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Friday, November 17, 2017

Comic Cuts - 17 November 2017

After a week-long break, I'm back working on the Forgotten Authors book, finalising the contents for the first ebook collection. I was planning for the first volume to contain 11 essays, but I've added a couple more to bring the word count up to 60,000 words. So the authors covered will be W. Stephens Hayward, Anonyma, Stella M. During, Edric Vredenburg, Morley Adams, Gerald Biss, W. Holt White, Alphonse Courlander, Ella M. Scrymsour, Alexander Wilson, Guy Ramsey, E. T. Portwin and Dail Ambler.

I'm waiting on one bit of information, but I've spent the week going through each of these 13 essays, giving them a little tweak here and I'm now convinced that everything, including the kitchen sink, has been included. There's not one iota of extra information I can squeeze in. I'm hoping to have the book laid out in rough in a day or two and I'm working on a cover that I'll hopefully have finished shortly.

A quick update on the totals. I've finished 23 essays (although a couple of them are waiting on some minor information before I sign off of them) bringing the currant wordage to... 100,300! I was hoping that the final book – the Fifty Forgotten Authors collection – would be around 150,000 words, but I'm now wondering whether I'll even be finished at 200,000. That'll teach me to include the kitchen sink every time.

The current essay I'm working on is likely to be another long one, but I'm hoping to have some shorter ones to work on after that. I might do a volume which is made up of much shorter pieces where, perhaps, there isn't much information. It might give me a chance to breeze through some essays that don't utterly consume my every waking hour for two weeks.

What else has happened this week? I broke one of my hard drives by dropping it on the floor. Thankfully, it wasn't one of the drives I use to back up my computer. This was one I used to transfer files around the house and, stupidly, I was holding it by the USB cable as I walked through the kitchen when the cable and drive parted company. Although it only fell about three feet, it was onto hard floor, not carpet. A few more steps and it might have survived.

The new drive arrived on Thursday afternoon and I'm still copying odds and ends over to it.

Sadly, that really is all that's happened this week. A broken hard drive. I remember the old days when I used to do interesting things...

Random scans this week are a few SF novels (and a lovely space reference book) I've picked up recently that don't fit into any other gallery.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Commando 5071-5074

Commando releases for 16 November 2017.

Brand new Commando issues 5071-5074 are out today! Prepare for some hairy Harley Davidson chases, aerial dogfights at forty thousand feet, criminals turned war heroes and dreaded U-Boat hunts…

5071: Troubled Times
After the horrors of the First World War, Feldwebel Kurt Woden and Unteroffizer Johann Aachen returned from the front line to a battered and impoverished Germany. But not everyone was happy to put the fighting behind them, and not every German was at a loss from the war effort. Soon the rumblings of war reared its ugly head again as Kurt and Johann ran into a familiar face – one they remembered from the other side of the trenches...
    Another classic tale from George Low featuring a dynamic pairing of bickering friends, ‘Troubled Times’ is full of battle and high speed chases, with artwork by Jaume Forns breaking through the panels, adding to the excitement of this stellar issue.

Story: George Low
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5072: Redcap
M.P. Sergeant Pete Simpson never expected to lead a group of Allied criminals and deserters, but when their transport plane is downed in the Italian mountains, Pete has no choice but to trust his prisoners. However, things quickly take a turn when the rag-tag crew find a Nazi power station and their fight for survival turns to one for honour!
    Complimenting Skentleberry’s vagabond team is carefully shaded artwork by Zata, really making the different uniforms and expressions stand out.

Story: Skentleberry
Art: Zata
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 427 (September 1969)

5073: Higher! Higher! Higher!
Commando reaches new heights as German reconnaissance flights take old Junkers Ju 86Ps into the stratosphere, but fear not, Tommy has his own plane ready to give chase. Battling at forty-thousand feet, these steel angels have more than bullets or dizzying heights to worry about as less oxygen can be absorbed by the blood, leading to hallucinations, dizziness and even blackouts… 
    Framing this is issue is a glorious aerial cover by Ian Kennedy, showing the depth and height of the aircraft showdown high above the African sands.

Story: Steve Taylor
Art: Castro & Morhain
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5074: Jinx and Jonah!
For the entirety of the Second World War, battles were underway to protect and conquer the vital sea lanes of the Atlantic Ocean. But the enemy was not always visible on such a battlefield, as hidden beneath the surface were Nazi wolf packs. One such U-Boat bore the distinctive insignia of a mermaid on a horseshoe – something wireless operator Andrew Collins would never forget…
    K. P. MacKenzie’s nautical adventure is skilfully drawn by the illustrious Gordon C. Livingstone, while the sea loving Jeff Bevan provides the cover.

Story: K. P. MacKenzie
Art: Gordon C. Livingstone
Cover: Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 2641 (February 1993)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 15 November–16 November 1917.

Judge Dredd Megazine #390
Cover: Paul Marshall/Chris Blythe
JUDGE DREDD: CONTRABANDITS by Rory McConville (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: NWO by Alan Grant (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
DEVLIN WAUGH: BLOOD DEBT by Rory McConville (w) Mike Dowling (a) Simon Bowland (l)
LAWLESS: BREAKING BADROCK by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
DARK JUDGES: DOMINION by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
FEATURES: Dan Dare, New Comics.
BAGGED REPRINT: Helium by Ian Edginton (w) D'Israeli (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

2000AD Prog 2057
Cover: Boo Cook

JUDGE DREDD: BLACK SNOW by Michael Carroll (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
INDIGO PRIME: A DYING ART by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l)
SINISTER DEXTER: THE SIGHTS by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files #30 by John Wagner, Cam Kennedy, Simon Davis, Neil Googe, Stephen Baskerville, Mick McMahon, Charlie ADlard, Colin Wilson, Andrew Currie, Steve Tappin, Mike Collins
Rebellion 978-1781-08548-6, 16 November 2017, 290pp, £19.99 / $21.99. Available via Amazon.
The next installment of the best-selling compendium of Judge Dredd's cases from the pages of 2000 AD the Judge Dredd Megazine! The remnants of East-Meg One want Judge Dredd to pay for destroying their city. Who better to hunt him down than Orlock, deadly agent of East-Meg One! Meanwhile, crime lord Nero Narcos puts his lethal plan to depose the Judges into action. Even with help from Brit-Cit, Judge Anderson and DeMarco, one thing is for sure: Mega-City One isn’t coming out of this in one piece!

Misty Volume 2 by Malcolm Shaw, Mario Capaldi & John Richardson
Rebellion 978-1781-08600-1, 16 November 2017, 114pp, £13.99 / $21.99. Available via Amazon.
Following up our hit first volume of the ‘horror comic for girls’ with another collection of two stories: The Sentinels and End of The Line. Misty was a revolutionary concept by 2000 AD’s creator Pat Mills in 1978 and left its mark on a whole generation of young women. The two identical tower blocks, known as ‘The Sentinels’ to the locals, stand tall over the town of Birdwood – but only one is occupied while the other remains mysteriously empty. When Jan Richards’ family lose their home they decide to hide out in the abandoned block so they can stay together, only to be sent into a parallel world where the Nazis conquered Britain in 1940… In End of the Line, Ann’s father was one of a group of engineers believed to have been killed whilst working on an extension to the London Underground but when she and her mother are invited to the opening of the new train tunnel, Ann discovers a mysterious time portal through which several workers are being kept as slaves by an evil Victorian called Lord Vicary.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Misty Vol.2

The first volume of Misty reprints appeared a year ago and I read the book with great enthusiasm. I did not read Misty first time around, so the stories were new to me... well, new but familiar, as you'll see if you read my review. I said then that I hoped Rebellion would publish more from Misty's pages, and they've rewarded me (and you, and others) with a second volume.

Let's dive straight in. 'The Sentinels' are a pair of 26-storey tower blocks, one of which is occupied, one of which is deserted, run-down and the source of many local rumours about disappearing families. The story tapped into the distrust people had of tower blocks, the story appearing only a decade after the partial collapse at Ronan Point in Canning Town killed four. The clean, compact flats of the Sixties were run-down eye-sores by the late Seventies and deep-seated distrust of tenants that landlords were failing to maintain buildings – lifts were broken, lights were never replaced leaving corridors in pools of darkness – added to the undercurrent of fear that surrounded them. Little wonder that J. G. Ballard wrote High-Rise in 1975.

'The Sentinels' embraces the air of menace that these tower blocks seemed to enshrine and added to it through the kind of local legends that kids create around abandoned buildings: that it is haunted by ghosts, that it is evil... and that's where Jan's family are about to move into, thanks to the landlord of their aunt and uncle. Thinking they are sub-letting, Jan's family – dad, mum and two younger siblings – are being turfed out onto the street. 26 floors of unoccupied flats suddenly seems attractive to Dave, who dismisses the horror stories as superstitious nonsense.

But strange things begin to occur to the squatters: Jan sees her school burn down from a window, only to find it fine when she gets down to the street; she and her family seem to be stalked by doubles of themselves; and, finally, walking through a doorway to a flat on the floors above leads Jan to an alternate world where Nazis conquered the UK in 1940. The tower block isn't haunted... it's a gateway to another world.

Not only does Jan find herself displaced in the universe, her family are too, as the story plays out against the housing shortage and unemployment of the 1970s. Because of this, the story feels like it could have been written yesterday, not thirty years ago.

In 'End of the Line', Ann Summerton's father has been killed whilst building the Windsor Line but during the inaugural trip on the new line, built twice as deep as other underground lines, Ann sees her father amongst a group of ragged men, still digging in the tunnel. Investigating further, she learns of the old Prince Albert line, a Victorian line that was closed up when an entire train was lost in a tunnel collapse.

Journalists investigating why Ann pulled the emergency brake during her journey along the tunnel disappear but still her mother and step-father-to-be believe Ann is imagining things and take her to a psychiatrist, who recommends hospitalisation. Running away, Ann finds that the suspected route of the Prince Albert line intersects the Windsor Line between Packer Street and Side Vale. She persuades the editor of the Daily Globe that the tunnel needs investigation, but nothing is found by the police despite Ann seeing the captive journalists.

Although confined to a countryside clinic, Ann manages to escape back to London and the tunnel, where she is almost snatched. She follows her would-be captives and discovers not only the location of the Prince Albert line but also an even more incredible sight.

'End of the Line' has the same timeless quality to it: while back in 1979 we had the opening of the Jubilee Line, now we have Crossrail being completed; back then we had Margaret Thatcher spouting Victorian values, which presumably included the housing shortage, a huge gap between richest and poorest and child poverty that went with Victorian values; today we have Theresa May overseeing the lack of affordable housing, the increasing wealth gap and food banks. Mrs Thatcher would be proud. Might I suggest you buy Misty volume 2 to take your mind off such horrors.

Misty Vol.2, Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08600-1, 16 November 2016, 114pp, £13.99. Available from Amazon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

F. H. Warren

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

F. H. Warren was a minor illustrator of boys’ books and story papers in the post-WW1 period, but was more famous for his posters, for organisations such as the London Underground.

He was born in St. Pancras, London, on 2 March 1886, and christened Francis Howlett Warren. His father was Alfred Turner Warren (born in 1859 in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight), a box attendant at a theatre; his mother was Sarah Juliet Grace (née Howlett – born in Holborn in 1861), who was working as a dressmaker. At the time of the 1891 census, the family was living in Southwick Street, Paddington; ten years later, they were at 10 Caithness Road, Hammersmith., with Alfred working as an insurance agent. By then Alfred and Sarah had had three more children: Frederick (born in 1893), Edward (1895), and Norman (1899).

It is not know where Francis was educated (unless it was at Wilson’s Grammar School, in Wallington, Surrey, where an F. H. Warren was recorded as a pupil in May 1901, in a report on the school’s speech day in May 1901 published in The South London Press, although this is most unlikely if the family was living in Hammersmith), or where he received his artistic training. He was working as a commercial artist at the time of the 1911 census, where he was recorded living in one-room lodgings at 29 Great Percy Street, Clerkenwell, London.

Later that year, on 6 June 1911 in Holborn, he married Dorothy Ada Archer (born on 4 September 1887 in Deptford, Kent, the daughter of a businessman). They went on to have two sons, the first, rather strangely named Fritz Olaf Warren, being born in Lambeth in 1914. Within a year or so the family had moved to The Firs, Beech, near Alton, Hampshire, where their second son, Peter Pax Warren, was born on 16 November 1918. 

On 12 October 1916, Francis enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service, serving as a mechanic on board HMS President II. He was transferred to the RAF in 1 April 1918, where he served until 22 February 1919, being transferred to the RAF Reserve with the rank of Sergeant. He was finally discharged on 30 April 1920, his home address being recorded as Beechbank, Basingstoke Road, Alton.

Amongst Warren’s earliest known work for children were illustrations for The Boy’s Own Paper in 1916, and for the Amalgamated Press’s story paper The Union Jack, for which he illustrated a handful of Sexton Blake stories. In the 1920s he provided illustrations for a few boys’ hardback stories, mainly school stories, such as Michael Poole’s Barnston’s Big Year and Well Bowled, Grantley, and Jeffrey Havilton’s The School Wins, and the odd historical story.

His main source of income, however, was from his work designing posters – he worked in particular with the London Underground, the London and North Eastern Railway, and the London department store Derry & Toms – and pub signs. He was also a close friend of the painter Augustus John. After Warren’s death, The Birmingham Daily Post (13 September 1960) quoted a story about John that Warren was fond of telling:

The two were talking together at the fireside many years ago when John rubbed a forefinger against a sooty fire brick and made a lightning sketch in a few strokes to illustrate a point he was making. “I have sighed many times since when recalling how that little gem was wiped away a few minutes later,” Mr Warren used to say. Mr Warren was responsible for some of the finest inn signs in the Midlands. He also painted many portraits in oils.”

One of his inn signs, painted in 1938, caused something of a stir – when the National Trust acquired the George Inn in Southwark (London’s only surviving galleried coaching inn, rebuilt in 1676 following the Great Fire of Southwark) it commissioned Warren to produce a new sign. Unfortunately, he was asked to do a painting of King George IV, whereas the inn’s name was actually a shortened form of St. George and the Dragon. The National Trust said, by way of justification, that it wanted to reflect the inn’s role in Georgian coaching days. How long the sign remained is not known – certainly, the George now has a more appropriate sign reflecting its origins.

Nothing else appears to be known about Francis Warren, other than there being a slight mystery as to his family circumstances in 1939. The 1939 Register, compiled before the outbreak of the Second World War to provide the personal details of every British civilian, recorded him living at Woodburn, 60 Evesham Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, working as an artist and illustrator, alongside a Florence I. Warren, born on 6 May 1889. Dorothy Warren was living at Beechbank, Basingstoke Road, Alton, with her son Peter Warren, who was working as a clerk. It appears that Florence was the daughter of a Martha Warren, both born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. What, if any, family link there was between Francis and Florence is not known. Francis and Dorothy may well have separated, although when Francis died on 11 September 1960, at 60 Evesham Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, leaving an estate valued at just £190, probate was granted to his widow Dorothy Ada, who herself died in 1983 in Alton.

Sadly, on 12 February 1944, Warren’s son Fritz Olaf had been killed whilst serving in Burma as a Lance Bombardier with the Light Anti-Aircraft/Anti-Tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery, and was buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma (now Myanmar). Warren’s other son, Peter, died in Basingstoke in January 1997.


Books illustrated by F. H. Warren
Devil Dare: The Story of a Traitor by Alfred Ollivant, T. Nelson & Sons, 1927
The King’s Legacy: A Story of the French Revolution by Kate Whitehead Oxley, Sheldon Press, 1928
The School Wins by Jeffrey Havilton, Blackie & Son, 1928
Well Bowled, Grantley! by Michael Poole, Blackie & Son, 1929
The Boys of Moorfields School by J.P. Milne, Blackie & Son, 1929
The Scouts of Windhaven by Geoffrey Prout, Blackie & Son, 1931
Barnston’s Big Year by Michael Poole, Blackie & Son, 1931
The Vengeance of Gwa by Sidney Fowler Wright, Books of Today, 1945
Jefferson Junior by J.S. Fletcher, Blackie & son, 1938 (re-issue)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Comic Cuts - 10 November 2017

Once again I'm aiming to keep this short as I've spent the week working on something that doesn't relate to work. I haven't completely abandoned the book (I did some work on it last Friday and I should be back to work work today) but I haven't made any great progress. The research alone can take quite a lot of time, so there will always be weeks where I'm not producing my aimed-for 1,000 words a day.

Hopefully I'll be getting back up to speed next week.

The only other thing I did this week worth mentioning was a visit to the cinema to see Thor: Ragnarok which hurtled into my top three films of the year – I really liked it. It had spectacle, humour, action, a storyline (sadly lacking in one or two of Marvel's recent movies) and even a bit of character development. We don't go to the local Odeon very often as the cost has become ridiculous – over £12 for even 2D showings of movies. I notice that the price has actually dropped (I think this one was £10.75), so I have to assume that the high ticket price was putting people off over the summer. Either that or the poor quality of the films themselves put people off.

I like action/SF movies in the main and there are usually a handful of movies that stand out... this year it has been Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman. There are also movies that I'll be happy to revisit more than once: Baby Driver, Logan, Atomic Blonde, John Wick Chapter 2, Kong: Skull Island, Spiderman: Homecoming, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Free Fire and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Netflix had a couple of great movies: Okja and What Happened to Monday, which I'm happy to  recommend.

Then we have a bunch of movies that were a bit meh... Alien: Covenant (the "Alien on a Space Station" rip-off Life was actually quite fun), Fast and the Furious 8, The LEGO Batman movie, The Mummy, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Transformers 5... I think these probably fall into the category of "I really wanted them to be good" but they ended up disappointing me.

There are loads of films I haven't seen, from The Age of Shadows, a Korean action movie, to Goodbye Christopher Robin, which tells the rather sad story of A. A. Milne's son (my tastes aren't wholly limited to action/SF!). There are a few films I'm expecting to like (Despicable Me 3, Dunkirk, Hidden Figures, In This Corner of the World (Japanese anime), Colossal, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Their Finest) and a bunch that I'll wait until I pick up a second-hand DVD very cheap (The Dark Tower, Geostorm, Kingsman: The Golden Circle); and, although I'm not a horror fan, I will probably watch It and Get Out as they were well reviewed.

There's a good chance that, even if I see them for under a quid, I won't be bothering with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales or King Arthur.

Next trip to the cinema will probably be for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, although if Justice League is well reviewed by people whose opinions I like, I might be tempted.

Random cover scans this week are a handful of books that I've picked up recently... well, not the two Michael Caine books. I've had them for ages, but recently unearthed them in a box I hadn't sorted through since we moved.


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 8 November 2017.

2000AD Prog 2056
Cover: John McCrea
JUDGE DREDD: BLACK SNOW by Michael Carroll (w) PJ Holden (a) Quinton Winter (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SLÁINE: ARCHON by Pat Mills (w) Simon Davis (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
INDIGO PRIME: A DYING ART by Kek-W (w) Lee Carter (a) Simon Bowland (l)
SINISTER DEXTER: AZTEC CAMERADERIE by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ABSALOM: TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS by Gordon Rennie (w) Tiernan Trevallion (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Monday, November 06, 2017

Illustrators #20 (Autumn 2017)

The latest, twentieth, issue of Illustrators takes a look at The Russian Romantics in three lengthy essays written by Diego Cordoba and Peter Richardson (deputy editor and editor respectively). It's one of the most beautifully illustrated issues the magazine has published.

In 'The Wanderers', Cordoba examines a large group of Russian artists who led a semi-nomadic existence, staging exhibitions of their artwork in towns and villages they passed through as they travelled. The Peredvizhniki (Itinerants) movement developed in the 1870s, taking the realism of precursors like Pavel Fedotov, who rose to brief fame in the 1840s, to new levels. Like Fedotov, their subject matter was often rural landscapes and the rugged peasants who lived and worked in the countryside. Growing out of the earlier Artist Artel, an artists union founded in the 1860s, the Wanderers refused to depict the glories of the Russian state in favour of social realism, folk tales, Bible stories and historic events.

The artwork that accompanies the article is astonishingly beautiful. Examples of works by Ilya Repkin, Ivan Shishkin, Konstantin Makovsky, Victor Vasnetsov and Grigory Miasoyedov will introduce you to a raft of names that you probably won't recognise but whose paintings are stunning. I'll admit that they were all new to me and this review has taken a lot longer to write than its length would suggest, thanks to my overwhelming curiosity to learn more and Google Images.

The remainder of the issue is devoted to two individual artists, Franz Roubaud and Ivan Bilibin. Roubaud is described as the Russian Frederic Remington, due to his appreciation of rugged landscapes and the lifestyles of horsemen that they both focused their attentions on.

Bilibin on the other hand is best known for illustrating Russian fairy stories and his picture books have been in constant print. Despite this, little is known about his life, beyond the fact that it was turbulent and tangled, especially by his desire to marry many times without the minor detail of divorcing earlier wives.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 21 will feature Rodney Matthews, Stevan Dohanos, J. Allen St. John and Lucy Kemp-Welch and there is an upcoming special issue that will feature some of the best Italian artwork from the old war comics' libraries.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Comic Cuts - 3 November 2017

I'm going to keep this relatively short as I've picked up Mel's cold. She was wiped out at the weekend and started recovering on Tuesday. I felt the first tingling's in my throat on Monday and it had developed into a sore throat and runny nose by Tuesday.

Of course, Tuesday was the day my sister Julie was moving from Suffolk to Surrey, so I had no option but to be up and ready for action so we could pick up the van at 8:30am. I was awake by 5:30, which is becoming too regular a habit for my liking and, as I wasn't likely to go back to sleep, listened to a recent radio play by Mark Gatiss based on an unfilmed Hammer Dracula script. I thought it captured the style of those old Hammer movies beautifully. You can still find it on the iPlayer for another couple of weeks.

Once in the van, and with Julie's dogs in the care of my mum at my house (we have a fenced-in garden for them to run around in), we headed off to Sudbury to empty out Julie's home. With the van loaded, we then headed for Guildford at 11.30am and made excellent time around the M25, arriving around 2.30pm. Another hour and a half to empty the van and we were away at 4.00 and hoping to be home by 6.30pm.

No such luck. On the trip back the M25 was crawling at a snail's pace around Heathrow and one or two other junctions and we had to make a choice whether to get off early onto the M11 or stick around until we hit the A12. But huge flashing signs were warning us that there were delays of up to one and a half hours on the A12, so the decision was an easy one. The M11 route took us back onto the A12 but at a point hopefully beyond the traffic chaos.

It took us an extra hour, so we rolled into Colchester around 7.30pm. Took the dogs out for a walk... or, rather, I should say that the dogs accompanied us while we went out to buy fish and chips. This was Hallowe'en night and, while I was never one to go trick or treating as a kid (I was quite happy to stay in the warm and get my chills from reading Stephen King or Ramsey Campbell), even I could admire the time and effort a lot of kids had put into their costumes.

The unwritten but firmly adhered to rule around here is that if you have a pumpkin or some sort of ghostly paraphernalia outside your house, you don't mind having little kids knocking on your door. If you don't, they leave you alone. Parents – because every group of kids had parents with them... that's the world we live in these days – stick to this rule but it doesn't spoil anyone's enjoyment (there are enough families that get involved to make sure every child in town is hyped up on sugary treats for a week!), even the old fogies like us who would rather stay in and watch Stranger Things on the TV...

... which we have been watching. We're only three episodes in as I write this and I've managed to avoid any Prue Leith-style spoilers. All I'll say is that it's as good as the first season so far.

My throat was raw on Wednesday and I woke early. Thinking it was about 5.30 – I could see the street lights were on through a gap in the curtains, and they're switched off between 1.00am and 5.00am. Awake, I turned on my laptop and discovered that it was actually only 12.30, an hour after I'd gone to sleep. But I had to get something to drink because of my sore throat and spent the rest of the night half asleep or jumping up to go for a pee. I was like a zombie most of Wednesday, dozed off at lunchtime, woke up early afternoon feeling achy and snuffly... but at least my throat felt better thanks to a packet and a half of throat lozenges.

I slept until 2.30am on Thursday, so I'm creeping back towards a decent night's sleep. I'm writing this Thursday evening and, although I'm still stuffed up, I'm not feeling too bad and will hopefully be back up to speed by the weekend. [Update: Woke up at 4.30 this morning, so I'm heading in the right direction!]

Given the week I've had, I've not managed to get much in the way of work done. I think I managed to finish off one piece before I went down with the cold bug, but I'll leave that for next week as the piece I'm working on is going to be another long haul and it will give me something to talk about once I've recovered.

Random scans this week are some old film posters that they used to give away at the Odeon. They still do, occasionally, but it's so rare that I go to the cinema that I don't see them.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Commando issues 5067-5070

Commando issues released 2 November 2017.

Commando issues 5067-5070 are out now! Nazis are at large in this Commando bundle, attempting high profile assassinations, seeking prestigious medals and forming Air Kommando squadrons…. Meanwhile, the Allies are working on their own top-secret plans… something involving pykrete.

5067: HMS Iceberg
Set in the glacial milieu of the North Atlantic, where polar bears roam and icebergs drift freely, something else was moving in those waters, something top secret…
    Working at a military base off the coast of Canada, Professor David Alexander is recruiting men to help test a new prototype for something codenamed Project Habakkuk… something which might just change the tides of war and help strike back against the Germans.
    With detailed interior and cover art from Manuel Benet, known for his thin line strokes and expressive faces, ‘HMS Iceberg’ is an immersive take on one of World War Two’s most unusual technologies.

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

5068: The Defiant
Three men’s paths will cross, their destinies intertwined on the battlefields of World War Two.
    Kurt Ruttmeyer, an arrogant and ambitious Waffen S.S. soldier wants nothing more than to be awarded the elite Cross of Gold; Bruno Leeman, a Luftwaffe ace pilot, who despises the Nazi regime of his country; and Dick Hartley, once an English student in peaceful Germany, now a Sergeant in the British Army.
    A classic tale of friendship, rivalries and revenge, C. G. Walker’s Golden Age issue is well in keeping with the time honoured themes of Commando, creating a dynamic duo with the iconic Gordon C. Livingstone, who designed the cover and interior art.

Story: C.G. Walker
Art: Gordon C. Livingstone
Cover: Gordon C. Livingstone
Originally Commando No. 406 (May 1969) Reprinted No. 1163 (1977)

5069: Operation Eagle Strike
Despite the initial success of Operation Barborossa, by 1943 the Germans had suffered more and more failed campaigns and losses as the Soviet Forces regrouped. But the Nazi eagle readied its claws to strike back in a new operation!
    Leading this action is Fallschirmjager Leutnant Jurgen Meissen and Feldwebel Ernst Hipper, two veterans of Crete and Norway. Their objective: to kill a Russian military V.I.P., but even they didn’t suspect getting this target in their sights…
    Accompanying George Low’s thrilling story of espionage is a stunning aerial cover from Ian Kennedy himself, the moody night scene working well with the theme of secrecy and Rezzonico’s noir illustrations.

Story: George Low
Art: Rezzonico
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5070: Air Kommando
After losing his right eye to shrapnel when his Heinkel 111 is shot down by a Hurricane, Major Erich Hartmann fears he will never fly again… That is until he is hired by a German bigwig as his token one-eyed chauffer. But Erich’s flying is just as good as ever and he quickly forms his own Air Kommando squadron. Taking to the skies, Erich leads daring missions, striking against the dreaded might of Russia.
    One of the first few issues to be drawn by Carlos Pino, ‘Air Kommando’ was certainly a great start to his career, showcasing his stellar style of facial expressions and action sequences.

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2653 (April 1993)