Saturday, 30 November 2019

Look-In: The Junior TV Times #43 (1979)

TV related comics were a big feature of the British scene and numerous titles appeared over the years some more famous than others. Some short lived and some long running but amongst these titles was Look-In a hybrid of comics and features aimed at children who watched ITV programmes.

Billed as the "Junior TV Times" it was regularly advertised when Children's broadcasting was on after school and the family sat around the TV to watch everything from Magpie, The Smurfs to The Tomorrow People. 

Of course there plenty of other shows which were essential family viewing including Benny Hill, Sapphire & Steel and The Famous Five (which I don't remember at all) plus American imports such as The Bionic Man and Battlestar Galactica, the latter a personal favourite. I first saw this in a drafty old cinema at the Elephant & Castle back in the day.

Look-In contained features on pop music and sport aiming at both boys and girls. It was certainly successful as it ran from 1971 to 1994. If you choose to collect it please note the numbering starts from #1 at the beginning of each year. There are also twenty Annuals cover dated 1972 to 1991.

Plenty of memories to be found in these pages.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Countdown Annual 1973 (Polystyle Publications)

Originally launched as "the comic for the space age", Countdown was very much the home of Gerry Anderson properties and Doctor Who in it's 132 issue existence though when the comic changed it's title to TV Action as of #49 there was a gradual change towards more crime orientated stories though the good Doctor continued to appear in most issue.

This annual issued halfway through the comics life was the 1973 edition and the second of three the third becoming TV Action. Annuals were once a great present to receive from various relatives come Christmas.

A mix of comic strips and text features including a Persuaders story, this edition is a good addition to anyone's collection.  There are two UFO stories, one from Captain Scarlet and of course there's an appearance of Thunderbirds.

Doctor Who finishes off the Annual in it's end pages. There's a couple of humour strips including Dastardly and Mutley. which was essential team-time viewing for this schoolboy back then. Actually I'd watch it now. More character than some of these modern cartoons that I skimmed over on TV.

First and last Annuals:


Saturday, 23 November 2019

Stan Lee A Marvellous Life Biography

Comics have long been part of our culture even if today their circulations are so much smaller due to the development of other distractions such as gaming. However only one comics creator has ever become a household name and that's Stan Lee.

Marvel Comics gradually came out of Martin Goodman's Timely Comics company founded in the forties and edited by Stan though until the creation of The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Doctor Strange their comics were just some of those available on the racks.

It was Stan's ability to connect with his readers through Soap Boxes and letter pages that created a read fandom for his characters and comics. Of course Stan Lee did not create this fictional universe on his own. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were also instrumental in making Marvel different and distinctive to the competition.

A Marvellous Life by Danny Fingeroth (Simon & Schuster HB £20)takes us through Stanley Lieber's life including the highs and lows warts and all since Stan the showman sometimes attracted ire from his fellow creators and peers but his contribution to making Marvel and the industry grow up is considerable.

Having recently read a rather dire book about Ditko one of the things I would recommend about this book is that you learn a fair amount about Ditko and Kirby in these pages. In fact it's rather a "must" read for any fan. Of course Stan wasn't perfect but he gave us a show and that we all enjoyed it is beyond question.

Before this book was released I obtained a copy of Alter Ego #161 ($9.95) which is a tribute to Stan Lee and contains an article about Marvel Comics around the world particularly focusing on Marvel UK and it's predecessors such as Alan Class and Power Comics which helped promote the Marvel brand in this country.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Sgt Rock #413 (DC/1988)

Sgt Rock #413 (DC/1988)

Various (w) & (a)

One of the genres of comics that seems to have long disappeared are the war comics we all used to read as a kid. I admit I was more interested in the little pocket book book "Picture Libraries" that British publisher put out but I did enjoy the occasion copy of Sgt Fury from Marvel or Sgt Rock from DC.

Of course Commando Comics is still going in the UK and I picked one up the other day. Over 5,000 issues now quite an achievement and still going strong. It prompted me to pick up a copy of Sgt Rock at my local comic shop.

The cover of this one caught my attention. A Priest and a Rabbi praying over the dead bodies of their comrades. Sad and poignant given the nature of the Second World War.

In I Owe You One Rock takes a backseat to the main characters of this story one Private Harry Cohen who we meet being berated by the Lieutenant for not having his helmet on and asking what is on his head. A Yarmulke worn by all "Orthodox" Jews. Harry ends up being allocated to look after Father Kelly who has just arrived to take care of Easy Company's religious needs and a friendship is struck up.

The use of religion as complimentary to each other makes for a good and unusual tale one that still needs to be told in this age of religious intolerance and the rise of anti-Semitism particularly on the left of politics in the UK.

There are two other short stories in this comic. The amusing A Job for Super-Soldier which relates a tale of a comic geek in the pacific theatre and what is essentially a horror story Glorious to the Grave set just after Dunkirk.

An issue worth collecting I thought.

And I have another for later.....

Friday, 15 November 2019

Starblazer Vol 1 (DC Thomson)

No doubt encouraged by the success of Rebellions publishing of old British comics material DC Thomson has tentatively entered the market once agin with this oversized reprint of a couple of issues of the "Pocket Library" title Starblazer. These comics published between 1979 and 1991 lasted a grand total of 281 issues.

This volume has two stories, the first Operation Overkill written by Grant Morrison in his early days and with great art from Enrique Alcatena. It introduces what is apparently a reoccurring character called Kayn. A quick read (as all these little books were) and not exactly intellectually stimulating as one would normally expect from Morrison but up to the standards of those Mystery and Science fiction anthologies published by those Yanks!

The second story with art reminiscent of 2000AD another simple story Jaws of Death pans out and is entertaining but the package is a bit excessive (£12.99) for what it is.

I'm lucky enough to use a comic shop that stocks the originals most of which are not too pricey and I have built a small collection of already. However for those of you who find these things difficult to find or want a deluxe version these volumes can be found in WH Smiths or direct from the publisher.

First and last issues:


Thursday, 14 November 2019

The Goodies Annual 1974 (World Distributors)

The Goodies Annual

One of my favourite TV shows growing up in the early seventies was The Goodies featuring Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graham Garden. A wacky all-ages show of total silliness to which the nation sat down and laughed with. Everybody of that generation remembers the giant kitten that demolished the Post Office Tower. Classic.

And of course the trio appeared in Annuals and comics. There were to my knowledge three annuals including this one from Christmas 1973 cover dated 1974 as is the British practice. It's a mix of comics and features but I'm not sure whether these are original for the book or reprints from the Cor! comic where they had a strip for around 17 issues. I don't have those comics so am happy to pick up this volume.

Interestingly they still have an active fan clu bwhich has been going since 1975!

Here's the link for everything you ever wanted to know about The Goodies:

Saturday, 9 November 2019

How to Make Comics...The Charlton Way!

Ever since I came across Charlton Comics back in the sixties I've always been a fan. My first outing was with Steve Ditko's version of Blue Beetle. Pity there were just the five issues plus the one in Charlton Bullseye that I have yet to read. There was John Byrne's Doomsday Plus One which I also like though got confused by the numbering as they reprinted the six issues continuing the numbering.


There was also Captain Atom, a corny Cold War character that did start to get interesting, especially as Ditko was the artist. The first DC series was a joy to read in my opinion as was their version of the Blue Beetle.


Then there were all the horror titles. Great stuff. usually picked up the ones with Ditko artwork but as I've got older expanded y interests. Charlton did both Western and War titles but neither really gripped me. I suppose as a Brit I preferred the grittier little one stories in those "Picture Libraries" we used to have. Commando is still going strong! Over 4,000 issues quite an achievement.

Still I always wanted but never got this little booklet which predates Stan Lee's books. The following video appeared in my You Tube feed this morning and is well worth a listen.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Previews Picks November 2019

It's that time of month to consider what items to order from the latest issue of the comic shop's catalogue Previews, for release starting in January 2020. Yes the New Year is firmly in site as dare I say is Christmas since the shops are already stocking up!

The first item firmly on my order for the month is Wonder Woman #750. Since my retirement this is one of a whole range of titles that fell off my monthly pile for purely financial reasons and I can't wait to see what's up with the Amazon Princess.


Over the years I have dipped in and out of the character who in my view spends too much time within the Olympian Pantheon which through it's various revisions has become very difficult to follow.

I much prefer "real world" adventures. 

Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 (Oct 1941), had her first feature in Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942) and her own series in the summer of 1942 and has been published continuously (except for a brief hiatus in 1986) since then. One hopes the title will keep the numbering just like Action Comics & Detective Comics have since reaching their albeit 1000th issues!

Other DC comics on my list for this month are the final issue of the excellent Freedom Fighters Maxi series, Superman #19, Legion of Superheroes #3 and John Constantine: Hellblazer #3!


Marvel continue to publish far too much to consider buying or following except I'll keep in touch via Fantastic Four #18 and stick to the various Conan titles which have reached the limit of my patience now. One can get too much of a good thing. I may drop Age of Conan.

Also on my pull list: Conan the Barbarian #12 (re-solicit) and two issues of Conan: Serpent War which will complete the story. Thought it would last longer but there it is.

Then there's the ladies from Dynamite...


First up is a new crossover/team up featuring Red Sonja and the Chaos characters. I'm a fan of these properties despite the disappointment of the last outing with Hack/Slash. Red Sonja, Chastity, Purgatori, Evil Ernie and the rest.

Meanwhile a variety of Dynamite titles remain on my pull list:



And of course:

Finally there's Archie and Katy Keene:


With the world of Archie proving a success in Riverdale and the new Sabrina TV series another Archie comics character Katy Keene is about to get a TV programme. I've heard of her but know little, but the next five issues of Archie feature Katy. So why not....

Meanwhile Veronica continues to draw blood in a new horror mini-series:


And not forgetting:


And from IDW new issues of Star Trek:Year Five #10 and Star Trek: Picard #3 (of 3).

Not much else this month. It's January everyone's skint after Christmas. However your choices may not be the same as mine!

Shalom Aleichem!

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Warrior Nun: Dora #1 (Avatar)


Warrior Nun: Dora #1 (Avatar)

Pat Shand (w) Daniel Gate (a)

When I returned to collecting comics at the end of the nineties one of the titles that attracted me was Areala : Warrior Nun an American Manga series published by Antarctic Press. It was a delightful and fun series that I ended up not only ordering every month that it came out but avidly purchased every back issue, trade paperback and tie in I could find. I even started collecting action figures as a result of the character.

Sadly over the years like so many comics her popularity waned and eventually the comic ended it's days as a black & white comic which being a Brit didn't matter to me. I've always like the format anyway. Of course all good things come to an end and the adventures of Areala and her cohorts fighting demons, Nazi's and evil in general came to en end.

It's been years since her last appearance and my copies are now buried in a box somewhere. One day I'll get someone to do some lifting for me and dig them out.

Now fast forward to today........

Image result for Previews Warrior Nun Dora

Avatar press have picked up the franchise and started a new series with a new Warrior Nun, and this far more adult story was a pleasure to read as Dora a stroppy lesbian teenager gets sent to a convent for bad behaviour by her God-fearing parents.

Dora hates that and misbehaves until one day strange sounds come from part of the convent which Dora decides to explore. The world of the Warrior Nuns is re-introduced.

Oh and a rather nasty necromancer is wandering around in the background.

This story gets a 5 Star Rating from me and there's more...

This oversized edition contains no less than three stories from Areala the original Warrior Nun.

If you have never picked up this series before then this is a great place to start.

And it's coming soon to you on Netflix!

Image result for Previews Warrior Nun Dora