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Friday, October 24, 2014

Comic Cuts - 24 October 2014

Reprinted for the first time: a classic story of one man's fight against
government oppression in the gladiatorial arenas of the near future.
"With reality TV overload and the rise of the risque and the brutality of today’s society, this story ... is more relevant today than it was in 1979." - Colin Noble, Down the Tubes
because it looks like me and Mel need a new washing machine.

I don't have a huge amount to report about my week. Steady progress was made on the next book from Bear Alley Books and I should have a title for you shortly. I had hoped to have the artwork side completed, but I found I was putting some extra time into bringing the pages up to scratch. Working "off the page" rather than from original artwork can easily double the time it takes to put a book together, especially when those pages may not have survived the years very well.

I've also had some distractions that have sidelined me in various ways. One was a curious problem with the washing machine which started acting up at the weekend, switching off unexpectedly and flashing a fault code message. Looking it up online revealed that it related to a sensor and the water levels. I spent a good half hour trying to get through to a human being at various companies advertising in our local Thomsons to talk about the fault.

The first number turned out to be a call centre where I was put on hold while a recorded voice interrupted the soothing music every now and then to tell me how important my call was. I hung up because it clearly wasn't important enough to the company to have someone actually answer. After a selection of other call centres, answerphones and engaged signals, I finally got through to a human voice; he talked me through prices and we booked an appointment for Wednesday morning.

Come the day, he turned up on time and got the job done, which is what you want out of an engineer. It seems to be working OK again (I'll reserve judgement until my smalls are safely on the washing line!). TEN MINUTES LATER: No, the same problem occurred half-way through the wash; it seems to be intermittent, so the washing machine is going to be visiting the engineer's workshop for more tests.

The other distraction was self-imposed. I picked up a copy of The Art of Sean Phillips, whose work I've admired since his first contributions to Crisis. I followed his career as it took him to the USA for Hellblazer and Kid Eternity, lost track of him in the late 1990s when he was going superheroes but spotted him again when he began collaborating with Ed Brubaker—Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito and Fatale are some of the only US comics I've read in the past decade.

Reading the book, I'd forgotten that Sean was also the inker on Scene of the Crime, which was the 4-issue series that reminded me how good comics could be; I'd been falling out of love with them for quite some time and was buying almost nothing. I picked up Scene of the Crime #1 because it looked interesting and it turned out to be the best crime series I'd read in years—probably since the demise of Sandman Mystery Theatre.

The Art of Sean Phillips takes the story way back to Sean's early work in girls' comics like Nikki and Judy, inking for Ken Houghton, and covers in great depth his development as an artist in the pages of Crisis, 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine and various specials and yearbooks.

Author Eddie Robson narrates the story through interviews with Sean and dozens of writers, editors and fellow artists, weaving together the story of Sean's varied career in the UK and US comics scene. The books is filled with fantastic artwork, some previously unpublished, much from original artwork.

The book was published in late 2013, so it's pretty well up to date with Sean's later ongoing work (Fatale), and I'm pleased to see on Sean's website that—as promised in the book—that he and Ed Brubaker have returned to Criminal to tell more tales. In the meantime, I can recommend The Art of Sean Phillips while you're waiting for the next series if you don't already have a copy. The price (expensive when it first came out) has started to drop a little for us folk whose pockets aren't so deep.

Random scans... were going to be something else, but I'm so caught up in Sean's work I dug out the following cover images for you.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent was the sixth in the series of Criminal story arcs, collected in 2011. Here are the covers to the four individuals plus the original artwork for the collected graphic novel.

Next week... um... I'll let you know.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Commando issues 4751-4754

Commando issues on sale 23 October 2014.

Commando No 4751 – Saxon Eagles
The 9th Century AD was a turbulent, violent time. Anglo-Saxon Britons had to fend off constant attacks from marauding and blood-thirsty Scandinavian warriors — the much-feared Vikings.
   Young Cadric was a Saxon — brave and willing to fight to defend his village from Viking hordes. As he did so, though, he had to face an equally deadly, but more sinister, enemy from closer to home.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: John Ridgway
Cover: John Ridgway

Commando No 4752 – Colonel Scarface
All occupied France went in fear and trembling of him — ruthless SS Colonel Ludwig Bauer — a monster in the guise of a man.
   But one day Bauer went too far with a young Commando lieutenant, Rick Matthews. And Rick stayed behind after a raid in France to teach Colonel Scarface, step by blood-stained step, what it was to be afraid…

Despite what Ken Barr’s magnificently menacing cover might make you think, this story isn’t all about the nefarious Colonel Scarface. It’s more the story of Lieutenant Rick Matthews, Commando. What’s more, it’s also a French Resistance story, a type that’s very difficult to make successful as there’s often not a lot of action to play with. The script neatly avoids tense, cliff-hanging moments by being filled with the crash and thunder of battle. All very well drafted by Gonzales.
   Lastly, watch out for the comedy moment on page 55. You have been warned.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Mepham
Art: Gonzales
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 135 (October 1964); re-issued as No 699 (December 1972)

Commando No 4753 – Royle’s Marines
After firmly putting a bully in his place with a well-aimed punch, young Thomas Markham knew he had to make himself difficult to find. He was helped by Sergeant Ned Royle who suggested joining the Royal Marines and losing himself there.
   While he was now out of plain sight, young Thomas was not out of danger for he was shipped off to fight in the Crimean War. There his mettle would be tested in the heat of battle as one of…

2014 is a truly momentous year for the Royal Marines as on the 28th October we mark our 350th birthday, completing three and a half centuries of unbroken service, committed, as an integral part of the Naval Service, to protecting and promoting the United Kingdom’s security, prosperity and reputation, both and home and overseas; truly 350 years of Timeless Distinction.

Formed in 1664 as the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot, the Royal Marines, the modern Royal Navy’s “go anywhere force”, have evolved into the United Kingdom’s commando forces, held at high readiness and trained to operate anywhere in the World and carry out the full spectrum of operations, be that peacekeeping, disaster relief, military training/advisory teams, specialist amphibious operations and high intensity combat.

Now, whilst the stories contained in the Commando Comics are obviously fiction, there are numerous common values shared between the characters, the Corps today, and our illustrious forebears who have served the Corps and the Crown so well since 1664.  The Royal Marines Ethos is based on characteristics of courage, determination, cheerfulness in adversity and selflessness and they have stayed true throughout our 350 year history and have enabled the Royal Marines to be involved in virtually every one of the United Kingdom’s conflicts, and notably to have seen active service every year since the outbreak of World War II to the present day, with the sole exception of 1968. 

Today’s Royal Marines remain at the forefront of the United Kingdom’s crisis response force and are a key component of the Government’s conflict prevention agenda. Through our World-renowned brand of understated professionalism we hope to remain there for another 350 years and more.

Lieutenant Colonel Cliff Dare MBE RM

Story: George Low
Art: Benet
Cover: Benet

Commando No 4754 – Night Of Fear
Transylvania — an eerie land of legends, of werewolves and vampires, of hauntings and spine-chilling screams in the dark.
   Not the most welcoming place in the world to crash-land in at dead of night — especially when your Mosquito has been damaged, not by Nazi flak…but by a swarm of thousands of large, black bats!

Just imagine…
   A spooky castle in darkest Transylvania —
   The sinister Count who dwells there —
   Waited on a by creepy assistant —
   Swarms of large bats flying out of nowhere —
   Night of Fear may not be the most subtle Commando ever published — but it is certainly a hugely entertaining one. The influences on the plot — Hollywood vampire movies and American horror comics — are actually acknowledged in the text, so, nearly 40 years on this remains a fiendishly fun read.
   So, trick or treat?
   In my humble opinion, this is definitely a treat. Happy Halloween!—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Patrick Wright
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 984 (November 1975); re-issued as No 2324 (November 1989)

Roger Hall - covers

A partial index of Roger Hall's cover artwork.

Hardcover dustjackets
Cat's Cradle by Simon Harvester  (Jarrolds, 1952)
Kit and the Mystery Man by Mollie Chappell (Collins Seagull Library, 1958)
Wells Fargo by John Robb (Collins, 1961)
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (The Children's Press, 1963)
Pursuit by Nigel Tranter (Collins, 1965)

Arrow Books
271 Paddy - The Next Best Thing by Gertrude Page (Sep 1952)
302J Air Surgeon by Frank G. Slaughter (2nd imp., 1958)
376H Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill (2nd imp., 1962)
417 Exploration Fawcett by Lt.-Col. P. H. Fawcett (2nd imp., 1963)
479 Horn of the Hunter by Robert C. Ruark (2nd imp., 1963)
508 The Count of Grammercy Park by Robert Hayden Alcorn (Aug 1958)
538 Spencer Brade, M.D. by Frank G. Slaughter (Dec 1959)
??? That None Should Die by Frank G. Slaughter (1959)
630 The Jewel of the Seven Stars by Bram Stoker (1962)
644 The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker (1962)
696 Death in the Rising Sun by John Creasey (1963)
699 Sons of Satan by John Creasey (1963)
717 The League of Light by John Creasey (1963)
718 The Man Who Shook the World by John Creasey (1963)
724 Interrupted Journey by James Wilson (1963?)
733 The Wings of Peace by John Creasey (1964)
734 Shadow of Doom by John Creasey (1964)
756 Dragon's Wine by Borden Deal (1964)
807 The Taking Men by Anne Hepple (1965)
??? Evening at the Farm by Anne Hepple (1965)

Corgi Books
T407 The Scarlet Shield by Laurie Andrews (1957)
T440 The Farthest Frontier by Lauren Paine (1957)
T459 Sayonara by James A. Michener (1957)
S472 Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson (1957)
T485 The Brass and the Blue by James Keene (1957)
S531 Night in Havana by Robert Sylvester (1958)
S551 China Station by Donald R. Morris (1958)
S638 The Third Eye by Lobsang Rampa (1959)
T663 Sister Brookes of Byng's by Kate Norway (1959)
T674 Nurse With Wings by Marguerite Mooers Marshall (1959)
T686 Calling Doctor Jane by Adeline McElfresh (1959)
SR721 Ward Nurse by Marguerite Mooers Marshall (1959)
SN786 The Flesh and the Fiends by Allan Norwood (1960)
SC797 The Telemann Touch by William Haggard (1960)
SR936 Night Duty at Duke's by Bess Norton (1960)
SR952 The Quiet One by Bess Norton (1961)
SR1266 Goodbye, Johnny by Kate Norway (1963)
SR1400 Morning Waits by Dorothy M. Cray (1963)
SR1437 Love Letter by Hilary Neal (1963)
SR7082 Nurse Off Camera by Hilary Neal (1964)
SR7311 The Lambs by Kate Norway (1965)

Four Square Books
164 Zeebrugge: St George's Day 1918 by Barrie Pitt (Sep 1959)
262 First Overland by Tim Slessor (Oct 1960)
263 Leviathan by Warren Tute (Oct 1960)
281 The Fleet That Had to Die by Richard Hough (Feb 1961)
321 The Serpent and the Staff by Frank Yerby (1961)
333 The High Place by Geoffrey Household (1961)
347 Kanyoko by Rex Harris (1961)
350 The Man Who Came Back by John Bryan (Aug 1961)
637 Calling Mr Callaghan by Peter Cheyney (1962)
649 You'd Be Surprised by Peter Cheyney (1962)
683 The Typhoon's Eye by Preston Schoyer (1962)
697 Village of Stars by Paul Stanton (1962)

Pan Books
2 Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1953)
245 The Trimmed Lamp by O. Henry (Jun 1953)
249 All Else is Folly by Catherine Gaskin (Jul 1953)
302 Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie (Sep 1954)
309 Time to Heal by Warwick Deeping (Oct 1954)
310 The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Oct 1954)
326 Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie (Mar 1955)
334 Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (Apr 1955)

Panther Books
646 Landfall Tahiti by Alan Burgess (2nd imp., date?)
901 All Rome Trembled by Melton S. Davis (May 1959)
934 Spella Ho by H. E. Bates (Jul 1959)
1005 The Medical Murderer by Rupert Furneaux (Jan 1960)
1049 The Hollow Square by Geoff Taylor (Apr 1960)
1147 One Woman's War by Asja Mercer & Robert Jackson (1960)
1239 The Snatch by Harold R. Daniels (1961)
1283 Something About a Soldier by Mark Harris (1961)
1323 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1962)
1354 Juice by Stephen Becker (1962)
1371 One More Summer by Edward Stephens (1962)
1402 Cleopatra by Carlo Maria Franzero (1962)
1415 Ourselves to Know by John O'Hara (1962)
1522 Villa Mimosa by Jerrard Tickell (May 1963)
1542 Lion in the Sun by G. M. Glaskin (1963)

Scottie Books
J2 Biggles Follows On by Capt. W. E. Johns (1955)
J48 Clipper of the Clouds by Jules Verne (1957)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Roger Hall - Hey Diddle Diddle art

The following illustrations all appeared in the children's comic Hey Diddle Diddle in 1972-73. The artwork is from the Illustration Art Gallery, who have them for sale. See here and here.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Roger Hall and The Three Investigators

The Three Investigators were a trio of boys who became involved in investigations through the patronage of Alfred Hitchcock. I loved the early adventures when I was a kid... I read the first dozen or so in Armada paperbacks although these had covers by Peter Archer rather than Roger Hall.

If you remember the Three Investigators, there are plenty of websites about them across the internet. These covers came from here via Mark West's website. There is some fascinating material about the background to the series here, including material about the authors and correspondence between the original author (Robert Arthur) and the original publisher.