Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New GARTH story starts today

Reprints of Garth continue to appear in the Daily Mirror, and today sees the start of another adventure. The Fishermen originally appeared in the paper from March 16th to July 14th 1979, written by Jim Edgar and drawn by Martin Asbury. The reprint now has the addition of full colour for its new appearance thanks to the skills of Martin Baines.

The reprints give us two strips a day, meaning that the serials conclude in half the time that they originally did. The Fishermen should run until sometime in April.

Buy the Daily Mirror to see the strip continue, or follow it online for free at the Mirror's website:

Comic Turns

Every now and then you see an idea that's so brilliant you stop and think "I wish I'd thought of that!" One such concept is Comic Turns by comic artist/writer Karen Rubins. It's a card game where every card is a different panel of a comic strip that can be arranged in any order to tell a different story! Ingenious!

I first saw Karen's prototype of this years ago when it was called Hand of Fate and it's good to see it modified and improved. Karen's looking for backers for the project on Kickstarter and it's an idea that deserves to succeed so I hope you'll help to support it.  

Go to Karen Rubins' Kickstarter page which contains all the information about Comic Turns and what you'll receive for your pledges...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Comic Oddities: WONDER (1968)

Here's a comic from the 1960s that wasn't on sale in any newsagents but still had national distribution. The reason being that Wonder Weekly was published by the Esso Petrolium Company Ltd, and sold at Esso garages.
Wonder was edited by Roberta Leigh, a multi-talented author, artist, composer, and tv producer who was responsible for the cult classic Space Patrol puppet series. She had also created the puppet show Wonder Boy and Tiger, and featured them as the cover stars of the new comic.

Wonder had 16 pages including 4 in full colour, and was printed web offset (like Jag and Cor!! but on slightly thicker paper). It sold for 6d, so it was a competitive price to other comics of the day, even though most others would have more pages. Most of the artwork was uncredited (typical of UK comics) but has a very European look so I imagine most of the artists were recruited through an agency. Here's a few pages. I've credited them where known...

Hovercraft Patrol, art by Luis Bermejo.

Nitwits art by Joseph Lee.

Bossy Boots art by Juan Rafart (signed as RAF).
Gulliver Travels art by Juan Rafart (signed 'Raf').
I only saw this comic once, in the summer of 1968, sold from a stall at the Royal Show when I was on a school trip. I didn't buy it then as it probably wouldn't have survived the journey with a bus full of kids wanting to borrow it, so I made a mental note to get it when I returned home. My family never had a car so as I never visited a garage I never saw the comic again, and it always puzzled me for years until I learned of its restriction to Esso outlets. I've since bought a few on eBay, but it remains a rare item to find, and no one seems certain of how many were produced. Denis Gifford's books say 52, and a year's contract would make sense, but I've never known of anyone to have issues beyond No.20. If you have any more info, please post a comment below (or just post a comment anyway if you have any thoughts on this comic).


In the shops this coming Wednesday is another packed issue of Judge Dredd Megazine. Here's the info and preview pages, thanks to Rebellion...

UK & DIGITAL: 21st February 2018 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 21st March 2018 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: KRONG ISLAND by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
LAWLESS: BREAKING BADROCK by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie DeVille (l) 
DEVLIN WAUGH: BLOOD DEBT by Rory McConville (w) Mike Dowling (a) Simon Bowland (l)
CURSED EARTH KOBURN by Rory McConville (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)
DREDD: THE DEAD WORLD by Arthur Wyatt & Alex De Campi (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse(l)

Features: new 2000 AD talent, Jim Baikie obituary

Bagged reprint: Outlier by TC Eglington (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores 
via Diamond 
Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop, 2000 AD iPad app, 2000 AD Android app, 2000 AD Windows 10 app

Advance Preview: 2000AD Prog 2069

Here's an advance look at next week's 2000AD. Another packed issue with 30 pages of story plus a great cover by Clint Langley. Yours for just £2.75. A superb bargain compared to comics prices today!

UK & DIGITAL: 21st February 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 21st March 2018 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: LIVE EVIL by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) 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 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Ally Sloper revivals of the late 1940s

Ally Sloper had a bit of a choppy history as a comic. The character, created by Charles H. Ross and his partner Emile de Tessier (AKA Marie Duval) started out in Judy, then graduated to his own comic, Ally Sloper's Half Holiday from 1884 to 1914. It was then simplified to Ally Sloper from 1914 to 1916, when it ceased. A new, short-lived series of Ally Sloper's Half Holiday then resumed in 1922 to 1923. 

Then, in 1948, the character was revived again, in an 8 page Ally Sloper comic, printed in red and black. Although intended as a series, only No.1 was published. This version of Ally Sloper turns up a lot on eBay. I bought one myself many years ago, and was told that there had been a pile of them found in an old distributor's warehouse, which had never reached the shops. Unfortunately, it's a terrible comic. 

Although the Ally Sloper of this 1948 comic resembles the Victorian character, the artwork is crude and extremely basic, and the comic completely lacks the social satire that made the original so popular. The scripting is not only childish, it's poor. Take a look at that cover strip for example (above). Ally says he wants "three coppers" (meaning pennies), three policemen turn up (coppers, see, geddit?) and throw Ally in jail. Why? Makes no sense.

The comic is most surely in the public domain now, so here's the complete thing.

It's no surprise that the 1948 Ally Sloper only lasted one issue. A year later, a different publisher had a go, reviving the full title as Ally Sloper's Half Holiday No.1. Perhaps realising that the attempt to turn Ally into a children's character hadn't worked, this time it was revived as a satirical paper for older readers. Sadly, the poor art on the cover was uninspiring, and Ally looked out of place amongst people of the late 1940s.
The contents of this 8 page comic were mostly reprints from Ally's original publication, and therein lies the problem. Whatever possessed the publishers to think that Victorian cartoons and humour would work in 1949? The world had moved on, and the art style and verbosity of the dialogue of the reprints was extremely outdated.

Unsurprisingly, this version of Ally Sloper's Half Holiday didn't reach a second issue either. 

That was it for poor Ally, until 1976, when Denis Gifford launched his own Ally Sloper comic. This time Ally looked right, but the contents were an odd mixture. The well-intentioned venture only lasted four issues. (Personally I loved this version.) 

The closest publications we have today to the original satirical Ally Sloper's Half Holiday are Private Eye and Viz, proving that even in this mad world, (or because of it) we still need good social satire. Perhaps Ally Sloper should be revived again. I'm sure he'd have a few things to say about Brexit and Trump.

Let's end by remembering what Ally Sloper's Half Holiday looked like in its heyday, with this marvellous (albeit blackly comic) cover by W.F. Thomas for the April Fool issue of 1892...

Bonus: Lonnng before the Dennis the Menace Fan Club, Ally Sloper had his own club (most probably the first comic club) and by cutting out coupons from the comic, readers could send away for a nice metal medal. I plucked one out of the time vortex recently (or I bought one on eBay, you decide) so I thought you might like to see it. It's about the same size as an old penny (31mm diameter). Each one issued had its own number stamped on the back. This one would have been owned by member number 20689, and dates from around 1902 I believe. I've cleaned it up, which apparently devalues it, but they're really not that valuable, and I don't intend selling it anyway.

You can read more about Ally Sloper here:

and here:

Monday, February 12, 2018

ROK OF THE REDS collected!

The excellent Rok of the Reds mini-series is to be collected as a trade paperback and published on 16th April. 

Written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, and drawn by Dan Cornwell, wityh colours by Abigail Bulmer, it features an alien who flees to Earth and assumes the human form of a footballer. It's in the vein of Doomlord (which Alan Grant created for Eagle) but with a contemporary approach. Dan Cornwell's artwork is both traditional and modern, - a perfect fit for the Wagner/Grant story. 

If you're not a football fan don't let that put you off. I can't stand football and I thought this comic was brilliant!  

You can pre-order the book now from the BHP Comics website:

Cartoons up for auction

A couple of years ago I drew a random cartoon a day for a few weeks. Unique and weird characters that were pretty much stream-of-consciousness material. Each one is on A5 size 200gsm weight paper, drawn in my own style, rather than following a house style directive. They were posted online, but never published in print, and I'm now selling 17 of them on eBay. Prices include postage.
If you're interested, visit my eBay page here:

All bids welcome. Thanks in advance!

Jonah spot-the-difference

When Buddy reprinted Ken Reid's Jonah strip in 1981, there were a few changes made from its original appearance in The Beano. The most obvious one being the change from hand-lettering to machine lettering for most of the dialogue. To my mind, this immediately deadened a lot of the humour. It just didn't "sound" right in such dull looking font. So why did they do it? 

Well, I'd imagine it's because some of the dialogue was rewritten for various reasons best known to them. Compare the two pages here. The original is from 1960. The reprint from 1981. "Cap'n" becomes "Captain", Jonah's "WE'VE HAD IT!" is redone in a quieter less effective size, the German's dialogue changes a bit, and that's just for starters. 

One glaring change is in the caption above the airship. The humour of "...the days of the airship are not finished - YET!" becomes "...the days of the airship are not yet finished". Someone may have thought that was more grammatically correct, but the emphasis on Jonah's impending damage to it has been totally lost. 

Note also, the absence of the dinghy going POP! in panel 7 of the Buddy reprint. The implication in the original was presumably that the crew met a watery grave. None of that downbeat stuff for the reprint! Sheesh. The black humour of Ken Reid's work was what made it popular!

Anyway, compare the pages and you'll no doubt find other changes too. It also happened in other weeks throughout the reprint run. Perhaps one day, they might reprint Jonah complete and uncensored in a nice book, but I'm not getting my hopes up. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

BUDDY No.1 (1981)

It's been 37 years since D.C. Thomson launched Buddy No.1 on Friday 6th February 1981. Clearly intended to be a step away from the "grittier" style of comic such as Warlord, Bullet, and Crunch, that Thomsons had previously moved into, Buddy was a return to a more traditional type.

The cover was reassuringly friendly and non-aggressive. Even the design of the masthead looked more like that of a humour comic than the battle-damaged style that Warlord and Crunch had used. The comic's mascot and pretend-editor was Buddy himself, the toothy, blonde, freckled-faced boy shown using the free Pop Pistol. (Note to those who complain that modern UK comics value gifts over content; that first issue of Buddy is all about selling the comic on the basis of the free toy. No stories are even mentioned on the cover.)  

To put Buddy into context we must remember that by 1981, the sales of traditional weekly comics were well past their glory days. Children were becoming more attracted to brands, and even more distracted by television than ever. Comics based on licensed properties would soon become ever more dominant in newsagents. With Hornet, Bullet, Crunch, and most recently, Hostspur, having folded, it seems that Thomsons felt that the way to attract readers was to revive and revamp some of their older successful characters for a new generation, and Buddy was the vehicle in which to do it. 

Buddy's 32 pages were packed with new, updated versions of top D.C. Thomson heroes, leading with the football story Limp-Along Leslie, originally a Hotspur character, and now drawn by Neville Wilson...
The Wolf of Kabul was next. Originally a text series in The Wizard from 1922, later a picture strip in Hotspur, and now in Buddy, drawn by Mike Dorey...

Deep-Sea Danny's Iron Fish was of course a revamp of The Beano's Iron Fish. Danny Grey now replaced by Danny Boyle, and drawn by Alfredo Falugi...

Tuffy, A Boy All Alone was a revamp of The Wizard's Scrappy, A Boy All Alone. The concept of a homeless boy against all odds was always popular in Thomson comics. (Does anyone know the artist's name?)
I'm not sure if Hammer! was based on a previous strip or was all-new. Great artwork by Denis McLoughlin...
Jonah was the only reprint in the comic, but if you have to reprint something, there's no better strip. Ken Reid's classic Beano hero, reprinted from the very start...

Billy the Cat was another popular Beano hero, now updated (and slightly older) for brand new adventures for Buddy. Here's the full episode, drawn by Pete Foster...

Rounding off issue 1 was Boy on the Run, a gripping thriller drawn by Carlos Cruz. Again, I'm not sure if this was a revamp or new, but I'm betting it was an updated version of some strip...
The back page revealed the forthcoming free gifts. We don't get free whistles in comics any more (in case they're mis-used I believe) but this week's Beano does have free balloons similar to the Super Zoomer!
In later weeks, other old characters would be revived for Buddy, such as General Jumbo, Starhawk, and more. Overall, Buddy was a very good adventure comic but it didn't last. The time for such comics was sadly ending. Despite gaining a new look and new logo with issue 99, it merged into Victor in 1983 after 130 issues. 

Here's a small selection of Buddy covers. For a major part of its run it featured strips starting on the covers. While that's a technique I've always liked, it must have looked quite dated to kids of the 1980s...

...and finally, here's the advert for Buddy No.1 from The Dandy No.2046, dated Feb.7th 1981...

All artwork and characters in this post are ©D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.
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