Friday, August 18, 2017

Combat Colin goes to second printing

Combat Colin No.1 has sold well since its launch at Macc-Pow! on 1st July. Stocks were running low so I've had a second printing done. The boxes have just turned up, and Stuart Gould at has done another excellent job printing them. 

If you haven't ordered a copy yet and you'd like to, you can buy issue 1 directly from me at my online shop:

UK orders only at present. I'll work out international rates soon.

Egmont launch new comic for girls

Egmont UK have recently launched DC Superhero Girls, a new monthly magazine based on the cartoon series of the same name. It includes a comic strip illustrated by Spanish artist Ferran Rodriguez and you can find out more about his work here:

DC Superhero Girls No.1 comes with cover-mounted gifts and a price of £4.99 (although subsequent issues will sometimes be £3.99 depending on cover mount). It also includes activity pages and posters of the characters. 

It's good to see a publishers wising up to the fact that superheroes appeal to girls as well as boys. "DC Super Hero Girls centres on the female Super Heroes and Super-Villains of DC as they explore their teen years and discover their Super Hero potential. DC Super Hero Girls taps into today’s zeitgeist moment of girl empowerment to deliver storytelling that promotes character and confidence, and empowers girls to discover their own true potential", says Egmont.

For more info, and to see the video ad for the comic, visit the Egmont website:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Convention update

I can now reveal another date for my convention calendar as Preston Comic Con have just announced me as a guest for their event. It takes place on Saturday 23rd September at the Guild Hall, Preston, and you can find out more info here:

I have to point out that I did not draw the Beano cover shown on the advert. (It's by Nigel Parkinson.) I can only guess they used a Beano cover to grab people's attention. 

Here's the updated list of the rest of my convention appearances for this year...

9th September 2017
Holiday Inn,

23rd September 2017
The Guild Hall,

1st October 2017
Sports Connexion,
Leamington Road,
Ryton On Dunsmore,
CV8 3FL.

13th to 15th October 2017

22nd October 2017
Loughborough Leisure Centre,

To be announced. 
10th to 12th November 2017
More info soon.

25th/26th November 2017
Rivermead Leisure Complex

I've also been booked for two events for 2018 but I'll reveal those after the organisers have announced them. 

I hope to see you at some of these shows. I'll be there sketching and selling copies of my comics so drop by my table!

The return of Fighting American!

Cover by Duke Mighten.
Back in the 1950's Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, creators of Captain America, set about creating a new patriotic superhero. Fighting American was the result, and his short-lived adventures were published by Harvey Comics. The strips were fun, a bit crazy, and Fighting American and his assistant Speedboy fought quite a few Commies. Well, it was the 1950s! 

These days, with the political landscape of America being so dark, a President who's a narcissistic moron, and even Captain America being the leader of Neo-Nazi group Hydra, perhaps it's time for the re-emergence of an old hero for a bit of escapism. This October, British company Titan Comics will launch Fighting American No.1, bringing the hero forward in time to 2017! 

Here's the PR...

Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artist: Duke Mighten
FC – 32pp – $3.99 – On sale: October 11, 2017

The Cold War superhero returns – originally launched in 1954 by the creators of Captain America, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby!
When the 1950s heroes find themselves trapped in the modern world, how will they handle what society has become, and what dangers will they face?

With new villains to contend with and enemies from their past pursuing them, what daring adventures could Fighting American and Speedboy find themselves in now?

On sale in comics speciality shops across the UK and USA on October 11th, 2017, - Joe Simon's birthday. 

Out today from Panini UK

Panini's latest Marvel Collector's Edition comics are out today, available from WH Smith and selected newsagents (and comic shops).

Marvel Legends Vol. 3 #14. On sale 17th August 2017.

100-Page Action-Packed Special, Featuring Marvel’s ‘Big 3’ – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor! £3.99!

A Civil War II chapter! While the war is tearing the super-human community apart, Captain America tries to bring peace! 

Plus, A Civil War II chapter! Civil War II takes its toll. Can Iron Man and Captain Marvel come to an agreement that will end the bloodshed?!!

Also, The Asgard/Shi'ar War begins! To defeat Malekith, Thor must form a new League of Realms! 

By Nick Spencer, Jesús Saiz, Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman!

Includes material reprinted from Captain America: Steve Rogers #6, Invincible Iron Man Vol. 8 #14, and Thor #12, 13 and 14!

Astonishing Spider-Man Vol.6 #27. On sale 17th August 2017. 

76 pages of action-packed arachnid-adventure! Only £3.99!

A Clone Conspiracy chapter! We finally learn the shocking truth: how did Ben Reilly become The Jackal?!

Also, Silk versus Spider-Woman! ‘Nuff said!

Plus, a Civil War II chapter! Iron Man asks Spider-Man the all-important question: 
Whose side are you on?!!
By Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Robbie Thompson, Irene Strychalski, Brian Michael Bendis and Nico Leon.

Includes material reprinted from Amazing Spider-Man #22, Silk #15 and Spider-Man: Miles Morales #6.

Doctor Who and the Bookshops

I thought I'd give a plug for Panini's wonderful Doctor Who graphic novels as I rarely mention them here. These weighty large size softbacks reprint the Doctor Who comic strip serials from Doctor Who Magazine into handy complete collections. There's often also behind-the-scenes features on the strips as back-up articles too.

There have been more than 20 books in this line published over the years, and the newest is Doorway to Hell, gathering recent 12th Doctor stories, including his encounter with the original Master! It'll be out in September officially, but the DWM team say you might find some in shops already.

As there are still older stories to be reprinted, you never know what will turn up in this series. The previous book was Emperor of the Daleks, collecting a 7th Doctor story from the 1980s issues of DWM!

I know a few fans have said they'd like to see some of the 3rd Doctor strips from Countdown / TV Action collected into a future volume. There are no plans to do that yet, as far as I know, but Who knows...? 

The idea of books collecting comic serials has been the norm in Europe and Japan for many decades, and it's good that the practice has been employed in the UK for a few years now too. I really think this is one way forward for British comics at the moment. With these Doctor Who books, plus collections from Titan, The Phoenix, 2000AD, and Rebellion's Treasury of British Comics line, and all the new graphic novels published by companies such as Self Made Hero, bookshops are becoming the place to go to discover comics. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Children's newsstand comics: state of the industry 2017

Over on his Down the Tubes website, John Freeman has the latest circulation figures for British newsstand comics and children's magazines. (Or at least the ones that supply their info.) It makes for grim reading, with most titles having suffered sales dips since last year.

Of course, the reasons for the decline are many and varied. It's never as simple as some people think it is. Content is one reason of course (a branded comic will only appeal to fans of that brand for example), then there's price, distribution, and the complex ways of suppliers deciding which shops get what, regardless of what a retailer might prefer.

In my opinion, one major drawback for publishers today is the unkempt way in which their mags are stuffed into shelves. Not always by customers having a browse, but by the actual retail staff. Take a look at the photos here that I took a few months ago. For the most part, the displays are unattractive and very few titles stand out. 
Admittedly, the fact they're bagged with toys doesn't help, but bear in mind it's the retail giants that have insisted on that. The design of the shelves isn't helpful either, but again, that's deliberate. The more a publisher pays the retail giants for stocking a title, the more prominent it's displayed. (In theory anyway, if the shelf-stackers have read the memo and can be bothered to follow it.) So the shelves are designed as to not give every title equal visibility. As for titles that haven't paid the higher fees for display, - they're relegated to the darkness at the back of the shelves. One rule for the rich... and people wonder why new publishers don't launch a comic.

Incredibly, comics and children's magazines are sometimes displayed out of the reach of their target audience! It's the parents they're pitched at, so bang goes the days of a child discovering a comic that catches his/her eye. Yet even if a child did manage to notice a title that seemed interesting, they couldn't browse through it because it's usually bagged. Therefore the plastic gifts become the main attraction. "That cheap water pistol that was with a mag last month broke five minutes after using it. Oh, there's a similar one with a different mag. That'll do." 

How can that build reader loyalty? (Or brand loyalty, as that seems to be the key phrase these days.) 
How's a kid going to notice that Lego Batman comic on the top shelf?
I'm really not sure what the solution is. We have a generation (and their parents) who have grown up expecting UK comics to be based on a brand, and expecting them to be bagged with gifts. Previous generations had developed a habit of going to the newsagent every week to buy their favourite comic and read about their favourite characters. Today's kids haven't developed that habit, and instead have the privilege of lots of other things to distract them at the weekends.

There's also been a change in society's attitudes since the heyday of comics. Years ago, children as young as 8 would venture out on their own or with their mates, and after the Saturday movie matinee at the local ABC cinema they'd spend the rest of their pocket money on stuff they'd discovered for themselves, including comics. Parents put trust in telling their kids not to go off with strangers and to be home by dark and, for the large majority of kids, everyone was relatively safe. This isn't conjecture. Myself and my friends were part of that generation. It's what we did. The freedom of the 1960s.

It's a far murkier world today, and with a fear of drug pushers and perverts preying on their offspring, parents daren't let kids out of their sight. (In fact, if an 8 year old was in town shopping these days on his own I think social services would have firm words with the parents.) Subsequently, that whole culture of kids seeking out comics for themselves has vanished. They're often chosen by the parent now. 

Some things don't change though. The Beano still hangs in there because it's always stood its ground and pretty much remained faithful to its original concept; a comics-focused publication that has encouraged reader loyalty with enduring and familiar characters. As it's been around for so long it's become a recognisable brand in itself. Therefore it sells on its own merits and rarely carries free gifts. 

The Phoenix seems steady, but it relies mainly on subscription and its presence in shops is minimal. (My local Smiths takes two copies, and stuffs them at the back.) However, perhaps its success should be an incentive for more publishers to follow that model, if they can find backers with deep enough pockets to sustain it. 

From my experiences meeting families at conventions I know that children do like comics, even if they haven't developed the habit of buying them regularly. That's why I think graphic novels and specials with a longer shelf life are the most likely way for newsstand / bookshop comics to survive. We can't turn the clock back to the 20th Century heyday of weekly comics, so there's no point yearning for that, but we can move forward with new ideas for the future.

If you have thoughts about this, either post them on John's article at or on my blog below.

Justice League of Britain

Licensing brands is a complex thing. Titan Comics have the rights to publish a UK Justice League comic, and Panini UK publish a Scooby-Doo comic, but here we are with Parragon Books (part of D.C. Thomson) publishing annuals for Justice League and Scooby-Doo

Such is the strange world of publishing. If you're interested in these books you can order them directly from the D.C. Thomson online shop here:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Comic Cuts Seaside Holiday Number (from 1923)

Back before the days of the Summer Special, weekly comics had a holiday theme to their regular issues. One of which being Comic Cuts No.1735, dated August 11th 1923, which was re-named for this week as Comic Cuts Seaside Holiday Number. Let's take a quick look at some of the content.

The cover strip was The Adventures of Jolly Tom, the Menagerie Man, and was drawn by Percy Cocking, one of Amalgamated Press' top artists. (He also illustrated Weary Willie and Tired Tim on the cover of Chips at this time, along with many other strips.)

The format of this "special" was exactly the same as any other week; 8 tabloid sized pages in black and white. (The standard format of comics of the time.) There was an equal balance of prose stories and comic strips, with the centre pages featuring lots of short strips. Here are three of them...

Page 7 had a busy layout of humourous stories, cartoons, ads, and the "Orfice Boy" recounting his trip to Margate...

On the back page... an sad reflection of how black people were regarded back then, re-presented here for historical purposes and to help give younger readers an inkling of what they had to put up with. I believe the artist of Comic Cuts Colony was Julius Stafford Baker. I'm sure the intention was just a "bit of fun" with no intended malice but it's still dehumanising a race. I've heard the argument that "everyone was caricatured back then, including white people". No. Not to the extent of the grotesque exaggerations of black characters, as one can see by comparing Comic Cuts Colony to the strip beneath it. In comics back then, white characters had slight exaggerations, whilst non-whites were completely distorted and depicted as almost sub-human (and referred to in racist terms). We need to ensure we never return to those days. 

There's a new PULL LIST available

Cover by Darrell Thorpe
An essential read for anyone who's interested in the British comics scene, The Pull List is a downloadable digital magazine that features previews, interviews, and reviews of recommended titles and creators.

Superbly designed, The Pull List No.7 is the latest issue and contains interviews with Rozi Hathaway, Matthew Dooley, Darrel Thorpe, Sarah Millman and more.

There are also features and opinions on recent shows MCM London, ICE Brighton, and ELCAF 2017. 

The back of the magazine features several pages of reviews, and the Cosmic Cliff comic strip by Marc Jackson. 

The Pull List provides a great service in informing people of indie and small press titles that they might otherwise be unaware of. It reminds me in that regard of Paul Gravett's Fast Fiction zine of the 1980s that provided a similar benefit to indie creators back then. 

How much does this splendid magazine cost you may ask? Just .99p (or more if you're feeling generous) and you can download it from here:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Challengers of the UK

Back in the post-World War Two years, Britain still had restrictions on what it could import, and American comics were obviously not a priority. Therefore various British publishers such as Len Miller gained the rights to produce reprint editions of popular U.S. titles such as Captain Marvel, Human Torch, various crime and horror comics, etc. 

Fast forward to the late 1950s/early '60s and although distribution of American comics was starting to build up, there were still several UK editions being published. One of them being Challengers of the Unknown, that Leicester-based company Thorpe and Porter were publishing. 

As I understand it, the UK edition of Challengers of the Unknown ran for four issues in 1960. The issue I have (shown here) is No.2, consisting of 68 pages in black and white on pulp paper. The same format that Alan Class used for his long running comics. 

This issue reprinted two American DC comics:

The Wizard of Time from Challengers of the Unknown No.4 (Oct/Nov 1958).
Writer/penciller: Jack Kirby. Inker: Wally Wood

The Men Who Lost Their Memories and The Plot to Destroy Earth, both with art by Bob Brown, reprinted from Challengers of the Unknown No.9 (Aug/Sept 1959).

There's also a short story, I Was the Gulliver of Space reprinted from Tales of the Unexpected No.32 (Dec. 1958) and various one page prose stories and features from DC comics of the period.

Thorpe and Porter also had British editions of other DC comics advertised in this issue, such as The Flash and Mr.District Attorney.

The company also had the rights to reprint comics from other publishers too, so this issue also carries ads for Adventures Into The Unknown and Mad magazine. Mad of course became the most enduring of these UK editions and continued publishing until at least 1989 (after which the US edition was imported to newsagents, and still is.)

I think the UK editions of the DC comics were phased out not long after this issue was published, and replaced by imported DC comics. Thorpe and Porter handled the distribution, and you may remember their distinctive purple T&P stamp with the UK price on the covers of imported American comics of the sixties and seventies. 

These days, history has repeated itself in a way. American comics are no longer distributed to newsagents but Panini publish British editions of Marvel comics whilst Titan publish British editions of DC comics. Sadly they're not as well distributed as the UK editions of long ago but you should find them in your nearest WH Smith. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Preview: 2000AD Prog 2044, - out next week

Courtesy of Rebellion, here's a preview of next week's 2000AD, which will be in the shops on Wednesday 16th August.

UK & DIGITAL: 16th August 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 16th September 2017 $7.99

In this issue:

Judge Dredd: Ouroboros by Michael Carroll (w) Paul Marshal (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

The Alienist: Inhuman Natures by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beebie (w) Eoin Coveney (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Greysuit: Foul Play by Pat Mills (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Grey Area: Signal Six Twenty-Four by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Hope: ... For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) (c) Simon Bowland (l)

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

KIRBY 100!

A perfect choice for the book's cover, representing Kirby's powerful, imaginative style.
Although this is primarily a blog about British comics, there's been a lot of Jack Kirby's work reprinted over here so I thought readers might be interested in this. It's been 100 years since Kirby's birth, and to commemorate the late artist's work, TwoMorrows have published a new book. Here's the details...

The party starts here! TwoMorrows and the Jack Kirby Collector magazine celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday in style with the release of Kirby100, a full-color visual holiday for the King of comics! It features an all-star line-up of 100 comics pros who critique key images from Kirby’s 50-year career, admiring his page layouts, dramatics, and storytelling skills, and lovingly reminiscing about their favorite characters and stories. Featured are Bruce Timm, Alex Ross, Drew Friedman, Walter Simonson, John Byrne, Joe Sinnott, Steve Rude, Adam Hughes, Wendy Pini, John Romita Sr., Dave Gibbons, P. Craig Russell, and dozens more of the top names in comics. Their essays serve to honor Jack’s place in comics history, and prove (as if there’s any doubt) that Kirby is King! This double-length book is edited by John Morrow and Jon B. Cooke, with a Kirby cover inked by Mike Royer.
Diamond Comic Distributors Order Code: MAY171932
224-page FULL-COLOR Trade Paperback, $34.95 • Digital Edition, $12.95 (Sorry, the Limited Hardcover Edition is sold out!)
You can view a free preview and order here:

Order it from Amazon and other booksellers here:

Judge Dredd gets The Lawless Touch

Now that Rebellion own the rights to many of the post-1970 IPC comics they've been dusting off the archives to present some classics to new readers. Their range of Treasury of British Comics graphic novels is already off to a good start with One-Eyed Jack and The Leopard from Lime Street, and now another 1970s strip reappears next week.

Not being a long enough story to warrant a book, this classic will appear as a bagged comic with Judge Dredd Megazine No.387, on sale Wednesday 16th August. The Lawless Touch originally appeared in issues 11 to 22 of the short-lived weekly comic Tornado in 1979, created by Kelvin Gosnell, Steve McManus and Barrie Mitchell (with other creatives working on later episodes). 

Judge Dredd Megazine features all-new content, with the bagged reprint usually featuring old 2000AD material so it's good to see Rebellion expanding the concept to cover other strips. Hopefully more classic material will be considered for future issues. The Megazine also features an article on the upcoming Marney the Fox collection, with a new interview with artist John Stokes.

UK & DIGITAL: 16th August 2017 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 16th September 2017 $13

In this issue:

Judge Dredd: Platinum Wednesday by Rory McConville (w) Joel Carpenter (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Anderson PSI Division: NWO by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Havn by Si Spencer (w) Henry Flint (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Dredd: Furies by Arthur Watt, Alex Di Campi (w) Paul Davidson (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

The Dark Judges: Dominion by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Len O'Grady (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Interviews: John Stokes, Liam Sharp

Reprint edition: The Lawless Touch (from Tornado) by Kelvin Gosnell, Steve MacManus, R. Tuffnell (w) Barry Mitchell, Mike White, John Cooper, John Richardson, John Higgins (a), Pete Knight (l)

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

Friday, August 11, 2017


As this blog has picked up quite a few new followers in recent times I thought you might be interested in a multi-part post I did several years back about the classic free gifts of decades ago.

Long-time collectors will remember how these cheap and cheerful gifts were mainly constricted of cardboard or plastic and inserted inside the comics. There were no bulky toys bagged with comics back then. The old style gifts were designed so the comics could still be displayed flat on a newsagent's counter. 

Anyway, without any further ado, here are the links to my old posts on the subject. I hope you enjoy them...

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