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:

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Dandy's 80th anniversary

Today marks 80 years since The Dandy No.1 was in newsagents. Truth be told, December 4th 1937 was only the cover date, so it would have been out a few days before then, but that's the date that is usually celebrated.

Sadly, five years ago this week was when the final issue of The Dandy appeared, rounding off its record-breaking 75 year run with a huge bumper issue. The comic had reinvented itself a few times over its last few years, but nothing could halt the fall in sales that had plagued every other traditional comic. What was remarkable is that it hung on for so long, in a fickle marketplace where many comics have fallen within their first year. The irony is that final issue was so sought-after that it had to go to a second printing.

Why did The Dandy eventually fold, while The Beano keeps on going? I think it was down to the content. Every week since the mid-1950s, The Beano has retained a core line-up of kid characters such as Dennis the Menace, Roger the Dodger, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids that readers can relate to, and parents (and grandparents) can recognise. Apart from Desperate Dan, The Dandy tended to change its content from time to time, never quite establishing the same recognition factor for its characters. 

It was a privilege to be one of the contributors to The Dandy during its final two years, when it had rebooted itself as a modern style comic as a change from the disastrous Dandy Xtreme magazine/comic hybrid it had become. Despite a handful of cranky critics going over the top with their condemnation of the new-look Dandy, it was well received by many children it was aimed at. However, ever-declining distribution in shops and a young new readership unaccustomed to the habit of buying weekly comics were part of the problem. At least it went out on a high, with what must be the best final issue of a British comic ever seen; a bumper issue packed with revivals of old characters and selected reprints, and a story ending with the cast of characters singing Hey Jude, accompanied by Paul McCartney (with Paul's blessing). 

That wasn't entirely the end though. The Dandy tried an online version for a few weeks, but it was beset with technical problems and quietly faded away. However, The Dandy Annual continues to be published every year, full of new material and no reprints. There's also a Dandy Summer Special every year (although that is all-reprint), so the title is far from dead yet. 

Happy 80th anniversary to The Dandy! It was the first comic I read regularly (from 1964 onwards) and remained a firm favourite of mine for decades after. It was an honour to have been part of its legacy. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Ho-Ho-Yoe! for Christmas

Giving a quick shout out to my pals over at Yoe! Books who had their site hacked recently and lost a lot of potential sales. (The site is fixed now.) Craig Yoe and his Yoe! Books team produce some fine collections of classic American comics material that you need to treat yourself to if you haven't already.

From pre-code horror comics to 1950s children's classics such as Popeye and Felix the Cat, Yoe! Books have a great selection of affordable hardback books to buy. I'm a big fan of their output. The books use pages scanned from the actual comics, and cleaned up, so it preserves the original pulpy look of the comics of yesteryear. No garish recolouring or tracing of artwork to pass it off as original. These books look great!

Take a look at their line up over at their website here:

If you're in the UK you'll be able to buy them from your nearest comic speciality store or from online sellers. Go Yoe!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Convention(al) thoughts

Illustration for the United Kingdom Comic Art Convention booklet in 1988.
Numerous comic conventions take place around the UK these days. I've done 12 this year, and I did 11 last year. I've enjoyed travelling around the country (and over to Northern Ireland twice) over the past two years. Here's a few thoughts...

The first UK comic con was in Birmingham in 1968. I've been attending them since 1979, and have been fortunate enough to have been a guest since 1984. The style of the events has changed since those early days. Back then, the guests were there to take part in panel discussions, and signings were in the minority. Therefore, as a guest, you might only be called upon to take part in one or two of those panel discussions (usually lasting up to an hour each) and the rest of your day would be your own, often spent in the bar, or sightseeing around the area. Unsurprisingly, guests paid for their own expenses, as no one expected the organisers to fork out for hotels or travel for doing an hour's talk on a panel. 

As for the dealer's hall, that would be full of tables selling back issues and a few with the latest American imports. Cosplay? We called it fancy dress back then, and you might have a dozen at most take part for a fancy dress contest at the end of the day. Some very cheap-looking home made outfits, but it was all good fun.

Today, guests are given a free table and are basically available all day for signings, sketching, and selling our wares. Sometimes panel discussions are involved too. It's a much more interactive experience, and as such we tend to have some, or all, expenses covered by the organisers. It's a win-win situation. Guests get to spend more time meeting the readers and that's a good thing. Freelance cartooning can be a lonely job, isolated at home, working strange hours to meet deadlines, not knowing if your work will be appreciated or not. I'm in the fortunate position now that, because I've been working in comics for over 30 years, I get to meet people who read my stuff when they were growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, to the new readers of today. 

The dealer's room is a completely different beast to what it was 30 or 40 years ago. Most tables are selling merchandise; toys, statues, and related material, and very few sell comics. Cosplay has become a huge part of the events. (We don't dare call it "fancy dress" now apparently.) Most participants spend hours, weeks, making their costumes as accurate as possible, and using professional-standard makeup. Instead of just hurriedly getting into costume for a show at the finalé of a con, they now spend all day in costume, and have become an attraction on par with the guests. (Some cosplayers even have guest status now.)

The big change in comic cons though has been their transition into multi-media cons. Thankfully, there are still quite a few events such as ICE that are 100% devoted to comics, (and cater to guests exceptionally well), but the rise of shows such as MCM and the Showmasters events has established the format of actors and cosplayers dominating the show, with comics creators sidelined in a ghetto-type "Comic Village". That said, some shows, such as the very enjoyable Preston Comic-Con, ensured that actors and comics creators had equal billing and were equal in number, and this year's London Film and Comic Con treated its 50 comics guests very well.

Doing so many events over the past two years has been a learning experience, and there are some that worked better than others. The main thing I've learnt is that one can't predict how well an event will go. Some can be a success for a colleague, and a disaster for others, or vice-versa. The multi-media events tend to mainly attract non-comics readers, but on the other hand those same people might recognise a character from their youth (eg: Combat Colin) or the Beano style, and purchase a sketch or comic. 

What I've concluded is that, although I prefer the comics-focused events because you're guaranteed to have comic fans there, the multi-media events can be just as busy for comics guests (sometimes more, in main cities). In short, they're all worth accepting an invite to attend as a guest, and worth your time as a visitor if you like who's on the bill.

I'll conclude my reiterating what I've always said; that I've always had the highest respect for the organisers of these events, because the comics community wouldn't even exist without them! These people are putting on shows, often out of their own pocket, and it's always a massive gamble. It's most certainly highly stressful, and involves a hell of a lot of work and planning. It could be argued that there are simply too many events these days, and we'll eventually see some collapse. I sincerely hope not. When I started out, we had one convention a year (maybe two if you were lucky). We're living in a golden age of comics events right now. Let's hope it continues for a good while yet. 

The next event I'm a guest at will be Bath Comic-Con on Saturday March 17th, 2018. Hope to see you there!

John Freeman has compiled a very useful calendar of upcoming comics events for 2018 which he's updating and adding to as news comes in, so check it out at the Down the Tubes blog here:

2000AD: Everything ends!

All the stories in 2000AD reach their natural conclusion in the next issue, preparing the way for the bumper Christmas edition that follows. Here's a preview...

UK & DIGITAL: 6th December 2017 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 6th January 2018 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: BLACK SNOW by Michael Carroll (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

THARG'S 3RILLERS: THE HOUSE OF GILDED PEAK by Eddie Robson (w) Steven Austin (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

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