Alley is a fantastic online sidestreet dedicated to British comics
old and new, but particularly the former. And
when it comes to those
classic strips and illustrations of the
past, webmaster/author Steve
Holland must surely be one of the most informed
and influential folks
on the circuit. He's got a mine of information
on offer to visitors that's
second-to-none online. Bibliographies, biographical
isbns - they're all there alongside samples
of astonishing strips and
panels from folks who have all-too often been
overlooked or almost
forgotten by the mainstream...
And now, Steve's going to go one better
than his marvellous blog/site.
He's launching Bear Alley
Books, a mini publishing venture which will
see him compiling and reprinting limited runs
of classic material from
the past. Steve's been doing just this kind of
publishers, so it's a natural - and most
welcome - progression.
This August, Bear Alley Books will publish
limited edition volumes of
IPC's "Cursitor Doom" and "The
Phantom Patrol". 300 softcover editions
of each, with more still-to-be-announced
titles to follow, if all things
go as planned.
"Cursitor Doom" features artwork
by Eric Bradbury and Geoff Campion.
The strip was originally published in the pages
of "Smash!" in 1969-1970.
Most folks remember this occult adventure
because of its menacing
bald headed titular character. The Bear
Alley book will feature a
wraparound cover by John
Ridgway (Hellblazer, 2000AD, Commando).
"The Phantom Patrol", meanwhile, was
first published in the pages of
"Swift" and its 57 episodes were drawn
by Gary Emlbeton. This one
is probably new to many folks, but it's
a doozy, beginning in the summer
of 1941 where Sgt Joe Timm and his infantry
patrol find themselves zapped
back in time with a handful of captured
Nazis, to the time of the Trojan
Wars, with various twists and turns in the plot
zipping them fowards
and backwards in time again. Chris
Weston (The Twelve, The Filth,
Ministry of Space) has already produced
an amazing wraparound
cover to get us salivating:
Fab, isn't it? - And so are Steve's Big
Plans, so make sure you bookmark his
site so that you're ready to order these first two
special editions, this August...
and Myles McLeod - otherwise known as The
Brothers McLeod - have
been rather busy recently, and they want to give
you a sneaky peek at
their latest animated endeavour. "Moon Bird"
is billed as a dark fairytale,
and by the looks of the promo it is indeed both
dark and fairytale-ish.
Can't wait to see the finished thing:
You can keep up with the film's progress via the
brothers' rather good web
site, where you'll be treated to a fabulous post-by-post insight into
the mechanics of conceiving, writing and producing
a project like this.
You'll also finds lots more of Greg and Myles'
eclectic films and
creations online there, to view and peruse...
Ah, the glorified delights of war... Not too long
ago, war strips with gung-ho
British soldiers battling the Bosch or the Hun, were a
regular feature in our
weekly comics. The exploits of many of these gun-toting
and mercenaries might be considered a bit off by
some of today's
new readers, hardened by the realities of modern warfare which
plastered across our tv screens, and streamed live
on our laptops,
but back in the day, they were as commonplace and everyday
triumphant Hollywood war movie. And the hankering
for this particular
breed of Tall Tale simply has not diminished
As any eagle-eyed visitor to WH Smiths and its
contemporaries will tell
you, can still find that old pocket-size spectacular
nestled amongst the hotchpotch of Marvel editions
and Bongo comics
reprints, and there are a whole bunch of fabulous
currently selling very well indeed in Waterstone's
So it's no surprise to learn that Egmont UK have
now jumped on the
proverbial war wagon. They've just launched a
compilation of strips from "Battle Picture Weekly"
(52 pages for £3.99,
on sale now at WH Smith's), which means we can
the return of D-Day Dawson, Danny Budd aka the Bootneck
Fleetway's very own Dirty Dozen, The Rat Pack,
twenty one years
after their last weekly engagement.
"Battle" was Fleetway's war-fueled flagship
title, first published in 1975 as
a direct response to DC Thomson's "Warlord" and
the then fledgling
comics duo of Pat Mills and John Wagner were hired
to put it all together,
with Carloz Esquerra, Mike Western and Joe Colquhorn
for the title. So there were/are some damned fine panels to
gritted teeth into, perhaps most notably, the ones
on show in
"Charley's War", which has already been granted
its own extremely
"Battle" is actually the second in Egmont's
Classic Comic revival, and
it's followed swiftly on the heels of their recent
"Roy of the Rovers"
compilation. "Buster" and "Misty"
compilations are coming soon, too,
as Egmont continue to mine the Fleetway library
they bought in 1991.
And if this Egmont tester whets your war buds,
you'll be even happier
to hear that Titan Books are soon to publish an
even meatier compilation.
Look out for The
Best of "Battle": Volume One
in book shops any
The Hound's just caught up with the Annecy
award winning music video
for Flogging Molly's "Float". And it's
a beauty, so it is:
Gets you, right there, doesn't it? - Film makers
Karni & Saul
bottled that special Irish spirit in their depiction
of a down-on-his-heels
cotton bud man, dragging himself through the days,
from the streets to
the ocean, accumulating all that baggage en route.
By the time he's
plunging into the waves you're right there with him,
through the surge as the vocals brim with defiance...
Yep... This is
what a great music video is all about...
Speaking of Annecy, I'm not sure what happened,
but The Hound's
round-up of news from this very special annual
went astray this year. So just to confirm "Float"
won Karni & Saul the
award for Best Music Video. And our other big
UK award winner was
Philip Hunt and Studio
AKA's adaptation of Lost
& Found, which was
given the Best TV Special award. This is Oliver Jeffers'
story of the boy
and the lost penguin which aired on Channel 4 over
It's a lovely tale that creeps up on you as you're
you find yourself in inexplicable floods of tears
at the end.
And it's another thoroughly deserving winner,
has to be the most popular picture book of recent years.
Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler's best-selling
tale was first published
in 1999 and has now sold over 4m copies worldwide.
So it's no surprise
to hear that an animated version of the story
is on the way...
Light Pictures are producing a Gruffalo half-hour special, which is
all set to air on the BBC this Christmas. The
model and CGI film is currently
being animated at the award winning Studio
Soi in Ludwigsburg, Germany
under the stewardship of directors Jakob Schuh
and Max Lang, and
the voice cast includes the likes of Helena Bonham
Carter, Rob Brydon,
Robbie Coltrane, James Corden, John Hurt and Tom
And if it's a hit - and let's face it, if ever
there was a dead cert for
a hit special, it's this - then you can bet we'll
see a follow up,
because Magic Light also hold the film and ancillary
rights to The
Time to rub your hands together with grim dribbling
glee, because Grizzly Tales for
Gruesome Kids is making a curdling comeback,
thanks to folks at Nickelodeon. As part of a just-struck
deal with Sara
and Simon Bor and Honeycomb
Animation all 79 original episodes
are going to be aired on the channel next year, followed
by the premier
of 26 newly-commissioned cautionary tales
Honeycomb Animation's BAFTA-nominated series was,
of course, based
upon the popular books by Jamie Rix. And, wouldn't
you know, there's a
new collection currently available in the form of A
was published at the start of the month. So that's
new stories and new toons to get your cackling teeth
these three beauties are up for grabs via an auction for The
the charity that puts together special days for special people
aged 16 to 40. There are a stack of fab celebrity
endorsed teapots in their Stars
on Teapots online event. Here's a little more press spiel:
small teapots (10.5cm high x 18.5cm long approx) have
been created in association with the Pottery House
in Hove. As well as the one-off creations by celebrities
artists, a selection of teapots have been donated
leading hotels, best known for afternoon tea.
The teapots will be auctioned online from Thursday
2009 (closing on Sunday 5 July) - marking the end of
charity's Piece of Cake campaign and helping to raise
funds that will help the charity to provide special
many more seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds...."
You can check out all the amazing teapots on the foundation's
site. But more importantly, if you're at all interested
and you've cash
to spare: get
At last! - The first part of Garen
Ewing's long-gestating work of comic
strip brilliance, The
is published by the fine folks at Egmont
this August. Drawn in the European ligne claire
style, Garen's rip-roaring period
adventure sees young Julius Chancer and friends
taking off around the world
in pursuit of an infamous mythological flower,
with an ensemble of ruffians,
roustabouts and ne'erdowells in hot pursuit. In other
words, we're in the
same classic territory as Herge
According to the author, there are:
zombies, no bikini-clad gun-toting nubiles, and
no teeth-gritting... grittiness. Just a huge slice
pure adventure, made to go with a big mug of tea".
Being the humble artisan that he is, however,
Garen neglects to add that
his strip is completely fantastic, and immediately
transports the reader back
to those giddy times spent hidden under the bedcovers,
as a ten year old,
with a winking torch and a dog-eared copy of TinTin's
exploits in hand.
Yep. It really is that good.
Do yourself a favour and pop by Garen's
web site for lots more on
his comics work, the book, and its painfully-long
been a protracted labour of love... and the result,
well, it's truly
Last year, just before the Egmont deal came together,
Garen put together
a fantastic collector's edition Orchid book, to help
promote his efforts.
Only 52 were printed up, and number 17 has pride
of place in The Hound's
comic book collection. It even came with a signed drawing
of Julius on the
preface. And now, as the big, fully-fledged, mainstream
publication day draws
near, Garen is promising us even more collectable goodies
- signed editions
and a very limited giclee print. You can bet The Hound
will be first in line
for both of them...
But on top of all that, there's an even more important
trumpeting "The Rainbow Orchid" today,
because - gawd bless him -
Garen's celebrating his 40th birthday. So Happy Birthday,
here's to a hugely successful launch in 60 days... and
How sad it is to witness the demise of The DFC
- in its current guise,
at least. It appears to have been a victim of
these uncertain times,
more than anything else. But undoubtedly, it's
been a huge jolt in
the arm for the UK comics scene, and it's brought
a wealth of cartoon
talent out of the small press woodwork and into the
Which is something to celebrate. Why, even The Hound has
enough to dust down his old drawing board. And if The Hound's
been inspired, well, you can bet a whole bunch
of those DFC subscribers
have also got themselves worked up enough to pick up
If you think back to the giddy heydays of DC Thomson
those top weeklys stuck quite religiously to a house "style"
their strips. But The DFC has bravely presented
an array of styles and
tones to its readership. Each strip has had its
own voice. That's been
so exciting for this reader to see. And inspiring,
because it encourages
folks to think outside the box, as it were... Look
at this... Look what you
can do... The possibilities are endless...
Who knows, maybe a whole new generation of cartoonists
will look back upon those 43 issues of The DFC
as being the
birth-point of their career...