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Topics - SmallBlueThing(Reborn)

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1
Other Reviews / Dr. Mesmer's Revenge (Treasury of British Comics)
« on: 24 April, 2021, 11:12:35 AM »
I'm partway through this, and unexpectedly loving every page. Carlos Cruz's artwork is absolutely sensational- moody, gloomy, full of detail and character- I have to see more of this previously ignored-by-me artist.

A few things: one- this strip is absolutely chock full of imagery and concepts that would have terrified the living hell out of me as a young weekly comics reader (sadly, this came a few years before I would have had any access to it)- walking mummies, scary Egyptian artefacts and gods, houses shaped like pyramids, brrr. And that's just the first story- i have no idea what horrors are lurking in the rest of he book.

And yet, it's never mentioned. I never see online reminiscences about the terrors of Dr Mesmer's Revenge. How is this possible? Did no one read it? I recently picked up the very-beautifully-produced magazine 'Pulp Horror' issue 7, which is a mummy special, detailing the history of the wrapped-zombie in short stories, novels, pulps and comics during the twentieth century... of Dr Mesmer not a whiff. How is this possible?

And further- why is the Rebellion paperback branded as 'From the pages of Thunder' on the front, with a Thunder comic logo on the spine... when as it clearly states inside it came from LION & THUNDER, post-merger, when the 'Thunder' logo was very much the smaller of the two. Surely like repronting Fiends On The Eastern Front with a 'From the pages of Tornado' brand, simply because it first appeared in 2000AD & TORNADO #152? Odd.

Anyway- Dr Mesmer rocks. It is, as this forum is fond of saying, arsom.

SBT

2
General / Did I Imagine It Or Not?
« on: 13 April, 2021, 07:39:50 PM »
Of all the things I have had in my large and ungainly collection of absolute comics-related shite that has gone walkabout over the years, there is one thing that the absence of which rankles.

Not my beloved Marvel Human Torch torch, that my friend gifted me after a particular rubbish night "UFO spotting", when we went out on our bikes armed with said torch and a map of East Kent (we lived in Sussex).

Not my Captain Britain plastic badge. Not my 'Bring Back Blake's Seven' sticker. Not the various free gifts given away with Marvel weeklies during the seventies- despite having a pointless desire to reaquaint myself with the plastic planes that came with Rampage or, the cardboard push-along 'running Hulk wheel' that came with one of the first Incredible Hulk weeklies.

No. When I was at university in the early 1990s I had a Judge Dredd advent calendar of some sort that had choccies in it. I never opened it- and somehow, between then and now, it's gone missing. And now I wonder if it even existed.

Does anyone have one? I cant find any evidence on the internet, not even a photo. Does anyone have proof it is not a figmentof my fevered imagination?

SBT
 

3
Other Reviews / THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« on: 15 December, 2020, 10:50:46 AM »
See how I put that triple-digit numbering in the subject header? That's because I very very much hope this series of reprint volumes is so successful for the Hibernia team (and the Treasury team at Rebellion) that we get at least a hundred of them.

The Angry Planet is not a series I've paid much attention to in the past. I wasnt a Tornado reader- and picked up my set of them via Ebay many years later. When I did, I confess to being mostly unimpressed, and still to this day I wonder why it got merged with the prog and Scream didn't. A 2000AD & Scream merger would have been almost too exciting for words back then- the wedding of 2000AD and Tornado seemed like a kick to the prog's balls, causing it to briefly stumble on its passage to greatness.

That said, perhaps a lot of my reticence to enjoy Tornado was due to the awful printing- which oddly never bothered me, and still doesn't, when looking through my early back progs.

Because here, The Angry Planet positively shines.

I mentioned the high standard of printing elsewhere, but it's worth repeating: this is the best the strip has ever looked. It's up there with an imagined luxurious Titan version. The black lines are crisp, the paper is pure white and only on a single spread of two pages did I feel the quality slipped a teeny bit. But that may well have been an error in my copy, and the fact that it slightly stuck out is only a further indication of how good the rest of the book is. And, I really need to restate this- the rest of the book is so very good indeed.

As far as the strip itself goes, I was genuinely shocked. I won't comment on the ending, or the lead-up to it, because I think outside forces nudged the story in directions it should maybe not have gone, and maybe it was forced to end abruptly when the original idea may have benefited from more room to breathe.

But the set up, and first two thirds are sublime. Bellardinelli's art is full of mad vistas and insane giant machines. Yes, he blatantly steals from Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica along the way, but who cares? This is British weekly comics of the 1970s, where would they be without swipes? His wide shot of the strip's Valles Marineris stand-in, "the canyon of lost souls", is so gorgeous it seems odd to think it appeared in the pages of a disposable 10p comic. These things would be held in such a higher regard if adults had actually bothered to open them back in the day.

Hebden's story resonates strongly, in those early chapters, to an audience familiar with Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy (begun in 1992)- and there is a 'hard sf' tone to the strip that had me double checking the dates of various classics of the genre to work out who was influenced by who. For a late seventies Mars story, this is refreshingly uninspired by Bradbury and the more fantastical Martian stories. At least, until near the end, when it gets a bit Beneath The Planet of the Apes, and I started to imagine an early eighties movie version starring Doug McClure at Matt Markham.

But at its heart, Angry Planet is a nicely political, hard sf story of frontier colonists fighting a dictatorial and corrupt organisation. The fantasy elements that come in later seem shoehorned in and ultimately unsatisfying, cheapening what could have been a much wider and more long-running story. There's one very seventies bit of racism that would have been unremarkable at the time, but nowadays thankfully sticks out a mile.

And that, dear friends, is what I made of The Angry Planet. More pertinently, what I made of the Hibernia book version- which I very much hope is the start of a long series. The volume is beautiful, the design work is second to none (though I'd have used that panel of the canyon of lost souls on the cover, not a monster, but what do I know?) and I cant wait for the next release.

Thanks guys, it's much appreciated.

SBT

4
Other Reviews / MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« on: 02 December, 2020, 09:24:12 PM »
One of our esteemed compatriots here summed it up quite well when he said he'd have to give it a second read- I presume for the same reasons I've got it pencilled in for the weekend.

Please dont get me wrong- there is a bare minimum of the worst excesses of which perhaps previous Specials have been guilty. The art is lovely throughout, and both stories *promise* much. However, despite thoroughly enjoying the experience of reading them (especially the first, with its greatly expanded page count), neither story really left me with overwhelmingly good thoughts.

And so I must go back and read them again, because I feel I missed something.

Must just say that the cover looks better in the flesh than it did in the pre-publicity, as Misty herself is more appropriately pale than the tanned, just back from holidays, look she did seem to be sporting.

So- a second read is on the cards. But is either story as good as that boarding school one in the Scream & Misty spesh? No.

SBT

5
Other Reviews / THRILLER PICTURE LIBRARY: THE JOHN STEEL FILES
« on: 14 November, 2020, 06:28:01 PM »
Well, that was hugely unexpected.

Having absolutely no prior knowledge of this strip (in fact, for once, I don't think I'd even heard of it before this was announced), I had marked this as a "freebie bonus" in the Specials Bundle. I expected to flick through it, perhaps start it, but eventually just file it away mostly unread.

However.

I've just read it cover to cover in one sitting- absolutely lost in the beautiful illustrations of Luis Bermejo- ably and sensitively coloured by Pippa Bowland- and the world of spies, jazz, dive bars, Parisian basements, New York coffee houses and Thompson machine guns. Oh, the gorgeously overwritten captions! The language! Riff a jazz patter! Just... wow.

Can we please- pretty pretty please- have another volume or five? This is beautiful, earthy, pulp storytelling at it's best and I had no idea British comics ever did this.

And it was only £6.99! Value like that is hard to find these days.

SBT
 

6
Classifieds / WANTED: Daredevil #21 current series
« on: 12 November, 2020, 01:55:35 PM »
I know we don't often use the forum to beg for comics we want/ need (and quite right too, most of you are far too cool to do such a thing), but I thought I'd give it a go.

The current series of Daredevil is currently on #23. For some reason, likely due to Covid, #21 is proving very hard to get for a price that a sensible human would consider reasonable for a comic barely "two months" old. Would anyone have a copy they wish to part with?

SBT

7
General / Fabry 2000AD (ish) Gubbins on Ebay.
« on: 11 November, 2020, 06:32:08 PM »
Seen this?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/333770414544

Not at that price, but reason to scour piles of women's magazines in waiting rooms and charity shops from now until the end of time.

SBT

8
Books & Comics / VAN HELSING'S TERROR TALES
« on: 30 October, 2020, 10:19:29 PM »
Back up strips from Qualuty's old HOUSE OF HAMMER magazine- all between three and five pages, and in a nice collected edition from HoH publisher Dez Skinn.

The stories are as you'd expect- if you like short ghoulish British comics of the kind Scream! excelled at, you'll probably love this. I did. The list of creators alone should be enough to whet the appetite of anyone here. Among others we have: Jim Baikie, John Bolton, Joe Colquhoun, Dave Gibbons, Steve Moore, Steve Parkhouse and Ramon Sola.
And Angus McKie- who draws the first tale in the collection- and whose art is so similar to early Kev O'Neill that I'm wondering if they shared the same studio, or if Angus served as Kev's mentor in some way.

Anyway, while the paperstock is a bit too shiny and odorless for my liking, it's a tenner well spent. 82 pages, A4, paperback. Available through Ebay, direct from Dez.

SBT

9
Books & Comics / Not book or comics- what else do we read?
« on: 26 October, 2020, 06:42:16 PM »
There was a day when I was a voracious Devourer of magazines. Even fairly recently- in the last twenty years- there have been periods where I have regularly (which for these purposes seems to mean buying two out of every three) purchased issues of, amongst others, The Fortean Times, The Dark Side, Fangoria, Doctor Who Magazine... and going further back, I remember with great affection mags such as Space/ New Voyager, Deathray, Samhain, Comics International and many more.

These days, however, I'm down to- very occasionally an archaeology mag if it features something in which I'm particularly interested (this month's British Archaeology has 12 pages on Boxgrove, for example), the odd New Scientist (I did try to buy it regularly, but at six quid a week, I just can't), still The Fortean Times once in a while and very rarely something from TwoMorrows publishing- Alter Ego or Back Issue. I suppose I should also mention that I buy Landscape Photographer (or whatever its called) for my youngest son every month, and Playstation Magazine for both of my boys.

When did mags stop being essential? I refuse to believe it's because all the information is online, because the pleasure a print mag gives me is so far beyond such a petty concern. Is it just storage? (no, because I give them away or recycle them)- so it must be cost.

Anyway, I was wondering what we all read. Are there trends? Is there anything most of us also pick up?

SBT

10
Help! / Rebellion and Rights to Eagle Strips
« on: 11 September, 2020, 12:19:09 PM »
Help needed with a clarification fellas. I'm a huge fan of the strip RAT TRAP, that originally ran in COR!! in the issues dated 29th July 1972 (#113) to 15th June 1974 (#211)* and live in permanent hope that Rebellion will print them- either as Meg floppies, Webshop exclusives like Janus Stark or trades/ hardbacks.

My love of this strip is down to a particularly vivid nightmare I had (presumably during the original run) in which Dr Rat came into my bedroom and blew a raspberry at me. My dad completely failed to subdue his traumatised son, mistaking my no doubt garbled explanation for night time terrified screaming as accusations our house was infested with vermin. I've never forgotten that dream, or the sense of utter terror and have deeply loved the strip ever since.

Rat Trap got a revamp with a new series running in the Eagle from 21st Oct 1989 (#396) to 21st April 1990 (#422) and therein lies the problem.

Does that mean that Rat Trap- in either incarnation- is off limits to Rebellion, and owned by the Dan Dare Corporation? Charley's War was reprinted in Eagle and that has seen various subsequent prints. Do I need to expect Dr Ratty Rat to languish in unpublished obscurity, or can I look forward to a possible volume on my increasingly crowded shelves?

Cheers

SBT

*with teasers in #111 and #112

11
Other Reviews / TAMMY & JINTY SPECIAL 2020
« on: 07 August, 2020, 11:48:00 AM »
Last year's one of these was among my favourite comics of 2019, so I was understandably keen for this to come through the letterbox- as part of the bundle deal. That it was delayed for a couple of weeks was suddenly more frustrating than I had expected, so when it eventually arrived, my grin was disproportionately huge.

Would it be as good as the last one? And would it slip past the Sci-fi Special this year as my favourite so far?

Well, the answer is a qualified yes and no. Yes, it is as good as last year, but in a wholly different way. The first strip, Boarding School, is magnificent. Beautifully written and drawn and coloured and lettered, and an almost perfect opener to what could be an ongoing series. It owes a lot to the kind of stories kids used to read (The Secret Garden, The Ghosts- filmed as The Amazing Mr Blunden), versions of which girls' comics seem to have done so well back in the day. It's up there with the Dredd/ Zombo and Kingdom/ Shako stories from the earlier spesh.

The second new strip, the Cat Girl one, is less successful, but serves as a decent enough beginning to a series we may yet get to see.

The reprint of Ping Pong Paula is surprising, in that it shows just how emotionally complex girls' comics used to be- theres an awful lot of character in those few pages, and I'd whisper that I'd like to see that style of strip and characterisation a lot more in modern 2000AD.

Two features, and an ad page that reprints a bit of an upcoming Rebellion trade. I will be buying that one based entirely on that one page.

So, all in all, a worthy follow up to last year- and again one of the best specials Rebellion have so far put out.

And more Boarding School please.

SBT

12
Help! / Comic binder help wanted.
« on: 07 August, 2020, 10:56:02 AM »
Right- here's the thing. I have this idea of putting together a binder of the US comics that were released with a cover date of the month my boys were born.

What a lovely idea/ haha, knob! I hear you mutter. Thing is, I'm completely clueless about finding the right kind if binder. US sized, holds between ten and twenty issues, corded so no bags have to be involved, reasonably affordable, etc. Any of yous guys n gals have a handy link? Any recommendations that you have used?

SBT

13
Website and Forum / Spam, pornspam, and morespam
« on: 09 July, 2020, 06:57:00 AM »
For the mods: as we are undergoing a barrage of spam flack at the moment, what are we supposed to do? Do you need us to report this stuff as it appears so you can delete individual messages and users, or are you combing the forum as a matter of course and it's all in hand?

I notice some is disappearing, so thanks for that! Good luck as you go over the top into spam mans land.

SBT

14
Other Reviews / 2000AD SCI-FI SPECIAL 2020
« on: 19 June, 2020, 10:16:22 AM »
Is the forum getting slow to respond to things? The scifi special unexpectedly dropped through the letterbox yesterday, and was devoured last night.

100 pages, four new strips and features, a double page spread, and an interview- in total roughly a 50/50 new/reprint, £7.99. And while that may seem more expensive than usual in comparison to the similarly 100 page end of year progs, I have to say I enjoyed this one more than perhaps any similar 2000AD publication in memory. Going back to the original prog 2000, at least.

The reason? Two of the new strips- Dredd and Kingdom- are among the best of their kind I've ever read. The Dredd one will just make everyone smile, and Kingdom brought a lump to my throat, and made me briefly consider dripping writer Dan Abnett a line thanking him. How often does that happen? Fans of The Red Seas and Storm Warning, two strips I'm not usually enamored with, will be pleased to hear both are back in here, with new stories- and both are very, very good.

The reprints include my favourite Sinister Dexter episode, what is probably the best single episode of Dante, Al Ewing's first work for Tharg- a particularly effective Terror Tale- and 'Leaving Rowdy Yates', a Dredd that deserves to be read again and again.

The feature article on "the best strips of the Rebellion years" is considered and serves as a delicate pointer to readers that there is a hall of a lot more where this came from. And the interview with Jason Kingsley is candid and should placate a few worries when it comes to things such as sales and circulation, as well as the future- which is spoken of in terms far more specific than we are perhaps used to.

Theres a double page art spread, that in past years would have been a Star Scan, but these days does seem somewhat of a man odd relic of the days when we would have eagerly stuck these things on our walls. Lovely though.

I couldnt be happier. As a stand alone sample of everything the modern prog is, they couldnt have put together a better package. I hope it sells by the bucket load.

SBT

15
Other Reviews / ROY OF THE ROVERS SUMMER SPECIAL 2020
« on: 09 June, 2020, 01:45:51 PM »
This arrived today, as part of the offer that apparently results in me getting a lot more concs than I bargained for. I may have squealed a bit with delight when I saw it on the mat.

Now, i don't like football and I never have. Even as a kid it never interested me in any way at all. As a result of this, I've never bought an issue of Roy of the Rovers in my life. Actually, that may be a slight lie, as I seem to remember a special (which may have been Tiger now I come to think about it) concentrating on a Red Indian Wrestler, or something- and that may have had some Roy Race in it
 Can't remember, but the point is I've not knowingly bought the comic, ever, and even my usual desire to "support the industry" hasn't made me pick up any of Rebellion's rebooted graphic novels. Because, you know, football.

I dont want to make this a long post- but let me say this very clearly: this Special is magnificent. Not only does it contain two frankly rather excellent new comic strips, which I will talk about in a sec, but also two very funny Ken Reid one-pagers, a text story that I didnt think I'd read but then did and enjoyed immensely, three brief Q&A interviews (with writer Rob William's, novelist Tom Palmer and classic RotR artist David Sque) and an overview of the character's career playing for the national team, which gloriously never comments on his absurdly long life as a professional footballer). Throughout, its richly illustrated with covers and panels from classic issues- and the upshot of all that was I very much want to read those stories now. Good job there's an ad for the collected 'Best of the 50s/ 60s/ 70s' volumes so I know where to find them. And I think I will.

But the real standout aspect, for me, was the way in which the current coronavirus is referenced throughout. It drives the stories (and makes the text piece unexpectedly poignant). Is this the first time the current situation has been used in a piece of contemporary fiction, excluding last night's first Emmerdale lockdown episode?

And it immediately altered my expectation of the strips. The first page of the main strip especially- with its cranes on the skyline, low angles and destroyed building in the background (the club ground?) As the characters talk about "lockdown" and "travel restrictions" is more like some dystopian Action strip from the seventies than what I had assumed this Summer Special would be.

The scripts, for both stories, is clever and at times melancholic, and had no trouble maintaining my interest despite, as I may have mentioned, my disinterest in the sport. The art, by Elkys Nova, John Charles & Lindemburgh Mendes (on Euro Adventure) and David Sque (on Old School) is fun and clean and at times quite beautiful. Our own Jim Campbell provides letters throughout, and as is usual, they are unobtrusive and give that extra flow to the story.

A complete surprise,then, all told. At £4.99 I'd say it was worth a punt of anyone's money. Even if you dont like football. Oddly perhaps most of all, it stands as a commemoration of this global pandemic and its affect on us all.

And yes, I will now buy the back issues of this reboot. Damn you Rebellion.

SBT

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