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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dan Dare art up for sale on eBay

A page of Dan Dare artwork from the original Eagle is currently up for sale on eBay, on offer from American comics creator and editor Scott Dunbier.

The art is a page from the story The Phantom Fleet, first published in Eagle 50 (volume 9) in 1950.

Written by Alan Stranks, the artists credited for this story are Dan Dare co-creator Frank Hampson, Keith Watson and Desmond Walduck, but the Scott says "there’s probably more Duck here than Ham".

In the story, radio and television transmissions are being disrupted throughout the Solar System by an unknown force. Spaceships are disappearing. After a rocket ship carrying Sir Hubert Guest goes missing, Dan and crew set out to discover what has happened to it.

They find a fleet of huge alien craft containing peaceful aquatic creatures called Cosmobes who are fleeing from another aquatic race, the warlike Pescods, whose "Crimson Death" weapon destroys all metals on contact.

Attempts to destroy the Pescods' pursuing fleet fail, and they dive into the Earth's ocean and begin to build themselves a city. Fortunately for Earth the Pescods' settlement is on top of the submerged volcano Krakatoa, and when it erupts due to seismic disturbances from the pesky Pescods, they are all destroyed.

A panel from the offered Dan Dare page
The art measures 9.5 x 12.5 inches on large illustration board; the art is in nice shape but has some staining (perhaps no surprise given the many horror stories told down the years about how such art was treated by some publishers) and shows some age.

Scott previously bought and sold original comic art since the early 1980s, but "gave it up full time in 1995 to work in comics publishing."

While we were on eBay, we also came across seller "alanb1109", who regularly sells copies of Eagle and has announced he is about to offer quite a substantial collection in coming weeks.

Could be worth keeping an eye on.

View The Phantom Fleet art here on eBay

Dan Dare comics checklist (GoogleDoc, corrections, additional information welcome)

In Review: Cinebook Recounts The Wright Brothers

Cinebook return to their historically factual series Cinebook Recounts with the story of the first manned flight of a powered aeroplane at Kitty Hawk in America in 1903 with The Wright Brothers, written by J P Lefevre-Garros and illustrated by Marcel Uderzo.

Engineers Orville and Wilbur Wright had made their money printing newspapers in Daytona, Ohio and, by the turn of the twentieth century, had moved on to manufacturing the new craze of the day, bicycles. However their real desire was to fly and leaving their sister in charge of the bicycle business they used the winters to travel to the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, were they flew firstly large kites before moving on to gliders. With the experience of designing and flying the gliders, their next task was to design a light but powerful engine that they could fit to their aircraft to power it. But they were not the only engineers around the world with similar plans.

This book has a bit of tortuous history. It was originally published in Europe as Biggles Raconte Les Frères Wright in 2005, part of a series of factual aviation history books themed around WE John's pilot character but not actually featuring Biggles himself. Cinebook managed to release two of the books from this series, Biggles Recounts The Falklands War and Biggles Recounts The Battle Of Britain, in 2007 and 2008 with Biggles Recounts The Wright Brothers due for 2009 but issues arose between the estate of WE Johns and Lombard, the original French publishers. This lead to Lombard loosing their Biggles licence, meaning that Cinebook could no longer release any Biggles titles. While this stymied further releases in their fictional Biggles series, as the character was not in the factual series they retitled it as Cinebook Recounts and started again.

With Battle of Britain and The Falklands War rereleased under the new series title, The Wright Brothers is the first of the "new" Recounts books, albeit with an English translation dating from 2008.

This was originally the sixth book in the Biggles Raconte series and by this point the French series had covered mainly war topics with their inherent action and adventure, so the tale of two engineers who designed big kites and then incrementally modified their designs until they reached a controllable, manned aircraft was a change of pace. This is not a dull book by any means but readers expecting a tale of adventure and daring pilots will be disappointed. Lefevre-Garros gives the background to the brothers work, setting the historical scene by mentioning some of the other people working towards manned flight at the time and even suggesting in the second panel of the book that a Frenchman beat them to it (Clement Ader did just struggle into the air in 1897 but it was an uncontrolled hop). While many others appear to have started by jumping in the deep end and building a powered aircraft that they didn't know how to fly, the Wrights started with kites to learn aerodynamics and then moved on to gliders so that they knew how to control an aircraft in flight before finally progressing to a powered aeroplane.

Backed up by Marcel Uderzo's detailed and accurate artwork, Lefevre-Garros takes the reader through the years of test flying the kites and gliders and the Wrights' redesigns on them as they found the weaknesses of each stage of their development before reaching the morning of 17 December 1903 when Orville Wright lay down in the pilot's position of the aircraft they simply called Flyer but we now refer to as Wright Flyer 1, turned the engine on and literally flew into the history books.

Cinebook Recounts The Wright Brothers is not an action packed tale of daring pilots but it is a detailed and well illustrated account of the logical design steps of two engineers that lead up to a moment in history - and that is what makes it worth reading.

There are more details of Cinebook Recounts The Wright Brothers and the other titles in the Cinebook Recounts series on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the original French Biggles Raconte books on the International Biggles Association

Put some dinosaurs in your Christmas!

Here's something that might make for a great last minute stocking filler - Dinohistoria, a different, fun and entertaining, educational card game for all the family.

Dinohistoria has 56 playing cards, each with an illustration licensed by the Picture Library of the Natural History Museum, London featuring over 30 different dinosaurs. Many of them are familiar, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, Allosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Iguanodon, Triceratops and Pteranodon, but there are over 20 other animals too, including Smilodon (Sabre-toothed Tiger) and Mammuthus primigenius (Woolly mammoth), with facts about them.

Although it's aimed at kids of 7+ the publishers, Educational Learning, have have added rules for additional games to the company's website,, so younger children from 5+ can play.

Also on sale is the Wildcat game, featuring photographs of wild cats from around the world.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Age of the Wolf set to return to 2000AD

The claws are out for the return of post-apocalyptic werewolves series, Age of the Wolf, to 2000AD early next year.

Lycanthrope-hunting heroine Rowan Morrigan is to return to the weekly comic in February 2012 in Age of the Wolf: She is Legend.

It's the second chapter in the fast-moving fantasy series – in which a spellbound moon has turned half the earth’s population into ravenous werewolves – by writer Alec Worley (Dandridge, Six Brothers) and Eagle Award-nominated artist Jon Davis-Hunt (Judge Dredd, Transformers), and it stars one of the strongest female characters to emerge from 2000AD in recent years: a reluctant action heroine who’s more than a match for the ‘Big Bad Wolf’.

In the series, London has become a primordial forest in which surviving humans are being hunted to extinction. And there are worse things than lycanthropes lurking among the overgrown ruins of the city. The fortified remains of Buckingham Palace have been taken over by a ruthless gang of slavers, the Skinners: Harry, a hulking neo-Nazi with a sinister secret, his sister Kate, a sadistic huntress with a score to settle, and their merciless matriarch ‘Granny’.

While the forest community face slavery or death, the only thing standing in the Skinners’ way is a mysterious red-haired woman known among those she protects as ‘Little Red Robin Hood.’

With this and more thrill-drenched series launching in 2000AD over the coming year, now’s the perfect time to jump aboard and buy this year’s 100-page Christmas special.

Prog 2012 features a circuit-shattering line-up of seasonal thrills including classic titles Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Nikolai Dante and Sinister Dexter, alongside stories from newcomers Dandridge and Absalom.

This issue also sees the launch of two brand new thrills: sci-fi drama Grey Area by Dan Abnett and Karl Richardson, and ancient Roman action fantasy Aquila by Gordon Rennie and Leigh Gallagher.

2000AD Prog 2012 is now on sale. For print and digital subscription details visit

2000AD lined up for London Super Comic Convention

2000AD is to attend the country’s newest comic book convention, the inaugural London Super Comic Convention will take place at the Excel Centre in London on 25th-26th February 2012.

Many of the guests are some of the biggest names to have worked for the House of Tharg, including Brian Bolland, John McCrea, Duncan Fegredo, Paul Cornell, Sean Phillips, Nick Percival and Mike Carey.

The 2000AD booth will be stocked with all the latest graphic novel titles from the imprint, as well as comics and t-shirts.

The event joins the growing list of conventions in 2012 which will see an appearance from the ‘droids’ of, including the SFX Weekender at the start of February, San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con.

Matt Smith, editor of 2000AD, said: “We're delighted to be part of the inaugural London Super Comic Convention, which features an impressive line-up of writers and artists attending. It should be zarjaz event that no comic fan should miss!”

“We are delighted that the largest and arguably greatest publisher that Britain has to offer, will be in attendance at our convention,” said a spokesman for the event.

Comics Forum 2011 interviews online

(with thanks to Norman Boyd): MP3s of some of the talks from Comics Forum 2011 are now available for download from the website at

Nearly two hours of free audio content features creators such as Ian Williams (Graphic Medicine), Sarah Leavitt (Tangles), Tom Humberstone (Solipsistic Pop), Matt Sheret (Paper Science) and more.

Additional instalments from Graphic Medicine will follow, and there’s a link to subscribe to the podcast over on the site.

Coming up next week the site has a great piece by Nina Mickwitz entitled ‘Traversing Frames: the Dialectic between Comics and Travel’.

STRIP Magazine #2 on sale now in the UK

STRIP Magazine #2 is on sale now in all good UK comic shops, including many offering mail order.
STRIP Magazine Issue Two, the first comics title from Print Media Productions, features a Hook Jaw cover by Rufus Dayglo, which has also been included as a free promotional poster with the issue.
This issue's line-up is as follows:

Black Ops Xtreme Part 2, written by John Freeman and drawn by PJ Holden: the team are sent to South America to kill a dangerous terrorist!
Warpaint Part 2 by Phil Hester and John McCrea: Mia learns more about an ancient war!
Age of Heroes Part 2 by James Hudnall and John Ridgway: the magician Wex battles for his life against deadly monsters!
Recovery Inc. by Michael Penick and Dean Deckard: the company is hired to retrieve a top secret stolen prototype!
Hook Jaw, re-mastered by Jim Campbell and Gary Caldwell: Joy over an oil strike turns sour as the great white shark Hook Jaw attacks!
'Cold Hard Facts' - a man from the 20th Century finds the future is not the paradise he expected
• The second winner of our 'Strip Challenge' - "The Citadel Codex", set in ancient Mexico

PLUS - an exclusive interview with comic artist John McCrea, British comics news, a competition to win copies of Paul Gravett's new book 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die and the new collection of Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson's Mazeworld; and a sneak preview of Crucible, one of the new strips coming up next year STRIP Magazine!
You can now subscribe to Strip Magazine online at at our introductory rates as advertised in Issue 1 of our new magazine.

STRIP Magazine #2 is also available digitally from iTunes, published in partnership with ROK Comics

Buy STRIP Magazine #2 from

Buy STRIP Magazine #1 from

John Ryan exhibition in Rye

John Ryan Exhibition poster
For anyone venturing to the south east corner of England there's an exhibition of Captain Pugwash creator John Ryan's work at Rye Art Gallery until mid February 2012.

John Ryan, the author, illustrator and animator, who died in 2009 in his home town of Rye aged 88, created Captain Pugwash, who became much loved on children’s television in the 1970s. He also devised The Adventures of Sir Prancelot and Mary, Mungo and Midge

Launched by Ryan in the first issue of Eagle comic in 1950, Captain Horatio Pugwash soon became a children’s favourite and an eight-year stint as a comic strip in Radio Times followed. In 1957 Pugwash and his crew aboard the Black Pig — Tom the cabin boy, Willy, Barnabas and Pugwash’s deadly enemy Cut-Throat Jake — made their debut in Ryan’s long-running series for BBC Television. 

During his long career, he created many other characters and produced a large body of work including numerous books and artworks. This exhibition celebrates his life and work through his art.

As well as original comic artwork,it also includes some of the animation boards from the Pugwash TV

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

New Eagle Times released

The latest issue of Eagle Times - Volume 24 No 4 - is now available from the Eagle Society.

Contents include:

  • From Under the 1950s Christmas Tree, Pepys Card Games - a seasonal look at the numerous Pepys games, which included some based around characters from Eagle ('Dan Dare' and 'Jeff Arnold') and Girl
  • The Case of Christmas Presents - PC49 appears in a seasonal short-story
  • A Look at 'Luck' - part 2 of a continuing series examining the French Foreign Legion strip by Geoffrey Bond and Martin Aitchison, that ran in Eagle from 1952 - 1961
  • Working with David Hunt, part 2 - memories of working on 'Dan Dare' projects for the "New" Eagle editor in the 1980s
  • Rivals of Eagle, takes a look at The Boy's Own Paper, the long-running boys' story paper, which lasted 88 years - from 1879 - 1967
  • The first part of a series on Visual Memories of Eaglecon 80 - the only London comics convention ever held solely for Eagle enthusiasts
  • PC49 and the Case of the Frightened Flower Girl - the conclusion of a new adaptation of one of Alan Stranks' radio plays
  • Rivals of Jeff Arnold - the 9th in the series takes a look at 'Happy Daze', a comedy western strip drawn by Bill Holroyd for D.C. Thomson's Topper comic
  • 'Dan Dare' Figures (from the 1950s to the present day) - begins by taking a look at those produced in the 1950s by the Crescent Toy Company and Eaglewall Plastics/Kentoys
  • Ron by Ron - a lighthearted look at some of Ron Embleton's appearances in some of his own artwork
  • L. Ashwell Wood, Cutaway Maestro - an addendum to the article in Eagle Times Vol 24 No 3, covering the Inside Information series, Odhams Books and the reprinting of Eagle cutaways in foreign publications
  • Eagle Annuals 1971-1975 looks at the annuals that continued to appear after the original Eagle's demise as a comic
  • 'Sammy' in colour - a strip from Eagle's companion paper, Swift, which was translated and reprinted in colour in the Dutch paper Arend - shown for the first time in English and colour
  • A short biographical piece on David Motton, the 'Dan Dare' writer of the 1960s, who recently retired
  • A report and photographs from the Eagle Society Annual Gathering at Midgham, Berkshire, 6th - 8th September, 2011

Membership of THE EAGLE SOCIETY is via Annual Subscription to EAGLE TIMES magazine, which is published four times annually. The Subscription rate for 2011 is held at the 2010 rate: UK £23, Overseas £34(in £s Sterling, please) Postal applications to: Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2UAUnited Kingdom. If you wish to pay by Paypal (to the eagle-times hotmail address below) we request an additional payment of £1. Enquiries:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

British 'My Favorite Martian' strips to be reprinted

Fans of the 1960s comedy My Favorite Martian are in for a treat next year, when US publisher Hermes Press publishes a complete collection of the strips that featured in Britain's TV Century 21, most drawn by the legendary Bill Titcombe.

Gold Key Comics published a number of My Favorite Martian comics telling way-out stories of Uncle Martin and Tim O'Hara. Now, thanks to Hermes Press and their hardcover reprint series of the vintage My Favorite Martian comics, you can catch up on thes long-lost misadventures of everyone's stranded antennae-headed alien when our collection comes out this Wednesday.

My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series - Volume One, on sale this week, represents the first five issues of the Gold Key comic book that ran from 1964 and 1965, while the upcoming second volume, planned for 2012, will also feature the English TV Century 21 comics.

Not only does the first volume have artwork by Russ Manning, Dan Spiegel and Mike Arens, but also stories by Paul S. Newman and Bob Ogle, and a plethora of rare photos and memorabilia reproduced in the back. We're not just talking photos that haven't seen the light of day in decades - Hermes have worked with the TV series copyright holders, Chertok TV, to present previously unpublished set photos, many in colour, that have been thought lost since the 1960s.

This out of the world library edition comes with a sweet retro design to best present Uncle Martin's long-lost adventures. So if you're a My Favorite Martian fan, or even just a huge fan of classic TV, check this out. (And if you've never seen the show, then you'll be pleased to hear that a DVD collection is in the works for the UK).

The first episode of My Favorite Martian
in TV Century 21 Issue 1. Art by Bill Titcombe
My Favorite Martian © Chertok TV

Drawn by Bill Titcombe, who also drew TV Comic's The Telegoons and many other adaptations of US and British TV comedy characters, TV Century 21's My Favourite Martian stories have pretty much snuck in under fans' radar for many years – the comic is better known for its adventure strips based on Gerry Anderson shows such as Thunderbirds and Stingray, but it also featured a number of one-page humour strips, such as The Munsters.

My Favourite Martian ran in TV Century 21 for over two years. Like other strips based on US shows, some of the visuals don't quite match the series but Bill, like Mike Noble and others who worked on TV21's Star Trek adaptation later, were clearly working from limited reference when they started on the strips.

There's no publication date for the second volume, but Hermes Press have also announced they'll be offering a special My Favorite Martian comic book on Free Comic Book Day, next year - 5th May, 2012. Keep an eye out for it.

My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series - Volume One is available from all good comic shops now (Diamond Code: FEB111066) and both real world and online book stories. 

My Favorite Martian © Chertok TV

CLiNT delivers Montynero, Dowling's 'Death Sentence'

CLiNT is to publish the independent comic Death Sentence by Montynero and Mike Dowling in 2012.

Created by writer Montynero and Mike Dowling (artist on CLiNT’s Rex Royd), Mark Millar, publisher of CLiNT alongside Titan Magazines, describes Death Sentence as the perfect fit for the 100-page magazine's brand of big-budget action with a cynical twist.

Described as “just brilliant” by Millar, Death Sentence first came to his attention at the first Kapow! Comic Convention last year, where it stood out from the crowd of pitches with its striking concept and A-list work from the creators.

The story of three Londoners granted superpowers and six months to live by the devastating, sexually-transmitted G-Plus virus, Death Sentence is by turns dramatic, thought-provoking and hilarious; a take-down of modern celebrity culture that also takes a stand against oppressive and invasive government.

Editorial manager Andrew James enthuses, “Death Sentence has it all – a great high-concept, engaging characters, fantastic art, and gripping writing. Montynero has a spectacular career ahead of him – and Mike Dowling’s self-coloured work is a revelation.”

Death Sentence will debut in CLiNT in May 2012, with a launch at the second annual Kapow! Comic Convention.

Titan Magazines say there will be more news on the future of CLiNT in January - suggesting more new strips will be part of its content.

Reviewing Issue 12 of the title recently, comic creator and British comics pundit Lew Stringer praised the Magazine, saying "I really like CLiNT... [it's] raw, unapologetic and brutal.

"Critics may argue that the stories could be told just as well without the excessive violence and profanity, and they'd have a point, but it wouldn't be as much fun would it?"

• More about CLiNT at:

Monday, 12 December 2011

Eddie Campbell's "Dapper John" stories released on iPad

Panel Nine, a new digital comics imprint set up by Hong Kong-based run by a longtime British comics supporter, has just released a superb iPad edition of Dapper John, one of Eddie Campbell's earliest comic strips.

It's a fabulous package collecting all of the "Ace Club" stories in one place and adding a whole bunch of extras.

When Alan Moore first saw Eddie Campbell’s In the Days of the Ace Rock ’n’ Roll Club in 1982, he wrote, “Eddie Campbell is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting talents, amateur or professional, working in comics at the moment.”

It was the start of a beautiful relationship. Dapper John was an inspiration for John Constantine from Swamp Thing. And it was with Eddie Campbell that Moore created the magnificent From Hell (later adapted by Hollywood with Johnny Depp in the starring role).

Campbell, of course, is now recognised as one of the world’s most talented comics artists, with his Alec stories included in the Comics Journal’s list of the 100 most important comics published. His graphic novels The Fate of the Artist, Bacchus, and The Playwright have all drawn great critical acclaim.

Last published in 1993, the Ace Club stories here follow the lives of a group of teddy boys in Southend in the 1970s – characters who could mythologise their walk down the street before they got to the end of it. The stories are a direct precursor to Campbell’s Alec series and are essential reading for any Campbell fan.

"In the Days of the Ace Rock'n'Roll Club was a book, or an ongoing series of sevn-page stories which I drew between March 1978 and March 1979," says Eddie. "The stories interlocked in various ways, with characters from one piece showing up in another. The 'arc', as we say nowadays, came to a logical conclusion after the eighth story, by which time Dapper John had emerged as the main character. A proto-Alec MacGarry appears as the second key character.

"It was in these pages that I started to get the idea of using autobiography as a starting point for a big serious book."

Eddie created new artwork and wrote a special introduction for this new iPad edition, and a whole raft of notes and captions covering the era in which Dapper John strode the small press stage.

The app itself is excellent, offering different ways of reading the strip - a version aping its original layout and a slick 'panel by panel' version with a very well thought out scrolling action involving movement from frame at some points and at other times, a simole cross fade which make for an enjoyable reading experience.

The strips themselves are raw Eddie Campbell at his finest - vignettes of life among the 'Teddy Boys' of Brighton, the stories themselves given entertaining context thanks to accompanying notes, offering a fascinating insight into the heady days of Fast Fiction, early photocopied comics sold at Westminter comic marts and more.

All in all, this is an excellent app with great content - certainly one of he best presentations of comics on the iPad I've seen and up there with my other iPad bench mark, the 'Mirabilis' app.

Panel Nine will be publishing more comics on iPad in the coming months. "We will have two lines," says Russell Willis, who longtime British comic fans may recall as one of the ground-breaking figures in indie comc publishing back in the 1980s (read an interview on downthetubes here).

"One publishes some of  the best comics work already existing work in deluxe digital graphic novels for the iPad, and the other is to commission new work that is created with the iPad in mind from the beginning.

"Our team here in Tokyo has developed what we think is the best graphic novel reader on the market," he enthuses, "giving a much better user experience than market leaders such as Comixology and other comics reader platforms."

More news as things develop.

Buy the App from iTunes

More about Dapper John on Eddie Campbell's blog

• Panel Nine official web site:

Sunday, 11 December 2011

In Review: Commando 4453 - Walk Or Die!

A German soldier carrying an injured British soldier on his back through the desert - painted by Ken Barr, this cover to the first ever issue of Commando has become something of an iconic British comics image since it was first published in June 1961. Today the original artwork hangs on the wall of the National Army Museum in London as part of their Art Of War exhibition. Yet how many of the people who recognise the image have actually read the story that it promotes?

Commando has been celebrating its fiftieth birthday in a variety of different ways this year and one of them has been to reprint the first twelve issues of the title, in reverse order, at the rate of one a month throughout the year. Issue 4453 brings this to its conclusion with this reissue of number 1 that has been printed from the original fifty year old artwork.

In North Africa in the early years of World War II, the British Army found the German Africa Korps before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour brought America into the fight. The crew of a Matilda tank taking part in a major attack are left behind when their tank is damaged and their commander killed. With their tank patched up, they realise that they are lost and after a brief fight with a lone German tank, they capture its commander and head out into the desert before the Germans can counter attack against them. With their water and fuel running out, the crew must decide what to do with their prisoner who seems to know more about where they are than they do.

The story by Eric Castle is set in the Libyan desert (and shows its age by using the Lybian spelling) which would put it some twenty years before the comic was published. While we tend to think of WWII being a long time ago now, that is the equivalent of a brand new Commando being set during the Gulf War. While the artwork by Garcia is relatively crude, and his depiction of a Matilda tank is somewhat ropey in comparison to the accuracy that Commando art has become known for, the story is anything but a typical child's war story. Here we have a German officer depicted as confident and intelligent, while the tank's crew have to make a moral decision on how to treat their prisoner of war when they themselves are in a fight for survival against the desert as well as the enemy. It makes for an intriguing story that set the basis for Commando's emphasis on characters above combat, an emphasis that it retains to this day.

In the end it doesn't matter what I think of this issue since the story is fifty years old and a part of British comics history. Yet with that thought in mind, and considering that it is the run up to Christmas, this then would make an unusual (and cheap) Christmas present for someone who is either into war comics or old British comics or, for that matter, simply remembers reading Commando in their younger days.

Commando 4453: Walk - Or Die! is available in newsagents from now until 21 December 2011 and costs £1.50

There are more details of Commando on the official DC Thomson Commando website.

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