Tuesday, September 19, 2017

POPEYE Sweet Cigarette Cards (1960s)

Just for a change of topic, let's look at something different, but kind of related to comics. "Sweet Cigarettes" were a very popular treat when I was a kid and there were numerous brands associated with them. Today you'd know them better as "Candy Sticks" but back in the 1960s they had a dob of red colouring on one end to give the illusion of a lit cigarette. 

They became "Candy Sticks" later because it was deemed inappropriate for little kids to mimic smokers. Although they never inspired me to start smoking, they did encourage a sweet tooth! 
There were loads of characters who had their own Sweet Cigarette packets; Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, Huckleberry Hound, and many more. Each packet had a free full colour card inside, encouraging kids to collect the set of 50 or thereabouts. This was, as you may know, a junior version of the cards given with packs of real cigarettes in the early to mid-20th Century. 

The examples I'm showing here today are from the Popeye sets produced by Primrose Confectionary of Slough. I think there were four sets in all, but I only have the few shown here. (I doubt anyone ate their way through over 200 packs to get every card!) They originated from the early 1960s but they must have been reprinted as I had these in the late '60s.
As for their relevance to comics, I believe that some Popeye cards (if not all) were drawn by Denis Gifford. That certainly looks like his lettering, and he could mimic the style well enough to do a convincing Popeye. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

Monday, September 18, 2017

New DWM out this Thursday

Here's the cover to Doctor Who Magazine No.517, which will arrive in shops on Thursday 21st September. It features another 84 packed pages of interviews, news, reviews, and features, plus the regular 12th Doctor comic strip, and another Daft Dimension strip from me. 

Here's a preview of one panel. It's always a thrill to draw the Daleks for the official magazine! 

You'll find Doctor Who Magazine in WH Smith, Asda, Tesco, and various other stores. 

The unrivalled Phoenix?

I was pleasantly surprised to see the latest issue of The Phoenix in my local Sainsbury's yesterday. Apparently it's a four week experiment in certain areas to see how it fares in those supermarkets. The comic is already available in WH Smith and Waitrose, (as well as many comics speciality shops), so let's hope it does well. 

The Phoenix is fast approaching its 300th issue (out in two weeks time) so there's no doubt that it's a successful comic. Its 32 pages feature all-new comics content every issue from some of the UK's top creators. It has clearly engaged with its readers, and proved that today's kids still like comics. 

To my mind though, the big question is; where are the rival publications? The closest is the perennial Beano of course, still the king of comics, and there are numerous children's magazines, some of which, like Toxic, feature a few comics pages, but aren't devoted to comics content like Beano and The Phoenix are.

Years ago, competition between comics companies was fierce, with publishers imitating each other to capture the attention of readers. IPC and D.C. Thomson would compete with their own lines of comics, and, later, the soaring popularity of Viz saw numerous imitators on the stands. Yet here we have The Phoenix, almost 300 issues old, and nothing new has yet attempted to imitate its successful format.

I would guess the reason is in the way The Phoenix has been a "slow burn" title; starting with subscription-only availability, then very gradually widening its distribution, firstly into Waitrose, then Smiths (and even then, only selected branches). That's not a business model that would be rewarding for the major publishers. They're more geared up to publish titles that need to start big from the outset (and if they don't, they're dropped). 

It's understandable then, why Egmont or Future Publishing haven't released their rival to The Phoenix. At present, The Phoenix probably isn't seen as a threat to them. However, if the Sainsbury's experiment works, giving The Phoenix even more exposure, who knows what might develop? 

As I understand it, The Phoenix is an independent comic, but one with a lot of money behind it thanks to David Fickling. What's needed is another entrepreneur willing to take the same risks with a new comic. There doesn't seem to be anyone on the horizon at the moment, but as The Phoenix continues its upward climb, the evidence strengthens that there is a market for more children's comics in this country.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dan Dare No.2!

Here's Chris Weston's variant cover to Dan Dare No.2, coming soon from Titan Comics! 

(W) Peter Milligan (A) Alberto Fouche (CA) Chris Weston
The classic British hero returns for brand-new adventures, written by Peter Milligan with art by Alberto Fouche! Featuring cover by superstar artist Christian Ward (ODY-C, Black Bolt)! For the first time in human history,the Sol system is at peace and Dan Dare, pilot of the future, is bored out of his mind - and praying for something to break the monotony of peace. When an unknown alien vessel of biblical proportions arrives in the solar system and obliterates a moon of Saturn in a show of strength, Dare finds himself thrust back into a new adventure that threatens not just Earth - but all life in the entire universe!
In Comic Shops: Nov 08, 2017
...and here's the cover by the interior artist, Alberto Fouche. (Cover number is incorrect. It's No.2).

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Preview: Judge Dredd Megazine No.388

Courtesy of Rebellion, here's a preview of Judge Dredd Megazine No.388, which arrives in shops on Wednesday 20th September!

UK & DIGITAL: 20th September 2017 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 20th October 2017 $13

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: COLLATERAL DAMAGE by TC Eglington (w) Nick Dyer (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ANDERSON: NWO by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Boland (l)

DEVLIN WAUGH: BLOOD DEBT by Rory McConville (w) Mike Dowling (a) Simon Bowland (l)

DREDD: FURIES by Arthur Wyatt, Alex De Campi (w) Paul Davidson (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

DOMINION by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Comic Auteurs: Frank Miller by Colin Smith
New Comics: Dave Gibbons & Tim Pilcher interview by Karl Stock
Alfonso Azpiri obituary by Karl Stock

Bagged graphic novel: Whatever Happened to...? by Pat Mills, Gordon Rennie, Simon Spurrier, Alan Grant (w) Chris Weston, Garry Leach Graham Manley, Rufus Dayglo, Roger Langridge, Carlos Trigo, Steve Roberts, Robin Smith (a) Tom Frame, Roger Langridge, Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville

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

Cover preview: 2000AD Prog 2049

Everything ends in this issue of 2000AD, out on Wednesday, so I'm only showing the front cover to avoid any spoilers. 

UK & DIGITAL: 20th September 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 20th October 2017 $7.99

In this issue:
Judge Dredd: War Buds by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwall (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

The Alienist: Inhuman Natures by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Eoin Coveney (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Greysuit: Foul Play by Pat Mills (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Future Shocks: Alt-Life by Rory McConville (w) Jake Lynch (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Hope: ... For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) (c) Simon Bowland (l)

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

...and the following week it's a jumping on point for new and lapsed readers with Prog 2050, a bumper-sized £3.99 issue. Here's the advert showing the cover art. More info and strip previews next Saturday!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Before Leopardboy there was... Cat Girl! (1969)

Five years before Billy Farmer became The Leopard from Lime Street in Buster, "ordinary Cathy" fought crime as The Cat Girl in IPC's new girls' weekly Sally. The strip debuted in the first issue in 1969, and the example shown here is from Sally No.4, dated 5th July 1969. 

Unlike Billy Farmer who was scratched by a radioactive leopard, Cathy's powers were derived from a non-violent source; a magical costume. When wearing the cat costume, Cathy became "agile as an acrobat, quick as a lightning flash". 

Does anyone know who the writer and artist were of The Cat Girl? Let me know in the comments below if so. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy this look back at a forgotten British superhero!

A new series for the First Doctor

Ever since David Bradley was cast as William Hartnell in the drama An Adventure In Space and Time, fans of a certain age, and of classic Doctor Who, have been wishing for David Bradley to play the part of the first Doctor. As we know, he's been cast in the part for the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special alongside Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor but fans hoped for a full series... and it's about to come true! 

Big Finish productions are to launch The First Doctor Adventures as a series of audio plays with brand new stories featuring the first Doctor and his companions. The compabnions Susan, Ian, and Barbara will be played by the actors who performed those roles on An Adventure In Space and Time. Admittedly it's on audio CD and not on TV but it's the closest we're going to get as a revival of the first Doctor and I'm sure it'll be very welcomed. 

It starts in December and you can read all about it on the Big Finish site here:

Colour ad for WHAM! No.1 (1964)

Earlier this year (see here) I showed how Eagle comic had promoted the launch of Wham! comic in 1964 with various black and white ads. Boys' World went one better and advertised the first issue in full colour. There's the half-page advert above, from Boys' World Vol.2 No.25, dated 20th June 1964, showing part of Leo Baxendale's cover for Wham! No.1.

As we know, in time, Wham! would be joined by sister papers Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic, and Terrific to form the 'Power Comics' imprint, but in the beginning, Wham! was seen as a companion comic to Boys' World and Eagle

I'll be showing more pages from Boys' World soon! 

Out now from Panini UK

A quick look at the Panini comics in newsagents this week as the new "Iron Man" debuts with 15 year old Riri Williams donning the armour (she's known as Ironheart). I wonder if the movies will reflect this in the future when Robert Downey Jr's contract runs out? 

Marvel Legends Vol. 3 #15. On sale 14th September 2017.

100-Page Action-Packed Special, Featuring Marvel’s ‘Big 3’ – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor! £3.99!
Brace yourselves to meet, Riri Williams, the all-new Iron Man!
Plus, Hydra is growing in power! S.H.I.E.L.D. are helpless to stop them! And behind it all, Captain America! 
Also, The Asgard/Shi'ar War begins! The Shi'Ar Empire lays siege to Asgard! 
By Nick Spencer, Jesús Saiz, Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman!
Includes material reprinted from Captain America: Steve Rogers #7, Invincible Iron Man #1-2, and Thor #15!

Astonishing Spider-Man Vol.6 #29. On sale 14th September 2017. 

76 pages of action-packed arachnid-adventure! Only £3.99!
A Clone Conspiracy chapter! How and why is Gwen Stacy working with The Jackal?!!
Also, will Silk succumb to the temptation of New U’s miracles?!!
Plus, a Civil War II chapter! The events of Civil War take their toll on Spider-Man and his fellow Young Avengers!
By Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Robbie Thompson, Irene Strychalski, Brian Michael Bendis and Nico Leon.
Includes material reprinted from Amazing Spider-Man #23, Silk #16 and Spider-Man: Miles Morales #8.

...and for younger readers...

Disney's Elena of Avalor No.7

Princess Elena is on the trail of her friend Skylar the jaquin, who can be a little mischievious sometimes! Complete all the sticker activities plus enjoy two fabulous craft makes. You also have the chance to win an Ariel Styling Head.
Issue Number: 7
Price: £3.99
Covermounted Gift: Fantastic free gift
On sale: Thursday 14th September 2017

Marvel Play Time No.29

Check out Spider-Man’s total team up with Miles Morales. Can anyone stand a chance against TWO Spideys? Also beware – the Scientist Supreme is causing havoc as he creates a bunch of Avengers clones. Collect an awesome fact poster and become a baddie with wicked masks. Let’s go, little heroes!
Issue number: 29
Price: £3.99
Covermount: FREE Paddle Bat!
Competition Info: WIN Awesome Avengers Walkie Talkies!
On Sale: 14th Sep – 11th Oct 2017

Scooby-Doo No.227

Who keeps crashing parties and scaring everyone away? Uncover the ghost in this issue’s comic strip. Use your detective skills to find the culprit behind the angry diver beast and go on a monster dodger race track. Learn how to draw bog goblins and try Dracula’s weird wordsearch. Let’s go, junior snoopers!
Issue Number: 227
Price: £3.99
Covermounted Gift: Cool FREE Gift!
Competition Info: WIN a Scooby Snack Attack toy and lots of fun games from John Adams!
On Sale: Thursday 7th Sep – 18th Oct 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Leo Baxendale in Boys' World (1964)

Before Wham! there was Boys' World, also published by Odhams. Admittedly it was a posher comic than its soon-to-be-born rough and ready kid brother, in most ways anyway. However, there were some similarities in design and in one issue it featured this wonderful double-page spread by Leo Baxendale! (Click on it to see it full size.)

This is from Boys' World Vol.2 No.4, dated 25th January 1964, which was the first birthday issue of the publication. Bob Batholomew was the editor, who would soon become known to readers as "Bart" of "Alf and Bart" fame, who along with "Cos" would be the editors of the Power Comics. Boys' World sadly merged into Eagle in late 1964 after less than 90 issues in total.

Having bought a stack of Boys' World comics recently I can see it was a very good comic but I'm sure there were various reasons why it didn't last long. I think the title 'Boys' World' was one of them. (It certainly put me off buying the annuals. Personally I wanted to feel I was reading something for a slightly older reader, not be constantly reminded that I was a child.) A more dynamic title might have helped, I think.

I'll be showing more examples of this great comic in the coming weeks. 

The horrors to come!

British publisher PS Publishing have more hardback collections of pre-code American horror comics on their schedule. Here's the info on two books that will be available early in 2018...

(A) L. B. Cole, Jay Disbrow, Lee Leob, A.C. Hollingsworth, Jack Kamen
The great Jay Disbrow (who died just a few weeks ago on 2 May) featured memorably in this often overlooked and certainly unsung gem, appearing alongside the likes of L.B. Cole and EC stalwart Jack Kamen. Folks, this is an embarrassment of riches, truly it is. There are no slouches at all in these five comics. Collects issues #120-124 (September 1953 to September 1954).
In Shops: Feb 07, 2018

(A) Alex Toth, Art Saaf, Jack Katz, Mike Sekowsky, Rocke Mastroserio, Nick Cardy, Mike Roy, Gene Fawcette, George Tuska
It was the 1950's - the Atomic Age, the Cold War, and just the before the Space Race. Comics books were the education, the entertainment, and, according to some, the downfall of America. What a great time! We loved to be scared - still do, it seems - from the comfort of our own home, secure in the knowledge that there's no real danger (or so we think). Nothing could match the imagination, the surprise, and the chilling-of-your-spine like the great horror comics of yesteryear. Who Is Next? #5, is a suspense one-shot and features a town terrorized by a serial killer. Collects The Unseen #11-15 (August 1953 to July 1954) and Who Is Next? #5 (January 1953).
In Shops: Jan 31, 2018

You'll be able to pre-order them from the publisher soon!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Next stop: Preston Comic Con!

The next show on my events calendar for this year will be Preston Comic Con on Saturday 23rd September, at the Guild Hall, Preston. As you can see from the poster above, it's a multi-media event including TV stars too. Looking forward to catching up with Dan Starkey and Trev and Simon again, along with comics pals Laura Howell, Phil Winslade and John Higgins, and meeting new people. Hope to see you there! 

Convention website:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Thanks for ICE2017!

Another ICE (International Comic Expo) has come and gone and once again it proved to be an enjoyable event and a highlight of the convention calendar. A better venue this year at the BCEC, albeit a slightly smaller show, but still busy and good fun. 
I didn't really have a chance to take many photos of the event but I'm sure there'll be plenty by others online. My thanks to organiser Shane Chebsey and his team including Valentina Sannais, James Fletcher, Andy Richmond and all for their hard work and hospitality. It was also great to catch up with friends in the comics industry such as David Leach, Jessica Martin, Steve Tanner and his family, Paul H. Birch, Jatinder Ghatora, Dylan Teague, Paul Trimble, Staz Johnson, Olly MacNamee, Ian Richardson, Steve Pugh, Glenn Fabry, Dan Slott (far too briefly), Laura Howell, Mike and Cassandra Conroy and many others. 
The queue for Dan Slott's signing stretched to outside the hall.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table for a sketch and comics. Combat Colin continues to sell well and I'm hoping to get issue No.2 out in November! 
Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott.
There were some interesting panel discussions at ICE2017 that unfortunately I didn't get to see as I was busy at my table but attendees I spoke to all said how much they enjoyed them. All in all, it was a very successful event and I'm already looking forward to next year's show! 

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Prog Preview: 2000AD Prog 2048

Here's an advance look at 2000AD Prog 2048, arriving in shops on Wednesday 13th September...

UK & DIGITAL: 13th September 2017 £2.65
NORTH AMERICA: 13th October 2017 $7.99

In this issue:

Judge Dredd: War Buds by John Wagner (w) Dan Cornwall (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

The Alienist: Inhuman Natures by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Eoin Coveney (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Greysuit: Foul Play by Pat Mills (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Future Shocks: Terminal by Rory McConville (w) Tilen Javornik (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Hope: ... For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) (c) Simon Bowland (l)

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

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