Wednesday, January 31, 2018

BLOKE'S PROGRESS, - new Hunt Emerson book!

News of a new book featuring artwork by Hunt Emerson is always welcome, so when Hunt mentioned on Facebook that he had an upcoming Bloke's Progress collection on the way I asked him for more info. Rather than me breaking it down, here's the details from the man himself. Take it away, Hunt...

"In 2005 and 2008 Kevin Jackson and myself, with the Ruskin Foundation, produced two comic books - HOW TO BE RICH and HOW TO SEE, both for limited distribution in the North West of England. There was always intended to be a third volume, HOW TO WORK, and now the Ruskin Foundation have the funds to realise it. Knockabout, with the Foundation, are publishing all three comics in one 120 page volume, BLOKE’S PROGRESS, to be released in April to coincide with a major exhibition entitled WORK at Brantwood (Cumbria), the Ruskin Foundation’s headquarters.

BLOKE’S PROGRESS is based on the works of Victorian critic, writer and social reformer John Ruskin (in his time possibly the most famous man in Britain), and were intended to try and introduce some of his ideas to young, modern readers. His work is largely unread today, being very dense and Victorian, but it is hard to over-estimate how influential he was in his time. His thinking led in time to such things as the National Trust, Art education for the masses, and ultimately the welfare state and the NHS. When members of the first Labour government were asked what influenced their philosophies a small minority said Karl Marx, while the majority cited John Ruskin, and it was often said that if a British working family had two books in their house they would be The Bible and Ruskin’s “Unto This Last” (the book that inspired our How To Be Rich).

This all sounds very dry and intellectual, and hardly the stuff of comic books, but the book is far from that! It’s funny, wild and weird, it’s a romance and a psychedelic trip, and it has Skittle, one of the most loveable dogs in comics. And it contains some very interesting and radical ideas.

Darren Bloke is a hard-working stiff who’s life is changed and ruined by a lottery win. He squanders his windfall and winds up with nothing. The spirit of John Ruskin visits him, and takes him through a series of explorations of Money, Perception and Work that turn his life around and enable him to see the world through a much more positive, creative filter, and to learn to live as an honest human should.

Prior to publication I’m offering the opportunity for people to pre-order it through my Largecow Shop - here is the link..." 

My thanks to Hunt for supplying the info. Here's a selection of a few more pages from the book showing Hunt's superb artistry...

Rebellion release full "Treasury" schedule for 2018

News just in from Rebellion is their full list of titles in this year's Treasury of British Comics selection. A nice variety of classic material is coming our way with something that should please everyone. There's only one humour book included unfortunately, but it's a Ken Reid one so that's very welcome. 

Here's the press release...

Considered by many as the most important war story to appear in comics, a new definitive collection of Charley’s War to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War leads the 2018 schedule from The Treasury of British Comics.

Celebrating a year since its launch in June 2017, the Treasury of British Comics continues its mission to bring some of the classic British of the 1970s and ‘80s comics back into print.

Deeply affecting, unsparingly hard, and unflinchingly political, Charley's War follows a sixteen-year-old working class lad who eagerly signs up in 1916 but has his idealism quickly shattered in the hellish world of trench warfare where every day is a bitter fight for survival. A must for every book shelf and school library, this all-time classic of the medium features bold writing from Pat Mills (Nemesis the Warlock, Marshal Law) and breath-taking artwork from Joe Colquhoun. The first of three omnibus volumes will be released in April, with the next volumes due for release in May and June.

The Treasury of British Comics also continues its collections of never-before-reprinted girls comics, beginning with the first volume of stories from Jinty, featuring The Land of No Tears where, while undergoing surgery, Cassy Shaw is transported into a dystopian future in which people with genetic defects are regarded as second class citizens; meanwhile The Human Zoo sees twin sisters Shona and Jenny kidnapped along with their classmates by a superior race of telepathic aliens. Will the twins ever be able to reunite and escape by to Earth?
In the much-loved Bella at the Bar, Bella Barlow is a young orphan with ambitions to be a world class gymnastic – she has the talent, but is hampered by her cruel Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert who constantly exploit her for their own selfish gains. Published in the bestselling girls comic of its day, Tammy, and drawn by John Armstrong from 1974 to 1984, its writers include Jenny McDade, John Wagner, Primrose Cumming and Malcolm Shaw.

And in the third volume in the popular reprint series of stories from the supernatural horror comic for girls, Misty, Lona begins to exhibit supernatural powers which, unknown to her, are the result of her being raised by wolves as a baby in Wolf-Girl.

These will be complemented by two horror classics from the 1980s – The Thirteenth Floor from Scream! and first volume of Black Max from Lion and Thunder! Sentient and demented caretaker computer Max routinely murders people after luring them to his tower block's secret thirteenth floor in one of the British comics’ creepiest and most iconic characters. Devised by writers John Wagner and Alan Grant and artist José Ortiz, The Thirteenth Floor is a classic horror in the style of a science-fiction-tinged Penny Dreadful. Written by Ken Mennell and drawn by Eric Bradbury and Alfonso Font, Black Max is World War One evil flying ace Baron Maximilien Von Klorr who has trained two giant bats to attack British aircraft. Believing himself to be descended from the fabled Bat People, he is continually opposed by Lieutenant Tim Wilson of the Royal Flying Corps in a war comic with a horror twist!

Born a slave in Alabama, he became a bandit in Mexico and returned to become the scourge of the American Civil War! El Mestizo is a unique character from the heyday of British comics. Created by writer Alan Hebden and artist Carlos Ezquerra, and published in Battle Picture Weekly, El Mestizo is a Spaghetti Western meets Django Unchained as a black mercenary faces both danger and prejudice in the crucible of the Civil War.

The year ends with another volume from one of the masters of 20th Century comic art, Ken Reid. His Creepy Creations were a poster feature on the back page of every issue of Shiver and Shake between March 1973 and October 1974, all drawn by Reid in response to a sketch and title sent in by a reader. From The Mersey Tunneller to The Money-grabber of Montrose, these gruesome grotesques demonstrate Reid’s incredible talent for invention and subversion. This hardcover edition follows the critical success of 2017’s collection of his Faceache one-page comedy strips.

The full 2018 Treasury of British Comics graphic novel schedule:

22/02/2018 9781781086179 The Beatles Story (hardcover, £12.99/$17.99)

18/04/2018 9781781086193 Charley’s War Vol. 1: Boy Soldier (paperback, £19.99/$25)

17/05/2018 9781781086209 Charley’s War Vol. 2: Brothers In Arms (paperback, £19.99/$25)

14/06/2018 9781781086216 Charley’s War Vol. 3: Remembrance (paperback , £19.99/$25)

28/06/2018 9781781086247 Jinty Vol. 1: The Human Zoo & The Land of No Tears (paperback, £10.99)

12/07/2018 9781781086254 Bella At The Bar (paperback, £10.99)

23/08/2018 9781781086261 Von Hoffman's Invasion Vol. 1 (paperback, £12.99)

20/09/2018 9781781086513 Misty Vol. 3: Wolf Girl & Other Stories (paperback, £13.99)

18/10/2018 9781781086537 The 13th Floor (paperback, £14.99)

04/10/2018 9781781086551 Black Max Vol. 1 (paperback, £10.99)

15/11/2018 9781781086575 El Mestizo (hardcover, £14.99)

29/11/2018 9781781086605 Ken Reid's Creepy Creations (hardcover, £16.99)

Credit where credit's due

There's a bit of a myth that pops up now and then with some people claiming that British comics never featured creator credits until 2000AD broke the taboo in the late 1970s. While it's true that forced anonymity was generally the rule, there were comics long before 2000AD appeared that published credits. Some comics allowed signatures, even if the writers remained anonymous, but in the case of the original Eagle in the 1950s, and its "sister" publication Girl, writer and artist credits appeared alongside most strips. At least for a while. Odhams put paid to that when they took over Eagle in the early 1960s, but from the evidence here, they still allowed writer/artist credits in Girl up to 1962 at least. 

Like Eagle, Girl was a tabliod-sized glossy publication and its photogravure print quality allowed artists to produce painted strips in colour or grey wash. The standard of artistry was extremely high. Let's take a look... 

Belle of the Ballet, written by George Beardmore, drawn by Harry Lindfield. The artist would later illustrate strips for Polystyle's Countdown comic...
The Family Storey, written by Judy Sanders, drawn by Gerry Haylock, another artist destined to find work in Countdown in 1971. (Countdown, and the comic it was renamed as, TV Action, also ran artist credits on their strips, - but not for writers.)
Send for Sally! written by Peggy Stuart, art by Roland Davies. More about the artist here:
Calling Nurse Abbott! written by Frank Redpath, drawn by Philip Townsend and Leo Davy. 

Curiously, the only strip uncredited is the solo humour strip Lettice Leefe, which was by Captain Pugwash creator John Ryan...
All of these strips deserve reprinting as book collections but unfortunately it's highly unlikely they ever will be. While it's admirable that Rebellion are now honouring the legacy of post-1970 comics, they don't own the rights to earlier material which is sadly becoming ever-more forgotten.

All the strips here are scanned from Girl Vol.11, No.43, dated 27th October 1962. Click the pages to see them full size.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

FLINTLOCK No.3 is coming!

One of the successful titles published by indie company Time Bomb Comics, Flintlock returns in April with its third edition. This time, the comic will increase from 48 pages to 64, and add extra stories. 

As the website explains, "Flintlock is a regular comics anthology series with a difference - each book tells stories featuring a unique range of genuinely diverse characters in an Eighteenth Century shared historical timeline. The Eighteenth Century (1701 to 1800) was the era of highwaymen, pirates, samurai and thief-takers, and encompassed some of the most tumultuous changes in world history involving some of the richest personalities - and this is one of the inspirations for the stories and characters that feature in Flintlock."

Flintlock is funded via Kickstarter, and its popularity led to volume 3 being fully funded in just 12 hours as fans of the series pledged their money. There's still time to back it of course, and the more you pledge, the more you'll receive in terms of bonus extras and suchlike, including the chance to obtain original art.

To find out the full details, click HERE now.

Rebellion to publish strips from TAMMY and JINTY

Following the two volumes of stories from Misty that Rebellion have published recently, the company is set to launch two books in their Treasury of British Comics line that feature material from other 1970s girls comics with strips from the archives of Tammy and Jinty comics. 

Scheduled for 28th June (according to Amazon), is Jinty Vol.1: The Human Zoo and The Land of No Tears.

"A luxury treasury collection featuring stories from the bestselling British girl comics phenomenon – restored and remastered for the first time!
Whilst undergoing surgery on her lame leg, Cassy Shaw is transported into a dystopian future in which people with genetic defects are regarded as second class citizens.  Unable to accept such objectionable discrimination, Cassy attempts to rally her peers (the Gamma girls) into beating the Alpha girls in several sporting events. Can she win the Golden Girl award and prove herself an equal?
Twin sisters Shona and Jenny are kidnapped along with their classmates  by a superior race of telepathic aliens. Brought back to the aliens’ home planet, Shona and some other human captives are kept in cages where they are treated and displayed like animals, while Jenny is sold to another owner. Will the twins ever be able to reunite and escape by to Earth?

* Lost science-fiction tales of alternate realities, of the strange and uncanny! All starring the female lead characters of British 70s comics.
* Written by comic legend Pat Mills (Marshall Law) and illustrated by Misty artist Guy Peeters!"

Then a few weeks later on 12th July, there's Bella at the Bar Vol.1, beginning the long-running series from Tammy by Jenny McDade and John Armstrong.

"Orphan Bella Barlow is a young girl with a great natural talent for gymnastics. Unfortunately her dreams and aspirations to be a world-class gymnast are being hindered by her legal guardians - uncle Jed and aunt Gertrude, who force and bully Bella to their own advantage. Can Bella escape a life of abuse and servitude? Will she finally realise her dreams of gymnastic stardom? The epic serial begins here!

* Running for over a decade - one of the most popular and longest running Tammy strips – finally reprinted!"

Pre-oder it by clicking here.

It's good to hear that these long out-of-print stories will be collected for a new audience to appreciate. More news as it develops!

Thanks to David McDonald for the heads up on this info!

Monday, January 29, 2018

BATTLE's variety of covers

Last year I showed a selection of dynamic Battle Picture Weekly covers (see here) and, as there were so many great covers over the years, I thought I'd quickly scan a few more to show you today. These are selected from the years 1978 to 1980, by which time the comic's title had become Battle Action due to Action merging into it. Unlike most mergers, where the subsumed comic quickly sees its logo diminished, Battle made the Action title a fixture for a few years and actually incorporated it into a new masthead design as the name suited the comic so well. 

Battle Action had some great covers full of tension and explosive drive. The one above is by Joe Colquhoun.

Carlos Ezquerra was a natural artist to depict gritty war scenes, as this cover demonstrates...

Issue 200 of Battle Action is significant in that it featured the first episode of Charley's War by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun. However, the cover of the issue was by Mike Western (with a vignette of Glory Rider by Geoff Campion.)

Battle Action experimented with its cover design more than any other IPC comic of the 1970s. I'm not sure this one using previews of interior strips worked, but it was an interesting attempt!

The best comic covers were the ones where text and illustration worked together for dynamic effect, as with this superb one drawn by John Cooper...

A good cover also grabs attention, such as this one by Cam Kennedy...

Prior to Battle Action, most comics kept the masthead in the same place every week, but this comic shook things up a bit. A logo in the centre of a cover? Certainly eye-catching, and that's what it's all about...

Another terrific cover by Joe Colquhoun...

Mike Western was one of IPC's top artists, having illustrated covers for Valiant for most of its 14 year run. A versatile artist who could turn his hand to a slightly lighter style (eg: Buster's Leopard from Lime Street) or to darker, more dramatic material suited to Battle Action...

With all the fuss made about how violent Action was in 1976, people tend to forget that Battle was equally as grim at times. No publisher today would approve a cover for a kids' comic showing a knife at a throat, even if the subject was a Nazi. Art by Carlos Ezquerra...

Another dramatic Mike Western scene, showing that even a dog could look deadly on the cover of this comic!

In 1980, Battle Action had a revamp, swiftly diminishing the Action part of the logo and bringing back the original Battle masthead. Its major change though was that strips now started on the cover (Charley's War and Johnny Red alternating week by week). Although this meant the comic suddenly looked very old school in its design, I must admit it was this issue that caught my eye and started me buying the comic. That said, I was 21, older than its target audience, so I've no idea what kids thought of this rather old fashioned looking cover revamp. I suspect many were not impressed, because this was the start of many changes for Battle that would eventually lead to its demise.

That said, how could anyone resist such a great illustration by joe Colquhoun?

Battle Action and the cover images in this post are Copyright ©Rebellion Publishing Ltd. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

RADIO FUN, this week in 1947

I'm still busy so there's only time for a very quick post again. I thought I'd show a few pages from the issue of Radio Fun that was on sale this very week in 1947. A popular comic for many years. The cover strip at this time It's That Man Again was of course inspired by the very popular radio show, often abbreviated as ITMA. Art by Bertie Brown.

A few interior pages were also graced by Bertie Brown's distinctive style, such as this Cheerful Charlie Chester comedy serial...

I may be completely wrong, but I think Our Brains Trust was drawn by Swedish cartoonist Alex Akerbladh. Can anyone out there confirm this? 

I'm not sure of the artists of these strips either. I think Jimmy Durante might be by George Parlett. Again, can anyone help please? 

I hope you've enjoyed this trip back to 1947. Thanks for coming along!

Preview: Next week's 2000AD (Prog 2066)

Here's your regular peek into the future, with preview pages from the next issue of 2000AD, courtesy of Rebellion...

UK & DIGITAL: 31st January 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 31st February 2018 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: ECHOES by Michael Carroll (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)

SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l) 

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

CHIPS cover (1939)

I'm a bit busy at present but I didn't want the week to pass by without posting something from the history of comics, so here's a quick scan of the cover to Chips No.2527, dated February 11th 1939 (published on Wednesday Feb.8th). It featured those long-running cover stars Weary Willie and Tired Tim and was drawn by Percy Cocking.

Comics only had 8 pages back then, so they really packed a lot in for the reader's money. A very busy cover with some smashing cartoon work. And yes, it really was printed on pink paper. Definitely a cheap and cheerful comic!


While I'm at it, I'll give a plug for my other blog. (Hey, I promote the work of others often enough so why not plug my own?) Drop by there sometime and have a look:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

THE PRISONER is released in April

Cover by Colin Lorimer.
British television shows in the 1960s were often reflected in the comics, with strip versions of programmes such as Stingray, Danger Man, UFO, The Saint, Doctor Who, The Avengers, and numerous others. One of the shows that never made it to a weekly comic was The Prisoner, the quirky series starring Patrick McGoohan. (Although Smash! did include a spoof in an episode of Charlie's Choice.) 

Perhaps, at just 17 episodes, The Prisoner just didn't last long enough for it to be considered worthy of appearing in a kids' comic. Perhaps it was considered too strange to adapt? We'll never know for sure. In 1988, DC Comics did publish a Prisoner mini-series, but it was met by mixed reaction (although, fair enough, so was the TV series). Before that, there were moves by Marvel Comics in America to produce a Prisoner comic in the 1970s, but it was never published.  However, those unpublished pages will soon appear from Titan Books in an Original Art Edition, as I reported last year.)

Titan are also soon to publish a brand new comic on the theme, and The Prisoner No.1 debuts on 25th April. The first British comic devoted to the show, with 32 pages in full colour it is written by Peter Milligan, illustrated by Colin Lorimer, and edited by David Leach. 

To quote the TV show, "We want information", but info is in short supply at present. All that has been revealed is: "Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first US transmission, this new series transports readers back to the mysterious village where everyone is a number!"

Fans of the intriguing series will no doubt be eager to see The Prisoner No.1, so place an order with your nearest comic speciality shop to ensure your copy! 

UPDATE: Issue No.1 comes with a choice of five covers. Here are the rest...

Cover art by Mike Allred.

Cover art by Jack Kirby.

Cover art by John McCrea.

Patrick McGoohan photo cover.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

COMMANDO Nos.5091 to 5094 out this week

Thanks to D.C. Thomson for the latest info on Commando comics. All four issues are out this week.

5091: Home of Heroes: Highland Games

Patrolling the Scottish Highlands in 1942, seventeen-year-old Rory MacLean was armed only with his BSA air rifle, but at least he had World War One Veterans Sergeant Donald Forbes and Corporal High MacFee for company. Together they may not look a formidable trio, but they were all that stood in the way of an attacking squad of Fallschirmjager!

Proving age is just a number, George Low’s charming tale of tartan-toting-toerags will appeal to young and old alive. Combining this light-hearted but perilous romp is interior and cover artwork by the great Carlos Pino, bringing the care and attention to the affable characters that only he could.

|Story | George Low | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino |

5092: Gold Collection: Frightened Hero

It took guts to surrender!

When Corporal Bob Tracy waved the white flag to the Germans, he thought he’d saved his team – but he’d only betrayed them, dooming them with his ‘cowardice’. Marched to a POW camp, Tracy was a pariah, but when his team managed to escape, he was the only chance they had if they wanted to survive! But will Tracy be able to prove himself a capable leader once again? And more importantly, can he prove that he’s no coward? Find out in ‘Frightened Hero’!

Writing the characters who he knows best, Allan masterfully deals with the notion of cowardice in war, as well as leadership and redemption. Bob Tracy starts far from your average Commando hero, but waving the white flag on Penalva’s cover, he looks anything but a coward; the thick oil strokes only adding to the grit and determination of Allan’s titular character.

|Story | Allan | Art | V. Fuente | Cover | Penalva |
Originally Commando No. 436 (November 1969). Reprinted No. 1251 (September 1978).

5093: Action and Adventure: Forgotten Hero

In 1945, two friends began their Commando training at Achnacarry Castle. Only one left alive, and not as a Commando. He was exiled from his training, forced to leave his friends and return to his original squadron. In September, when the war ended, that man chose the solitary life of a gamekeeper.

Then, in the 1970s, an international robbery gang set its sights on a wealthy estate in the Highlands. But in such a desolate place, who would dare to stop them? Armed with only his hunting rifle, that man would be ex-corporal Jim Main, and he would prove that he was not a man to be forgotten!

In his second cover for Commando, Neil Roberts shines again! Proving he is just as adept at drawing aircraft as faces, this time we see three Royal Marines, their crashed Westland Sea King engulfed in flames behind them, as look past us to the unseen threat beyond!

|Story | Colin Watson | Art | Jaime Forns | Cover | Neil Roberts |

5094: Silver Collection: A Tale of Two Wars

Two wars a generation apart.

For the fathers, it began in Gallipoli, 1915, as the Allied forces battled against the Turkish defenders. There, Ted Burns met Ali Kadri, a man he would never forget.

In 1950, North Korea, their sons would meet on the battlefield – this time on the same side. They had no idea of the bizarre connection they shared, but that did not stop them from sharing a bond of their own.

Ian Clark’s story places our heroes right at the centre of their conflicts, and proves that war is timeless as each generation has its own battles to fight, and like the characters who represent them, national enemies can become allies. Meanwhile, complimenting this story is Keith Shone’s distinctive interiors, detailing the backdrops of each battle from the rocky outcrops of the trenches in Western Turkey to ruinous temples in Korea.

|Story | Ian Clark | Art | Keith Shone | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2687 (August 1993).

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