Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Umbrella Men (1965)

One of my favourite adventure strips as a child was The Umbrella Men, illustrated by Charles Grigg, that ran in The Dandy from No.1255 (December 11th 1965) to No.1290 (August 13th 1966). Not a particularly long run, but a very memorable one, and just the right length for a young reader before they grew tired of it. (Time seems slower when you're young, mainly because there are so many new experiences I guess. Every day is an adventure.)

The Dandy had a brilliant knack of taking something ordinary and turning it into something menacing in their adventure strips; a ball (The Crimson Ball), a cactus (The Red Wrecker), bees (The Stinging Swarm), and the humble brolly (The Umbrella Men). It's a wonder we didn't all turn out paranoid! Thankfully, most well-adjusted kids know the difference between fantasy and reality so these strips were just exciting escapism we looked forward to every Monday.

Here are the first two episodes of the serial, from The Dandy Nos.1255 and 1256, way back in December 1965... 

In 2010, for the final issue of The Dandy, (No.3610, 8th December 2012), the comic revived a lot of old characters for one last appearance, and I had the honour of writing and drawing The Umbrella Men as a not-too-serious final mini-strip...


This week's Marvel comics from Panini UK...

Here are the Marvel Collectors' Editions that you'll find in WH Smith and discerning newsagents from Thursday 14th December. Published by Panini UK, these 76 page full colour comics are great value and are published every four weeks.

MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #16. On sale 14th December!
76 pages! Three outstanding stories! £3.99!
The Champions travel to the Middle East to help a group of endangered women! By Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos!
The Guardians of the Galaxy face the wrath of the Grandmaster! By Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder!
The Black Widow and the Winter Soldier battle the deadly Recluse! By Chris Samnee and Mark Waid!
Featuring material first printed in Champions #3, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 & 4, and Black Widow #9.

ESSENTIAL X-MEN #18. On sale 14th December! 
76 pages of Mutant Mayhem! Three uncanny adventures! £3.99!
An ‘Inhumans vs X-Men’ chapter! The X-Men invade Attilan as the fight for survival begins! By Jeff Lemire and Leinil Francis Yu!
Karnak battles to break free from Marvel Girl’s psychic trap! By Cullen Bunn and Edgar Salazar!
Storm faces tragedy as the mutant death-count grows! By Jeff Lemire and Eric Koda!
Featuring material first printed in Extraordinary X-Men #17, Uncanny X-Men #16 and Inhumans vs X-Men #2.

DEADPOOL UNLEASHED #9. On sale 14th December!
100-page special! Four awesome adventures! £4.50!
An ‘Inhumans vs X-Men’ crossover! In the future, the Terrigen Mists have choked the world – now its only hope lies with Deadpool and the Mercs for Money! By Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello!
Deadpool the Duck confronts the diabolically insane Doctor Bong! By Stuart Moore and Jacopo Camagni!
Deadpool and the two Hawkeyes tackle the Black Cat! By Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni!
A new story begins: Back in Black! The Venom symbiote wants Deadpool! By Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin!

Featuring material first printed in Deadpool: Mercs for Money #7 & 8, Deadpool the Duck #5, Hawkeye vs Deadpool #4 and Deadpool: Back in Black #1.

PLUS... Don't forget that Panini UK also publish DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE, and No.520 (the Christmas issue) goes on sale this week too!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Commando comics out this week

On sale from Thursday 14th December...

5079: Home of Heroes: Brothers

Latvian brothers Maris and Andrejs Vejonis joined the Wehrmacht after the Baltic States were annexed by the rise of Communism. However, it didn’t take them long to realise their mistake, as they witnessed first-hand the brutality of the Waffen S.S. But they were about to discover that the Russkies were just as callous, as Andrejs swaps sides and takes up arms with the Red Army. Now, fighting on either side of the battlefield, more than once Maris and Andrejs find themselves staring down the barrel of their brother’s rifle…

Colin Watson’s thrilling story of fraternal friction perfectly fits into the Eastern Front setting, while the brothers’ chalk and cheese personas are rendered charmingly in Castro and Morhain’s art in both the old and young versions of the men, as well as the insets on Ian Kennedy’s cover.

|Story | Colin Watson | Art | Castro & Morhain | Cover | Ian Kennedy |

5080: Gold Collection: Winged Dagger

Left behind by one of his own men after being shot through the leg by a German sniper, S.A.S. Major Jeff Turner was rescued by Italian villagers – but it wasn’t enough. Though saved from death, Turner was pronounced an invalid, meaning his days in the S.A.S. were over as he was reassigned to a firefighting detail. However, it wasn’t long before Turner came face to face with the man who left him to die… The man now in charge of his S.A.S. regiment.

With spectacularly moody interior art by Gonzalez, the sheer grit of Spence’s story becomes apparent from page one. Topping this all off is a dynamic red and green cover from Penalva with thick oil strokes, really adding to the bulk of the S.A.S. figures.

|Story | Spence | Art | Gonzalez | Cover | Penalva |
Originally Commando No. 437 (November 1969) Reprinted No. 1255 (September 1978)

5081: Action and Adventure: Fire Fight

Their mission was to hold an oil refinery in the middle of the Kuwait desert. Reinforcements were due at dawn, but that was a long way away for ex-firefighter Carl Strode and his team, especially when Iraqi trucks pulled up, infiltrating the facility with guns… and bombs. This would be the hottest situation Strode had ever been in – but was he up to the task?

With each page of Dominic Teague’s story more tense than the last, the stakes are raised along with the thermometer in this mighty issue. Expect blinding flames and dark shadows from Rezzonico, as well as a terrific first Commando cover from Neil Roberts, showing Strode overcast with purples, the flames changing from orange to white-hot behind him in an explosive panorama.

|Story | Dominic Teague | Art | Rezzonico | Cover | Neil Roberts |

5082: Silver Collection: Special Delivery

An ex-postman and stickler for the rules, when Corporal Johnny Bishop’s squadron is destroyed by a Stuka bomb, honour and determination meant one thing: he would deliver the surviving letter – even if he died in the process. But the British Expeditionary Forces’ retreat to Dunkirk was not the easiest route to navigate, as Junkers, Panzers and Nazi soldiers in their deadly Blitzkrieg chase Johnny right to the French coast.

In Mike Knowles ‘Saving Private Ryan’-esque story of finding one soldier amongst an army of men, Knowles juggles action and tongue-in-cheek humour, with C. T. Rigby providing superb accompanying artwork to both aspects. Ian Kennedy’s cover is a real treat too, with our hero reaching out to reader, the eponymous letter clutched in his hand.

|Story | Mike Knowles | Art | C. T. Rigby | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2661 (May 1993)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE (2017)

Here's a cover preview of Doctor Who Magazine No.520, the Christmas issue, which goes on sale this week from Thursday 13th December at the usual price of £5.99.

This is the image of the polybag, so I don't know what the actual cover will be yet. The Christmas one always comes bagged, because it contains a free giant poster; this year featuring the 13th Doctor, who makes her brief debut on Christmas Day as Peter Capaldi bows out as the 12th Doctor (accompanied with David Bradley as the 1st Doctor). There won't be a new series of Doctor Who until Autumn next year, so tune in BBC One on 25th December at 5.30pm for this unmissable episode! 

I haven't seen this issue yet, so I can't reveal the contents (apart from what's described on the polybag cover) but I do know there's a festive Daft Dimension, 'cos I did it! Here's an exclusive preview of the first panel...

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The Christmas 2000AD - Big preview!

Thanks to the publishers, Rebellion, here's your first peek at the bumper 100 page Christmas issue of 2000AD (Prog 2061), - on sale from this coming Wednesday, 13th December...

UK & DIGITAL: 16th December 2017 £4.99
NORTH AMERICA: 16th January 2018 $13.50

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: ECHOES by Michael Carroll (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)

THE FALL OF DEADWORLD: AVA by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ACE TRUCKING CO. by Eddie Robson (w) Nigel Dobbyn (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l) 

STARLORD: WATCH THE STARS! by Kenneth Neimand (w) Henry Flint (a) Simon Bowland (l)

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

Remember that this issue will be on sale for three weeks, so the following issue won't be on sale until 3rd January!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Review: Yours, Yesterday

Jessica Lucas is a relatively new face on the comics scene. Although she was at Macc-Pow! and the Lakes International Comic Art Festival this year I unfortunately didn't get around to meeting her, so I ordered her new comic, Yours, Yesterday by post. A good purchase.

Yours, Yesterday is Jessica's first comic book, and it's a very impressive debut! I don't often go for autobiographical comics, but this one is very well crafted and compellingly told. Basically, it's about the emotional rollercoaster of a break-up, which is something that most of us can relate to at some point in our lives. No matter how old you are when it happens, the metaphorical kick-in-the-gut, self-doubt, and sorrow feels the same. Likewise, it's also a relatable book for the times some of us have done the dumping too, as it's a reminder of the guilt and upset caused.

Considering that this is Jessica's first comic, her storytelling skills are very good, and there's some sophisticated comics techniques at work here. For example (shown below) the depiction of a flashback scene, and how that crumbles when the memory turns sour. 

Without giving away too much, Yours, Yesterday is a story of heartache that has a positive resolution and the start of a new journey. I hope we'll see more comics work from Jessica Lucas in the near future!

You can buy a copy of Yours, Yesterday from Jessica's online store: 

...and you can find out more about her art by visiting her website:

The latest Marvel Legends - out now

Thor! Iron Man! Captain America! It's the UK comic that's the closest equivalent to Fantastic of the 1960s. Marvel Legends Vol. 3 #18. On sale now!

76 Action-Packed pages. £3.99!

Who will be in command of S.H.I.E.L.D. now Maria Hill is gone?!! Who is Captain America's latest ally?!! And who knows his secret?!!
Plus, Iron Man vs. Techno Golem and the Bio-Hack Ninjas! Round TWO!
Also, The Asgard/Shi'ar War reaches its conclusion! But there is no peace... only cosmic DEATH! Can Thor save the universe from the phoenix?!!
By Nick Spencer, Jesús Saiz, Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman!

Includes material reprinted from Captain America: Steve Rogers #11-12, Invincible Iron Man #5, and Thor #18!

The Christmas issue of Disney Presents

I said I'd show as many current Christmas issues as I could, and I don't know if this one will appeal to any of you, but if you have kids they might love it. The latest Disney Presents (No.116) from Panini UK is an Olaf's Frozen Adventure special. Here's the info...

Everyone’s favourite snowman takes centre stage in his own magazine and his own sticker album! As Disney’s new festive movie Olaf’s Frozen Adventure arrives in cinemas this magazine celebrates Olaf’s many other adventures too. Fun stories, puzzles and colouring, plus two brilliant competitions to enter with chances to win Anna and Elsa Toddler Dolls and a large Olaf cuddly amongst other prizes! This issue comes with Panini’s Official Olaf’s Frozen Adventure Album so you can start collecting. So, come on, get ready for an adventure!
Issue Number: 116
Price: £3.99
Covermounted Gift: Free Official Sticker Album and 4 sticker packets.
On sale: Thursday 30th Nov – 27th Dec 2017

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Bananaman lives!

Art by Nigel Parkinson.
I was at the Southwark Playhouse on Tuesday to see the brilliant Josie Lawrence in the anti-war play Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht. This is the show's last few days but I thoroughly recommend it to anyone to catch it before it ends. Powerful, emotive performances by Josie and the cast in a great intimate theatre where you feel you're part of the story.
Photo ©2017 Lew Stringer
Next week, a new show opens at the same theatre: Bananaman, a musical by Leon Parris based on the long-running comics character. As most of you know, Bananaman was created by Steve Bright and began in Nutty comic back in 1980 where it was drawn by John Geering, then the strip moved over to The Dandy after the two comics merged. When The Dandy ended in 2012 it moved to The Beano, where it still resides, now written by Tommy Donbavand and drawn by Wayne Thompson. 

Glaswegian actor Matthew McKenna is playing the part of Bananaman, and here he is in costume designed by Mike Leopold. Photo by Claire Bilyard. 
Photo by Claire Bilyard.
Bananaman runs from 15th December 2017 to 20th January 2018 and you can find out more info and ticket details here:

Can it work as an all-ages musical? I think so! This song (sung by Mark Pickering as Doctor Gloom) is a real belter. Have a listen...

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Christmas EPIC

On sale a week earlier than advertised, the Christmas issue of Epic magazine is in the shops now. No, not the Marvel adult comic of the 1980s, this Epic is published by D.C. Thomson and aimed at boys. It's mainly feature-based, but does include two comic strips of two pages each.

Overreaction Man is written by Alex Collier and drawn by Steve Bright...

...and Hygiene High is written by Niall Murray and drawn by me...

The rest of the mag is packed with lighthearted features...

Epic comes bagged with several gifts, including a Space Warrior action figure. Which one will you get? 

Epic No.140 is out now, priced £4.99. Here's the bag to look for...

The Christmas BEANO (2017)

The Christmas issue of Beano has arrived on the shelves today, and it's a festive fun-feast. It comes bagged with a brilliant Merry Prank-Mas Kit; a box of eight pranks such as fake poo and false teeth. Now, before anyone complains about "bagged tat", remember that the Beano rarely includes any gifts these days. Not as seldom as decades ago, when it only had a free gift in 1960 (the first since 1940) and no more until 1971, but it's still a rare thing for the Beano to have gifts these days. 
Cover by Nigel Parkinson

Inside the comic, there's a wealth of Christmas stories featuring Bananaman, Roger the Dodger, Minnie the Minx, a seven page Dennis and Gnasher story and much more.
Bananaman art by Wayne Thompson.
Dennis art by Nigel Parkinson.

As has been the tradition for the last few years, this Christmas issue will be on sale for three weeks, so there won't be another Beano until 27th December. 

The Christmas Beano, on sale now. £4.50 

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Snap up those annuals!

A last reminder that The Dandy Annual 2018 is still in the shops but selling fast. I wrote/drew quite a few pages for this one; Keyhole Kate, Kid Cops, and Postman Prat. Some of the Kate and Prat ones were written by Nigel Auchterlounie as part of the big crossover story in the back of the book. Part of which has Postman Prat meeting Desperate Dan! An honour to draw such an iconic character.

Don't forget that The Beano Annual 2018 is also on sale now. (I don't have anything in that one unfortunately as it focuses on the core characters.) If you have trouble finding them in the shops, buy them directly from D.C. Thomson here:

ACES WEEKLY Vol.31 begins

It's the digital comic that keeps on giving. Aces Weekly has just begun its 31st volume, which is a perfect jumping on point for new readers. Subscribing to the 7 issue volume of the award-winning anthology means that each issue only costs you £1. Cheaper than any comic on the newsstands! 

Intrigued? Find out more at the Aces Weekly website today!

There's also the Aces Weekly Facebook page which you'll find here:
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