Thursday, 21 June 2018

FROM IRON MAN TO BIG EGGO: 35 YEARS OF LEW


What do these three seemingly unrelated 80s comics have in common?  Apart from being three of my own personal favourites, they include the work of a certain Lew Stringer.  Anyone who grew up with comics in the 80s will tell you the man was everywhere!  He was certainly a constant in my own comics.

Oink! was my own first comic title and through it I got to know Lew's classic Pete and his Pimple and Tom Thug, obviously, but when The Real Ghostbusters came along I felt it was given an air of legitimacy by having Lew's take on Slimer in those early issues after seeing his Robo Capers and Combat Colin in the pages of their Transformers comics.  Of course I'd soon add that comic to my growing list too!

Well, Lew is celebrating this week as it marks the 35th anniversary of his first professionally published work in the pages of Daredevil comic in June 1983.  Below is just a snippet of that first piece, the full image you can see by clicking on it and going to Lew's own personal blog, where he reminisces about his career to date and that first, fateful published work:

Click to be whisked to the full image on Lew's blog

One of the greatest things about doing this blog has been getting the chance to chat to and get to know those whose work I not only grew up with and which formed an important part of my life, but who I greatly respect.  Through this I've been able to make some true friends and I'm so pleased to be able to count Lew among them, finally getting the chance to meet him in person at last year's Enniskillen Comic Fest.

Working away in the likes of Beano (where he's resurrected the very first Beano character, Big Eggo), Doctor Who Magazine, Toxic and the just-about-to-lauch Goof!, Lew is still leading the way in British humour comics and any fans really should make sure they check out both his Lew Stringer Comics blog for insights into his work past and present, and his Blimey! blog for entertaining and informative posts about the UK comics scene from all eras.

To finish off for now, here's all five Oink! covers Lew drew for our favourite comic, the first being his first for any title!  Happy anniversary Lew and here's to many more years of the Lewniverse to come!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

PSYCHO GRAN RETURNS: BRAND NEW COMIC


She's back!  So it appears I was wrong when I said the original Psycho Gran Vs was a one-off when I wrote about it back in February 2016.  Oink! cartoonist extraordinaire David Leach has announced a second issue, called Psycho Gran Versus: Volume II is almost finished, with a hopeful release date to coincide with this year's London Film and Comic Con taking place between the 27th and the 29th July.

Just like the first issue, this is a collection of beautifully detailed, full-colour spreads of Psycho Gran meeting famous fictional figures from various entertainment worlds, always in her own inimitable style.  For example David has been sharing some images on his Twitter feed which have included the old dear alongside Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Luke Skywalker, even Charlie Brown and there's her own take on Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct.  More guest artists have also been lined up, this time including Doug Braithwaite, Alex Saviuk, Tom Mandrake, Paul McCaffrey, Chris Browne and others.


So make sure you follow David on Twitter to check out the latest teases of this comic before its official launch.  At the comic con he'll also be selling copies of his The Dinner Ladies from Hell graphic novel, a strip from the ill-fated Toxic comic (not the one that's still on sale now) from 1991.  I haven't read this particular strip myself but according to Wikipedia, it's "The Omen and To the Devil a Daughter crossed with Ripping Yarns.  In a nutshell, the wives of the Four Riders of the Apocalypse have six days, six hours and six minutes to corrupt seven children with the deadly sins and only one man and God's cookbook stand in their way."

Sounds very David!

In the meantime you can catch up on the previous comics from Psycho Gran by going to the New Material section of the blog where there's write-ups on the previous Versus title, as well as #1 and #2 of her comic strip title and a look at her appearances in Aces Weekly.

MEET THE BLOG STARS

As for that little convention thingie in London, if you can get there you'll be at a loss for who to visit for a signing or drawing first!  For readers of this blog, some guests who may be of particular interest alongside David are Lew Stringer and John McCrea (who guest-starred in #64 of Oink!).  For anyone following my Transformers Instagram series there's writer Simon Furman and artists Geoff Senior, Mike Collins, Stephen Baskerville (who was also an artist on The Real Ghostbusters) and Lee Sullivan.  Beano legend Nigel Parkinson will be there alongside one of my favourite artists of the current comic, Ruby's Screwtop Science's Cowgirl Em.  The hilarious Ian Richardson who I met at last year's Enniskillen Comic Fest will also be in attendance, as will Aces Weekly editor David Lloyd.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

DAVEY JONES ON LEO BAXENDALE: LISTEN NOW!


Ah, the unmistakable style of Dave Jones and the brilliant The Kingdom of Trump from the pages of Oink!, this particular strip being a classic and a favourite of mine.  A regular contributor to Viz, Davey was recently a guest on the Rule of Three podcast, the description of which reads as follows:

"Comedy writers Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris talk to people who make comedy about something funny that they love.  Guests pick a TV show, a film, a book, an album or a comic that means something to them.  Maybe we find out something about how comedy works.  Maybe there's just a lot of giggling."


Sounds good to me!  So what was Davey invited on to talk about?  That would be the work of legendary comics artist Leo Baxendale.  Thanks to David Leach for letting me know this existed!  It's a great listen, an hour of Davey and the presenters reminiscing about the strips of Leo's, his style, working methods and his completely insane sense of humour.  You may have doubts about how well an interview about a visual medium (and indeed a very visual comedic artist) could work, but trust me it really does.  While it does discuss various comics he worked on, the podcast focusses mainly on The Beano and Leo's own Willy the Kid books, which I must try to track down based on the details the team chat about here.

Leo Baxendale's Nellyphant from an issue of Funny Fortnightly

There's some chat about Davey's own career including Viz and Oink! too, making this an unmissable slice of comics talk which is available for free right now on Apple podcasts.  The reasons and working methods behind the creation of his Vibrating Butt-Faced Goats is worth the download on its own.

But obviously the main event is Leo's work and they do a brilliant job of really firing your imagination and any old grey memory cells you may have left and you're soon picturing his detail-laden panels.  The imagery they've painted in my mind for Willy the Kid has me excited about the possibility of reading them one day, I'm sure the same will happen for you too.  This is all interspersed with some snippets of Leo himself being interviewed during his heyday which are the icing of the cake, so go get this downloaded now for your next bus journey/car journey/bath right now!

To finish off, here's one more strip from the mind of Davey and the pages of Oink! and it's a corker!  If you haven't read it before you're in for a real treat with the Monty Python-esque Phantom Moose-Napper: