Future Publishing released the fifth issue of Comic Heroes this week, and once again it's another chunky edition with loads of information. On sale now from WH Smith and other retailers the £7.99 issue comes packaged in a card envelope with two extras; another issue of Sidekick, previewing forthcoming comics, and the complete 48 page Cinebooks album XIII: The Day of the Black Sun by W.Vance and J.Van Hamme. (The latter isn't much use to those of us who have already bought that book but it's a great introduction to the series for anyone that hasn't.)
Contents of the 132 page issue of Comic Heroes include...
The second part of the interview with Kevin O"Neill, this time covering his early years working at IPC. Fans of those 1970s comics might bristle at his comments but his frustration about seeing people such as Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid being "chained to a certain way of doing things" for the "sausage factory" only echo what other insiders have said about that period. I found myself agreeing with his remark that Odhams were "the last great blast of humour comics". Personally I think there have also been a few maverick titles since then, but not enough to prevent the industry from its decline. (Outside forces were at work too of course, with a general move towards a nanny state. How could anything daring and different survive in such an environment?)
Also blasting the staid nature of those British comics is Pat Mills, with an article about girls' comics, and how Tammy tried to radicalize that genre.
Tying in with the bonus album this issue, Paul Gravett takes a look at the thriller XIII...
Keeping with an international flavour Paul also brings us a feature on Italian artist Milo Manara, known for his sensuous illustrations. Such artwork is not only stunning but also displays the gulf between British and European comics, showing how prudish British culture is that similar work has never really flourished in UK adult comics outside of seaside postcard humour.
Other highlights of this issue include a look at Green Lantern to tie in with the upcoming movie (including Dave Gibbons reflecting on his time drawing the strip); a Bluffer's Guide to Daredevil; JH Williams on his Batwoman work; The Art of Michael Wm Kaluta; plus features on Archie Comics, the X-Men, colouring for comics and much more. There's also a review of Darkie's Mob, the classic war strip by Tom Tully and Mike Western, presumably from an advance copy from Titan Books as I don't think it's in the shops yet. Nice to know it's on its way at last though!
All in all another fine issue. It's good to know that a magazine about comics can survive on the High Street and I for one will continue to support it. I hope you will too.