Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ron Turner's THE CASTAWAYS (1972)

Ron Turner had a long and impressive career in comics and illustration, dating back to the late 1930s. He was particularly notable for his science fiction book covers for Vargo Statten's novels in the 1950s and for the Rick Random stories. (If you can still find a copy, I urge you to buy this wonderful collection.)

I first saw his artwork in the mid-1960s when he did a few fill-ins on the Gerry Anderson strips for TV21 specials, and of course his long run on The Daleks strip on the back page of the weekly. By the 1970s he was freelancing on the IPC comics, and the examples I'm showing here are of a series called The Castaways that he drew for Whizzer and Chips in 1972 (24th June and 8th July issues). I don't think it ran for long, and may not be well known (or well remembered) today so I thought I'd post a couple of samples. The story is the well-trodden "kids stranded on island" idea, but it's always good to see Ron Turner artwork and the distinctive inking techniques he used. 

COMMANDO comics in shops this week

Here's the info direct from D.C. Thomson on the four issues of Commando that will be on sale from Thursday 24th August...

Brand new Commando issues 5047-5050 are on sale soon! With classic and new adventures, our Commandos are certainly kept busy: infiltrating U-Boats in the Atlantic, crash-landing in the North African Desert, unearthing mysterious Viking relics and dodging dud grenades, it’s all just another day’s work…

5047: Home of Heroes: The Battle to Britain

Janek’s life-like cover shows rival ships off the coast of Greenland, the bleak, icy water, just as threatening as the warships battling on them, while Vicente Alcazar’s thick black lines and heavy shading brings a moody darkness to Iain McLaughlin’s original story.

Set in Autumn, 1941, America had not yet joined in the Second World War, but that didn’t stop people like Charlie Dayton getting involved. Never shying away from a fight, Charlie’s strong views usually turned into something a bit more physical, so when the war in Europe started, Charlie knew he couldn’t stand by and wait for the battle to reach his shores. That was when he hopped aboard an English cargo ship, bound for Britain and the war that awaited him.

|Story | Iain McLaughlin | Art | Vicente Alcazar | Cover | Janek Matysiak |

5048: Gold Collection: Trouble Hunter

When R.A.F. air-gunner Fred Cotton crash-lands in the desert, it’s up to his brother Harry to rescue him. Omre’s story is one of fraternity: both blood brothers and not, as Harry must team up with the stubborn and by the books Sergeant Wilcox on his mission to save Fred.

With cover and interior artwork by the late Gordon C. Livingstone, you know that you’re in for a treat. The thin line strokes, expert shading and detail that Livingstone is famed for shines through in this issue, most notably during a sandstorm, where Livingstone draws hundreds of wispy lines to show to the harsh winds. Livingstone’s cover, however, is full of strong, contrasting block colours, the blue of Harry’s uniform juxtaposed against the yellow and orange of the desert sky.

|Story | Omre | Art | Gordon C. Livingstone | Cover | Gordon C. Livingstone |
Originally Commando No 378 (1969) Reprinted No 1111 (1977)

5049: Action and Adventure: The Blood of the Vikings

Another original tale from Shane Filer, when S.S. Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Heiden finds Viking relics in France, he believes they will make a grand gift for the Fuhrer, but he has no idea what he has uncovered… Set mainly in the 8th-9th century, we follow Frankish orphan Thorvald, raised by the Vikings who raided his village as he re-joins his kin in their fight against the invading Danes.

With cover and interior art by Carlos Pino, the attention to detail in the armour and weaponry really adds to this issue, making it stand out as a new classic for readers, while his morose coloured cover shows Thorvald as every inch the Viking god he is perceived as.

|Story | Shane Filer | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino |

5050: Silver Collection: Grenade!

A prolific Commando writer, Alan Hebden’s titular grenade is the centre of action in this issue, taking on a personality if its own, as the somewhat supernatural weapon favours some, while goes against others, with its own comical sense of poetic justice.  

Jeff Bevan’s cover shows the eponymous grenade front and centre, a hero in its own right, certainly showing plenty of character throughout, while the muted greens and browns give a classic war look to this issue. Meanwhile, Dennis McLoughlin’s interior artwork is equally attentive, drawing most panels during rain showers in the Italian countryside, with both white and black lines to show the falling droplets.

|Story | Alan Hebden | Art | Dennis McLoughlin | Cover | Jeff Bevan|
Originally Commando No 2640 (1993)  

Roger by Reid

It's sometimes forgotten that the iconic Roger the Dodger was co-created by the great Ken Reid. He was the original artist on the strip when it debuted in The Beano in 1953 and drew it until issue 1152 in 1964, before moving on from freelancing for D.C. Thomson to work on Frankie Stein for Odhams' new Wham! comic. 

I showed Ken's last work for Beano and Dandy here:

The page I'm showing today is a Roger the Dodger strip that appeared in The Beano No.1150, dated 1st August 1964, just two weeks before Ken's last Roger strip. There have been several great artists who have worked on the strip over the decades since Ken left, but I don't think anyone has quite captured that same sneaky, cheeky look in the same way that Ken did. After all, he designed the character and gave him that personality and "soul" so to speak. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Preview: Doctor Who Magazine No.516

Here's the cover of the next issue of the official Doctor Who Magazine, which will be in the shops on Thursday 24th August. As you can see, it features Jodie Whittaker, who steps into the role during the Christmas episode this year (which sadly bids farewell to Peter Capaldi) and whose full series begins in Autumn 2018.

Casting a woman as the Doctor has been a controversial point, but most comments I've read have been positive and welcoming. Personally I think it's a brilliant move, and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing what Jodie Whittaker brings to the part. After all, the Doctor is a shape-changing alien from a fictional planet. At the end of the 9th Doctor's life he mused he might even regenerate with two heads. Fans didn't seem to object to that notion, but put a woman in the role and some have gone ballistic! 

This issue of Doctor Who Magazine will of course be packed with features, interviews, news and reviews, plus the regular 12th Doctor comic strip. It'll also include another Daft Dimension by me, and I've made it topical. I think this will be the first time the 13th Doctor has appeared in a strip in an official Doctor Who publication, and she's not likely to appear in another strip until her series starts, so grab your collector's item copy this Thursday!

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