Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Angry Birds fly into newsagents

Today, Egmont UK launch a new monthly title, - Angry Birds Magazine, based on the hugely popular video game. Priced at £3.99 the first issue promises "puzzles, games and quizzes". From the advert shown here, there's at least one page of comic strips in there too, although whether this is originated or reprint I do not know. 

Angry Birds Magazine comes bagged with two posters, trading cards, a special game code, and a plastic slingshot. 

While it's good to see another publication for children on the stands, it's once again another sign of the times that it's based on a licensed brand with an emphasis on activities rather than enriching the imaginations of children with stories. There have always been comics based on other media of course, from Film Fun to Sonic the Comic, but in those titles it was the stories that were the selling point.

Activity pages are important for stimulating the logical parts of a child's mind of course, but a comic strip story can help children with their reading abilities and engross them in world where they can relate to the characters, and even learn about morality and integrity in a fun way. It's good to see that Angry Birds Magazine contains some story content at least, but wouldn't it be great to see more of a balance in children's magazines? A lot of kids struggle with their reading at school these days because they see it as a chore, but reading is the most important skill a child can learn. Comics can help with that because they're bright, lively, funny and exciting. So, publishers, let's see more strip content in your magazines to help those kids develop into bright, lively, funny and exciting adults. 

Commando news

Fans of Britain's longest running war comic Commando will be pleased to hear there are four new issues in the shops tomorrow. (Or today if you're lucky, as they seem to come out a day early.) Here's the info direct from DC Thomson...

Commando Issues 4727-4730 – On Sale 31 July 2014

Commando No 4727 – Fisherman’s Foes

Fishing, particularly deep-sea fishing, is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world for the sea is a harsh, cruel and unforgiving place to work. So the idea of strapping guns to a trawler and sending it to war might be expected to start a mutiny amongst any crew.
   Not the bunch aboard the Amity, though. They were not only prepared for war, they went looking for it! And that’s when they found themselves facing a legion of…

Story: George Low
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4728 – Ghost With A Gun

Corporal Benny Walker’s name will never go down in history — but he was the leader of the strangest fighting patrol the British Army had ever known.
   It was some patrol, that one!
   Benny, six yanks and a couple of ghosts. Yes, the ghosts wore uniforms too — and didn’t they get mucked into the Germans!


In the early days, all Commando stories were set in the Second World War. It wasn’t for nearly three decades that they branched out, historically speaking. The only way round this restriction was to introduce substantial flashbacks or to introduce some characters from previous battles. In this case, the introduced characters happen to be ghosts and they just happen to want to use our hero to wipe out the stains of their own misdeeds.
   For fear of spoilers I won’t say any more except that you can enjoy Chaco’s cover and Cueto’s inside art, reasonably safe in the knowledge that those are their real names. The name Du Feu has to be a nom-de-plume, though. Surely!

Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Ghost With A Gun, originally Commando No 104 (February 1964), re-issued as No 611 (January 1972)

Story: Du Feu
Art: Cueto
Cover: Chaco

Commando No 4729 – Balkan Battleground

Sergeant Pete Jenkins, a veteran Commando, was posted to Yugoslavia in the autumn of 1944. His mission was to assist and train a Partisan resistance group in their fight against the brutal occupying Nazis and their followers — a militia known as “The Black Wolves”.
   But there was a snag, the enemy seemed to know the Partisans’ every move. There had to be a traitor in their midst. Everyone was under suspicion — Pete included.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Olivera
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando No 4730 – The Little Ships

Think of Britain’s fighting navy in the Second World War and you picture towering battleships, mammoth aircraft carriers, powerful cruisers, sleek destroyers. But alongside them are hosts of smaller craft, without whose efforts the mighty fleets could not operate. They are “the little ships” — trawlers, drifters, coastal craft of all kinds. They served on the seas of the world, and this is the story of just two of them…of the ice-cold courage of their crews.


As the title suggests, this memorable maritime tale takes the focus away from sleek Royal Navy vessels and concentrates instead on rather less glamorous vessels. It’s a refreshing change and we get to see an authentically dangerous slice of life in the choppy North Sea. Veteran interior artist Gordon Livingstone delivers the goods as usual but special plaudits go to cover artist Jeff Bevan for his stunning trawler illustration — we can see the rust on the ship’s stern and even below the waterline as the trusty craft surges through the spray of the sea.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

The Little Ships, originally Commando No 940 (June 1975), re-issued as No 2260 (March 1989)


Monday, July 28, 2014

Stay cool at ICE next Saturday!

With this current heatwave the coolest place to go is ICE, the International Comic Expo, that takes place in the centre of Birmingham next Saturday, August 2nd. 

The venue is just a few minutes walk from New Street Station, at The Studio conference centre in Canon Street, just off from New Street. I'm pleased to say that I'm one of the guests and I'm proud to be amongst a great list of comics professionals. Here's the full guest list:
Artwork © Yishan Li

For more details visit the ICE website:

See you there! 

Photographs © their respective copyright owners.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dredd hits 350!

I don't cover 2000AD or related product here that often because those comics already receive good coverage in various places (such as the Everything Comes Back to 2000AD blog). However, a milestone is worth mentioning and currently on the stands is the 350th issue of Judge Dredd Megazine.

The 64 page issue kicks off with a brand new cover by Brian Bolland, and there's a free A3 poster of the same artwork, sans masthead, bagged with the comic. Inside, three new stories begin; Judge Dredd: Deadzone by John Wagner and Henry Flint, Lawless by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade, and a series set in the movie continuity, Dredd: Uprise by Arthur Wyatt and Paul Davidson.

There's also the third part of The Man from the Ministry by Gordon Rennie and Kev Hopgood. Speaking of which, the comic also features a four page interview with Kev.

There are also interviews with the artist Trevor Hairsine, plus a chat with Leah Moore and John Reppion about their writing career. 

As always, the Megazine comes bagged with a 68 page collection of past material and this month it's Harke and Burr by Si Spencer and Dean Ormston, reprinting the 2000AD strip from 20 years ago. 

All in all issue 350 is a great package with high quality content. The price of £5.70 may seem steep at first glance, but you're getting a lot for your money here. This issue will be on sale until August 19th, but grab it before it sells out. 


Also on the stands now is 2000AD Prog 1891 which sees the start of Moore and Reppion's great new series, Black Shuck, with art by Steve Yeowell. Cover by Alex Ronald. £2.45  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tales from Gimbley collected

The 1980s was a very interesting time for British comics. There were a lot of new creators emerging with their own stripzines (or 'small press comics' as they're called now) and breaking into the comics industry. There was also a lively social scene thanks to the monthly meet-ups at the Westminster Comic Marts. (Although all the real fun took place at the end of the street at the Westminster Arms.)

One of those talented creators was Phil Elliott, who produced his own Tales of Gimbley mini-comics as well as drawing the strip for the comics anthology / Escape magazine. Now Phil has collected all of the Gimbley strips into one book, - In His Cups, a 184 page paperback (also available as a downloadable PDF).

Here's the info about the book:
In His Cups is a complete collection of Phil Elliott’s comic strip, Tales from Gimbley featuring the eponymous everyman, Dave Gimbley. Gimbley recounts tales from his youth including his one-night stand with the Mona Lisa; a fight to the death with a sumo wrestler; deconstructing a de stijl chair; being an integral member of a Performance Art piece; meeting the Holy Man and many other surreal, humorous and often poignant adventures.  

You can order a copy of the book directly from Lulu at this address: 

Phil's work has also appeared in Aces Weekly, The Real Ghostbusters, Power Rangers magazine and many other comics over the years. Visit his website here:
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