Wednesday, May 24, 2017

80 year Flashback: FUNNY WONDER Whitsun issue 1937

Whitsun was a bigger deal in years past than it is today, and 80 years ago the comics of the Amalgamated Press used it as the theme for that week's issues. I've previously shown the Whitsun issue of Jolly Comic for 1937 (click here) and now here are a few strips from The Funny Wonder of the same week. The comic is scanned from my collection.

Funny Wonder had 8 tabloid-sized pages, all printed in black ink on green paper for 1d. The wonderful holiday theme logo illustration and Pitch and Toss cover strip is the work of Roy Wilson I think. (Might be by one of his imitators but I'm sure it's a Wilson page.) 

Inside, Merry Moments with Marmy and his Ma sees mum and son visiting a fair for the holidays. Note the "Fat Boy" attraction; a depiction of times when the "Freak Show" was a voyeuristic attraction at fairs. Art by Wally Robertson I believe.

Charlie Chaplin had appeared on the cover of the comic for years but by 1937 he was one of the centre-spread strips. Art by Bertie Brown.
Sally, the Sunshine of Our Alley, had a resourceful girl as the lead, and the title of the strip was of course inspired by the 1931 film Sally in our Alley starring Gracie Fields. 
The comic included a cut-out badge for readers to become part of "The Funny Wonder Secret Society", but stipulated that only regular readers could wear it. (That excludes all of us then, unless we have a bound volume of issues to read.)
Fifty percent of the issue was taken up with prose stories and, on the back page, the only adventure strip in the comic; Tim McCoy. Those speech balloons are a bit shouty! 
I hope you enjoy reading this summer issue from 80 years ago. If you have a laptop or tablet, why not sit in the sunshine and enjoy a good read? (22 degrees C here at the moment!)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

LAWLESS collected

Rebellion are certainly putting out a lot of collections of strips these days. Next month sees the awesome Lawless Volume 1, with amazingly detailed artwork by Phil Winslade. 

Ludicrously, there are still some people who claim today's comics aren't as well drawn as those of decades ago. Take a look at this, folks. Phil's artwork is on a par with any of the best work published in comics since comics began! The high standard of comic art today is incredible. 

Here's the info on the book from the publishers, along with the first five pages to whet your appetites...

CREATIVE TEAM: Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
REGIONS: UK & US print, worldwide digital
RELEASE DATE: 15 June 2017
PRICE: £14.99 (UK) $20 (US)
ISBN: 9781781085431

The first collection of 2000 AD's latest breakout success set in the Judge Dredd universe, with an incredible new female Judge. The backwater planet of 43 Rega has spent five years recovering from an invasion of aliens known as the Zhind. isolated and a hotbed for trouble makers, Badrock is an colony township desperate for a strong law enforcer to take charge. Enter Colonial. Marshal Meta Lawson. Tough, surly and determined, Lawson seems to be ideal for the role. But is this law-woman exactly who she claims to be?

Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond

Time for a sort out!

From this week I'm starting to list some items on eBay again. My house is just too overcrowded with books and comics that I'll never get around to re-reading so I'm selling off some of them. 

There's only a handful of items up so far to see how they go, but I'll be putting more up next week. I have some duplicates of comics (such as the above issue of Smash!) that I don't need, and various graphic novels and books that I'll be selling at reasonable prices. If you're interested, visit the link below:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Charlie Grigg honoured at his old school

The late Charlie Grigg, who drew Korky the Cat for many years, has been honoured with a blue plaque at his old school in Oldbury. 

I never knew Charlie personally but, like many of us, I grew up entertained by his artwork for The Dandy on strips such as Korky the Cat, The Red Wrecker, and The Umbrella Men, and on The Topper with strips such as Foxy and Splodge. I'm very pleased for his family that they've achieved this honour for him.
You can read the full details over at John Freeman's Down the Tubes blog today:

The BBC's Midlands Today covered the news in its 21st May broadcast and at time of writing it's still available on iPlayer, 3 minutes in:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

TV Comic with Target (1978)

TV Comic underwent quite a few changes over its 33 year run. It started out as a comic for very young readers in 1951, aged itself up a bit in the 1960s to compete with Dandy and Beano, changed to a tabloid sized comic (as Mighty TV Comic) for a while, and by 1978 its emphasis was more on adventure strips due to absorbing the failed Target comic. (Target had lasted just 18 weeks and you can read more about that here: )

Here's a few pages from TV Comic with Target No.1397, dated 22nd September 1978. The cover strip rotated its characters and this week it was the turn of Kojak, drawn by David Lloyd early in his career before he went on to find fame with V for Vendetta. (Today, David is the publisher of digital comic Aces Weekly )

TV Comic had been printed in the slick photogravure format for years, until changing to web offset in 1971. However, by 1978 it had downgraded to cheap newsprint and, as you'll see, a very limited approach to colouring. Charlie's Angels was illustrated by John Canning...

The Doctor Who strip in TV Comic by this time was a reprint from earlier issues. In the case of this story, it originally appeared in 1974 featuring the third Doctor, with art by Gerry Haylock. For this 1978 reprint, John Canning redrew some of the figurework to replace Jon Pertwee's Doctor with Tom Baker's! 

The Kicktail Kid wasn't related to any TV show but was instead publisher Polystyle's attempt at a superhero strip. (Perhaps trying to compete with the numerous Marvel UK weeklies around at the time.) David Lloyd had been the original artist on the strip but this work is by someone else and I don't recognise the style. 

TV Comic with Target also featured several humour strips of course, as the comic always did, mostly based on cartoon characters. One of the longest running in the weekly was Tom and Jerry, drawn by Bill Titcombe, which was on the back page of the comic that week. 
With only 20 pages, TV Comic was relatively expensive at 10p, but it was still popular enough to survive for a few more years (when its print quality would improve again). 

Nosferatu lives!

This isn't comics related but it may be of interest to those of you who like classic horror movies (and by classic I mean films from the early 20th Century). The people who publish the excellent Classic Monsters Magazine also do one-off special editions of individual movies. Coming up in October is one dedicated to Nosferatu, the 1922 German expressionist movie that set a high standard for chilling horror films. 

Here's the info from their website:
Though controversial in its day for its unauthorised use of Bram Stoker’s story Dracula, F W Murnau’s 1922 expressionist nightmare Nosferatu remains a powerful piece of filmmaking. Our Ultimate Guide to this silent horror classic explores the creation and legacy of one of cinema’s all-time favourite vampire films.
Produced in full colour and designed with the beautiful attention to detail you’ve come to expect, our Nosferatu magazine guide is the perfect companion piece to the movie. It’s packed with images, artwork, information and trivia which will place you right at the sinister heart of this beloved motion picture.
Biographies of the cast and crew, from Murnau himself to stars Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim and cinematographer Fritz Arno Wagner, shine a fresh light on the people who brought Count Orlok’s shadow-haunted horror tale to life, while a range of articles examines the impact that Nosferatu had on horror cinema and filmmaking more widely.
So come with us as we walk the eerie streets of Wisborg, and take a fresh look at a turning point in horror cinema. Just like the movie itself, this is a Nosferatu guide you can’t afford to ignore – and remember, the first 250 copies are signed with a FREE Nosferatu art print!
To pre-order your copy, visit the publisher's website here:

Classic Spidey theme revitalised

This is a video that composer Michael Giacchino released yesterday of his dynamic orchestral version of the classic Spider-Man theme. It's going to be used in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming movie this summer... but surely it's too short for the main theme?

Indeed it is, as it only runs to 37 seconds. Then it occurred to me that's exactly the same length as the Marvel Fanfare theme used over the Marvel Studio logo at the start of Marvel movies. So I'm betting that the orchestral Spidey music will play over the Marvel logo intro instead of the usual fanfare theme.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is released on 7th July so we don't have long to wait to see if I'm right. 

Prog Preview: 2000AD Prog 2032

Courtesy of Rebellion, publishers of the galaxy's greatest comic, here's your regular advance preview of the next issue of 2000AD, on sale this coming Wednesday.

UK & DIGITAL: 24 May 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 24 June 2017 $7.99

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: Sons of Booth by TC Eglington (w) Nick Dyer (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Defoe: Diehards by Pat Mills (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Brink: Skeleton Life by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Scarlet Traces: Cold War - Book 2 by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Phoenix No.281

Issue 281 of The Phoenix is out now for subscribers and will be in selected shops from tomorrow (Saturday 20th May). The cover is by Jamie Smart, relating to the latest Bunny vs Monkey story inside. 

From The Phoenix Facebook page:

Get it delivered to your home or get it in larger WH Smiths, Waitrose and good bookshops! You can also ask your local news agent to order a copy in for you!

THIS WEEK: We have the final episode of Quantum EEP, we have an AMAZING Star in a Comic competition and you can meet the gloobs in Bunny vs Monkey. Plus, loads more!

WONDER WOMAN awaits you in the newsagents

Ready for her big screen solo movie debut, Titan Comics have published a one-off Wonder Woman Special Edition with 100 pages of strips, in the shops now. 

Here's a preview of some of the contents...

One Side AloneWonder Woman fights Giganta, causing some serious collateral damage, but what punishment should the size-changing villainess face for her crimes…?  

Democratic DesignA trip to buy furniture with her friend Etta Candy leads Wonder Woman into a direct confrontation with the Human Tank, who has some problems of his own!

Big Things One Day ComeWonder Woman teams up with the Man of SteelSuperman, not to mention a budding young super hero! But can they defeat the brutish Titano?

ClaymatesWhen Wonder Woman prepares to fly a collection of Amazonian artifacts back to Paradise Island, she unwittingly attracts the attention of one of Batman’s rogue’s gallery –Clayface!

The comic includes two pull out posters too...

If you have difficulty finding Wonder Woman Special Edition in the shops yoiu can buy it directly from Titan at this link:

Titan also publish several other DC comics that are available in WH Smith and selected shops, or you can subscribe to them here:

My thanks to Titan Comics for supplying the information and images. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This week's COMMANDO releases, on sale 18/5/2017

The latest intel direct from Commando H.Q.

Offering four singular World War Two adventures, issues 5019 – 5022 of Commando delve into the comic’s classic roots, while delivering distinctive twists on archetypal tales. From battle torn French villages to the choppy waves of the English Channel, our heroes come in Matilda tanks, Henschel 126s, and Air Sea Rescue motor launches...and sometimes they fight on both sides…

5019: Home of Heroes: Tank Commander

| Story | Ferg Handley | Art |Vila | Cover | Janek Matysiak |

Two tanks take centre stage in Janek’s stunningly realistic cover, as one Matilda’s gun barrel fires, the explosion mirrored where the shell hits the rival Panzer. However, this diminution of the war, focusing on only one squadron’s battle, acts as a microcosm, offering more attention to the characters, but keeping the stakes as high as ever.

Handley’s story focuses on Lieutenant Mark Watmore, stranded in the French Hamlet, Saint-Nadine, and tasked with covering the allies retreat to Dunkirk. But when a lone Matilda tank crawls into the quiet Hamlet, crewed by its squad’s lone survivor, Sergeant Jack Taylor, who warns Watmore of approaching Jerries, they have only one choice: to train Watmore’s men in the tank and use it to defend their position!

Filled with Vila’s strong-jawed Tommies, and stunning attention to uniform and vehicles, “Tank Commander” is a great addition to any collection.

5020: The Gold Collection: Sea Ace

| Story | Brunt | Art | Gordon C. Livingstone |Cover | Gordon C. Livingstone |

Originally Commando No. 346 (July 1968) reprinted No. 1071 (October 1976)

Brunt’s timeless story from 1968 is a Commando classic of friends turned rivals, allowing a varied view on war, duty, revenge and morality. In it, Norman Scott, an Air Sea Rescue pacifist wants only to save lives instead of taking them. Norman had witnessed loss and suffering on both sides from WWI, but Hugh Webster, a friend from his past, is blinded by revenge for his father’s mental degradation as a result of shell-shock from the trenches. Webster wants the Germans to pay – no matter the cost - and he won’t let Norman get in his way…

Emphasising this rivalry, Gordon C. Livingstone’s cover highlights the dynamic binary of the characters by dissecting the page with the wing of Focke-Wulf 190, separating the red from yellow in the sky.

5021: Action and Adventure: Caught in Crossfire

| Story | George Low |Art | Rodriguez & Morahin | Cover | David Alexander |

Rodriguez and Morahin’s cinematic artwork takes the reader from the dark, clammy interiors of the Burmese jungle to the perilous, icy heights of the Swiss Alps, the artists’ sense of scale adding to the tension of George Low’s gripping story of cat-and-mouse. It is this scene above Alps that David Alexander’s moody cover takes inspiration from, as we see a Henschel 126 strafing in the wind, tailed by two aircraft on either side, as lightning strikes against the snow-capped peaks behind them!

Belonging to one of the “the evilest alliances ever formed”, Captain Isamu Nagata, an intelligence officer of the Imperial Japanese Army no longer believes in the war. But after accidentally shooting a German looter, Nagata is forced on the run, taking him across borders and against enemy and ally alike. For him surrender is no option...

5022: The Silver Collection: Trouble Trooper

| Story | C. G. Walker | Art | Keith Shone | Cover | Alan Burrows |

Originally Commando No. 2594 (August 1992)

Alan Burrows’s cover is pure Commando grit, creating a thrilling pairing with C. G. Walker’s story of one of Commando’s most “likable rogues”, Trooper Bill Bourne. Notorious for going A.W.O.L., despite his best intentions, Bourne is no stranger to trouble, or breaking the rules… But when war breaks out, Bourne must learn to obey orders and stick with his team.

Charmingly drawn with thick, curly hair and a cheeky grin, Keith Shone’s illustrations of Bourne really capture the charismatic vagabond, while robbers in fedoras and trench coats, along with bleeding gutters between the panels add to the lure of his artwork and fully compliment Walker’s exhilarating story.

Grab a COMIC BOOK HERO this September!

Here's the cover illustrated by David Sque for Comic Book Hero, Working with Britain's Picture-Strip Legends written by Barrie Tomlinson. It'll be published in September and will reveal the background stories to IPC comics such as Tiger, Speed, the new EagleScream, and more, told from Barrie's perspective as a senior editor on the comics back then. 

Books revealing the inside story of the comics industry are a must for aficionados of comics history and I'm sure this will be the perfect companion to Barrie's previous book Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff!

You can read more about the book on the Down the Tubes blog today: 

There's also more info on Comic Book Hero at the publisher's website here:

Barrie Tomlinson, David Sque and other guests will be appearing at Lancaster Comics Day on 11th June:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Leopard changes its spots

I recently showed you the cover to Rebellion's upcoming Leopard from Lime Street book, but it looks like that wasn't the final version. On the left you'll see the cover previously shown, and on the right is the new design. Personally I think the new design is much more striking and has a better composition. What do you think?

The book is available to pre-order now from the 2000AD shop...

...and there's also a (very) limited edition hardback version (of just 200 copies) that comes with a bookplate and art print.

The book will be published on 12th July.

Rebellion's Treasury of British Comics series of books now has its own Facebook page too!

Return to WORLDS END

Back in 2012, artist/writer Tim Perkins self published his impressive and enjoyable fantasy graphic novel Worlds End - Riders on the Storm. You can read my review of it here: )

Since then, Tim has been hard at work creating the second volume in the series, Worlds End - A Hard Reign's Gonna Fall, and it's now ready to pre-order. The book will be published later this year but there are incentives for those who pre-order. Tim explains them below...

ORDER IN ADVANCE NOW and receive at least one of our Incentives.

Incentive 1: All Pre-Orders paid for prior to the release date being announced later in 2017 will receive a Limited Edition, Signed & Numbered Worlds End Print - Which will only ever be given away with this offer.

Incentive 2: The FIRST 100 Pre-Orders paid for prior the final date of Publication will also receive an Original Remarked Limited Edition, Signed & Numbered Worlds End Print. Remarked Prints will have a unique original sketch by Tim added to the print to complete the illustration - No two sketches will be the same. This will also only ever be given away with this offer.

Incentive 3: All Pre-Orders paid for prior to the release date being announced later in 2017 will have their Order Number placed into a Wizards Hat. There will then be a Grand Draw on the evening of Monday July 31st 2017 at 8:00pm. 
One very lucky Pre-Order Fan/Customer will have their name drawn out of a wizard’s hat. There, the lucky winner will see their names translated by Tim into the fantasy language used by the indigenous peoples of the mediaeval world of Gaeyrth and immortalised forever by being added to the intricately detailed Worlds End Map of Gaeyrth in the front pages of the book. Their names becoming the name of a place or city or even an island or continent.
Their name will appear alongside such stalwarts of the comic industry, as Jack Kirby - K'rby • Alex Toth - Tothe • Frank Frazetta - Fr' Zytta • Mike Ploog - Plooogg.

Incentive 4: All Pre-Orders paid for prior to the release date being announced later in 2017 will have their Order Number placed into a Wizards Hat. There will then be a Grand Draw on the morning of Monday 25th December at 9:00am.
The fourth incentive is for one very lucky Pre-Order Fan/Customer to have their name drawn out of a wizard's hat and then see them supplied with heavy duty, Worlds End-themed washable wallpaper using the Mural Artz technique to customise a wall in their house, office, studio, garage or den or wherever they want it to hang.

The image area can be up to a size of 12 Feet in width by 8 Feet high. It will come as rolls of wallpaper. All you need to do is carefully hang or employ a decorator to hang it for you.

The lucky winner will be given a few options to choose from between artwork from one of the double page spreads or else panels and logos from the first two books, put together and made into patterned wallpaper.

Publication Date to be announced.
COMING SOON! Order here:

This is the second in the series of "Science Fusion" graphic novels created by international comic artist and writer, Tim Perkins.

This fully painted, All-Ages book is set on another world called Gaeryth, where a Mathemagician, called Gweldar, his familiar, Geek, a young boy, Ralf and a mysterious girl called Zephol continue to be all that stand before an invading alien horde intent on aqua-forming the otherwise tranquil planet in the far reaches of space.

Are they enough to stop the myriad forces, known as the Aoevill from the depths of outer space and solve the mystery of Worlds End…?
"Will a little Magik be enough?"

Tim Perkins continues to weave a timeless All-Ages storyline fusing Fantasy and Sci-Fi into a Science Fusion Epic with a NEW mythology for a new audience.
European Format - Case Bound Cover - Fully illustrated - 88 full colour pages + Cover and illustrated Endpapers
Foreword by David Lloyd - Introduction by Bruce Zick - Afterword by Tim Perkins
ISBN: 978-0-9570310-1-2

Support independent British comics and pre-order Worlds End: A Hard Reign's Gonna Fall today!

Sample pages before lettering is added...

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