a very affordable 99p! It's also available as part of the Specials Bundle to buy directly from the publisher:

...or as a digital comic (see links at the foot of this post).

The 2000AD Villains Takeover Special is a great looking comic thanks to a cover by Greg Staples, and the contents feature some top class material too. Here's the PR and some preview pages...

WORLDWIDE and DIGITAL: 1st May 2019 (99p/99c)

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: THE JUDGE WHO LAUGHS by Rob Williams (w) Henrik Sahlstrom (a) Simon Bowland (l)

BRASS AND BLAND: THE PROFESSIONALS by Karl Stock (w) Kael Ngu (a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) Oz Osborne (l)

THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG: LORD OF THE HUNT by Pat Mills (w) Kyle Hotz (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

STIX: SLEEPING DOGS LIE by Matt Smith (w) Chris Weston (a) Simon Bowland (l)

THARG'S TERROR TALES: THE LAST OF THE HELLPHIBIANS by The Feek (w) Henry Flint (a) Ozvaldo Sanchez (l)

Available in print from: comic book stores via Diamond

Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop and apps for iPadAndroidWindows 10

Friday, April 26, 2019

A classic ROY OF THE ROVERS collection is coming this summer!

Just time for a very quick post today... the latest Previews catalogue has revealed that Rebellion will be collecting the earliest Roy of the Rovers strips in a hardback volume coming in July.

Written by Frank Pepper and drawn by Joe Colquhoun, Roy of the Rovers: Best of the 1950s will be a hardback reprinting strips from Tiger. A very welcome addition to their Treasury of British Comics range!

More details will emerge in the weeks to come, but for now here's a cover preview and the basic info. Pre-order it from your local comic shop with the Item Code MAY193304.

The legend begins here! Celebrating 65 years of goals and glory, this first in a spectacular new luxury treasury series collects the very best stories from the first decade of Roy of the Rovers comics. An icon of British comics and sporting history is born, with his origin presented in glorious hardback for the first time! Remastered for a new generation in the over-sized Treasury of British Comics format. 

Item Code: MAY193304
SRP: £19.99

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Thanks to Rebellion for giving me access to an advance preview copy of Leo Baxendale's Sweeny Toddler, a book sure to be snapped up by many when it hits the stands this July!

This great addition to The Treasury of British Comics reprints all of Leo's Sweeny Toddler strips from Shiver and Shake and Whoopee! weeklies from 1974/75 (plus six pages by unidentified "ghost" artists).

Sweeny Toddler was one of the last characters that Leo created before he quit mainstream comics in 1975 to pursue self-published projects and he certainly left us laughing. This is an hilarious collection that deserves a place on every comic fan's bookshelf. It's suitable for all ages too, so if you have young kids, this is an ideal treat! 

Here's the PR from Rebellion and the first two strips...

CREATIVE TEAM: Leo Baxendale
RELEASE DATE: 25th July 2019
PAPERBACK, 112 pages
PRICE: £14.99 (UK)
ISBN: 9781781087268

Sweeny Toddler was Leo Baxendale’s greatest creation for IPC – a two-year-old terror who manages to cause mayhem from beyond his pram and cot! This collection bring together all of Baxendale’s Sweeny Toddler strips from Shiver and Shake and Whoopee, with an introduction from Martin Baxendale. One of the most highly-regarded cartoonists in British comics, Baxendale has been responsible for creating many beloved classic strips, including Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids. 

The edition includes six colour pages completely re-mastered from the original work and re-instated in this luxury format. Perfect for Beano and Dandy annual collectors, classic humour strip nostalgists, fans of Calvin and Hobbes, as well as previous Treasury humour titles Creepy Creations and Faceache! Includes six colour pages completely re-mastered from the original work and re-instated in this luxury format.

Available in print from: Treasury of British Comics webshop, book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond

Available in digital from: Treasury of British Comics webshop & apps for iPadAndroid and Windows 10


The next stop in my convention tour this year will be Manchester Comic Fest at Wythenshawe Forum on Saturday 27th April. I'll be joining other guests that include Rachael Smith, Nigel Parkinson, Mike Collins, David Leach, Dan Whitehead and more! Come along for a chat and to purchase comics and sketches directly from us. 

More info:

See you there!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Funday!

I just have time for a quick post today so here's a bunch of Easter covers that have graced humour comics past and present. Longtime readers of this blog will have seen most of these before but they're worth showing again in one post. 

In consecutive order, starting with Funny Wonder No.1045 from 1934. I believe this was drawn by Reg Parlett in his early days. (This is the international edition, which had an issue of Jester inside, but apart from the masthead it was the same as the UK edition.)

A few years later, in 1937, we have the Easter issue of Chips, with Weary Willie and Tired Tim drawn by Percy Cocking...

On to 1940 and it's Radio Fun with artwork by Reg Parlett...

Moving into the Sixties it's the Easter Bimbo with covers by Dudley Watkins...

Wham! from 1965 with Biff drawn by Graham Allen...

A year later, 1966, the Easter Smash! with a cover by Ron Spencer...

The Easter 1967 issue of The Beano, with Biffo by Dudley Watkins...

It's 1968 and the Easter Pow! cover is by Mike Higgs...

Journeying through time to 1989 it's Buster with art by Tom Paterson...

Finally, back in the present day it's the current issue of Beano with art by Nigel Parkinson...

...and the latest issue of The Phoenix with a cover that, unusually, is uncredited! (If you're out there, let me know who you are.)

After that brief time-trip through British comics history, I hope you all have a great break and a Happy Easter! 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Preview: COMIC SCENE No.3

There's a new issue of Comic Scene out this week and once again it's full of good stuff pertaining to comics old and new. The highlight for me was a new interview with veteran artist Ian Kennedy, who this year celebrates 70 years in the comics business! An incredible achievement, and Ian is still as skilled and sharp as ever.

Other features include the final part of the look back at the history of Marvel UK. A great article but sadly stops short just before a lot of us began creating new material for the company...

A look back at Buster...

An interview with Roy Thomas...

An item on Avengers Endgame...

The latest episode of Marc Jackson's Whackoman strip... much more, including a look at the state of UK independent comics, Frankie Stein in the 1970s, Writing for the 13th Doctor, Batman in the 1950s, Pat Mills, and I've written a behind the scenes article on the Cor!! Buster Special...

Comic Scene No.3 will be on sale in WH Smith and comic shops from Thursday 25th April, or you can subscribe here:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Today's the day! The COR!! BUSTER HUMOUR SPECIAL is here!

Cover art by Neil Googe, coloured by Jim Boswell.
It's the day that fans of British humour comics have been waiting for. The Cor!! Buster Humour Special will be on the shelves of WH Smith and selected newsagents and comic shops from today! 

Many of the classic IPC characters are back, revived and rebooted for a new generation for the first time this century! The last time some of these characters were seen was in the final issue of Buster at the end of 1999 (apart from a reprint special in 2009)... and some characters had last appeared long before that! Now they're back, in a 52 page full-colour glossy special in all-new stories!

The comic kicks off with a fantastic three-page strip featuring Sweeny Toddler, and it's written and drawn by Tom Paterson, the artist who drew his adventures throughout most of his original run! 
Then it's on to reboots of other favourites, including Deadly Hedley by Paul Goodenough and Neil Googe, with colouring by Jim Boswell...
Hit Kid by Robin Etherington and David Follett...
Grimly Feendish by Ned Hartley and Tom Paterson... Frankie Stein! X-Ray Specs! Gums! Kid Kong! Hire A Horror! and many more, including brand new characters Swines of Anarchy by The Feek and Pye Parr...
...and a gathering of classic characters in Who's In Charge? by John Freeman and Lew Stringer...

There's even some vintage art by Ken Reid to top things off, as well as a couple of puzzle pages and a breezy look back at where some of the characters first appeared.

Publishers Rebellion and editor Keith Richardson are to be congratulated for bringing these favourites back for a whole new generation. No doubt some older readers will miss the old art styles but sadly most of the original artists are no longer around. It's also important that the comic doesn't look like a clone of The Beano or The Phoenix but has its own identity. From Comic Cuts to Oink!, humour comics have always evolved to reflect the times and changing styles so it's only natural for today's artists and writers to be given an opportunity to work on this new special. After 19 years or more in limbo, these characters will be regarded as totally new by today's young readers, and that's who this comic is aimed at, so a fresh revamp is the way to go.

That said, there are various nods to the past as a tribute to the heritage of the old comics. Even Weary Willie and Tired Tim and Homeless Hector have a cameo!

Having been one of the artists/writers on the original Buster from the late 1980s and through the 1990s it's a good feeling to be back for this one-off revival. I hope it receives the support and appreciation it deserves so that hopefully it won't be the last we see of Buster and his pals! 

The Cor!! Buster Humour Special is out now from WH Smiths, newsagents, and comic shops. 52 pages for £4.99. 

A couple of photos of it on display in WH Smiths in the Midlands...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Comics advertised on TV

It was a regular occurrence for new UK comics and free gift issues to be advertised on TV throughout the 1960s. I remember many a time when I'd come home from school, see an ad for a comic and rush up to the corner shop to buy a copy. They all tended to follow a similar pattern: show the free gift in action, a few brief images from the strips, and concluding with the cover and an enticing "Out Now!" blurb. Who could resist?

Sadly, those numerous 1960s TV ads don't seem to exist now... or are waiting to be rediscovered. I've even asked television archivists if they've found any in their searches but unfortunately they haven't. Such a pity, as I have vague memories of short, snappy adverts for Sparky, Pow!, Fantastic, and many, many more. 

However, some more recent TV ads have been preserved, thanks to video, and transferring them to You Tube. (I say "more recent", but these will still be ancient to the younger readers of this blog.) Quality is poor, but better than nothing! 

First up, a selection of adverts for Look-In from the late 1970s...

An ad for the first issue of 2000AD from 1977:

The ad for the relaunch of Eagle in 1982:

A free gift issue of The Beano (1994):

A free gift issue of The Dandy (1994):

...and finally a plug for 2000AD's revamp in 1994:

You'll find a few more if you search You Tube. Let me know if you ever find any from the 1960s!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Reverend Cross - Origin Special!

Reverend Cross is an enjoyable independent comic published by British company Kult Creations, founded by John A. Short. You've probably read my reviews of earlier issues such as here and here so you know I vouch for it as a fun strip. 

The next issue, No.7, is currently on Kickstarter where you can pledge to fund it and support the comic. It'll bring us the origin of the world's first female vicar action hero with art by various creatives and a great cover by David Hitchcock!

As with most Kickstarter projects, the more you pledge, the more you gain, starting from just £3 for the PDF version, £4 for the print version, up to £85 for all seven issues, all alternative cover versions of No.7,  and a signed page of original artwork! 

Check it out here, where you can see a great little animated video of Reverend Cross strips past and present and also samples of art from the upcoming issue:

Funding for Reverend Cross No.7 ends on Monday 22nd April, so don't miss out!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Nostalgia and Comics regenerates

As from today, the UK's longest running comic shop, Nostalgia and Comics, is no more... but don't panic! It's had a complete refit and a name change to Worlds Apart. Yes, they still sell comics, - although you'll find them upstairs now, with the ground floor being used for Funko Pops and other merchandise.

Nostalgia and Comics opened in late 1976, founded by Phil Clarke, who had previously played a huge part in the history of comics fandom by organising Britain's first comic convention in 1968. The original Nostalgia and Comics store was a tiny shop on the corner of Hurst Street in Birmingham, which opened in November 1976 as announced in Comic Media News No.28...

...and advertised fully in the following issue...
Art by Mike Higgs.
Shortly after, a second branch was opened to cater for back issues, a few seconds walk away in the subway of Smallbrook Queensway...
Art by Mike Higgs.
By 1979, a new larger premises were opened on the other side of the road at 14/16 Smallbrook Queensway, replacing the previous shops. (The subway shop was sold to Readers World who traded there for a while. The subway no longer exists, having been filled in as part of a redevelopment in Birmingham several years ago.)

With two floors, the new shop at 14/16 Smallbrook Queensway was brighter and more comfortable for customers. They are the same premises still in use today.

Years ago, Phil Clarke gave up ownership of Nostalgia and Comics when it was bought out by the Forbidden Planet International company, although they retained the name Nostalgia and Comics... until today. Now, with a complete refit, the name has been changed to Worlds Apart, which is also the name of a comics shop in Liverpool owned by FPI.

(If you're wondering why they didn't simply call it Forbidden Planet International when they took over, it's because they can't if there's a rival Forbidden Planet in the same town. Yes, there are two companies with similar names. It's complicated. Basically, the owners fell out years ago and both claimed the name for their rival shops. Forbidden Planet International with the black/gold/white branding is one company, whilst Forbidden Planet with the white/red/black rocket logo is a different company.)

I guess it makes sense for the sake of unity and branding to use the Worlds Apart name for their shops, but for many of us it's a sad loss to see the name Nostalgia and Comics go after more than 40 years. I was one of the original customers back in the 1970s and was a regular for many years, meeting up with other customers on a Saturday or Thursday before heading off for our weekly pie and a pint or whatever. Admittedly I don't visit as often as I used to but I'm sure it's still a great community spot for readers and will continue to be so under its new name.

Goodbye then, Nostalgia and Comics, but here's wishing Worlds Apart a bright and prosperous future! 

More info on the changes here:

...and a video of the refit, at the Geeky Brummie YouTube channel here:

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