Tuesday, 28 February 2012

35 years of 2000AD - 3.5 pages of Thrill Power

I've commented before on this here Blog about Prog 1 of The Galaxies Greatest Comic but, as we're in its 35th birthday week, i thought i'd take another look.
As good as it was, i don't think i'd be able to come up with 35 Thrills from the first issue, so instead thought i'd find my top 3.5 pages.
First up, Invasion:

The thrill of this strip was that, being into Airfix and Tamiya kits at the time, i'd been making stuff at the same time as reading the likes of "Rat Pack" and "Major Eazy" so everything was WW2 related.
But now i had a tale that used modern army weapons and i can remember this strip being responsible for me building endless Scorpion tanks etc.
Next, Dan Dare:

THE strip for me at the Prog's launch. Even without the newly released Star Wars in the cinemas, i was already a big SF fan - but there was never a comic that depicted scenes i was reading in the pulp novels i was reading.
Until this point. Eevn though i didn't know his name, i was familiar with Belardinelli's work, as his distinctive style on Battle's "Rat Pack" really set him apart from the rest.
But here he went up quite a few notches and i used to pour over this image of the starship breaking up endlessly.
"Harlem's Heroes" was memorable not for the tale (which didn't happen until Artie Gruber showed up) but for the art. I'd never seen Dave Gibbon's work up to this point and his very clean, very realistic art i'd not seen outside of the American titles and was very different to the rest:

And my half page goes to "Flesh". This image of a headless dinosaur running around gave me a Hookjaw fix of gory violence that'd sadly been missing since Action's censorship:

A cut-off "AIEEE" from a soon to be cut off cowboy being eaten alive in "Flesh"

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The return of the Visible Man

How nice to read the 35th birthday issue of 2000AD (many congrats there Tharg) and to find the Visible Man in there for a one-off.
Except it sure doesn't read like one.
Pat Mills really seems to be setting in place Frank's return proper, all ready for an ongoing series - if not, then why go to the lengths of having Frank's capsule return to Earth splashing down off the coast of East Anglia, directly into the sunken city of Dulwich, described here by Pat as "Britain's Atlantis"?
If it truly was a one-off, any old pond would've done, yes?
Anyway, it was a fantastic read, a real thrill to have one of my old-time favourites back (how i remember painting up and making "realistic" my Visible Man model kit into Frank), by far the best thing in this special issue, with top-notch STUNNING art by Henry Flint, in my book the ONLY artist for the job.
Just compare the above with the iconic below.
How great it would have been if they went with the original plan of having the strip in Prog 1, with this shot in colour on the back page?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Johnny Red Collection 2 - Eps 1-5

Was in London yesterday, popped into FP and was very happy to see this here second volume sitting on the shelves - with 3 quid off to boot.
So that's that bumped to the top of my reading list and i tucked right in.
Garth Ennis in his foreward mentions something that i've put here before, in that Johnny Red was quite rare in boys comics of the time, in that he actually ages as the strip goes on.
I said before how over only the space of a few episodes the character went from a fresh faced boy to a battle-hardened veteran. Something hammered home brilliantly by Joe Colquhoun's gritty depection.
We've got it from the get go in this collection:

And the episodes i've got through so far bear that out, with a distinct lack of silliness or barmy notions. There are a couple of nods to it, but mainly it reads as a stepping stone strip between the tongue in cheek romps of say "Rat Pack" or "Major Eazy", and the straight, grim, tell it like it was of "Charlies War" or "Darkies Mob".
Like i say, there are a couple of things that wouldn't seem out of place in other strips:
Johnny having to settle a feud with another pilot by having a duel in their planes - but with each only having a single three second burst of bullets for their fighting with.
And a vision in a nightmare that Johnny has, which he reckons is a premonition of one of the squadrons impending death.

The centering on that during the next battle has echoes of the maudlin moaning of "D-Day Dawson" and i guess its necessary for the plot device to work, but it does detract a bit from the terrfic art going on.

The action here is up there with Joe's best work on "Charlies War" and includes the death of Alex, the Squadron Leader, leaving Joe in charge from now on.
An elongated "Aaaaieeeeeeeh!" from a German soldier. But, as he's been shot, is in the drink, and has a Barge landing on top of him, can understand that.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The dullness of Lion & Thunder

There's a reason why i mainly only read the Lion & Thunder annuals and not many of the weekly issues - the incredibly dull covers.
Here's an example: the 10 year-old me goes into the Newsagent with his 10p pocket money and searches the shelf for something to read.
Is his eye be drawn to the above picture of a Moose - or one of the covers below that were out the same year?
'Nuff said.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Dog Days Afternoon

VERY glad to say that the really rather excellent Boo Cook has stepped up to the plate for my "Someone Old, Someone New" lil' project: