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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Road of Courage film in the works

44-Road-of-Courage.jpgA film adaptation of the life of Christ inspired by The Road of Courage, a strip that first appeared in Eagle in the 1960s, is apparently in production. Re-titled Jerusalem A.D., the project, based on the illustrations of Frank Hampson, was announced back in March but seems to only have been picked up by religious newspapers such as the Baptist Times.

The film, to be made by Bill Melandez Productions Inc (BMPI), the animator of the Charlie Brown and Snoopy cartoon series, is described as "a filmic adaptation of the life of Christ inspired by the original illustrations from the ‘Road of Courage’ by Frank Hampson from the seminal sixties comic The Eagle."

The project - one of several from BMPI announced back in March which also include an adaptation of illustrator Michael Foreman's Cat in the Manger, the story of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, as seen through the eyes of a cat - is a co-production with the Alliance for Christian Media.

Frank Hampson devised The Eagle in collaboration with the Reverend Marcus Morris after the Second World War and it's no secret Morris, who went on to edit womens' magazines such as Cosmopolitan, intended the comic as a Christian antidote to what he saw as the bad influence of American comics during the post-war period.

The Road of Courage, which was written by Marcus Morris, was a number of "True Life" stories that featured in the comic and a 1980s collection of the strip is a much sought-after collectable, copies often fetching high prices on auction sites like eBay. A new collection will be published by Titan BooksTitan Books in March next year, featuring not only Road of Courage but another story based on the New Testament, 'Mark, the Youngest Disciple', written by another early Eagle contributor Chad Varah and drawn by Giorgio Bellavitis, who sadly died fairly recently.

The Alliance for Christian Media is a US organisation in the US promoting the Gospel through existing and emerging communication technology. The multi Emmy Award-winning Bill Melendez Productions Inc was founded in 1964 by legendary animator, director, and producer Bill Melendez who originally worked as an animator on Bambi, Fantasia and Dumbo for Walt Disney and was chosen by Schulz creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy to be the sole animator for his celebrated cartoon series. Other productions included The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for Children’s Television Workshop.

Although Bill Melendez died last year aged 91, his son Steven Melendez has been President of BMPI since 2002.

Christmas Commandos!

commando4251.jpgHere's the latest Commando intelligence, courtesy of DC Thomson. These titles went on sale today, 10 December...

Commando 4251: Deadly Despatches

Story by Norman Adams

Art and cover by Keith Page

At the end of the 19th Century our intrepid reporter heroes − Fred “Ferret” McGlone, Harry Hornby and Digby Bolton − are in the front line once again. This time they are caught up in the blood-soaked action of the Boxer Rebellion in Peking.

As British troops fight alongside those of several other nations to quell the brutal uprising, fellow newshounds Charles Black and Ned Bly uncover a plot to misinform the Western world about what’s really happening in China.

Would they and their despatches ever reach home?

commando4252.jpgCommando 4252: The Coldest War

Story by Ferg Handley

Art and cover by Carlos Pino

After being wounded on the Western Front, Captain Peter Laine was posted as a military observer to Finland, a country in turmoil in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Some Finns − the Reds − were on the side of the Russians, while the Whites opposed these Bolsheviks.

When Helsinki was overrun by the Russians, Peter decided that he could no longer only observe. Would he survive THE COLDEST WAR?

commando4253.jpgCommando 4253: Doomed Squad

Story by Ian Clark

Art and cover by Janek Matysiak

First published in Issue 2542 from 1992

Sixteen-year-old Max Grainer worshipped his brother Walther, a hero on the Eastern Front. He couldn’t wait to get into action himself and join Walther in the fight for glory.

His dreams were rudely shattered when he finally got a taste of what war was all about. And when he learned that his brother had been transferred to a punishment battalion — a doomed squad from which few soldiers ever got out alive...

commando4254.jpgCommando 4254: Kill the Fuhrer!
Story by Ian Clark

Interior by Denis McLoughlin, cover by Ian Kennedy

It was 1945 but still the war dragged on as Adolf Hitler tightened his grip on his ever-shrinking Nazi empire. Only his death could bring peace to war-torn Europe. Which is why, one cold February morning, Squadron-Leader Kenny Campbell led a Mosquito squadron a very special mission − to KILL THE FUHRER!

Collectors may like to get hold of these issues as DC Thomson are running a subscriptions offer that offers a gift of five archive issues to anyone taking out a subscription to Commando. Two packs are offered, one from the 1970s, one from the 1980s. The only problem is... which to choose!

The next batch of Commandos following these will go on sale one day early, on 30th December. They will be No 4255 Never Volunteer! (originally No 2608 from 1992); No 4256 Battling Rustbucket! (originally No 2618 from 1992); No 4257 The Winter Warriors; and No 4258 Friends or Foes?

• For more information, check out the official Commando site at:

• 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

In Review: Misty Comic Special

misty_special2009.jpgWhat It Is: Not to be confused with the Egmont WH Smiths special released recently, this is an entirely new fan-produced title published by the official Misty web site, comprising all-new strips by a wide range of creators including 2000AD artist SMS, who provides the cover, Dave Roach, Mike Nicoll, Terry Wiley and many others.

The Review by Paul Harrison-Davies: It's immediately obvious that this Misty Special is a labour of love: it's such a well put together comic with colour interiors and a fantastic cover.

The trouble with small press/independent anthologies is that they are often a mixed bag when it comes to ability, and that's the case with Misty. Yet it hardly seems fair to judge some creators harshly against others, and I found that Misty had enough heart and soul to gloss over any of the hiccups of creators with less experience than others. In fact, without naming names, I found that although the writing of one author seemed the least professional it was more than made up for by the emotion of the script, and actually felt like the most 'Misty' of all the stories.

Great work from the always excellent Terry Wiley, a change of pace from the shiny colour work of Ex Astris from Mike Nicoll and some lovely artwork from J.P. Sewell were the stand outs for me, with downthetubes very own John Freeman and someone simply called 'Amelia' providing scripts for a couple for my favourite strips: 'Time School', 'Dreamcatching' and 'A Waltz Out of Time'.

All told, there was only a few strips that just didn't grab me, and that's not bad for a comic that feature sixteen tales and a great interview with original Misty artist John Armstrong, who also provides a 'Bella' poster for buyers of the Special.

Unfortunately, the Misty Special is not cheap. I can understand why it's priced highly, but I think that it may put many possible readers off. Also, it just didn't feel like a 1970s/80s comic, possibly due to the glossy paper and use of colour. I'd have rather seen something that more directly tried to emulate the look and design of a comic of that time, maybe even down to artificially yellowing the pages. Still that's a personal preference, and obviously not one shared by the creators and publisher.

Chances are if you were a fan of Misty, you'll be buying this, and I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Buy the Misty Special online here on the official Misty comic web site

Creator Check List

Cover / Super Misty Poster

Art: SMS

Welcome Page Portrait

Art: David Roach (from an unpublished painting by Shirley Bellwood)

Mint Condition

Story / Art: SMS


Story: Alison Jones / Art: Mike Nicoll

A Waltz Out Of Time

Story: Alison Jones / Art: J P Sewell

The Eyes

Story: Colin Noble / Art: Terry Wiley

Misty’s Mysteries

Concept / Art: Douglas Noble

Come To Stay

Story: Briony Coote / Art: Carl Lavin

Lost Lover

Poem: Anne-Marie Marquess / Art: James Battersby

Good Ol’ Santa!

Story: Briony Coote / Art: Mike Nicoll

Camper Van Helsing

Story / Art: Vallely

Bullied To Death

Story: Briony Coote / Art: Carl Lavin

Vampire King

Poem: Anne-Marie Marquess / Art: Noel Baxter

Time School - Teacher’s Pet!

Story: John Freeman / Art: Mike Nicoll

Once Too Often

Story: Briony Coote / Art: Vicky Stonebridge /

Letters: Bolt-01

John Armstrong Interview

Interview: Chris Lillyman / Art: John Armstrong

The Poustinia

Story: Martin Jones / Art: J P Sewell

The Cult Of The Cat

Story: Charles Ellis / Art: Johnny McMonagle

Free Gift Poster: John Armstrong

Tube Surfing: Marvel Fun, Arthur Ranson, IndieManga and Look and Learn

fantastic_four_573-1.jpg• Our thanks this week to the fab British Comic Art blog, for spotting Dan Dare, Mekon and Dalek on the cover of Fantastic Four 573; artist Alan Davis is of course a master of dropping in such characters into his backgrounds (older readers may recall Dan Dare in a crowd scene in an episode of Marvelman...)

• Sottish artists co-operative blog Scotch Corner has launched a competition to get a Marvel character of your choice drawn by Tom Crielly.

• Talking of competitions, artist Tim Perkins has launched a Christmas Manga Art Competition. The winner will have their work appear online here on the Wizards Keep News Pages, over on the Wizards Keep Blog and on the other Wizards Keep network places on the Internet, all 22, or so of them.

Commando editor Calum Laird has been talking about lettering Commando artwork on the Commando Blog. "Commando has never had a 'hand-lettered' style of type," he acknowledges in response to queries on its creation. "In the early days an electric typewriter (an IBM Golfball, I believe) was used. That was later changed to photo-typesetting where the type was created and then outputted on photographic paper to be stuck on to the artwork. Most recently, the type has been totally electronic and is married to the artwork in QuarkXpress. Our current typeface is Helvetica Bold — we have used a Futura and a Spartan face in the past." What he doesn't say is why...

Arthur Ranson, well known to 2000AD readers for his work on strips such as Judge Anderson and Button Man, now has his own official web site (, crammed with great examples of his art down the years. Arthur reports he has an exhibition coming up from 14th January at London’s Orbital Comics gallery and also reveals the Button Man movie is still in development hell, by al accounts. "Dreamworks have a few months to decide whether to either go ahead, pay for more time to decide, or drop it," he says, countering reports of some casting decisions elsewhere on the Internet.

• Readers in and around Edinburgh might want to head along to Forbidden Planet there tomorrow evening, where bestselling author Ian Rankin will be signing copies of his comics debut Dark Entries from 5 to 7pm on our branch in Southbridge, just a haggis-toss from the Royal Mile, so please do come along (the event is free but ticketed, check with the branch to get hold of one, telephone 0131 558 8226).

legends_cover_.jpg• The New 'Legends' Anthology is now available from the IndieManga online shop It features five self-contained short comics by Anna Fitzpatrick, Sally Jane Thompson, Kate Holden and Rebecca McCarthy, plus IndiManga's new member, Sarah Burgess. The book has the theme of 'Myths Legends and Fairy Tales' and is suitable for all ages, comprising 130 pages black and white for just £6.00. Get it here:

• (with thanks to the Birmingahm Mail's Speech Balloon column): My apologies for what may be a re-post but a quick reminder, then, that Look and Learn is offering a bumper festive read for Christmas with its "Best Of" series. "If you know an intelligent child (8-14) who is interested in history, legend, literature, art, philosophy, nature, science or geography, and also loves pictures, it is difficult to imagine a more wonderful Christmas present," said publisher Laurence Heyworth. Complete sets of the 48 issues of the Best of Look and Learn are available for only £39.99, including UK delivery. The magazines are numbered, but undated, and are in mint condition and can be ordered direct online at:

More V for Vendetta Art to Aid Cartoon Classroom on eBay

v_for_vendetta_illo.jpgA second batch of David Lloyd V For Vendetta illustrations are now on eBay in support of the Cartoon Classroom project, which aims to serve libraries, schools, colleges and museums by directing them to creators who teach in these specialised areas via workshops and talks and to direct those who wish to find training in these areas for the wildest range of educational opportunities that can be found for them on a local and national basis.

As we previously reported, artist David Lloyd originally put four V For Vendetta illustrations that he did at the opening night of the Comica Festival at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London on Guy Fawkes night, 5th November 2009, onto eBay. These sold for over £400 in total.

The four new illustrations can be seen here on eBay and the auctions are due to finish just before midnight on the evening of Sunday 13 December.

2000AD Christmas Special on the Way

2000AD_XmasSpecial_2009.jpgThe yuletide season is upon us again, and Tharg the Mighty One is making sure all Earthlets have a very happy Christmas with another 100-page special. Prog 2010 goes on sale 16th December 2009, priced £4.20, and features a stunning line-up of stories, including:

• Judge Dredd: Tour of Duty by John Wagner and Colin MacNeil

• Nikolai Dante: Hero of the Revolution by Robbie Morrison and John M. Burns

• Stickleback: London’s Burning by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli

• Zombo: Merry Christmas, Mr Zombo by Al Ewing and Henry Flint

As well as being on sale in all good UK newsagents, you can also obtain both 2000AD and Judge Dredd: the Megazine in electronic from via Clickwheel and other online stores such as comics.drivethru

Doctor Who: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Daleks

A daft video for the day, re-spotted by SF author Paul Macauley and re-tweeted by Matthew Badham...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Geek Syndicate Auctions All-Star Superman Art for Charity

ass03_15.jpgComics and scifi podcast site Geek Syndicate has launched a charity auction that will include some unique comic art and other collectables, to help an eight-year-girl after the sudden and untimely death of her father, a loyal supporter of the popular site.

The Ebay auction includes items donated by DJ and TV host Jonathan Ross, artist Frank Quietly, 2000AD, Doctor Who and Captain Britain writer Paul Cornell, and the cast and crew of BBC’s Merlin and more.

The auction is in aid of the daughter of Eric Martin, died of a massive heart attack on last month during his sleep, aged only 36. "Eric was a great supporter of Geek Syndicate back when the podcast first started and came on a few episodes and stayed in touch with me and David Montieth," explains Geek Syndicate host Barry Nugent. "He went on to start up a few podcasts of his own – Comic Playground (A look at all ages comics) and DC Noise.

Ericandgracie.jpg"He was a huge supporter of the Comic Podcasting community who loved comics and all things geek."

Now, Eric's brother Mike has now set up a donation fund for Eric's eight year old daughter, Gracie and Barry and Dave decided to organize an auction to raise money for the donation fund by asking some the people they have met doing the podcast to contribute something to the auction.

The auction will take place on ebay and kick off on Monday 14th December and run until Friday 18th December.
Items are still being sorted out for the auction but at the moment the list is the following.

• Radio and TV host Jonathan Ross will be donating a piece of original comic art from his collection.

Frank Quitely (Batman and Robin, We3, All Star Superman, The Authority) will be donating an original page from his run on All Star Superman.

Tommy Lee Edwards (Batman, Daredevil, Hellboy, Star Wars) will be donating a piece of his own art.

2000AD will be donating a Greg Staples signed sketch, Books of Invasions Vol. 1, 2 and 3 signed both by Pat Mills and Clint Langley (with a quick sketch in each by Clint) and a signed copy of Pat Mills’ Requiem Book One.

signed_dvdcover1.jpgPaul Cornell (Doctor Who, Primeval, Captain Britain and MI:13) will be donating a signed initial pitch document for Captain Britain and MI-13 that no one has ever seen.

• Geek Syndicate will be donating a copy of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Century 1910 signed by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill

• Titan Books will be donating a Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia and a Watchmen Film Companion signed by Dave Gibbons.

• Shine, the team behind BBC’s Merlin, have kindly offered Series 1 Volume 1 and Series 1 Volume 2 DVD's signed by the cast (Bradley James, Colin Morgan, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath and Anthony Head).

Barry and Dave would like to thank all of the folks who have so kindly offered to contribute something to the auction. Details can be found at

Starscape Launches Ouija: Heartstrings

ouija_heartstrings.jpgIndie publisher Starscape has just published Starscape Presents: OUIJA: Heartstrings, written by Gary Simpson (Dead, 2000AD, RedEye) with art by Tim Youlden.

Described as a comic for fans of Hellblazer or Ghost Rider, the 28-page title introduces Sebastian, someone who isn't looking for trouble but trouble usually finds him. All he wants is a quiet life away from the demons - both human and vampire - in his urban Britain.

Born with a mysterious tattoo of a Ouija board on his breast, Sebastian is able to call forth demons and speak to the dead. Will his desire for vengeance and battle against the supernatural lead to salvation or doom?

Preview at Clickwheel

Preview at MyEbook

• Available from or alternatively buy direct from IndyPlanet or Lulu, where it's also available as a download

Busting with Nostalgia!


With the release of a Buster Special imminent, former sub-editor Dez Skinn has just posted this 1970s image of the editorial team online. Pictured looking like something straight out of Life on Mars but with comics are the staff of Buster, from left to right: assistant managing editor Sid Bicknell, Dez himself, art assistant Keith Robson, art editor Bill Reid and editor Lennox Wenn.

"Looking at the pic, a few observations," notes Dez, noting the bottle of wine on the desk. "Must have been an office party, hence the happy-go-lucky carefree wild 'n' crazy look we've all got!"

He also notes the half-naked woman on wall, along with defaced royalty snaps and Charlie Peace - Victorian and contemporary versions "His lookalike old Jack Pamby was the artist," Dez recalls. "'Wotcha Yorkie', he'd greet me with on a a weekly basis. I remember he had a decidedly scary grin!".

As for the smoking - yes, people used to be able to smoke inside! - Dez says it was quite an addictive look/taste/habit. "We ended up with three of us chuffing away (can I say that?) on pipes on one office! Lovely smell, but bins full of yucky pipe cleaners and hours wasted poking and puffing, lighting and sucking, stoking and smoking. Ah, heady days indeed..."

Hi Ex Tickets now on sale

Ace Scottish comics event Hi-Ex, which will take place in Inverness over Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th March 2010, are now offering advance weekend and day tickets through the website at discounted prices, via Paypal.

Guests at the event (subject to work commitments) announced so far include artists Charlie Adlard, Gary Erskine, Al Ewing, Simon Fraser, Colin MacNeil, Gary Northfield, Dave Taylor and writers Alan Grant, Ferg Handley and Ian Sharman. (Full line up here)

Only day Tickets will be available through Eden Court Box office. These will be £12 for adults and £6 for children.

The first 500 people through the doors will get goodie bags.

Free entry for under 5's with an adult and for comic character fancy dress.

Tickets will grant you access to ALL Hi Ex activities over the weekend ( except the cinema ).

• More info:

Monday, 7 December 2009

Buster Busts into WH Smiths

buster09.jpgEgmont's latest Classic Comic collection - this time bringing Buster back to the shelves of WH Smiths - goes on sale soon, just in time to be a Christmas stocking filler.

This is the final special of four released this year, as well as the Egmont reprints, which included an edition of Whizzer and Chips, given away free with The Guardian newspaper back in September.

Buster ran for an astonishing 40 years between 1960 and 2000. A comic primarily aimed at boys, it was an anthology format with its own brand of anarchic and satirical humour, epiomised by Ken Reid's ever popular creation Faceache (which arrived in the title via a merged title, Jet).

While this new collection, comprising material published between 1974 and 1976, focuses on the comedy side with strips such as X Ray Specs, Faceache, Ivor Lott & Tony Broke and others, it also features samplings of some of the title's memorable adventure strips such as The Leopard of Lime Street and Pete’s Pocket Army. Sadly, the Leopard story is part of a larger story - a problem with the Roy of the Rovers and Battle Egmont Specials released earlier in the year - although Pete’s Pocket Army is better presented.

Commenting on the Special for his Buster comic web site, fan Matt Bowen argues that while the selected material is from a narrow window considering the title's longevity, "by the time I got to the end, my own fears of it being of too limited an appeal were well and truly quashed.

"Ok, so it might not be for you if you first picked up Buster in 1996 and never read the classics," he continues, "but I’d argue a high percentage of readers will enjoy getting nostalgic at their old favourites, whilst being introduce to some new friends.

"The only problem I had by the time I reached the back page, was the same problem I first experienced back in December 1999."

• Read Matt's full review of the special here on the Buster comic fan web site

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