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Friday, February 24, 2017

Comic Cuts - 24 February 2017

This will be a short 'n' sweet entry as there's very little to report. I had an article about financial reports to re-write, which will hopefully now be OK – the editor wanted it beefing up and I've added some examples of what I was talking about; hopefully it will now be OK and I can get on with the next one.

That aside I've been working on the Valiant index – the actual index element of the book – compiling contents listings for all the annuals and summer specials that I can get my hands on. I'm missing four spin-off annuals and three of the summer specials, so if anyone can help that would be brilliant. If you know any collectors who might have copies, or you're on a forum where Valiant collectors might gather, let them know, please, as I'm trying to make the book definitive.

So... I'm after content listings for these summer specials:

I'll be even happier if I can get scans of the contents, as it will give me a chance to identify artists and sources of reprints.

I'm also after contents/scans of the three Valiant Book of Sport volumes, plus this stray spin-off:

Random scans: as Broadchurch is about to begin its third season, I thought I'd put up some covers of  recent tie-ins to shows I like. I found the first two seasons of Broadchurch riveting – I know some people thought the second season wasn't as good, but I thought it was gripping... and an incredibly brave move to show the consequences of the first season rather than brush them mostly under the carpet, as is the habit of most TV detective shows. Let's hope the third season doesn't let us down.

Mel isn't a fan of Homeland, but I've stayed faithful and watched all the seasons to date. The new season is being shown at the moment but I'm letting episodes build up on the box until I get a chance to binge watch a few episodes at a time. Not the whole show, just a few episodes. Even the most avid watcher must allow Claire Danes some time to recover from being so miserable. What will make Carrie cry this season?

I think Mel would, on the other hand, wholeheartedly recommend Scott & Bailey, which we only started watching with the second season. I enjoyed it, but it was the third (?) season, the one with Nicola Walker, that really turned me into a fan of the show. We love Nicola Walker – me since her days in Spooks, Mel since her appearance in Sue Perkins' Heading Out. We've just finished watching Unforgotten, which is another excellent crime series.

Broadchurch by Erin Kelly
Sphere 978-075155558-5, 2014, 433pp, £7.99. Cover photo by Colin Hutton Photography

Dead To Me by Cath Staincliffe
Corgi 978-0552-16715-4, 2012, 392pp, £6.99. Cover photos by Tanneke Peetoom/Trigger Image & Mark Owen

Bleed Like Me by Cath Staincliffe
Corgi 978-0552-16872-4, 2013, 346pp, £7.99. Cover photo by Matt Squire

Homeland: Carrie's Run by Andrew Kaplan
Harper 978-0007-94653-2, 2013, 358pp, £7.99. Cover photo © Showtime Networks

Homeland: Saul's Game by Andrew Kaplan
Harper 978-0007-94660-0, 2014, 341pp, £7.99. Cover photo © Showtime Networks

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Commando issues 4995-4998

Commando issues on sale 23rd February 2017

Commando – 4995 – The Village
By spring, 1945, the Reich’s forces were in full retreat and Allied troops were pushing into Germany. So when Sergeant Matt Geary and his small squadron moved into the small village of Langhirten, he wasn’t expecting much resistance.
    They took the village from the S.S. battalion easily and they repelled the German’s counterattack with little issue. But after the S.S.’s third attempt to seize back the village, Matt became suspicious. Langhirten had no strategic value and the Germans were supposed to be retreating… So what was so important about Langhirten?
    What secrets were hidden in… The Village?

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando – 4996 – Hurricane!
Imagine a Russian squadron whose ancient biplanes have been swept out of the sky by speedy Me 109s. They’re thirsting for revenge.
    Then comes along Kirk Roland with a trainload of superfast Hurricanes, ready to risk his life in teaching the Russian pilots how to hit back hard. You’d have thought they would welcome him with open arms!
    But they didn’t. They hated Kirk, and his planes, from the moment he arrived.

Prepare for take-off with another high-flying adventure from the Commando archives! Newark explores the winning, but often tense, relationship between Britain’s R.A.F. pilots and Soviet Russia’s air force in this tale of team work. Steeped in history, Newark celebrates the collaboration between the allies, but also confronts the differing opinions held during this time. It is particularly interesting to see Soviet Russia’s female pilots (the first women pilots in the world to be allowed to fly combat missions) being represented and well-respected in this issue.
    Accompanied by Repetto’s astonishing artwork, Hurricane! is a fast-paced air adventure, worthy of another outing.—The Commando Team.

Story: Newark
Art: Repetto
Cover: Ken Barr
Hurricane!, originally Commando No. 296 (November 1967)

Commando - 4997 – Hidden Nazis
In 1945, after the German surrender, Nazis guilty of heinous war crimes attempted to flee or conceal themselves in post-war Germany. Lieutenant Sam Watling’s job was to find them.
    But he had help. An unknown hand aided Sam in his quest for justice, unmarked envelopes and tips were left at his desk – behind them a secret informant.
    Someone was helping Sam catch Hidden Nazis.

Story: George Low
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando - 4998 – Jailbreak Heroes
Three men on the run – but running into danger instead of away from it. For when ex-Sergeant Mike Stone got the chance to escape from Polworth Military Prison in England, he decided to head back to the front line in France to seek revenge on the cowardly officer who had betrayed him.
    And the honest ex-Sergeant was surprised to find how glad he was when two other jailbirds, Alf Barstow and Lefty Briggs, insisted on tagging along too…

Nothing propels a storyline better than a personal vendetta. Forlorn and bitter, Mike Stone is desperate to clear his name after being falsely imprisoned for cowardice and striking an officer. The urgency of Veteran writer, Alan Hebden’s plot is coupled perfectly with Keith Shone’s masterful interior art.
    Ian Kennedy shines once again and provides a dynamic cover illustration which does its job splendidly, framing the tone of the action contained within this Commando’s pages.—The Commando Team.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Jailbreak Heroes, originally Commando No. 2493 (August 1991)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 22 February 2017.

2000AD 40th Anniversary Special
Cover: (A) Carlos Ezquerra; (B) David Aja
Interlude 01 by Jock (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Judge Dredd: Blood by John Wagner (w) Carl Critchlow (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Interlude 02 by Rufus Dayglo (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Zombo: Z.O.M.B.0 by Al Ewing (w) Henry Flint (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Interlude 03 by Mark Sexton (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Ro-Busters: Seeing Red by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Terra-Meks poster by Cliff Robinson
Interlude 04 by Patrick Goddard (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Durham Red: The Judas Strain by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Interlude 05 by Bryan Talbot (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Sláine: Red Branch by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Interlude 06 by Mike Collins (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Nikolai Dante: Devil May Care by Robbie Morrison (w) Simon Fraser (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

2000AD Prog 2019
Cover: Greg Staples
Judge Dredd: Deep In The Heart by Michael Carroll (w) Henry Flint (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Kingmaker by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Kingdom: As It Is In Heaven by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
The Order:  Wyrm War by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Sinister Dexter: One-Hit Wonder by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Comic World - 25th Anniversary

A long, long time ago in a town not so far away, I edited a magazine called Comic World, which began 25 years ago and ran for about three and a half years. The first issue was born into the world on 21 February 1992 and was originally called Comic Collector, a title it was saddled with for seven issues before I managed to persuade the powers that be that having "Collector" in the title was limiting the potential market.

At a meeting I argued my case with no empirical evidence that this was true. It was just a gut feeling. Although I was never privy to sales figures, the circulation must have been on a steady slide downwards as I was informed that the pagination and the budget was to be cut.

Issue 8 was to be the issue we took to UKCAC, so I changed the logo... and earned myself a bollocking for blithely changing the title before anyone else in "the trade" was informed—our distributors would normally have demanded months of preparation for a title change to make sure that shops and other outlets were informed.

It wasn't the first (or last) mistake I made. Sometimes, on those odd occasions I look back, I wonder how on earth we managed to get as far as 43 issues... or even one issue as I had zero experience and the first issue went from conception to being sent off to the printers in under two months.

I'd left a job in London in September 1990 and had spent over a year researching and writing a book (The Mushroom Jungle) and various stories and articles; I wasn't selling enough of the latter to pay for the time spent on the former, and by the end of 1991 was struggling to pay the rent on the shitty flat I was living in despite it being dirt cheap. The flat was above a newsagents and I'd pop down every morning to pick up any mail and, on one particular Friday, a copy of the Essex Chronicle "on tick" as I hadn't any money to pay for it.

My intention was to look in the jobs section and use what loose change I had (two ten pence coins) to phone for application forms. On this particular Friday morning, I received a letter from a publishing firm in Colchester which appeared to be offering me the chance to write for an upcoming new magazine. Could I give the editor a ring?

We didn't have a phone in the flat, so I used the phone at our local pub as my contact point. So instead of using my last 20p to find proper work, I risked it on a call to Colchester. The call resulted in being asked to meet the group editor on Monday. I had to borrow the train fare but it was worth the trip as, by the end of the meeting, I had been offered the job of editor.

This was a week or two before Christmas and the first task was to find some writers. The publisher had heard of me through the owner of ACE Comics which I had been visiting regularly for five or six years at that point. I knew the staff well, and had written for their magazine After Image in 1987-88. The editor was Lance Rickman, and he was the first person I hired to write for the new magazine, along with Norman Wright and Paul Gravett. I believe the group editor had already spoken to Mike Conroy and I somehow made contact with Dave Dickson, who was a music journalist with an interest in comics.

Other contributors to early issues included Phil Hall, Mike Kidson, Simon Jowett and the indefatigable Alan Woollcombe, who was to become the magazine's most prolific contributor. I got to know of Alan early in the process of putting the magazine together—my memory may be playing tricks but I think he was recommended by someone at Marvel UK. We met up ahead of Angouleme, which we were both planning to attend and I believe we were staying at the same slightly-out-of-town hotel.

There's a lot that could be written about Angouleme: how one of the Comic Collector advertising staff almost caused an international incident over a typo... how daytime drinking got the better of me and brought a couple of muddled, incomprehensible interviews to a hasty end... all I can say is that I was celebrating getting the first issue written and had left it with our designer before heading out to France and was giddy with all the excitement and lack of sleep. Oddly enough, my heavy drinking didn't get a mention in the report written for issue two.

It isn't my intention to go into the complete history of the magazine—maybe one day when I've finally severed my connections with the publisher—but I'm going to take this opportunity to say a big hello and thank you to all the writers who worked on Comic Collector and Comic World. The magazine didn't pay brilliantly, so I tried to build up a small team of regular contributors, which meant that writers like Alan, Paul Birch, Richard Hill. Steve Cook—and latecomer Warren Ellis—contributed to most issues and were guaranteed a cheque at the end of the month. Again, a more comprehensive list of contributors will have to wait for another day... you know who you are and I hope you have some fond memories of the magazine.

I was very proud of Comic World, but sometimes you have to put your favourite things away and move on with your life, which is what happened with Comic World. When it folded in 1994, I put whatever copies I had in boxes and shoved them up in the loft. We were working on two other monthly magazines at that time and there wasn't much time for sentimentality... and, frankly, we didn't have the space with two of us working from home.

When Mel and I moved a few years ago, everything from the attic was chain-ganged out and squirreled away in the new house. A few years later I rediscovered five boxes filled with copies of various issues.I listed these for sale back in 2011 and sold quite a few copies. There are still some left, many of them in low numbers. But if you want them I'll be happy to accept £3 a copy including p&p for one issue, add £2 for each subsequent issue (so 3 issues is £7; 5 issues is £11, etc.).

I hope some of you will enjoy seeing the covers again and some of you younger readers might enjoy seeing what was going on in the world of comics twenty-five years ago.

(* Our column header shows two early designs for the magazine by Graham Baldock, who did such a fantastic job on the magazine over the years that I only sacked him once... only to be told the next day by my boss that I didn't have the power to sack him. We worked on a few different titles over the years and, although he retired to Shropshire some years ago, we had a little get-together in 2015, which is when the above photo was taken.)

Comic World cover gallery part 1

I have some spares of some issues (unfortunately, not every issue, but around 36 of the 43). £3 including p&p for one copy, then £2 per issue (so 3 issues = £7; 5 issues = £11, etc.). If you're interested, let me know at the e-mail address you'll find top left, under the photo. Please note that I'm running very low on some numbers – I have less than 5 copies for over half of the remaining run.

Only 1 copy left
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Comic World cover gallery part 2

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Only 1 copy left
Only 1 copy left

Comic World cover gallery part 3


Comic World cover gallery part 4

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And that was the end of Comic World.