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Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Art of Reginald Heade

The Art of Reginald Heade has been a labour of love for author Stephen James Walker. Collecting Heade artwork is no easy task, nor a cheap one. As a collector of old cheap gangster digests, I can attest that books were relatively cheap in the 1980s, but began to creep steadily upwards in price in the 1990s. In the 2000s, some Heade books were going for three figures as interest spread to collectors in the USA. Scarcity meant contemporary British digests were also rising in price, but nothing when compared to titles that could boast Heade covers.

To have all these rare book covers in one place fulfils a collector's dream. I can speak with first hand knowledge of how difficult it is to gather all of Heade's covers into one place, having taken over for some years (2003-06) the Hank Janson website set up by Allan Tagg. Heade was a prolific paperback cover artist in the post war years for some of the cheapest, lousiest publishers around, and to lay your hands on a high quality copy of any of his books is nowadays akin to a miracle.

The book is astonishingly complete for those covers we know about. Beginning in 1933, Heade began producing covers for the popular magazine Britannia and Eve, a task he continued for a decade, and dust jackets for hardbacked books. The Second World War cut short what would have been a glittering career. He suddenly faced an uncertain future as magazines folded and book publishing became patchy at best as paper shortages devastated he publishing industry.

It was only in the post-war era of cheap paperbacks that Heade thrived again, painting covers for most of the Hank Janson novels and for many of Hank's rivals. His talents were spotted early by Raymond Locker, who employed Heade for his Paul Renin romance novels and gangster yarns by Michael Storme, Gene Ross and Spike Morelli, amongst others. When the Lockers headed across the pond to set up Leisure Library, Heade was one of their major selling points.

A golden age was dulled by the death of his wife and the enforced departure of his daughter; Heade struggled on even as his publishers were gradually forced out of existence through destruction orders and prosecution. He resurfaced as Cy Webb, painting covers for Panther Books and Pan Books, but his health declined and he died at the age of 56.

For the most part, the book is everything that fans will want. Short bursts of text give context to the various sections the book is broken down into (Hank Janson, Locker & Co., US editions, harbacks, periodicals, etc.) with the bulk of the book's 168 pages given over to cover reproductions. The majority are presented four to the page, with selected covers shown full page. His fully-illustrated children's books (Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe) are reproduced at much smaller size, which is a shame, as they are uncommon and deserve to be seen at their best.

Whilst larger reproductions in places would be nice, it is a case of wanting more rather than problems within the book.* If I have any complaint to make, it is that the scarcity of some books has resulted in a number of rather poor scans being reproduced. The low quality of the original printing and paper doesn't help matters, but some scans have obvious jpeg artifacts, notably Plaything of Passion (p.53), Girl of the Bordellos (p.78), Don't Fall Sucker (p.98) and elsewhere.

Overall, this is everything the Heade collector could want. There is an author's note at the back in which author Walker mentions a number of titles that might be Heade and a second noting a handful of titles that have escaped his efforts to find. I've racked my brains trying to think of any covers that are missing from the book and I can think of only one – it's unsigned but I suspect this could be Heade.

The Art of Reginald Heade by Stephen James Walker. Telos Publications ISBN 978-1845-83115-8, January 2017, 168pp, £26.99. Available from Telos / Amazon.

* I've found only one actual error: p.106, The Two Red Capsules by David Lindsay was published by John Hamilton rather than Hamilton & Co., the commonly-used abbreviation for Hamilton & Co. (Stafford) Ltd., as used elsewhere in the book.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Comic Cuts - 20 January 2017

I've had quite a fun week dipping into past projects. The job that pays the rent was all packed off to the printers by end of play Tuesday, and I was able to take a look at a package of correspondence sent to me by someone who was involved in trying to put together a Hank Janson TV series back in the 1980s and to relaunch the books. It came to nought, the blame laid squarely at the feet of the copyright owners who wanted too much money.

By coincidence, I've also had some correspondence with a relative of Hank's creator, Steve Frances, and, of course, Telos have just released The Art of Reginald Heade, which I'll be reviewing tomorrow. All this, plus the recent flood warnings that we've had down the east coast of Anglia put me in mind of a rather scarce Hank Janson spin-off, Britain's Great Flood Disaster.

On 31 January 1953, a storm surge whipped up the spring tide in the North Sea, driving water into the channel between England and Holland, breaching sea walls and flooding more than 12,000 homes. 307 people were killed.

Frances and his publisher put together a glossy, 64-page book, filled with photographs of the disaster and the relief operation with the story of the flooding told by Hank Janson through a lengthy article and dozens of captions. It was priced 2/6 and the entire print run was offered to the Lord Mayor's Fund for the relief of the flood's victims. It was refused because they had no way of distributing the title. Other relief organisations also turned the book down, so Reg Carter, of New Fiction Press, arranged his own distribution, and the book was hawked around football grounds and greyhound tracks.

This way the book was able to make a small profit which was fed to various charities. Unfortunately for Carter, what he did with the profits was no concern of the Inland Revenue. Their only interest was taking their share of tax on the profits and what had started out as a charitable gesture to aid people in desperate need ended up costing Reg Carter a considerable sum.

And so to today's random scans, which have the "floody" theme of water. Two Sam Peffer covers, a Heade and one signed Paul, who also did western covers for Badger Books. That just leaves Lonely Water, which might be S. R. Boldero, although I wouldn't swear to it.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases 18 January 2017

2000AD Prog 2014
Judge Dredd: Deep In The Heart by Michael Carroll (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Kingmaker by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Kingdom: As It Is In Heaven by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
The Order:  Wyrm War by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hope: ...For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rebellion's 2017 graphic novel line-up

From boy wizards to future cops, from Martians trashing England to missions through post-apocalyptic landscapes – the 40th anniversary year of Britain’s biggest comic will be packed with incredible new collections!

2000 AD celebrates its birthday in February and this year’s slate of graphic novel releases showcases just some of the breadth and depth of four decades of groundbreaking and innovative comics.
Highlights of 2017 include the first ever collection of Alan McKenzie and John Ridgway’s The Journal of Luke Kirby – the boy wizard character that predated Harry Potter – as well as strong new characters such as Meta Lawson in Lawless: Welcome to Badrock, Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade’s fan favourite series about an off-world Judge doing things her own way with frontier justice.

Kek-W and legendary comics artist John Burns blaze through 10,000 years of history and combine a robotic knight, an ancient order of warriors, a young woman searching for the legacy of her father, and giant time-travelling worms in The Order.

John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Mick McMahon’s bleak post-apocalyptic The Last American returns to print for the first time in over a decade in April; and a brand new collection of Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s Scarlet Traces kicks off both the year and the ongoing saga about the shocking aftermath of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds.

Fans of Britain’s biggest comics export, Judge Dredd, won’t be disappointed either, with Michael Carroll’s modern epic Every Empire Falls in January and new volumes of the bestselling Judge Dredd: The Complete Cases Files series in August and November, along with early cases from the life of psychic cop Judge Anderson in Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra, and Steve Yeowell’s Cadet Anderson: Teenage Kyx.

Being collected for the first time on both sides of the Atlantic in July is the latest comic based on the world of the 2012 movie DREDD, with Judge Anderson stepping into the limelight in Anderson: The Deep End by Alec Worley and Paul Davidson.

Most of 2017’s list will be available simultaneously in the UK, Ireland, and North America, but this year sees three dedicated Dredd titles for the US and Canadian market – Judge Dredd Case Files 13 and 14, and Judge Dredd: The Cape and Cowl Crimes, which collects the lawman’s deadly encounters with some of the most bizarre superpowered criminals you’ll ever meet!

2000 AD’s graphic novels are available to buy from all good book and comic book shops, as well as through 2000adonline.com, Amazon, and other online retailers. Digital copies can be purchased from the 2000 AD webshop as well as the 2000 AD apps for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices.
Retailers can order 2000 AD graphic novels through Harper Collins in the UK and Simon & Schuster in North America, as well as through Diamond Distribution. (Books given prices in both pounds and dollars will be available in both UK and USA, whilst some titles are UK or USA only.)

Please note: this list is of 2000 AD releases only, it does not include releases from the recently-acquired Fleetway/IPC archive, a schedule for which will be released in a few weeks time.


JANUARY

Cadet Anderson: Teenage Kyx by Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra, Patrick Goddard & Steve Yeowell
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08539-4, 12 January 2017, £14.99. Available from Amazon.
Judge Anderson's adventures as a cadet Judge on the mean streets of Mega-City One, collected for the first time! When the psychically powerful 3-year-old Cassandra Anderson killed her abusive father, she was taken into the custody of Justice Department, who blocked the memories of her traumatic childhood. Inducted into the Psi-Division as a cadet, where the Judges use telepaths, empaths, precogs, and others with psychic abilities to aid the fight against crime, Anderson is thrown in the deep end as she faces up to the worst Mega-City One has to offer.

The Complete Scarlet Traces volume 1 by Ian Edginton & D'Israeli
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08501-1 (UK) / 978-1781-08502-8 (US), 12 January 2017, £15.99 / $19.99. Available from Amazon.
The celebrated comic book sequel to H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds in a brand-new omnibus edition, complete with an adaptation of the original novel. Beginning with a visionary adaptation of the seminal novel, the collection also includes the first of three stories set a decade after the Martian invasion. Great Britain has cannibalized Martian technology and now Hansom cabs scuttle along on multi-limbed crab legs, and the Martian heat-ray has become the weapon with which the British Empire dominates the world. When the bodies of several young women are found washed up on the banks of the Thames, Captain Robert Autumn and his former Sergeant-Manjor Archie Currie are drawn into a mystery that leads them from gin palaces to the corridors of power and the very Hall of the Martian King.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 13 (USA) by John Wagner, Steve Yeowell, Will Simpson, Carlos Ezquerra & Chris Weston
ISBN 978-1781-08498-4, 12 January 2017, $25. Available from Amazon.
Mega-City One 2111AD, and the streets are awash with crime perpetrated by all manner of rogue citizens, whether it be a murderous child genius or a super-intelligent rottweiler called Rex. There is a solution to this problem and his name is Judge Dredd. Judge, jury and executioner, Dredd is the ultimate future cop!
     This volume of the best-selling Case Files series includes work by John Wagner, Alan Grant, John Higgins, Colin MacNeil and many more – and features key stories in the character's development including A Letter To Judge Dredd and Young Giant.

FEBRUARY

Thrill Power Overload: Forty Years of 2000 AD by David Bishop and Karl Stock
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08522-6, February 2017, 320 pages, £35 /$45.00. Available from Amazon.
The definitive history of the most influential British comic ever! Updated, expanded and revised for 2000AD‘s 40th anniversary. From the comic’s humble and rocky beginnings to its current position as the Galaxy s Greatest comic, Thrill-Power Overload charts the incredible history of this ground-breaking comic. With exclusive interviews, hundreds of illustrations and rarely-seen artwork, former 2000AD editor, David Bishop and journalist Karl Stock, guide the reader through four decades of action, adventure, excitement and the occasional editorial nightmare!
    Told by the people who were there, this is the definitive history of the comic that launched a thousand talents including legends such as John Wagner, Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Carlos Ezquerra, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon, Grant Morrison, Kevin O’Neill, Simon Bisley and continues with 21st Century breakthrough talents such as Jock, Rob Williams, Andy Diggle, Al Ewing, Henry Flint, Frazer Irving – and many many more.

2000 AD's Greatest: Celebrating 40 Years of Thrill-Power! by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Rob Williams, Steve MacManus, Kevin O’Neill, Pat Mills, Malcom Shaw, John Smith (w), Duncan Fegredo, Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra, Dylan Teague, Kevin O’Neill, Colin Wilson, Steve Dillon, John Burns, Chris Weston (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08540-0, February 2017, 122 pages, £12.99. Available from Amazon.
From humorously twisted Future Shocks to the dystopian escapades of Judge Dredd2000AD has inspired generations of readers and has spawned some of the greatest talents in the comics industry.
To celebrate the creative droids behind the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, a selection of writers and artists from across 2000AD’s forty-year history were asked to choose their favourite one-off story by a fellow creator and explain why they chose it. The result is this incredible anthology featuring work by Alan Grant, Kevin O’Neill, Rob Williams, Brian Bolland, Chris Weston and Steve Dillon selected by creators such as founding editor Pat Mills, celebrated artist Jock and recent newcomer Tom Foster.

Judge Dredd: Every Empire Falls by Michael Caroll (w), Paul Davidson, Colin MacNeil, Henry Flint, PJ Holden, Carlos Ezquerra (a), Chris Blythe, Adam Brown (c), Annie Parkhouse (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08531-8, February 2017, 240 pages, £19.99 / $25. Available from Amazon.
R.I.P. JUDGE DREDD?
Following the decimation of Mega-City One during Chaos Day, Judges from other friendly Justice Departments have been brought in to strengthen the ranks and help maintain law and order on the streets. Amongst the newcomers is Fintan Joyce son of a former Emerald Isle Judge, who teamed up with Judge Dredd in one of the most fondly remembered Dredd stories. Exploiting the Big Meg’s weakened state, several groups have risen up against the Judges, including the Goblin King’s Undercity army and a mutant group lead by the monstrous Thorn, who have been attacking Cursed Earth outposts. If things couldn t get any worse, Dredd has fallen foul of Brit-Cit and they want him in prison or on a slab! Have the odds finally stacked up enough to spell the end of Mega-City One s greatest lawman?

MARCH

The Order: Die Mensch Maschine by Kek-W (w), John Burns (a), Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08527-1, March 2017, 128 pages, £14.99 / $20. Available from Amazon.
In 13th Century Germany, while reading the papers of her dead father young Anna Kohl uncovers a shocking secret – that defending Earth from an other-worldly menace is a secret cadre of warriors known only as The Order. Now she, and her father’s rag-tag former comrades, must do battle with the sinister forces of these eldritch creatures!
From Teutonic Knights with robot heads to gun-toting warriors in high speed pursuits on the streets of Elizabethan Engand, The Order is an incredible genre mash-up of medieval and Renaissance history, action movies, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, and Hammer Horror!

Kingdom: Aux Drift by Dan Abnett (w), Richard Elson (a), Abigail Ryder (c), Simon Bowland and Ellie De Ville (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08528-8, March 2017, 144 pages, £15.99 / $21.99. Available from Amazon.
In the far future, mankind has been all but destroyed and survivors are forced to hide from ‘Them’ – giant insectile creatures that have taken over the world – with only savage genetically engineered dog-soldiers like Gene the Hackman to guard them. Having travelled the Earth without his pack, Gene now leads a band of mongrel “aux” warriors known as the Wild Bunch. They live alongside some human survivors in The Kingdom. But ‘Them’ are growing in number and the Kingdom is getting harder to defend…

APRIL

Judge Dredd: The Cape and Cowl Crimes (US edition) by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Andy Lanning, Steve White, Robbie Morrison, Simon Spurrier, Alec Worley (w), Eric Powell, Alan Davis, Simon Bisley, Carlos Ezquerra, and Ben Willsher, Mike Collins, Dermot Power, Richard Elson, Paul Marshall (a), Chris Blythe (c), Tom Frame, Annie Parkhouse, Sam Gretton (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08525-7, April 2017, 160 pages, $19.99. Available on Amazon.
COSTUMES ARE FOR CREEPS! From super-powered aliens to Cursed Earth mutants, Judge Dredd dishes out justice to all in this action-packed collection of stories from some of comic’s biggest talents.
    There are plenty of law-breaking freaks amongst the citizenship of the Big Meg. From Futsies to Umpty-baggers, the Judges have their hands full. But the worst offenders are those who try and enforce their own brand of justice. Especially that strange strain of vigilante who chooses to hit the streets in brightly-coloured spandex!

The Last American by John Wagner & Alan Grant (w), Mick McMahon (a), Phil Felix (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08544-8, April 2017, 144 pages, £17.99 / $24. Available from Amazon.
Twenty years after a global nuclear war destroyed the world, Captain Ulysses Pilgrim is woken from suspended animation by three military robot aides.  Selected by his superiors to survive the initial onslaught, Pilgrim now has one last mission; to scour through post-holocaust U.S.A. in the search for other survivors.

MAY

Summer Magic: The Complete Journal of Luke Kirby by Alan McKenzie (w), John Ridgeway, Steve Parkhouse, Graham Higgins, Tim Perkins, Nick Abazis (a), Gina Hart, Tim Perkins (c), Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville, Steve Potter, Gary Gilbert, (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08541-7, May 2017, 288 pages, £19.99 / $25.

Sláine: The Brutania Chronicles Book Three by Pat Mills (w), Simon Davis (a), Ellie De Ville (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08546-2 (hc), May 2017, 96 pages, £15.99.
Albion, in a time of legend. Celtic warrior SL ÁINE united the tribes of the Earth Goddess Danu and became the first High King of Ireland, before returning to being a wanderer. Now, having journeyed to the Isle of Monadh to rescue Sinead from the Drune Lords, he’s discovered that they have been experimenting on their own creations — including the brutal, superhuman Primordial, whom Sláine has just learnt is his old friend Gort…

JUNE

The Complete Skizz by Alan Moore & Jim Baikie (w), Jim Baikie (a), Tony Jacob (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08542-4, June 2017, 240 pages, £19.99 / $25. Available from Amazon.
The ultimate illegal alien! Alan Moore’s out of print classic returns in a brand new complete collection!
    When Interpreter Zhcchz of the Tau-Ceti Imperium crashed his ship into the small blue Hellworld -classed planet, the odds of surviving were stacked against him. Stranded in the polluted, hostile British city of Birmingham, ‘Skizz’ is befriended by Roxy, a plucky young local girl. But danger is ever present – from bad food to Prime Minister Thatcher’s hostile government alien-hunters, this E.T. may soon be R.I.P!

Lawless: Welcome to Badrock by Dan Abnett (w), Phil Winslade (a), Ellie De Ville (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08543-1, June 2017, 128 pages, £14.99.

JULY

Absalom: Under A False Flag by Gordon Rennie (w), Tiernen Trevallion (a), Simon Bowland (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08545-5, July 2017, 128 pages, £12.99.

Anderson: The Deep End by Alec Worley (w), Paul Davidson (a), Simon Bowland (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08553-0, July 2017, 96 pages, £12.99 / $17.99. Available from Amazon.
When the dust settles… the bodycount rises! Continuing the story of the cult 2012 movie DREDD.
After the brutal day in which Ma Ma and her gang were brought down telepath-Judge Anderson is trying to adjust to the brutal life of a Street Judge. After investigating a claim of demonic possession, she finds herself at odds with a merciless drug cartel.
    Soon after, when lethal radioactive storms from the post-apocalyptic wasteland known as the CursedEarth hit the city, they bring more than just dust into Mega-City One.When unexplained killings coincide with the storms, Judge Dredd is forced to hunt a mysterious mutant and take his ruthless brand of justice into the Cursed Earth.

AUGUST

Judge Dredd: Case Files 14 (US edition) by John Wagner (w), Will Simpson, Carlos Ezquerra, Jeff Anderson (a), Tom Frame (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08547-9, August 2017, 272 pages, $25.
The Big Meg is under siege from the Dark Judges and the Sisters of Death. Meanwhile Judge Dredd has been exiled to the harsh wastelands of the Cursed Earth and time is running out for the citizens he once swore to protect. With the body-count rising, will Dredd be able to return in time to stop the utter annihilation of the city!?”

Judge Dredd: Case Files 29 by John Wagner, John Wagner, Pat Mills, Alan Grant, Dan Abnett, Mark Millar, Robbie Morrison, Jim Alexander, Andrew Cartmel, John Smith, Alan Barnes, Paul Neal, Tony Skinner (w), John Burns, Jason Brashill, Cliff Robinson, Simon Jacob, Anthony Williams, Steve Yeowell, Carlos Ezquerra, Colin Macneil, Lee Sullivan, Ashley Sanders, Simon Davis, Paul Marshall, Tom Carney, Maya Gavin, Dean Ormston, Ray Bryant, Marc Wigmore (a)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08548-6, August 2017, 288 pages, £19.99. Available from Amazon.
The war on crime gets tougher, as the Justice Department (after Dredd’s approval) unveil the brand new Lawgiver Mark II firearm!

SEPTEMBER

Survival Geeks by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w), Neil Googe (a), Gary Caldwell (c), Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville (l)
Rebellion ISBN 9781781085547, September 2017, 112 pages, £12.99 / $17.99. Available from Amazon.
Survival Geeks, a media-savvy sci-fi adventure! A parody of contemporary geek culture, for fans of Fanboys and Scott Pilgrim.
    When Sam wakes up in the house of a group of sci-fi fans, she becomes their reluctant new housemate… after the house turns out to be a piece of misfiring trans-dimensional technology!
    The house takes them to places where no two-up two-down terraced house has gone before, from steampunk worlds to Lovecraftian elder gods. Armed only with their wits (and Star Wars trivia) the group of misfits must survive in whatever horrifying dimension or alternate reality they find themselves hurled into!
    An affectionate parody of the most popular geek cultures, this quirky comedy adventure features steampunks, dark lords and cuddly Lovecraftian horrors.

Brink by Dan Abnett (w), I.N.J. Culbard (a), Simon Bowland (l)
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08550-9, September 2017, 96 pages, £12.99 / $17.99. Available from Amazon.
Humanity is on the brink in this atmospheric space-noir from hit comics duo Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard.
    Late 21st century and Earth has been reduced to an uninhabited wasteland. What was left of humanity was evacuated into overpopulated space stations, or Habitats . A hotbed for crime and strange new religious sects, the Habitat Security Division has no shortage of work. No-nonsense Investigator Bridget Kurtis soon finds herself embroiled in a life or death struggle with a sinister cult and what she uncovers has disturbing implications for the future of the human race…

OCTOBER

The Complete Future Shocks, Volume 1 by Various creators
Rebellion, October 2017, 320 pages, TBC.

Scarlet Traces Volume 2 by Ian Edginton (w), D’israeli (a), Annie Parkhouse (l)
Rebellion, October 2017, 320 pages, TBC.

NOVEMBER

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 30 by Various creators
Rebellion, November 2017, 288 pages, £19.99/ $25.

DECEMBER

The Fall of Deadworld by Kek-W (w), Dave Kendall (a), Annie Parkhouse (l), Ellie De Ville (l)
Rebellion, December 2017, 144 pages, £19.99 / $25.

M.A.C.H.1 – The John Probe Mission Files by Various creators
Rebellion, December 2017, 176 pages, TBC.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gary Gibson cover gallery

Angel Stations (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2004)
Tor/Pan Macmillan 1405-03445-9, (Oct) 2004, 392pp, £10.99 [tpb]. Cover by Steve Rawlings
Tor 0330-42017-8, (Jul) 2004, 552pp, £6.99. Cover by Steve Rawlings
Tor 978-1447-22412-9 (Jun) 2013, 552pp, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Against Gravity (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2005)
Tor/Pan Macmillan 1405-03446-7, (Aug) 2005, 378pp, £10.99 [tpb]. Cover by Steve Rawlings
Tor/Pan Macmillan 0330-42018-6, 524pp, £6.99. Cover by Steve Rawlings
Tor 978-0230-76355-5, (Aug) 2011, 384pp, £14.99 [tpb]. Cover by Steve Stone
Tor 978-1447-33413-6, (Jun) 2013, 523pp, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Stealing Light (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2007)
Tor 978-1405-09189-3, (Oct 2007), 388pp, £?.?? [tpb]. Cover by Lee Gibbons
Tor 978-0330-44596-2, (Jun) 2008, 603pp, £6.99. Cover by Lee Gibbons
Tor 978-1447-22409-9, (May) 2013, 603pp, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Nova War (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2009)
Tor 978-0330-45675-3, (Jul) 2010, 568pp, £7.99. Cover by Lee Rawlings
Tor 978-1447-22410-5, (May) 2013, 568pp, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Empire of Light (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2010)
Tor 978-0330-45676-0, (Aug) 2011, 544pp, £7.99. Cover by Lee Gibbons
Tor 978-1447-22411-2, (May) 2013, 564pp, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Final Days (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2011)
Tor 978-0330-51969-4, 2011, 372pp, £7.99. Cover by Steve Stone

The Thousand Emperors (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2012)
Tor 978-0330-51972-4, 2013, 357pp, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Marauder (London, Tor, 2013)
Tor 978-0330-51984-7, (Jul) 2014, 384pp, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Extinction Game (London, Macmillan/Tor, 2014)
Tor 978-0230-77272-4, (Sep) 2014, 400pp, £13.99 [tpb]. Cover by Steve Stone
Tor 978-1447-24272-7, 2015, £8.99. Cover by Steve Stone

Survival Game (London, Tor, Aug 2016)
Tor 978-0230-77280-9, (Aug) 2016, 352pp, £13.99.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Comic Cuts - 13 January 2017

The cold I picked up at new year has been shared around quite a few folks who were at the same party. It flourished over Wednesday through Sunday and then started to recede. It's Thursday night now, and I think I can safely say it has now gone. Aside from the blocked up nose, the worst aspect was waking up at two and four in the morning. Exhausted, I flaked out on Sunday and didn't wake up until 10 in the morning. For someone who is usually up before 7, that's late. I haven't slept in that late since my twenties, and back then it was alcohol-fuelled hangovers I woke up to, not sinus headaches. Happy days...!

In need of some cheering up during the week, I received a real treat as The Art of Reginald Heade arrived. I immediately took a four hour lunchbreak to read it and I can heartily recommend it. It's a beautiful book. I'll review it properly first chance I get. In the meantime, here's the cover. You can buy the book directly from Telos. While you're there, you can pick up a copy of The Trials of Hank Janson dirt cheap... it has some bits about Heade not included in Stephen Walker's book.

I've also blew some of my Christmas money on a couple of books: The Avengers Steed and Mrs Peel The Comic Strips, published by Big Finish to tie in with their Avengers audio dramas. And the very last Lone Pine novel by Malcolm Saville, reprinted by Girls Gone By, which now completes the set.

The Avengers Steed and Mrs Peel The Comic Strips contains eight strips reprinted from Diana, the DC Thomson girls' comic from the 1960s which is famous – amongst the small number of people who have copies in their collections, that is – for some beautifully-painted colour strips with artwork by the likes of John Burns. The Avengers appeared in 1966-67 in a series of 3- and 4-part stories with art by Emilio Frejo and Juan Gonzalez Alacreu, two superb Spanish artists of the Valencian school. Both artists knew how to capture a likeness, so Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg are instantly recognisable throughout.

If I have any complaints its simply that the pages have been reduced in size for the reprint, which made the panels difficult to read without the aid of a magnifying glass – maybe not a problem for people with 20/20 vision but I don't suppose I'm the only person wanting to read this that getting not only a bit long in the tooth, but a bit short sighted, too. I've only read a couple of the stories so far, and they're slight, being so short, but enjoyable. You can order the book from Amazon.

Peter Weston died on 5 January, aged 73, after battling cancer for three years. Weston was a long-time SF fan, editing some of the most fondly remembered fanzines published in the UK during the 1960s, Zenith and Speculation, and co-founding the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. He was Chairman of Seacon '79, the World SF Convention – my first convention. Outside of SF, Weston was the owner of a car-parts manufacturing company which, from 1984, made the rockets handed out at the Hugo Awards. After a break of many years he penned an entertaining autobiography of his life in fandom, With Stars in My Eyes (2004) and subsequently launched Prolapse (later Relapse), which included contributions about the history of British SF fandom from many Big Name Fans.

My first encounter with his work was the anthology series Andromeda, which was published by Futura (Orbit) in 1976-78, which are our random scans for the week. The first two volumes are almost still in as good condition as they were when I bought them in 1976 and 1977. I never did see the third volume in the local shops, although eventually I managed to pick up a copy at a sale when Chelmsford Library was selling off some of its damaged stock. The sticky plastic that they covered their paperbacks with was badly damaged, so I removed it entirely... taking some of the cover with it. I've cleaned it up the best I can but it isn't perfect. I'm not sure who painted the first one, but the second is Bob Layzell and the third is Gino D'Achille. The last image is a dustjacket that was dummied up in the style of an old pulp magazine for copies of Weston's autobiography, which was originally issued without a d/j.

 
 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Commando issues 4983-4986

Commando issues on sale 12th January 2017.

Commando – 4983 – The Sentinel
Over thousands of years ago, the Tyrrhenian horde besieged the tiny island of Rhodes. Although the Rhodian warriors were outnumbered, they were not afraid, as they were led by their General Theron and his friend, Nereus. But little did Theron know, his biggest enemy slept within the confines of his own camp.
    By 1942, Theron had become a legend – the location of his tomb a mystery that plagued archaeologist Gennaro Soccino. Conscripted into the Italian army stationed in Rhodes, Soccino became obsessed with finding the resting place of Theron and… The Sentinel.

Story: Steve Coombs
Art: Morahin
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando – 4984 – The One They Couldn’t Catch
Moto the Clown paused, sweat running from his face. He was about to walk along a steel wire, fifty feet above ground, suspended between two giant pylons. This had always been the climax of his circus act.
    But Moto wasn’t in the circus ring now. This time there would be no applause from the audience. The only sounds he could expect to hear was the harsh crackle of Schmeisser machine-pistols.

Introduction
This unusual outing from October 1967 is a little different from a traditional Commando adventure, which is what makes it such a rare gem worthy of another airing! While the story about a clown who joins the army does push the boundaries a smidge, how many other Commandos could boast such a plotline? A marvellous script, art – Sostres’ interior line work is simply spectacular – and Ken Barr’s whimsical yet enticing cover combine seamlessly to create this delightfully zany yarn.—The Commando Team

Story: Powell
Art: Sostres
Cover: Ken Barr
The One They Couldn’t Catch, originally Commando No 289 (October 1967)

Commando - 4985 – Mountain Strike
Lieutenant Alan Barkley was tasked with assembling a team to embark on a special ground mission, deep behind enemy lines in Burma. These soldiers would face gruelling conditions, putting their skills to the test, all whilst carrying a 3.7 inch calibre howitzer up treacherous mountain peaks.
    Rookie medic, Ben Ellis, did not expect to be enlisted for this task, and his fellow soldiers questioned his capabilities. But they soon found that venturing into enemy territory with a deadly weapon in tow takes courage and cunning to survive.

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando - 4982 – Very Important Passenger
Ferrying a V.I.P. to England from North Africa might sound like a simple enough mission, but not when it’s a worn-out old bomber only fit for the scrapheap that you’re given to do the job.
    And it doesn’t help when your Very Important Passenger panics at the first sign of an enemy aircraft… or when he pulls out a revolver and points it at your head!

Introduction
Accusations, air raids and an unpredictable passenger creates the foundations for this soaring tale. Despite completing dangerous air missions, transporting an unusual stranger may just be Frank Roach’s most difficult challenge yet. A tale of trust, filled with action from start to finish, Very Important Passenger is brought to life by Terry Patrick’s wonderful artwork.
    Sit back and enjoy as we take to the skies with Frank “Finny” Roach and Sergeant Judd Stott in K.P. MacKenzie’s high-flying adventure.—The Commando Team.

Story: K.P. MacKenzie
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Terry Patrick
Very Important Passenger, originally Commando No 2453 (March 1991)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion Releases 11-12 January 2017.

2000AD Prog 2013
Judge Dredd: Deep In The Heart by Michael Carroll (w) Tiernen Trevallion (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Kingmaker by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Kingdom: As It Is In Heaven by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
The Order:  Wyrm War by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Hope: ...For The Future by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Simon Bowland (l)

Cadet Anderson: Teenage Kyx by Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra, Patrick Goddard & Steve Yeowell
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08539-4, 12 January 2017, £14.99. Available from Amazon.
Judge Anderson's adventures as a cadet Judge on the mean streets of Mega-City One, collected for the first time! When the psychically powerful 3-year-old Cassandra Anderson killed her abusive father, she was taken into the custody of Justice Department, who blocked the memories of her traumatic childhood. Inducted into the Psi-Division as a cadet, where the Judges use telepaths, empaths, precogs, and others with psychic abilities to aid the fight against crime, Anderson is thrown in the deep end as she faces up to the worst Mega-City One has to offer.

The Complete Scarlet Traces volume 1 by Ian Edginton & D'Israeli
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08501-1 (UK) / 978-1781-08502-8 (US), 12 January 2017, £15.99 / $19.99. Available from Amazon.
The celebrated comic book sequel to H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds in a brand-new omnibus edition, complete with an adaptation of the original novel. Beginning with a visionary adaptation of the seminal novel, the collection also includes the first of three stories set a decade after the Martian invasion. Great Britain has cannibalized Martian technology and now Hansom cabs scuttle along on multi-limbed crab legs, and the Martian heat-ray has become the weapon with which the British Empire dominates the world. When the bodies of several young women are found washed up on the banks of the Thames, Captain Robert Autumn and his former Sergeant-Manjor Archie Currie are drawn into a mystery that leads them from gin palaces to the corridors of power and the very Hall of the Martian King.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 13 (USA) by John Wagner, Steve Yeowell, Will Simpson, Carlos Ezquerra & Chris Weston
ISBN 978-1781-08498-4, 12 January 2017, $25. Available from Amazon.
Mega-City One 2111AD, and the streets are awash with crime perpetrated by all manner of rogue citizens, whether it be a murderous child genius or a super-intelligent rottweiler called Rex. There is a solution to this problem and his name is Judge Dredd. Judge, jury and executioner, Dredd is the ultimate future cop!
     This volume of the best-selling Case Files series includes work by John Wagner, Alan Grant, John Higgins, Colin MacNeil and many more – and features key stories in the character's development including A Letter To Judge Dredd and Young Giant.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff

Barrie Tomlinson joined Fleetway Publications back in 1961 and rose to become Group Editor in the late 1970s after nine years in the editorial seat on Tiger. During that period he grew to know all the ins and outs of Melchester Rovers' most famous star, the most famous footballer in the UK, Roy Race. It was his suggestion that Roy deserved his own title, and Roy of the Rovers was launched in 1976 with Tomlinson as editor.

Nobody is better placed to write about Roy's history during that period, and Barrie's book is an enjoyable romp through the many ways he tried to get Roy into the public eye through newspaper publicity and a clever use of celebrity endorsement. The debut issue of Roy of the Rovers was endorsed by no less a person than HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who penned an article for that first number. Over the years Barrie had brought in some of the biggest celebrity names either on the pitch (England's World Cup-winning manager, Alf Ramsey, footballers Bobby Moore, Malcolm Macdonald and Bob Wilson, amongst many others, cricketers Geoff Boycott and Ian Botham, etc.) or off (Peter Sellers, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise) to write for and support both Tiger and Roy of the Rovers.

The additional publicity generated helped keep Roy in the papers and, therefore, reminded parents that he was still around. Comics were always seen as a parent-buy for their children and Roy's longevity meant that father's who had read the comic in the fifties could be buying the same title for their children to read in the seventies.

Just as unique amongst boys' comics, Roy of the Rovers was an ongoing soap-opera. While football may have been at its centre, the stories were built around Roy; the once eternally 29-year-old player began to grow older; he married, had children, suffered problems that affected his concentration and ability to play. Racey's Rocket would often win the day, but the skill of writers like Tom Tully was always to reflect real-world problems in the strip without letting up on the excitement on the pitch.

By mixing fact and fiction, stories were able to tackle hooliganism, Roy's family could cheer on the procession at the Royal Wedding of Charles and Di (Diana also being the name of Roy's third child, born around the same time as Prince William), and Penny could walk out on her famous husband. One of the most famous storylines of all, which left readers asking "Who shot Roy?", was inspired by the national attention a similar shooting had achieved in the end-of-season finale of TV series Dallas. Like "Who shot J.R.?", a number of suspects were introduced ahead of the shooting until the dramatic cover for 19 December 1981 saw Roy shot from off-panel. Inside were Get Well Soon messages from Trevor Francis, Terry O'Neill, Lawrie McMenemy and many other fellow footballers.

All this effort kept Roy in the spotlight for quite a few years whilst many contemporary papers were merged or simply folded. Tiger merged into Eagle in 1985, but Roy was able to sustain his own title until 1993. Roy himself has reappeared a number of times and any extraordinary action on the pitch will still earn a player comparison to Melchester Rovers' most famous son to this day.

Tomlinson's book covers this turbulent period of British comics, introducing some of the characters behind the scenes of the various comics he worked on and relating dozens of anecdotes about how he persuaded the likes of Sir Alf Ramsey to become a character within the story. He also covers turning Roy into the star of stamps, Roy's exploits in the Daily Star, the Tiger Sports Stars of the Year and many other aspects of the Roy story.

The book is packed with photos of Tomlinson meeting the many celebrities who populated the pages of Tiger and Roy of the Rovers. Perhaps the most interesting are to finally discover what his various sub-editors looked like (Ian Vosper, Paul Gettens) as photos of the real editors were almost unknown in comics that were "edited" by Tharg and Big E. Also the "before" photos of Tomlinson helping Suzanne Dando out of a sack is a treat as Roy's face was painted over the photograph when it originally appeared in Roy of the Rovers in 1982.

Hopefully this won't be the only time Barrie Tomlinson turns his attention back to his days at IPC Magazines. I'm sure there are many dozens of stories to be told about other titles he worked on, most notably the new Eagle and 2000AD.

Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff by Barrie Tomlinson. Pitch Publishing ISBN 978-1785-31212-0, October 2016, 192pp, £14.99. Available from Amazon.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Dan Dare: The 2000 A.D. Years Volume Two


Steve Winders reviews Rebellion’s second collection of Dan Dare reprints from 2000AD weekly in 1978 and ’79.

This book completes the collection of all 2000AD magazine’s strips and text stories featuring their version of the adventures of the space hero Dan Dare. In this second volume are the strips from the weekly comic running from February 1978 until August 1979, as well as two strips from the 2000AD Annual for 1979 and the Dan Dare Annual for 1980 and two text stories from the 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special from 1979 and the Dan Dare Annual for 1979. Most of the art from the weekly is by Dave Gibbons, whose sharp detailed artwork and expertise in conveying action make all the strips visually exciting. One serial is drawn by Brian Lewis and Trev Goring and Gary Leach share the work on another with Gibbons. The annual strips are drawn by Adrian Beeton and Dave Harwood, although both are ‘identified’ as anonymous in the book because the annuals did not carry writer and artist credits.

The first 163 pages complete the adventures of Dare and his crew on the Space Fort, exploring a mysterious region of space. There are seven stories ranging in length from two to seven episodes. These include one where the Fort encounters deadly plants which can take on human form; one set on a planet covered with water where Dare saves a race of intelligent beings from predators who are devouring the planet’s core and one set on an ice world where he rescues a space dwelling creature from entombment in a glacier. The Space Fort saga ends with a seven part story where Dan barely escapes with his life after losing both the Fort and his crew in a huge explosion that destroys the giant spacecraft that the Fort and many other ships have been pulled inside. The Space Fort stories were written by Gerry Finley-Day, Chris Lowder, Roy Preston and Nick Landau.

The next 128 pages, written by Tom Tully, cover a long continuous adventure with Dare’s old enemy the Mekon, who is now dying and desperate to steal the fabled rejuvenating ‘Crystal of Life’ which will restore him to health. He initially tricks Dan who has lost his memory into helping him, but Dan recovers and gains the ‘Cosmic Claw’, a gauntlet which gives him special powers that enable him to escape when on his return to Earth he is sentenced to death for aiding the Mekon.

At this point the story ends abruptly as it did in 2000AD An informative article by David McDonald explains why Dan never returned to the weekly and outlines the various plans that writers and editors had to complete the story. I was able to contribute a little to David’s research because a few months after the story ended I contacted Steve McManus, the 2000AD editor to enquire about its return. I was told of tentative plans to have Dan travel back in time to prevent the incident that caused the near death of the Eagle version of himself, which had led to him being placed in suspended animation and later reconstructed. The 2000AD Dan would die saving his original self, creating a temporal anomaly, but allowing the Eagle version to have new adventures.  A planned TV series based on the original was being developed at the time.

Of the Annual strips, Beeton’s is particularly interesting as he drew Dan’s face closely resembling the Eagle original and even sneaked a character who looked exactly like Digby into the story. This was clearly mischief on his part as he drew the Space Fort in accurate detail and produced good likenesses of the other regular characters from the Fort’s crew.

The book has an introduction by Garth Ennis who wrote his own version of Dan Dare for Virgin Comics a few years ago. Most Forewords are full of praise for the books they introduce, but while Ennis praises the Space Fort series, he heavily criticises the ‘Crystal of Life’ story, saying that the “storytelling rambles, with a great deal of sound and fury yielding very little by way of plot development.” While this is fair comment I actually enjoyed this long running narrative more than many of the short and often predictable Space Fort stories, but it is refreshing to read an Introduction which is honest in its appraisal.

The new book does not contain as many colour pages as its predecessor because more of the earlier episodes included colour, but there are more pages here and as in the first volume the reproduction quality is excellent. The cover has been illustrated by Ian Kennedy who produced some excellent work on yet another version of Dan Dare for the 1980s new Eagle, but apart from one 2000AD Annual story, which was included in the last book, he was not associated with the 2000AD version. Nevertheless his cover is well up to his usual standard, although his style is quite different from Dave Gibbons’ whose work dominates the book.

I can recommend this collection as I recommended its predecessor and Rebellion, the current publishers of 2000AD but not the owners of Dan Dare, deserve praise for producing these albums. The 2000 AD version did not please everyone, but it was a bold and exciting strip which contributed to the early success of the weekly and is fondly remembered by a generation of readers.

Dan Dare: The 2000AD Years Vol.2 by Chris Lowder, Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons. Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08460-1, 3 November 2016, £30. Available from Amazon.