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Friday, 25 March 2011

The Story Behind The Cover To Adventure 5


I got a few questions regarding the Black Tower Adventure 5 cover I posted on CBO.
I was told by two people that the creature “looked familiar -from a comic?”  I was also asked if I had the pencils to this work.

So, to answer the questions….

I’m not just a British Golden Age comics fan but also a US GA fan.  I love the more obscure companies and Prize Comics is one of those.  It was for Prize that Dick Briefer created Frankenstein -a character that took in a lot of comic genres though, in the main horror and, sadly, later humour.



Above: Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein.

About ten (?) years ago I was asked to draw Briefer’s Frankenstein (yes, I know it is “the creature” or “creation”!).  I drew the illo below and the guy raved about it.  However, he then said he’d like to have it but had decided not to buy it!  It seems he was well known for doing this and if he got the illo from the artist he put them up on ebay to sell.





I  sent a copy of the illo to Ben Dilworth in Japan, not really sure why but he seemed to be quite taken with it. In a couple of weeks I received Dilworth’s version but Dilworth being Dilworth he decided to include another Black Tower horror character -Xendragon.



Now, I showed this to Brother Mike (Knowle Chapter) and he decided to do a quick colour job which you see below!



This was too good an illo (and in colour) to just file away and as I always need a cover illustration that’s what it turned into!  Then, of course, I realised that the strip would need to be drawn to go with this.  That first parter is near complete.




As to my pencils for the illo…well, my pencils are non-existent and so I don’t have any -believe me, they are not that sufficient to warrant scanning!

But there you have the story behind the cover!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

New British Comics 3

 http://www.comicbitsonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/nbc3_cover.jpg


I got home and there was this package with “do not bend” written on it that the half-wit postman bent. Anyway, I opened it up to find New British Comics no.3 and a hefty little book it is, too.

No covering note so I checked around and found their web site and read:

“Yes, it’s on its way. If things will go smoothly, it should be available in the end of March, or even sooner. Our amazing cover was done by Lawrence Elwick, who along with Paul O’Connell will appear inside NBC #3 as well.

And here’s our cast:
Cindy & Biscuit Save The World (again)
by Dan White
Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense
by Lawrence Elwick & Paul O’Connell
Ink vs Paper by John Miers
Charlie Parker “Handyman”: Animal Magnetism
by Lawrence Elwick & Paul O’Connell
Here Comes The Neighbourhood
by Matthew Craig & Richard Johnson
Better Living Through Distance
by Dave Thomson
The Quiet Burden
by Craig Collins & Iain Lauire
Luvvable Lex: Dirty ‘N’ Down
by Rob Miller
Wonderland
by Wilbur Dawbarn
Charlie Parker “Handyman”: Skyscraper Lunch
by Lawrence Elwick & Paul O’Connell
(crack)
by Van Nim
A Complex Machine
by David Ziggy Greene
Von Trapp
by WJC
So stay tuned!”


In Polish as I know we get a lot of hits from Poland:

“NBC #3 nadchodzi. Powyżej możemy zobaczyć okładkę autorstwa Lawrence Elwicka, który w duecie z Paulem O’Connellem, wystąpi także i w środku numeru. Ciut niżej mamy spis angielskiej wersji. Wersja polska nadal w produkcji, prawdopodobnie przeczytacie ją pod koniec marca.”

Now, when it’s a bulky book and the pages are not numbered I get niggled.  It means I have to count the pages and…well, you know.  Also –no price –not even on the site announcing the book is ready.

80 pages
black and white/tone
A5
£4.00 or 15 PLN

Who did the cover? Great piece of art but no credit.  Hang on –I think the character with the blow lamp is Charlie Parker “Handyman” so I’m guessing the artist is Lawrence Elwick.  See, I just needed to check art styles (or read the intro in which Lawrence Elwick is credited as cover artist. I may just pack up and go now.  Hey –I am a professional) but you have to remember I am very old.

One very annoying thing is that I had the book on my desk to review and I smelt something like petrol/thinners so moved everything around looking for the source –I even rummaged under the table.  It was the book!  Weird and I wonder if someone is mixing petrol with ink!  (that was a joke)

Anyway, before everyone thinks I’m going senile –on to the book.

“Cindy & Biscuit Save The World (again)”  by Dan White.  I think it says a lot about British kids today…and their dogs.  Alien visitors beware –She has her eye on you. This actually made me smile (maybe I am going senile?).
Paul O’Connell and Lawrence Elwick brings us “Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense.” I think this is a “moral tale” and the moral is that if the late Alfred Hitchcock stops you in the street –LOOK UP!!
“Ink Vs Paper” by John Miers is a great strip to look at.  No speech balloons just an excellent use of black and white.  Be interesting to check and see if Miers has work online.

Then we come to “Charlie Parker “Handyman”: Animal Magnetism” by Lawrence Elwick and Paul O’Connell.  No dialogue just some funny scenes with the punch-line in the very last panel.  Love the art style used.  Oh, and there is a second helping of Charlie and his time as a skyscraper construction worker!  J
“Here Comes The Neighbourhood” by Matthew Craig and Richard Johnson.  All I can say is “WHY give TV companies more ideas?  I can see Channel 4 opting to make this into a TV show. Craig. Johnson –I dare you!

“Better Living through Distance” by Dave Thomson. Interesting and I do like that line: ”disappointment is truly universal” –oh gods I hope not!

“The Quiet Burden” by Craig Collins and Iain Laurie you look at and don’t think too much of…until you turn the page!  I’m now worried that someone might say “The Vengabus is coming”…

WHY did the Vengaboys split up anyway?  Nothing to do with the strip just something I’ve wondered about at 3 a.m. sometimes.

“Luvvable Lex: Dirty ‘N’ Down” is by someone called Rob Miller?   Lex is, of course, “the Glesga Gangster” and Miller, naturally, is on form (yes, it is that Miller from Khaki Shorts).  I must confess I’d really like to see Miller work on a serious comic strip or book and see how his style works on that.

“Wonderland” by Wilbur Dawbarn is drawn in a nice style and, again, no dialogue. I liked the ending and I wonder whether Dawbarn is thinking of continuing the strip or just leaving it as a full-stop end?

“(crack)” by Van Nim has an interesting style and yet another strip with a good ending. Nice.

Which brings us to “Von Trapp” by WJC.  I really liked this art style –almost a European look to it. Nice toning. The other thing is that –again- you follow through what is going on but it then twists on you at the end!  It’s good to see creators who use some brains when they put strips together.  Great fun.

And then…”A Complex Machine” by David Ziggy Greene.  By the end of this I just thought “What the —- is he on?”  I thought to art and story worked well together and  I’m going to have to chase up a web site here!
Overall, I think that this third anthology beats the first two by yards.  There was nothing wrong with the first two books it is just that this third issue has a high standard of writing and a fantastic mix of art styles.  My only concern is can this issue ever be bettered?

I am curious about how the Polish language version looks. That might just be me, though.

Karol Wisniewski and his team, including Marta Wisniewska and Rob Miller, have done excellent work but here’s hoping they don’t dread putting together no. 4!

Really, this is a must buy and I’m not kidding.

“But, Uncle Terry –how can we buy a copy?” you ask…..

Available at:
Bad Press (UK & Worldwide)
SmallZone-shop.co.uk (UK & Worldwide)
Centrum Komiksu (PL)
Fankomiks.pl (PL)
Imago.com.pl (PL)
Incal.com.pl (PL)
KiK (ul. Św. Marcin 25, Poznań) (PL)
And to prove I’m not the only person likes these books….
Reviews – Recenzje:
FPI blog (UK)
The Comics Journal (USA)
The List (UK)
ComicBitsOnline.com (UK)
Komiks.Gildia.pl (PL)
Komiks.Polter.pl (PL)
Splot/E-Splot (PL)
Reset-forever (PL)
Ziniol (PL)
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-j5zgWqhdCeM/TWOZ5gF9cmI/AAAAAAAAAno/etnkYaGgBZQ/s1600/blog+pic+2.jpg
David Ziggy Greene
http://www.pourlafrime.blogspot.com/
John Miers
http://www.johnmiers.com/
WJC
http://warwickjohnsoncadwell.blogspot.com/
Van Nim
http://www.hellohowareyounews.blogspot.com/
Iain Laurie
http://powwkipsie.blogspot.com/
Lawrence Elwick
http://elwick.blogspot.com/
Dan White
http://milkthecat.wordpress.com/
Matthew Craig
http://www.thematthewcraig.com/
Dave Thomson
http://www.thirdart.co.uk/
Wilbur Dawbarn
http://www.wilburdawbarn.co.uk/
Richard Johnson
http://richjohnson.co.uk/page13.htm
Craig Collins
http://craig-collins.blogspot.com/
New British Comics Blogspot
http://newbritishcomics.blogspot.com/2011/03/nbc-3.html

Atlas Is Back!



Some thirty-five (thirty-five??) years ago I was living in a caravan between Ramsgate and Margate, Kent.  Don’t ask why –hush-hush- but it got boring.  Walks down to look at the Hoverport and the very noisy hovercraft coming in and out, Listening on a little transistor radio to pirate radio Mi Amigo and shopping trips into Ramsgate.

I picked up a few very cheap comics but not much since there ain’t that much storage space in a caravan!  I walked into a newsagents next to Woolworths in the High Street.  There were comics I had never seen before –Atlas. Hang on, wasn’t that a former Marvel Comics name?  Had they gone back to using it?  I grabbed a bunch of the comics and itsy bitsy teensy-weensy brother Mike (Knowle Order) and I hoofed it back home.
Turned out this was not Marvel. And the characters were almost British in their anti-heroic way.





Firstly, there was Tiger Man (alias Dr Lancaster Hill). Dr Hill was working at a medical clinic in Zambia when he injected himself with the chromosome that gives a tiger its strength and speed and it  transforms him. Dr Hill now has abilities on a par with the great cat.  Dr Hill returns to New York City he meets up with his sister, pleasant enough?  Oh, come on –this is comics! Dr Hill’s sister is shortly thereafter robbed and murdered by two criminals working in a rodeo. Adopting the identity of Tiger-Man, he tracks them down and kills them.  Tiger Man’s gloves also sport razor sharp claws –very pre-Wolverine or even my own Celtic hero the Badger.



In the black and white Thrilling Adventure Stories #1, the gore factor is much higher –the criminal boss he goes up against is eaten by piranhas!  I think I re-read this Ernie Colon fest several times the first day.  As I recall, Brother Mike giggled.

I love Tiger Man and at least his origin is not as odd as the UK Tiger Man’s!


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0WGbbAaNY6w/TEQXCM4cKvI/AAAAAAAAGMM/y1MZdc7w_20/s1600/Weird+Suspense+3.jpg


Then, of course, there was The Tarantula. Or, as he was known before he went all arachno, Count Eugene Lycosa.  A European nobleman, an ancestor, was cursed by a witch burned at the stake.  This cursed passed from generation to generation making them “were-spiders.”  The 1970s Count Lycosa would transform into the were-spider but tried everything to avoid taking innocent lives. Instead he focussed on the worst criminals and all that entails.  “Oh, a Spider-man rip-off!” you say. Uh-uh; as The Tarantula Lycosa was a predator and would eat human victims.


And Pat Boyette was the artist –I just don’t think it could have been any better. I’d been a Boyette fan due to his Charlton work.  This was all exciting stuff.





More “Ernie Colon really rocks!” came with the story of Matthew Dunsinane, an infamous highwayman in colonial America in the 1740s.  Dunsinane hid his identity behind the mask and persona of the Grim Ghost. However, after robbing the coach of Lord and Lady Braddock in 1743, Dunsinane’s luck ran out when the beautiful Lady Braddock is lured into a ”honey-trap”  and he was captured and unmasked. Just three weeks later he is hung by the neck until dead…then the story really picks up.


For Dunsinane’s sould went straight to…HELL!  And there he is met by the Fallen Angel himself. Old Nick. Behel—oh, you’ll know all that. Anyway, Satan offers Dunsinane a choice of suffering in pergatory for all eternity or, here it comes, he can return to the world of the living and harvest evil souls for him.  Hmm, red-hot pokers up the jacksy for all eternity or…? Dunsinane chose to harvest evil souls.


And so, Dunsinane finds himself in 1970s New York where Satan thinks he can make a good start in his Grim Ghost persona and riding a jet-black flying horse and carrying a brace of spectral pistols off he goes.
Oh, Satan apparently has a black sense of humour.  Dunsinane is forced to work with non-other than the treacherous harlot Lady Sarah Braddock! Boo! Hissss!


His greatest foe was the demon Brimstone, who sought to topple Satan and rule Hell in his place.
The usual anti-hero action was underway when Dunsinane found himself in the middle of a Hellish uprising.  The demon Brimstone wanted to topple Satan and looked in a strong position and made some interesting offers.  The Grim Ghost sided with …SATAN!?!  I know.  That’s what I thought. Can you believe it?
Man, I still take those issues out every-so-often and Colon’s work just looked..luscious.


http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0WGbbAaNY6w/TEQWZc7QYBI/AAAAAAAAGLs/ntzK_NbP_Xg/s1600/Grim+Ghost+3.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_nFrMnRfKU78/TJCn3AF1BUI/AAAAAAAAAwc/-VGPzpZFam4/s1600/grimghost.jpg
Above: The New Grim Ghost
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_0WGbbAaNY6w/TEQXCZn-XzI/AAAAAAAAGMU/s455F9csM4U/s1600/Wulf+3.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0WGbbAaNY6w/TCMX9eHNxjI/AAAAAAAAFfE/mxiZokAJ9YQ/s1600/Wulf+2.jpg


Wulf The Barbarian and the origins of the character are explained by The Atlas Archives thus:
“”…On a nameless world in a forgotten time…” there lived a man called Wulf. Orphaned 10 years ago when his parents, the king and queen, were slain in an ambush staged by trolls in the service of an evil sorcerer, Wulf has spent the last decade training for the day he would return to claim his birthright.


After his trainer/mentor is killed by the same troll who killed his mother 10 years earlier, Wulf avenges his mother’s death, reclaims his father’s sword from the slain troll, and begins his long awaited trip home. As Wulf rides homeward with the intent to raise an army to raid the evil sorcerer’s lair and free his hereditary kingdom, he encounters many magic-induced obstacles conjured by his foe.”


Wulf the Barbarian

Above: The New Wulf! Below: The New Phoenix..
The Phoenix


More of a sci fi character to start with was astronaut Ed Tyler -The Phoenix.  After  months on board the Threshold I space station, the three-man crew were forced to abandon ship after an airleak.  The escape shuttle made a three-point emergency landing (Here, There and Everywhere!) in the Arctic –Tyler was thrown across the ice and near death.  However, Tyler was saved from freezing to death by the Deiei, an alien race that had been monitoring mankind for years from within a secret hidden base in the frozen north.  This was no real act of kindness since the Deiei feared that a rescue party might discover their presence.


Tyler awoke to find himself a prisoner rather than a guest and the truth was soon revealed to him. The Deiei, it seems, had been involved in the evolution of the human race but had become ashamed at the failings of humanity –war, etc..  So what do a bunch of self-righteous aliens with a god complex decide to do?  They planned to quite literally wipe the slate clean by destroying humanity.  Tyler could not be allowed to go free and expose them, the Deiei planned to keep him captive for the rest of his life. However, as such pains-in-the butt aliens tend to do, especially when they think they are superior, they ruled Tyler to be harmless and left him unguarded. The resourceful astronaut managed to steal a space suit and arm himself with “atomic transistors” –and then he made his escape.


Tyler reached the nearest human population centre which happened to be Reykjavik, Iceland, hours later.  Here he discovered that the Deiei were causing the very earth beneath the city to collapse using nuclear particles. No self-respecting human could just stand back and watch so Tyler raced back to the alien base to stop this attack. The Deiei were having none of this interference and especially not from a human using their technology.  It was the ensuing fight which set off an nuclear blast that destroyed the aliens’ headquarters. Tyler then returned to Reykjavik to help the survivors and it was here that the media dubbed him the “Phoenix,”  risen from the ashes of the city. Meanwhile some Deiei survivors, and they were really teed off and swore revenge; they would kill Tyler and then destroy the human race.


Tyler -The Phoenix-  was attacked by a Deiei spaceship a short while later, a distraction of sorts (if such superior entities felt they needed one) as the main force of Deiei craft headed for New York.  Phoenix survived the attack and learned of the learned of the armada and headed off to intercept it. After a fierce battle the alien Deiei fleet was destroyed and Phoenix was triumphant (oh, and New York was saved, though I’m guessing that you guessed that, right?).


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_0WGbbAaNY6w/TAYOoPqt6AI/AAAAAAAAE9Y/mpZUQ91Gr8A/s1600/Phoenix+1.jpg


Tyler then had to think about his newfound role in life –he was now a protector and example to mankind.  He decided to lead humanity from the evil path the Deiei predicted they would follow. Tyler dedicated himself to saving Mankind as The Phoenix

Then The Phoenix became…The Protector and got a more super-hero style costume. Why? Well, he was not the only character to adopt the super hero style but the change in this case involved more aliens.  Tyler felt guilt-ridden about the near destruction of Reykjavik and New York and basically breaking down since he felt Man had no chance to survive the further onslaught of the Deiei.  He decided to fly into space and commit suicide.


Tyler awoke to find himself aboard an alien space station.  He was badly burned and his face swathed in bandages, he was not a happy bunny as he was taken to meet his alien rescuers.  This time, however, things were not so sinister. The aliens called themselves the “Protectors of the Universe”  and had been behind the Deiei monitoring of Mankinds development.  This race was also disappointed by Mans development but unlike the Deiei, bless them, they were willing to give us a chance.


The alien leader, the Magus, declares that Ed Tyler would be solely responsible for Mankinds shot at redemption. Tyler is given new powers and a new face and given the name of The Protector before being sent back to Earth to redeem mankind or it would be destroyed.  Two-faced aliens!


Phoenix/Protector was not as anti-hero or gorey but there was, as far as many were concerned, a controversial aspect.  Helping to save Man from evil, dying and being resurrected to help redeem mankind…holy –!  Ed Tyler was Jesus-like!!  That argument still continues today amongst fans old enough to remember the series though that period also spawned another “saviour” in comics –Marvel’s Warlock!


http://www.comicbookdaily.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/phoenix.jpg


But there was also The Brute, The Destructor and Morlock 2001 and the barbarian Iron Jaw.  Lesser remembered characters but still great were The Cougar, Dark Avenger, Demon Hunter, Manstalker, Scorpion and the Bog Beast.


But who or what was Atlas Comics, or Seaboard Periodicals. The UK had no really wide-spread fanzines back then so it took a while to filter through.  The Atlas Face Book pages cites Wikipedia:

“Atlas/Seaboard is the term comic-book historians and collectors use to refer to the 1970s line of comics published as Atlas Comics by the American company Seaboard Periodicals, to differentiate from the 1950s’ Atlas Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics. Seaboard was located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City.

Marvel Comics founder and Magazine Management publisher Martin Goodman left Marvel in 1972, having sold the company in 1968. He created Seaboard Periodicals in June 1974 to compete in a field then dominated by Marvel and DC Comics. Goodman hired Warren Publishing veteran Jeff Rovin to edit the color comic-book line, and writer-artist Larry Lieber, brother of Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee, as editor of Atlas’ black-and-white comics magazines. Lieber later became editor of the color comics following Rovin’s departure. Steve Mitchell was the comics’ production manager, and John Chilly the black-and-white magazines’ art director. Goodman offered an editorial position to Roy Thomas, who had recently stepped down as Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, but Thomas “didn’t have any faith in his lasting it out. The field was too shaky for a new publisher.”

You can find the Wikipedia entry here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas/Seaboard_Comics
The Atlas Face Book page is here (though there is little there):
http://www.facebook.com/pages/AtlasSeaboard-Comics/108428865848131?sk=info



http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_0WGbbAaNY6w/TAYPD0bmAKI/AAAAAAAAE9o/Wd87GLB3SFk/s1600/Atlas+House+Ad.jpg


The best place to go on the net is The Atlas Archives which has a fuller history and explains why the Atlas logo was altered to be less “up yours, Marvel!”:
http://www.atlasarchives.com/articles/history.html


Initial Logo Design
The Atlas Comics initial logo design as featured in The Comic Reader #111, though it was later modified to less of an “Up Yours, Marvel!” approach.
Courtesy of Mike Friedrich
(Source – Comic Book Artist #16)
The less “Up yours Marvel” logo used:
Tiger-Man, Tarantula, Iron Jaw, etc
John B. Cooke also wrote a terrific article on Atlas for Comic Book Artist #16, which you might find near impossible to get in the UK/Europe but the item “Vengeance Incorporated” is reprinted on The Atlas Archives site.
I have the new books on order and Tony Isabella is back to writing comics! These I will be reviewing and I just hope they stay true to the characters origins back in 1974/1975 Atlas Comics and their dark anti-heroes were 10-15 years ahead of their time.  The company was setting out to do what DC did years later with The Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen. For some reason I’m anxious to see these new versions and how they pan-out.
I hope this is good.
I may even keep my fingers crossed that the original books are brought together in a collection because the comics I have won’t suffer more thumbing-through!
Various reasons were given as to why Atlas was so short lived in the 1970s but I hope this incarnation continues much longer…if they are good!

2011 International Comic Expo Freebie Announced!

http://www.comicbitsonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/ATFS001_COVL_3rdprt_proof.jpg
Just got this from Mike Allwood.  And you wonder why so many people attend the Comic Expo??
Read on McGeek:

Hi Terry!
… just done the deal with TOPCOW, we will be giving away copies of Ron Marz’s opus, Artifacts No. 1 as part of our Mirror Image Spotlight @ the Mercure!
Over half the tickets have sold as well….
Cheers,

Mike Allwood
Producer
International Comic Expo
www.fantasyevents.org

If you have not gotten your ticket(s) yet then what are you waiting for -they are going quickly!!!  See the link in the Blog Roll.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

John Byrne, Alpha Flight and Next Men



I blame John Byrne.  In 1983, I had managed to distance myself somewhat from comics.  Brother Mike was ten years old and so, to keep him entertained I bought some comics from the local newsagents in Bedminster.  That’s when it caught my eye: Alpha Flight no. 4 with a character I’d not seen before, Marrina.

Now, yes, I was familiar with Byrne from his Doomsday + 1 and Rog 2000 work for Charlton Comics.  He had a style that caught my eye and I fell in love with. I had seen his work for Marvel Comics that included stints on The X-Men, The Avengers, Fantastic Four -what book did he not work on?

But this “Alpha Flight“? What was it? I purchased a copy and was hooked. It took some walking around the various newsagents but I got no. 1 onward and I really hated the wait before the next issue appeared.  Ahh, those days when newsagents stocked monthly comics from the US!

Alpha Flight was unlike any team book I had read before simply because the issues featured only one or two characters and never the entire team.  I do recall buying the very first issue after Byrne left.  Everything we had learnt in 28 issues was completely wiped-out.  At a UK Comic Art Convention in the 1980s I remember Byrne joking about thinking it might take a few issues before the new team ruined things -but it only took one!




Alpha Flight 4 - Marvel Comics - Globe - Hand - Captured - Death - Clayton Henry, John Byrne


Of course, Alpha Flight has returned -3 times?- and I think I’ve seen the team killed at the start of at least two Marvel “crisis” series.  The writers and artists just don’t seem to get it and the fact that the team is Canadian almost seems to phase creators to the point that it just turns into an American (US) super team.

Seriously, I know Marvel has this block on any creator who is not under 40 but they need to get some fans back and have a good series…they need Byrne back on Alpha Flight.


File:John Byrne's Next Men 01.jpg

Naturally, Byrne did a ton of work for DC and there was a bearded idiot in Bristol who scoured the shops for every book!

Probably the best book that I hoped Marvel might develop with Byrne was Marvel:The Lost Generation.  I’m still holding out hope!

Byrne works well on projects he tends to have control on.  He did a great job on Doom Patrol but then the company jerks cancelled it!

A shining example of Byrne having control of a project is John Byrne’s Next Men. If you are unfamiliar with it:

John Byrne’s Next Men -aka: Next Men or JBNM- is a comic series plotted, written and drawn by John Byrne and ran for some 31 issues plus a stand-alone prequel:2112. The series was published between 1991 and 1995 by Dark Horse Comics.  I still haven’t got a complete series yet!

And it was at the 2010 San Diego International Comic Con, that John Byrne revealed  he was creating a new issues of Next Men to be published by IDW Publishing.  There had been rumours but this was confirmation and it took two hours for me to stop dribbling (though that may have been the new medication).  Byrne said that this new series would be both a continuation of the previous series as well as a place for new readers to discover the characters -Byrne has always adopted the creative attitude that “every issue is someone’s first issue.  He expects the new series to run about 50 issues. 



John Byrne's Next Men #1 (December 2010)
There’s a good Wikipedia page at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Men

This should answer any questions you have and help those wondering what the series is all about.
The first issue of the IDW series appeared in December, 2010.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/nextmen.jpg
Byrne keeps up his plot twisting and characterisation and still turns out some great work.  I love a lot of his comic covers because they hardly need captions.  Look at the Next Men #3 cover below!

http://www.comicsbulletin.com/reviews/images/1102/nextmen3.jpeg
There are cover variants but it seems I will only see these online.  Excelsior! Comics, my local store (other stores do exist), tell me that there are only two standing orders for the book -me and some other guy.  Problem is they even get short-ordered on two copies so I have #4 but am waiting for #3! :-(



John Byrne talks about Next Men


The Next Men is a great read and visually looks fantastic.  I do really hope that this run lasts 50 issues because if I don’t get a complete series this time I’ll dress as a nudist for a week..and no one wants that!

There is an interesting interview with Byrne about Next Men at First Comics News:

http://www.firstcomicsnews.com/?p=12179

Oh, one book I’ve never seen in the shop is the Star Trek Leonard McCoy series. Pity.


File:Leonard McCoy Frontier Doctor tpb cover.jpg

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM -Classical Comics

There is one thing that I never really have to write but, as some of you newbies out there may not be familiar with Classical Comics, I shall.  The quality and production on Classical Comics books is always of the highest standard.  Despite some of the previous editions having been thoroughly thumbed through and facing the ravages of the conditions in the Black Tower, they have neither fallen apart nor been creased/torn as lesser books might be.

Firstly, the presentation.  The cover is so scrummy and eye-catching and the colour! Believe me, covers are a pain in the bottom (heh heh) to get right.  If this one does not attract a lot of attention then I give up.  Could Titania look any more alluring than she does on the Plain Text cover?!

John McDonald has done a superb job in adapting the Shakespeare play into a graphic novel format.  The problem when adapting plays or even old text stories into comic strip form is that it can be hard.  Can you leave in every scene with full dialogue? Well, there is Original Text which actually answers that question.  John deserves cream buns and several pots of tea for this (I’m sure he’ll prefer the pay-cheque,though).  So, John –thumbs up!

Jason Cardy –aka:The Wild-Maned Welsh Marvel, was interviewed on CBO and you can find out how he works here:
http://www.comicbitsonline.com/2010/03/18/jason-cardy-transforming-wizard-of-wales/


Kat Nicholson, who seems far too nice to be involved in comics, was also interviewed on CBO and between Jason and her interviews you can see how they work together:
http://www.comicbitsonline.com/2010/03/17/kat-nicholson-having-a-mid-summer-nights-dream/

I think it fair to say that neither has ever worked on anything like this before.  A full 132 pages graphic novel in full colour for a hellish, slave-driving perfectionist boss like Clive Bryant!  I’ve asked a few artists, mainly more experienced ones, what their reactions would be if presented such a challenge?  Most said it would be a challenge but they were long-time comic hacks.  There was still that tone in their responses; Cardy and Nicholson are not long standing professional comic artists so how on earth are they going to do this book –could they?

The truth is that they have drawn the book and the result is a pure joy. Lovely artwork, lovingly rendered scenes and more faery-folk than you could find in Cottingley (oh, just google it).  It makes reading Shakespeare fun and I’ve baulked at reading any more Shakespeare after 1980 (yes, I’m that old).  Shakespeare has always had that stuffy reputation and it has been hard for non-Shakespeareans to work out what is going on and to picture scenes. Not any longer.

Nicholson and Cardy have made a book that those into faery lore will want to get, and I know that there is a major market for books connected to that subject.  Hey, maybe a few cosplayers will start dressing up as characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

If the Shakespeare adaption collectors are out there…get your kids interested in the Bard via these books!  They won’t even realise it’s educational!

I think that, if you are a parent and want something with substance for your child to read then the Quick Text version of this book is perfect.  You can even go the whole parent-child reading class way with this.
Of course, as with most of the Classical Comics books, their use for education has so many possibilities.
There are a lot of pupils now in education from non-English backgrounds so if English born kids are having difficulty with Shakespeare—!  I think these books are perfect.  Everything is broken down into eye-catching pictures so that clothing of the period, buildings and so forth become clearer. The three text versions should work at different educational and age levels.

Remember: there is a Teaching Resource Pack available.

There are also the text features looking at Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre, a history of the play and how the pages were drawn. It is a complete package.  And as none other than the great Sir Derek Jacobi writes:
“Classical Comics is truly inspirational, creating an accessible and fascinating mix of visual and audible drama.  The stage and the page brought vividly to life.  Highly recommended for any student of Shakespeare!”
And Sir Derek frikkin Jacobi wrote that!!

Schools need these books.  Theatre students and set design students need these books. Public libraries (if they aren’t all closed down) need these books.  Families need these books to start their own little home library.  Apart from standing naked and screaming this on the M5 can I make it any plainer?

I think it was Olivier Cadic of Cinebook who said that I was “Evangelical” about European comics and their promotion in English.  Well, yes. But I’m also quite passionate about Classical Comics and what Clive Bryant is doing.  People were laughing when I told them there were graphic novel adaptions of Shakespeare coming out and they looked great.  “Who the **** is going to read a Shakespeare comic?” was the response, along with a prediction that both Classical Comics and Cinebook had drastically mis-judged the UK market and would be gone in a year.

Who is laughing now?

And, personally, I do still remember the Greenway Secondary Modern Boys School play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Disaster. It was a very rough school so asking “who wants to be a faery” didn’t go down well.  And telling the school thug that he was “Bottom” and the grief he got…I remember the big school fire of ’72!




A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
William Shakespeare
“The course of true love never did run smooth;”
Shakespeare’s best-loved play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream endures as an obvious choice for outdoor theatre on a warm summer evening. The marriage of Theseus to Hippolyta serves as a backdrop to tangled loves, amateur dramatics, and an argument between the Fairy Queen and King, Titania and Oberon, with events spilling over from their Fairy Kingdom into the real world of the forest.
Script Adaptation: John McDonald
Characters & Artwork: Kat Nicholson & Jason Cardy
Lettering: Jim Campbell


Publication Date: UK: February 2011
US: July 2011
Format: 144 pages
full colour
paperback
246x168mm
Versions:
(click here for info)
Original Text (full and unabridged)
Plain Text
Quick Text
Cover Price: £9.99
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Original Text A Midsummer Night's Dream - Plain Text A Midsummer Night's Dream - Quick Text
British English Language Versions
British Editions (Cover price £9.99, pub date: Feb 2011)
Click here for an explanation of the text versions
Original Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-89-1Click here to preorder from: amazon.co.uk
Plain Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-90-7Click here to preorder from: amazon.co.uk
Quick Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-91-4Click here to preorder from: amazon.co.uk
American English Language Versions
US Editions (Cover price $16.95, pub date: July 2011)
Click here for an explanation of the text versions
Original Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-28-1
Plain Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-29-8
Quick Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-30-4