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Saturday, 20 August 2011

In Review: Western

Every now and again Cinebook translate a Franco-Belgian bandes dessinee into English that isn't, like the vast majority of their titles, part of an ongoing series. Written by Jean Van Hamme and illustrated by Grzegorz Rosiński, the team behind the Thorgal series, Western is a one off story originally published in French in 2001 and set in Wyoming over a number of decades beginning in 1868.

Ambrosius Van Deer has travelled to Fort Laramie with his young daughter Cathy to meet Jess Chisum who claims that he has found Van Deer’s missing nephew Edwin who had disappeared after his family was killed in an Indian raid years before. However the meeting is a set-up to extort money with Jess Chisum's brother Nate pretending to be young Eddie and, as it descends into gunfire, only the two children, Cathy and Nate, walk away.

Years later Cathy is the owner of a large cattle ranch while Nate, having lost an arm due to the gunfight, is surviving on odd-jobs and his marksmanship. After returning home and, by chance, saving Cathy's life during a bank hold-up, she employs him to protect the ranch not realising his part in the shooting of her father. Nate then decides once again to pretend to be her missing cousin Eddie.

We may be more used to his James Bond style antics of Largo Winch or the sword and sorcery of Thorgal, but this shows that Jean Van Hamme can really turn his pen to anything and make it work. From the short sharp gunfight sequences to the languid passing of time in others, Western is a richly told story that provides a lead character in Nate Chisum who is both sympathetic yet will stoop to deception to improve his life.

For all that this is a one off book it actually feels quite episodic especially since Rosiński provides two page "centrespread" oil paintings every ten pages or so throughout the book. There are five of these taking up ten of the story's 62 pages and they are wonderfully moody, often tying in with a pause in the narrative. His main story art is done in muted sepia-like colours with painted backgrounds that does much to set the tone for Van Hamme's tale of death and deception.

If you have never read a Jean Van Hamme story before then this is an impressive one to begin with and Grzegorz Rosiński's artwork for it makes it a delight to look at. So if you are looking for one Van Hamme book to sample having become weighed down with Alan Moore's heavily referential style or Mark Millar's high speed action and brutality, there is no need to worry about the back story from previous books or how more volumes there is to come as Western is a gem of a one-off book that shows just how good Franco-Belgian bandes dessinees can be.

There are more details about Western on the Cinebook website.

Friday, 19 August 2011

In Review: Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë
Adapted by Sean Michael Wilson (script), John M. Burns (Art), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Publisher: Classical Comics
Out: Now:


The Book: Emily Brontë's only novel is famous the world over and is the favourite classic of many readers. It is easy to see why, with hardship, insanity, cruelty, frustrated love, and ghosts. What more could anyone want from a book?

The Review: All right, confession time: I have never read Wuthering Heights as a novel, for all its worldwide reknown. It's known for being a complex tale of mental and physical cruelty but as far as I'm concerned, the Brontës are up their with Thomas Hardy as hard going, reading-wise. When it comes to classic writing, give me Dickens or Marlowe.

So I suppose on that basis, I'm the perfect reader for this new Classical Comics adaptation, even though it's a story that has been adapted into comic form many times, most recently by Classical Comics but in the past by Classics Illustrated (a hardback edition of their version is due out at the end of this month) and and Graffex, that edition featuring art by Nick Spender. After all, these comics versions of classic literature are aimed at the reluctant reader and any publisher that hires John M. Burns to draw Wuthering Heights was bound to gain my attention (just as they did by having John Stokes draw Great Expectations, Mike Collins A Christmas Carol and Jon Haward The Tempest).

The original novel is a complex affair with characters to match, but Burns brings them all to life with aplomb, also creating stunning backgrounds to this tale sent in the Yorkshire Moors. There are scenes where he's managed to perfectly capture a moment in the text with consummate style - a look from Cathy Linton on Page 135 being one fine example of his skill.

Sean Michael Wilson also plays his part, adapting such a well-loved tale with care. His breakdown of the novel lends much to Burns vision.

I have but one gripe about the storytelling - the use of what are known in the trade as 'Buscema layouts', where two panels are stacked on each other on left of page with a third, vertical, on the right, making for confusing story flow. I was a bit surprised by the number of these, given the desire to make the story easy to understand.

That aside, this is a terrific piece of work. To the publisher's credit, they also remain true to their mandate and deliver you the full Wuthering Heights novel - unlike many film adaptations, the story of the younger generations affected by the doomed love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earshaw is included in this mammoth story.

Overall, for those of us who may never have picked up a romantic novel in their lives, Burns and the creative team deliver a knock out job with this new Wuthering Heights adaptation - one that actually sent me off to track down a copy of the original.

Classical Comics will, I'm sure, be pleased to hear this.


Wuthering Heights is available now in the UK and on sale in the US in March 2012

Wuthering Heights is also available as a 'Quick Text' in modern English

More about Classical Comics' Wuthering Heights on the official web site

Wuthering Heights Wikipedia Page
Includes details of many other adaptations of the story, with a more detailed list here

Captain Clevedon: a local comic for local people!

Kev F. Sutherland is the latest creator to join a number of talents who are publishing what I can suppose can be described as 'hyperlocal comics' - titles with a strong connection to one part of the UK, available, for now, in a limited number of 'local' outlets.

We plugged CDComics, whose focus is Sheffield, earlier this month - and there are plenty of examples of titles whose identifiable setting should have helped sales, such as Harker from Ariel Press, a detective story that's had beautifully visualised stories set in Whitby and London.

Captain Clevedon No 1 features a brand new 24-page comedy adventure of Clevedon's own superhero -- plus the original 1994 debut story, reprinted for the first time.

Written by Kev F Sutherland, the comic features art by Kev F, Garry McLaughlin, Glenn Fleming, Andrew Dodd, Soren Madsen and Phil Baber and - right now, is only on sale in outlets around Clevedonin Britain's West Country.

"Captain Clevedon's the world's most local superhero, with the world's smallest distribution network," says Kev. "Get it while it's hot.

"Okay, Forbidden Planet have taken 50 copies. But apart from that, it's a local comic for local people, we'll have no trouble here!
Interested comic fans will have a chance to get it next weekend, 27th August, at the BC 2011 comic convention in Birmingham - but before that, and throughout the summer, you can get it in Clevedon at the following local outlets below for just £1.99.

Web Links


Kev F's Official Comics Blog



Captain Clevedon Facebook Page

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Draw Your Weapons! New Commandos are on sale now...

The latest issues of Britain's only monthly war comic, Commando, are on sale now – and along with those comes details of the Draw Your Weapons exhibition at the National Army Museum, which includes a number of special events, listed below, which include appearances by artist Keith Page and editor Calum Laird.

Commando No 4419: The Mystery And The Museum
Story: Mac MacDonald Art: Keith Page Cover Art: Keith Page

It was a relic of a past British Army campaign in a far-flung corner of the world. Just another piece of military gear dropped and forgotten in the heat of battle.

Even so, the man who had found it, Sergeant John Rogers, wanted to know more and took it to the National Army Museum. There it was quickly identified as a Foreign Service Cork Helmet and the owner's name in faded ink was made out on the lining.

So what was the real story of soldier Ben Trimshaw and how did his headgear come to be abandoned in a remote watchtower in Afghanistan?

"It’s well known that the home of the best action and adventure stories is Commando," says editor Calum Laird of this story. "Likewise, the best place to go for the history of the British Army is Chelsea, and specifically the National Army Museum. Like Commando, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

"And what does that have to do with this story? Well, when the Museum and Commando got together to mount an exhibition of our artwork, imaginations were fired to produce a story that would feature the talents of both, dare I say it, institutions.

"So, with the advice of the NAM experts, the fevered imagination of writer Mac MacDonald and the artistic skills of Keith Page a unique story was created. The story you have in your hands. We have enjoyed putting it together, we hope you enjoy reading it just as much."

Commando 4420: Scourge of the Stormbirds
Story: Ferg Handley Art: Olivera Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

By 1945 the end of World War II was nigh. Frank Bailey, a USAAF squadron leader just wanted to make sure his team would survive to see the end of the conflict.

So Frank trained his boys hard, constantly impressing on them that each time they flew their P51 Mustangs against Nazi fighters it could be their last.

And that was before they encountered Germany’s newest weapon, the sleek, jet-propelled Me262 — the deadly Stormbird...

Commando 4421: Ambush Zone
Originally Commando No 3128 (March 1988)
Story: Ferg Handley Art: Olivera Cover Art: Mike White

It was an area of dense jungle with a few faint trails criss-crossing, some leading nowhere. Yet somehow a British platoon had to navigate this wilderness — and protect a young native whose influence could help turn the tide of war against the Japanese.

All this with a ruthless enemy lying in wait, setting up one deadly ambush after another

"This story is more up-to-date than some of this year’s re-issues and there’s a very good reason why," says foremer Commando editor George Low in his introduction to this story. "Most of you will be familiar with Ferg Handley and his work and this is the second script I commissioned from him, “Lucky Lenny”, No. 3102, being the first.

“Ambush Zone” is a gripping story set in the jungle with a British patrol and their guide pitting their wits against a deadly enemy, the inside artwork executed well by Olivera and the eye-catching cover by Mike White."

Commando 4422: Mad Mike
Originally Commando No 335 (June 1968)
Story: Mac MacDonald Art: Victor de la Fuente Cover Art: Gordon Livingstone

Take a good look at the guy on the cover. He’s putting up quite a fight, but just a few weeks ago he was a shambling deserter on the run.

Yet he has only one man to thank for turning him from a selfish coward into a fighting fury…Mad Mike, the man the Japs could just not face.

"If you were to come up with a design brief for an artist to create a quintessential Commando cover, you wouldn’t go far wrong if you had this one in mind," notes Calum Laird. "In the background a vividly-coloured sky, full of drama and menace. And in the foreground a powerful figure blasting out of the frame with a Bren Gun. It really doesn’t get more Commando than that.

"And what a title!

"Inside the cover the art and the tale don’t disappoint. Victor Fuente’s figures have action and movement while Mac MacDonald’s story is a classic of action, feuding and…but wait, if I say more I may give the game away. This is one to read. Right now!"

Draw Your Weapons Special Events

Here's the run down of events that are part of the Draw Your Weapons exhibition at the National Army Museum in London in September.

When the Comics Went to War
8th September 2011, 7.00pm

Exploring the history of the British war comic book genre, from the first publications to the present day, this talk charts the evolving depiction of warfare and the experiences of the children who lived through it.

Draw Your Weapons Art Workshop
5th, 12th and 26th November 2011 2.00pm-3.30pm

Exclusive workshops for budding artists of all ages to learn new techniques, design their own storyboard and hear the tales behind the artwork. These Saturday workshops will be hosted by popular comic illustrators and by acclaimed war artists.

• For the latest information visit: www.nam.ac.uk/exhibitions/special-displays/draw-your-weapons-art-commando-comics

• Official Commando web site: http://www.commandocomics.com/

Commando Official Facebook page


• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846  

• Commando is also available for iPad and iPhone. The apps are free to download through the Apple iTunes App Store and a digital subscription is priced at £4.99 per month, compared to a £99 annual print subscription. For those not sure there are four free issues to download prior to making a purchase.  

Commando Comics iPhone App on iTunes

Commando Comics iPad App on iTunes

Panel Borders: The Shop around the Corner

Continuing radio show Panel Borders month of shows looking at comic book shops, Alex Fitch talks to the former proprietors of comic shops that existed in the 1980s and 90s and have left lasting impression on their fans.

Dark Horizons opened in the back of Terri Hooley’s cult record shop Good Vibrations, Belfast in 1985 before graduating into a shop in its own right; in its first incarnation, the store was co-owned by John McCrea who has gone on to become a popular comic book artist on such titles as Troubled Souls,Hitman and Herogasm, written by Garth Ennis.

At much the same time in Richmond, Jon Browne opened They Walk Among Us, a store he co-owned for 22 years which found fame as the comic shop featured on TV in Spaced and in the most recent series of Red Dwarf.

Alex talks to John and Jon about their memories of running comic shops, the vagueries of stocking popular titles and how one shop burned down and the other became absorbed into a chain in the 2000s.

• Panel Borders: The shop around the corner airs at 5.00pm, Thursday 18/08/11, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast after broadcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

Thundercats UK TV Premiere date announced

Promotional art for the new ThunderCats animated series. © Warner Bros.


ThunderCats, one of the most beloved cartoons of the 1980s, returns to UK TV next month on Cartoon Network UK - and, as we previously reported, a new comic from Panini UK will follow, although no release date for this has yet been announced.

Launching on Saturday 10th September at 11.00am on Cartoon Network, with a new episode every Saturday, the new Thundercats is a "reimagining" of the iconic animated series on Cartoon Network.

Set as an epic tale, the much anticipated return of ThunderCats tells the story of a hero's journey to fulfill his ultimate destiny, starting with the story's origin of Prince Lion-O's ascension to the throne.

On Third Earth, the kingdom of Thundera is being threatened by the evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra, and Lion-O, the young heir to the throne, embarks on a great quest to take his rightful place as king. The unlikely champion must work with his faithful comrades Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, WilyKit, WilyKat, and his loyal pet, Snarf to save their world from darkness. As the forces of good and evil battle each other in the quest for the fabled Stones of Power, Lion-O and his champions learn valuable lessons of loyalty, honour and mortality.

Cartoon Network says ThunderCats will appeal to viewers who have loved the characters all their lives as well as young newcomers to the franchise.

Panini UK announced they had secured the rights to publish a licensed Thundercats in May, shortly after news broke that they would no longer originate Marvel superhero comic strip.

Thundercats has a proud history as a comic in the UK - Marvel UK published 129 issues of a regular title based on the original 1980s animated show. To date, it is the longest-running comic associated with the franchise and included work by artists such as Tim Perkins and Martin Griffiths.

Other tie-in merchandise includes an action figure range from Bandai, kids' apparel, watches and bags (see news story).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

STRIP Magazine on course for October launch in the UK

Print Media Productions STRIP Magazine is on course for an October launch, with the strip line up now firmed up for the first issues.

The company has also selected the first winners of its Strip Challenge - but the winners will be revealed in the Magazine (they've been sworn to secrecy for now). 

One change to the plans for the title is that it won't launch immediately on the UK news stand - the result of discussions with their news stand distributor - so you'll only find the first issues in comic shops or by subscribing.

But the company still plans to widen their sales to the UK high street in 2012, effectively 're-launching' the title after its initial tranche of content draws to a close in early 2012.

There's more information about these changes on the STRIP Magazine blog.

STRIP Magazine Issue One includes Black Ops Xtreme by John Freeman and PJ Holden; Warpaint by Phil Hester and John McCrea - the first episode will feature in an upcoming issue of Tripwire; Age of Heroes by James Hudnall and John Ridgway; Hookjaw, re-mastered by Jim Campbell and Gary Caldwell; 'Hush Hush' a prequel story to Stephen Walsh and Keith Page's Iron Moon graphic album; Recovery Inc. by Michael Penick and Dean Deckard; and the first winners of the Strip Challenge.

The first issue will also have features on the 1970s comic Action that originally published Hookjaw, written by Moose Harris; and an exclusive interview with PJ Holden by Matt Badham.

The bumper 68-page STRIP Magazine Issue One will cost £2.99 and will come with a free poster, and will be on sale in October.

• More info at: www.printmediaproductions.com

Broken Frontier celebrates British Comics

Comic book news site Broken Frontier (www.brokenfrontier.com) has rolled out Brits on Top!, a special week-long event celebrating the British comics scene - with coverage of 2000 AD, The Dandy, Commando and the upcoming STRIP Magazine.

The event includes plenty of  interviews and anecdotes and more about our industry - its successes, its highlights and most importantly, how it continues to succeed and adapt despite the harsh realities of the news stand and declining sales figures.

The range of articles and interviews and there's plenty to stir debate. In his interview for the site, for example, Pat Mills is unequivocal about the reasons for 2000 AD's survival on the British news stand. "[It's] because so many of us who work on it and have worked on it are passionate about it," he argues.

"Over the last ten years it’s had one excellent editor [Matt Smith] - the first one I could ever say that about. He hasn’t tried to turn it into Loaded, Deadline, Warrior, or an American comic clone, or a vehicle for Vertigo-style writer and artists, like some of his predecessors. Just 2000AD. Why do we want to be any of those alternatives?! That’s got to have made a difference.

"And because it had very firm foundations. I had a year to get 2000AD right. I had six weeks to do Action! And I think all of us – creators and readers -  like 2000AD in our different ways. So many people in comics didn’t actually like comics and when readers realize this they walk away."

Broken Frontier Managing Editor Andy Oliver, a born and bred Brit, was responsible for putting the event together. He says: "With Brits on Top! we wanted not just to shamelessly wallow in the nostalgia of the golden age of British weekly comics, but also to shine a spotlight on the rich diversity of the contemporary UK comics scene.”

From the great newsagent survivors like The Dandy and the game-changing 2000 AD through to the indie sensibilities of publishers like Blank Slate and Nobrow, this event looks to introduce Broken Frontier’s large international audience to some of the most distinct approaches to the medium to be found in Dear Old Blighty.

“Brits on Top! is both a celebration of our uniquely British comics traditions," says Oliver, "and an opportunity to look forward in eager anticipation to the next chapter in the story of the industry on these shores."

The celebration started with features on publishers Blank Slate, Commando and and interview with 2000 AD's creator Pat Mills. All week long, creators from Mike Carey and Shaky Kane to Bryan Talbot and Rufus Dayglo share their childhood memories about growing up on British comics. 

Established in autumn 2002, Broken Frontier quickly built a solid reputation for its extensive, unique, and critical coverage of the comic book industry. Coverage includes headline news, interviews, articles, reviews, columns and blogs. The website covers every corner of the comic book industry, from mainstream to independent publishers, from print and digital publications to film and tv adaptations.

Additionally, Broken Frontier is the publisher of the first digital comic book magazine for mobile devices, The Frontiersman.

Brits on Top: Direct feature Links

War Papers: The Best of British War Comics
Andy Oliver takes a look at some of the compilations available of classic British war comics.

Full Metal Mayhem with the ABC Warriors
The ABC Warriors hit the United States full throttle with this new collection of stories by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley.

Comic Cuts: Brit Creators Reminisce! - Part 1
Noted Brit creators share childhood memories of UK comics: Mike Carey, Shaky Kane, Tony Lee and Gary Northfield


Comic Cuts: Brit Creators Reminisce! - Part 2
From cowboy-eating dinosaurs to plucky World War II fighter pilots, we've more childhood memories from Rufus Dayglo, Simon Fraser, Nick Abadzis and David Hine

Commando: 50 Years on the Frontline
BF talks to Commando editor Calum Laird about five decades of the Eagle Award-winning war comic


Enter the DFC Library 
BF takes a look at the wonderful, all-ages, collected offerings from the much-missed DFC weekly.

Etchings on a Blank Slate: An interiew with Kenny Penman Part 1
In the first part of a major three-part interview BF talks to Blank Slate publisher Kenny Penman about BSB's diverse output and the state of the comics industry in 2011.


Etchings on a Blank Slate: An interiew with Kenny Penman Part 2
In the second part of their interview with Blank Slate's Kenny Penman BF talk about the ambitious Nelson project, Oliver East's Trains are...Mint and Darryl Cunningham's  Psychiatric Tales.

Fine and Dandy: 75 Years of Desperate Dan and Company
For nearly 75 years the home of Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat, The Dandy got a major makeover last year. BF talks to ed-in-chief Craig Graham about the relaunch of the classic Brit humour comic.

Other Main Sites

• Broken Frontier web site: www.brokenfrontier.com
• Follow Broken Frontier on Twitter: www.twitter.com/brokenfrontier
• Become a fan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brokenfrontier

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Dan Dare in the spotlight of new Judge Dredd Megazine

As well as some great comic strip, the latest issue of Judge Dredd Megazine, on sale tomorrow (Wednesday 17th August) features two mammoth features by downthetubes occasional contributor Matthew Badham on the history of Dan Dare and the new Doctor Who in Comics exhibition at London' Cartoon Museum.

Strip-wise, the issue includes Judge Dredd by Alan Grant and Jon Davis-Hunt, Samizdat Squad by Arthur Wyatt and Paul Marshall, Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier and PJ Holden and Cursed Earth Koburn by Gordon Rennie and Carlos Ezquerra.

And if all that - including a potted history of Doctor Who - wasn't enough for you, how about an interview with Brian Azzarello (by Joel Meadows), film reviews and a bagged reprint: volume two of Mercy Heights by John Tomlinson, with art from Lee Sullivan, Trevor Hairsine and Neil Googe?

Go, you know you're tempted. Get down to your local newsagents and grab a copy!

Read our review of the Doctor Who in Comics exhibition by David Baillie

In Memoriam: Francisco Solano Lopez

Francisco Solano Lopez at the Lucca festival in 2007. Photo by Giacomo Bartalesi. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
(via Lew StringerThe Comics Journal and lanaicon.com): We're sorry to report the death of legendary Argentinian comics artist Francisco Solano Lopez, whose work for British comics across several decades enthralled and inspired countless comics fans.

Lopez, who has died of a cerebral hemorrhage aged 83, is perhaps best known to British comic fans for his work on strips such as Adam Eterno (which first appeared in Thunder), Janus Stark and Kelly's Eye, but worldwide he's perhaps best known as the co-creator of the controversial comic El Eternauta, first published in Hora Cero Semanal from 1957 to 1959, a strip he would return to many times in his long career.

A more than capable artist across many different genres, some of his more recent work includes the adult series El Instituto (Young Witches, published by EROS Comix in the US), a cheerfully perverse saga of supernaturally-powered sisters.

'El Eternau
Born in October 1928 in Buenos Aires, Lopez began working in 1953 for the publishing house Columba, where he met long term working partner Hector German Oesterheld. When  Oesterheld founded the publishing house Frontera, they worked on a new strip that told the story of a schoolteacher, Juan Salvo, and his family who fight against an invasion of aliens, and confront them on the battleground of Buenos Aires: El Eternauta.

Lopez was inspired by the idea of alien invaders in the creation of the character, and Oesterheld liked science fiction, revealing in one interview that his origins came from the success of another SF character, Rolo, an adopted Martian.

From the start, this story of a man fighting against alien invaders (the epitome of faceless authority) struck an instant chord in Argentina. Now regarded as something of a symbol of struggle in his native country, its subject matter commenting on social injustice, dictatorship and US imperialism that brought its creators unwelcome attention from Argentina's military junta of the time. Eventually, Lopez was forced to flee the country, ending up in Spain from where he began to start work for Fleetway in late 1959, finally moving to London to be closer to his scriptwriters.

'The Vikings' - Lopez' first Adam Eterno
work for Thunder Number 17
His many British comics credits included Battler Britton for Thriller Picture Library,  Galaxus: The Thing from Outer Space and Pete's Pocket Army for Buster, Janus Stark for Smash and Valiant, Kelly's Eye for Knockout and Valiant), Raven on the Wing for Valiant, Adam Eterno for Thunder and Lion and much more. (DanDare.info has a full listing of his British credits).

"Although the artist found fame in adult comics (and found credits where due, unlike on his anonymous UK work) his strips formed a huge and important part of British comics," Notes Lew Stringer. "Due to the gritty edge of his style his pages still seem exciting and vibrant today."

The workload was enormous and Lopez was aided in the demands of his British publisher by artists in his own art studio in Buenos Aires such as Ramiro Bujeiro, Tibor Horvath, Silvia Lechuca, the Schiaffino brothers, Julio and Jorge with whom Lopez had worked on Bull Rocket in the early 1950s, and Nestor Morales.

Lopez returned to Argentina in 1974, planning to work for publishers Columba once more, but Oesterheld convinced him to continue with the second part of El Eternauta with a new publishing house, the Editorial Records - but the dangerous political climate forced Oesterheld to go into hiding and, after a mysterious fire at his house Lopez again headed for Madrid, Spain, from where he gained publication of El Eternauta and a new SF story, Slot Barr in the Italian magazines LancioStory and Skorpio.

'Evaristo'
By the 1980s he was living in Rio de Janeiro, working for US publishers such as Dark Horse and Fantagraphics as well as Italian comics, producing two news strips – El Ministerio and El Televisor with Ricardo Barreiro and a tough police series Evaristo from scripts by Carlos Sampayo.

Ever able to adapt to almost any style, he started working on erotic comics in the 1990s, achieving success with strips such as El Prostíbulo del Terror and Sexy Symphony, produced in collaboration with his son Gabriel Solano Lopez as writer, a full-colour series without words for the magazine Kiss Comix.

Franciso and his son achieved joint success in comics with the surrealist Ana, published by Fantagraphics, following a French girl  from her days as idealistic student to adult burnout and beyond.

His work in adult comics gained him First Prize for Best Erotic Author in the Barcelona Erotic Show and Best Cartoonist Realist from the Diario de Avisos in Spain.

The Comics Journal notes he also drew an adaptation of the classic horror movie Freaks, in 1991, as adapted by Jim Woodring (for Fantagraphics imprint Monster Comics).

In 1995 he moved back to Buenos Aires and returned to his beloved Eternauta in 2001, now written by his regular collaborator Pablo Maiztegui (who signs his work as 'POL'). This time, though, it had a more ambitious story, set 40 years in the future in a Buenos Aires rebuilt by the invaders, where massive brainwashing of the survivors made people believe that the alien arrival was peaceful, and only a few know the truth.

An article for Bahianoticias.com, published in March 2010, reveals the authors' intention was to portray a different form of domination - based not on military might but in manipulating the masses.

"We're taking a look at the present time, based on an explicit metaphor," explained Lopez. "The country invaded by aliens, which are actually international finance... we were interested in showing how the invaders were able to perpetuate the domination through the mechanisms of democracy."

A recent illustration by Lopez for Telam's Seccion Impossible
Continuing to work into his 80s, he signed a deal with the Argentinain natonal news agency, Télam, to illustrate two new editorial projects - a historical comic strip centring on two adventurers, sort of local time travellers, by Pablo Maiztegui and a sitcom by Teodoro Boot which describes the life of Mr. Monti, head of a family and magazine writer who uses his imagination to make ends meet.

The latest episode of Sección imposible includes the dedication "Adiós Maestro, con el afecto y la admiración de siempre." (Goodbye Master, with affection and admiration forever).

While this award-winning artist's comics spans many decades and he will be best remembered for his politically charged El Eternauta, fans in Britain will always remember him best for his memorable contributions to the likes of Buster, Valiant and Lion. He will be much missed.

• Francisco Solano Lopez, born 26th October 1928, died 12th August 2011

Web Links

Francisco Solano Lopez - Lambiek

Career Overview for Bahianoticias.com - on Flickr (in Spanish)

Francisco Solano Lopez Biography on DanDare.info

A full listing of his British credits on dandare.info (first published in the French magazine Pimpf Issue 11)

Tributes and Obituaries

Bleeding Cool

Blimey! It's Another Blog about Comics

Comics Journal
"Francisco Solano López was a titan of South American comics, on a level with the great Alberto Breccia, the temporary honorary Argentinean (during the 1950s) Hugo Pratt, and the hugely influential writer Hector Oesterheld (who collaborated with all three)."

Comics Reporter

Lanacion.com: report of Lopez death (in Spanish)
El dibujante Francisco Solano López, que ilustró la mítica historieta El Eternauta, creada por Héctor Germán Oesterheld, falleció esta madrugada luego de una hemorragia cerebral de la que no se pudo recuperar.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Lobey Dosser: A Very Surreal Glaswegian

(Updated with GI Bride pictures and extra information): I've been discussing the ephemeral nature of newspaper strips and newspaper strip characters with friends this week, so it seems apt that my attention was drawn to a character and artist whose many fans who are clearly determined should never be forgotten.

Most Glasgow residents know about this statue in Kelvingrove Park - but outside of Glasgow, some comics fans may be unaware of the comic characters it's based on has worldwide cult status.

"Lobey Dosser" was a strip by Partick-born Bud Neill, which ran in the Glasgow Evening Times between 1949 and 1955. Capitalising on the interest in Westerns of the time - and an outlet for the artist's childhood love of westerns - it's the surreal adventures of the Sheriff of Calton Creek, a township in the Arizona desert populated by Glaswegians.

"Lobey Dosser" and his two legged horse (yes, you read correctly, two legs) "El Fideldo" or "Elfie" for short were regularly pitted against his arch nemesis, the forever black masked "Rank Bajin" (a right bad one in the Glaswegian vernacular). With a villain named that how can you go wrong?

It's a funny and at times surreal strip with many well-known characters besides Lobey, including the G.I. Bride - who frequently featured in Bud's pocket cartoons, and became a long running character in the Lobey Dosser series.


The strip was extremely popular with Glaswegians in its day (and continues to be), merging the adventure style of the silent era western movies with traditional Glasgow stage humour, particularly pantomime. The outrageous puns and surrealistic drawings have endured over time and now attract a cult following.

The G.I. Bride was always found standing in Arizona with her "wean" in her arms (her baby, prophetically called Ned), invariably trying to thumb a ride back to Scotland with plaintive cries like "Ony o’ youse blokes goin’ the length o’ Pertick?" or simply the plea: “Pertick?”. Like many real-life Scottish women of the time, she had married a GI and followed him to America, only to discover disappointment in the land of plenty.

Neill, who died in 1970, was a regular theatregoer, and this character was probably inspired by Tommy Morgan's popular stage character, Big Beenie, the G.I. War Bride. The popularity of the Glasgow stage comedian's pantomime-style parodies of the city's culture was not lost on Neill, and was to influence his best known cartoon strip.

Funded by public subscription, the Lobey Dosser two-legged equestrian statue created by sculptors Tony Morrow and Nick Gillon in Woodlands Road as a tribute to Neill during Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture in 1990 (although some sources say it didn't actually get put in place until 1992).

Earlier this year, commuters at Partick Interchange, the rail/underground/bus station, found themselves greeted by a companion statue of the GI Bride, a work the Evening Times reported had been scheduled to return to Partick in time for the Homecoming celebrations in 2009, but her arrival was much delayed.

The newspaper reported that Colin Beattie, publican and patron of the arts, organised and financed the GI Bride project with support from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

“I think Bud Neill might have been amused at the GI Bride finally making her journey home to an integrated transport hub in Partick," he said. “I hope it will bring a smile to the millions of people who will use the station each year.”

The artist for the project was Ranald MacColl, a cartoonist, who is an authority on Neill’s life and works. and who has edited various collections, including Lobey's the Wee Boy!, published in 1992, containing five of his adventures; and Lobey Dosser: Further Adventures of the Wee Boy!, published in 1998.

Randall also charted Bud's other work in books such as Bud Neill's Magic!: A Collection of Bud Neill's Pocket Cartoons.

"The cartoon strip is an ephemeral creature and it is precisely this hit-and-run quality which sorts the wheat from the chaff," notes Ranald of the strip in his introduction to Lobey's the Wee Boy!. "Prosaic and glib cartoon art is consigned along with yesterday's newspaper, to the bin and oblivion; the few great strips lodge themselves in the public's psyche.

"A decade after Lobey's last ride into the sunset Bud was still receiving a steady drip of global correspondence from the little sheriff's aficionados offering what amounted to substantial bribes in return for copies of the scarce books reproduced here. And four decades later the Dosser admiration society flourishes-a testament to the enduring popularity of Bud Neill's Indian ink cowboy character."

- With thanks to Chris Barnett for the original tip about 'Lobey Dosser'

Web Links

Lobey Dosser Fan Site

Lobey Dosser feature on Bear Alley by Jeremy Briggs

The Glasgow Story: Budd Neill

SPT News: Home at Last!

• Other comics related statues in the UK -

Desperate Dan, Minie The Minx and Dawg in Dundee

Andy Capp in Hartlepool

Giles' Grandma, Vera, the Twins and Butch the Dog in Ipswich

Dan Dare bust in Southport (originally outside Cambridge Arcade now in Southport College library)

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