Saturday, February 24, 2018

Frantic Fun (TERRIFIC, 1967)

It was the 1960s, and England was swinging like a pendulum do, or so the song told us. It was a great time for pop culture though, and Odhams were at the height of their powers with five weekly 'Power Comics'; Wham!, Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic, and Terrific. The first three had a nicely balanced mixture of home-grown humour and adventure strips alongside reprints of Marvel strips, whist Fantastic and Terrific mainly contained Marvel reprint and one originated adventure strip (The Missing Link/Johnny Future in Fantastic, Don Starr in Terrific).

What's often forgotten now is that a few issues of Terrific also contained originated gag cartoons under the title of Frantic Fun. How did these come about? Well, when Mike Higgs submitted his strip The Cloak to the editors of Pow!, he mentioned that he also had some gag cartoons with him. They liked what they saw, and decided to run those in Terrific

Back then, Mike Higgs signed his work as 'MiK' (or 'OMIK' as myself as some others misread it, due to the distinctively dotted 'i'.). Whilst The Cloak became one of Pow's main strips (and highly popular it was too), Frantic Fun was mainly a "filler" in Terrific. Even so, it was new content in a comic dominated by reprint, and they provided a nice light relief to all the drama on the other pages, so the cartoons deserve some recognition.

The cartoons that Mike drew started in Terrific No.6 on 13th May 1967 (cover dated 20th May), - the exact same day as The Cloak debuted in Pow! - and ran until No.10 (dated 17th June 1967). They'd clearly run out of Mike's cartoons by issue 10 as only one appeared, with others on the page drawn by 'J.Mead'. The feature ran for a few more issues (with J.Mead supplying cartoons) and was then quietly dropped.

I thought that readers of this blog might like to see those Frantic Fun cartoons by Mike Higgs as they've never been reprinted as far as I know, so here they all are. I've scanned the whole pages to show them in context. The News from the floor of 64 page from Terrific No.8 also mentions Mike, along with fanzine editor Tony Roche. While Fleetway and D.C. Thomson kept their contributors anonymous at the time, Odhams were very happy to name their artists and writers, and even helped to spread the word about the early days of comics fandom.
TERRIFIC No.6, May 20th 1967
TERRIFIC No.7, May 27th 1967
TERRIFIC No.8, June 3rd 1967
TERRIFIC No.9, June 10th 1967
TERRIFIC No.10, June 17th 1967
As many of you know, years later I was fortunate enough to work as Mike's assistant for a short time in the mid 1980s, which gave me invaluable experience. I still see him regularly for a pie and a pint and am proud to call him my friend. I don't call him OMIK any more though. 

ABC Warriors hardback coming next month

March 22nd will see the publication of ABC Warriors: The Mek Files 04, a glorious hardback collection continuing the series written by Pat Mills will stunning digitally painted artwork by Clint Langley. I always think Mills and Langley's work is one of the highlights of 2000AD so it's good to see these stories collected. Here's the info from Rebellion, along with a preview of the first few pages...

CREATIVE TEAM: Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Simon Bowland
REGIONS: UK, worldwide digital
RELEASE DATE: 22nd March 2018
PRICE: £25 (UK) $35.99 (US)
ISBN: 9781781086230

Continuing the legendary A.B.C. Warriors definitive collection series! Travelling across Mars to recruit their latest companion, the battle-scarred A.B.C. Warriors reminisce about their part in the Volgan War - a vicious conflict fought for oil on Earth. As the droids Hammerstein, Mongrol, Joe Pineapples, Deadlock and Blackblood all relate their memories of the war, old mysteries are revealed and ancient grudges are rekindled! This collects the first two parts of The Volgan War, Pat Mills and Clint Langley's brain-boggling A.B.C. Warriors epic!

Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond

Preview: the next issue of 2000AD

Here's a preview of the next issue of 2000AD, on sale this coming Wednesday...

UK & DIGITAL: 28th February 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 28th March 2018 $7.99

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: LIVE EVIL by Ian Edginton (w) Dave Taylor (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)

SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l) 
Available in print from: UK newsagents and all good comic book stores via Diamond 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Out now from Panini UK

76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Two amazing tales! £4.50!
The stunning finale to The Kang War! Avengers past and present have taken the fight to the heart of Kang's empire – is this the villain's last stand?! By Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo!
Doctor Doom returns - and he has an amazing offer for the Avengers! By Mark Waid, Jeremy Whitley and Phil Noto!
Featuring material first printed in Avengers #6-8.

76 pages of Mutants and Motormouths! Three fantastic adventures! £4.50!
Wolverine gets a new look and a deadly new adventure as a sinister alien threat strikes Earth! Guest-starring Ironheart! By Tom Taylor and Leonard Kirk!
Deadpool tries to stop a young woman from committing suicide – and wait till you see how! By Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli!
Deadpool faces Monark Starstalker and the sinister Collector! By Gerry Duggan and Mike Hawthorne!
Featuring material first printed in All-New Wolverine #19, Deadpool #20 and Deadpool #30.

The Essential Doctor Who Issue 13: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Ever since the TARDIS was first revealed in 1963, Doctor Who has presented a bewildering array
of alien technology and gadgetry. Human scientific knowledge can do nothing to explain the
mysteries of the astonishing devices and phenomena that the Doctor takes for granted.
This is the first publication devoted to the incredible ideas that the series has made its own.
Highlights include a comprehensive guide to the sonic screwdriver, the secrets of the Time Lords
and the weaponry of the Doctor’s most dangerous enemies.
The Essential Doctor Who: Science and Technology is published on 22 February, priced £9.99. It’s available from WH Smith and as a digital version from

Welcome to a magical issue packed with all your Disney favourites including Doc McStuffins, Moana, Elena of Avalor, Minnie Mouse, Sofia the First, Vampirina, Puppy Dog Pals, Tinker Bell and Zootropolis! There are loads of puzzles and games plus 2 fantastic Vampirina competitions. Don’t miss it!

Issue Number: 119
Price: £3.99
Covermounted Gift: Super Free gifts including Disney & Friends Sticker Album and stickers.
On sale: Thursday 22nd Feb – 28th March 2018

In memoriam: Robert Sutherland

I was sorry to hear this week of the death of Robert Sutherland, CEO of Redan Publishing. 

Robert was the publisher at Marvel UK throughout the 1980s, a time when many of us were starting out in British comics. He had the vision to see that the UK comics market needed to adapt to survive, and under his watch, Marvel UK shifted from superheroes towards successful licence-based titles such as The Transformers, Thundercats, and The Real Ghostbusters.

In 1990, he left Marvel to set up his own company, Redan Publishing, with his business partner Jenny O'Connor. Redan focused on the younger end of the market, primarily pre-schoolers, and built a highly successful portfolio of titles. One of which was Thunderbirds, launched in 1999. Previous Thunderbirds comics had been aimed at the 7 to 11 age group, but Redan's version was younger, concentrating on activity pages and basic photo-strips. It proved to be very successful, and was no doubt an entry point for many comics readers. 

I didn't know Robert well. I only met him once or twice, many years ago. Although perhaps not known to the average comics fan, Robert Sutherland was nevertheless an important and respected figure in the British publishing industry. Redan's successes in the market for early readers' titles has been impressively significant, and even today their Peppa Pig comic has sales twice that or more of most comics.  

The passing of Robert Sutherland has been met with sadness by those who knew and worked with him, and those of us who freelanced on titles he published over the last 30 plus years. Without his vision, the UK comics industry would have been a poorer place indeed. 

My sincere condolences to Robert's family and friends on their loss.

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