Monday, 18 June 2018

35 Years in Comics

This month marks 35 years since I had my first work published in a professional comic. The title was Marvel UK's The Daredevils and the job was a pocket cartoon entitled What If Iron Man Really Lived up to his Name?

Looking at it now, the style is crude and the gag very lame, but seeing it in print back in 1983 gave me a huge boost to my self esteem. At the time I was on the dole, having quit a dead-end office job, and had been trying to break into comics for a couple of years with no luck. (In retrospect it's understandable I made no initial headway because my work simply wasn't professional standard then.)

I'd been producing several fanzines and small press comics in order to gain experience and feedback, and Alan Moore (whom I knew from the Westminster Comic Marts and inevitable pub-meets) suggested I try Marvel UK with some ideas. He introduced me to Marvel editor Bernie Jaye in February 1983 and she asked me to submit some work. I soon came up with a variation on Marvel's "What If...?" series, sent in a bunch of cartoons, and at the April Westminster Comic Mart Bernie told me she'd be running them in The Daredevils from issue 7, published in June 1983. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day!

The rate was very low; £5 a cartoon. Not enough to enable me to get off the dole at that point (and yes, I did declare it) but what it gave me was far more important, - the encouragement to carry on. Prior to that, I'd been on the verge of giving up my ambitions to be a cartoonist, but the euphoria of seeing my work in print gave me the confidence and incentive I needed. It's true what they say; once you've been published it gives other editors the assurance that you can do the job. After that, more work swiftly followed and I went full time self-employed in February 1984. I've been fortunate to work for many publications over the years; Oink!, Beano, Dandy, Sonic the Comic, Viz, Buster, Toxic, Doctor Who Magazine and many more. All thanks to Alan Moore and Bernie Jaye for having faith in me back in 1983.

Most importantly, I'd also like to thank all of you who have supported my work over the years, and I hope you continue to enjoy what I produce. 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Angry Eggo!

Who's annoyed Big Eggo? Find out in the Beano No.3940, on sale Wednesday 20th June!

Friday, 15 June 2018

Batteries recharged!

Photo © 2018 Lew Stringer
When you're self-employed it's very easy to forget to take a break. It's often difficult to find time anyway, when deadlines shift around, or something new crops up, and that week you thought was free suddenly isn't. Fortunately, this week I did manage to get away for a few days. 

One big advantage of being single and freelance is that when the opportunity for a break does come up, I've only myself to schedule for. A last-minute decision, I set off to Blackpool early on Monday morning and stayed there until Wednesday evening. The resort is well past its 20th Century heyday and looking shabby in places now, but I still have an affection for the town and being on the coast, watching the waves crash against the shore, is always worth seeing.

On Thursday I went down to London to see Jessica Martin starring in Shirleymander at the Playground Theatre. I've known Jessica as a friend for a few years now in her capacity as a comics creator, and knew her television work of course, but this was the first time I'd seen her perform live in a play. It's the story of the rise and fall of Shirley Porter and the gerrymandering scandal of the 1990s. Jessica and the cast were superb in this well-structured play and it was poignant to see it on the anniversary of the Grenfell tower disaster, which is relevant to the story. The theatre itself is only a few streets away from Grenfell, and there was a silent march yesterday, so the play felt very relevant indeed, and very moving. The final performances are tonight and tomorrow afternoon, so catch it if you can!

Check out Jessica Martin's website:

Anyway, that's enough gadding about for me this week. I'm back to work today, having just written a Team Toxic script for Toxic No.309, and now colouring Derek the Troll for Goof! No.1. This weekend I'll be drawing Team Toxic and Big Eggo, and scripting the final Big Eggo story. More info on those soon.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

This week's funny business...

I have a few strips being published on Wednesday 13th June, so here's a quick preview of all of them.

First up, Team Toxic encounter a new foe when Skegpool beach is endangered! See Toxic No.307!

That same day, Beano No.3939 will also be out, and Terry Tuff has a new plan to capture Big Eggo! It's doomed to failure! 

Also out on Wednesday, Epic No.147 sees the stinky kids of Hygiene High get back to nature. Nature isn't happy about it! Script by Niall Murray, art by me.

...and still in the shops from two weeks ago (unless they'e sold out already) is Doctor Who Magazine No.526 featuring a new Daft Dimension strip of mine.

That's Toxic, Beano, Epic, and Doctor Who Magazine. All of these titles are available from newsagents and supermarkets across the UK!

A good day in Wythenshawe!

The Wythenshawe Comic Con was very enjoyable yesterday. Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table for a comic or sketch. You can read more about it, and see more photos, over on my Blimey! blog here:

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Conventions to come...

I'm at Wythenshawe Comic Con today, so come and join us! After that, my next one will be Macc-Pow! on June 23rd, and several others afterwards at various locations around the UK. Here's the list...

South Manchester
9th June 2018

Saturday 23rd June 2018

27th - 29th July 2018
Olympia, London

17th, 18th, 19th August 2018.
Metropole Hotel,

NICE 2018
1st/2nd September 2018
Bedford Corn Exchange,

ICE 2018
Saturday 15th September

To be announced:
Saturday 20th October 2018
More info soon.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Coming next week...

What's causing panic on the beach at Skegpool? Find out in the next Toxic when Team Toxic have to deal with a new threat! Toxic No.307, on sale from newsagents and supermarkets from Wednesday 13th June!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A new comic con for the North

I'll be up Manchester way again on Saturday 9th June for Wythenshawe Comic Con, the first such event for the town, at the Forum Centre, Simonsway, Wythenshawe, Manchester M22 5RX.

Other guests will include the Beano's Nigel Parkinson, artist of Dennis and Gnasher, plus Doctor Who storyboard artist Mike Collins, Psycho Gran creator David Leach, and the guys from indie comics company Accent UK

We'll have comics, and we'll be drawing sketches and chatting about our characters, so come along and join us!

Listen to the radio ad:

Convention Facebook page:

Monday, 4 June 2018

Thanks for STC25!

I had a great weekend in Manchester for the STC25 con yesterday. It's the first time I've been in the city since the days of Oink! comic in the late 1980s, and it's changed a lot! I was very impressed. (Coincidentally, the FabCafe venue where the con was is just around the corner to where the Oink! office was way back when.)

STC25 was a celebration of Sonic the Comic, commemorating 25 years since the first issue was launched back in 1993. I was a regular writer on the comic for about seven years. Although Egmont's comic folded in 2002, an online continuation by fans has been running since 2003! This week saw the publication of issue 275, which was also published as an impressive print version. Many of the fan strips are of high quality, and I have no doubt that if the original comic had still been running they'd be contributing to it. 
More about the online version here:

STC25 was a small but perfectly formed event that attracted around 90 people. With most comic cons, we know there'll only be a fraction of attendees who know our work, but as this event was dedicated to one comic, every attendee knew our stuff, - better than us in most cases! (Well, it has been over 20 years and I've forgotten the details of most scripts I wrote for it.)

My thanks to Michael Corker and his team for putting on the show and inviting me, and to the attendees for being such a great audience! (It's always heartwarming to meet readers who read your work back when they were kids.) It was also good to catch up with fellow comic creators Nigel Kitching, Carl Flint, Nigel Dobbyn and Ferran Rodriguez.

Nigel Kitching and I were interviewed for a Q and A session in the afternoon, and you can see that on YouTube here around 4.50 minutes in...
Here's a few photos from the great day....


Sunday, 3 June 2018

Eggo Beach

Is Terry Tuff about to capture Big Eggo? He's tracked our octogenarian ostrich to the coast and there's nowhere left to hide. Find out what happens next in the Beano No.3938 on Wednesday 6th June!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

In the papers

Mentioned twice in the papers this week. Firstly in the Macclesfield Express on Wednesday, as part of a report on Goof! the forthcoming online comic I'm a contributor for. The accompanying photo of Marc Jackson and myself was taken by Marc's wife Jane at Macc-Pow! a couple of years ago, and there'll be another Macc-Pow! convention this year on 23rd June. 

Then on Friday, a nice prominent advert appeared in Metro for the Wythenshawe Comic Con, which I'll be attending next Saturday, 9th June. More news about that soon!

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Schedule for STC25

Here's the schedule of the starting times of events for STC25, the celebration of 25 years since the debut of Sonic the Comic. It takes place at the Fab Cafe in Manchester on Sunday 3rd June. If you're interested, there are only a few tickets left, (strictly no admission on the door) so please enquire at the Facebook page here:

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

In print this week...

On Wednesday 30th May, Beano No.3937 arrives in the shops, full of the usual fun. There's a new Big Eggo story in there by me, with Terry Tuff hot on the trail of the escaped ostrich. 

Then, the next day, on Thursday 31st May, Doctor Who Magazine No.526 is published, packed with features includiung an interview with actor/singer/comics creator Jessica Martin, currently appearing in Shirleymander at the Playground Theatre, London. Plus there's another Daft Dimension strip from me, and it's one of the daftest yet...

Support British comics! Don't miss these two publications this week! 

Monday, 28 May 2018

Next destination: STC25 on June 3rd

It's a busy summer for conventions and the next event I'll be at will be this coming Sunday, 3rd June, at STC25, - a celebration of Sonic the Comic!

Back in the 1990s I was a regular writer on Sonic the Comic, scripting many of the stories featuring Tails, Amy, and Sonic the Hedgehog himself. I also created supporting characters such as Tekno the Canary and Shortfuse the Cybernik, and villains such as Commander Brutus and Metamorphia. 

STC25 will be my first Sonic-themed event, and other guests will include Richard Elson, Nigel Kitching, Carl Flint, Nigel Dobbyn and Feran Rodriguez Sanchez. It takes place at the Fab Cafe, Manchester, and tickets are very limited and must be purchased in advance. (No on-the-door ticket sales.) If you're interested in attending, contact the organiser via their Facebook page at this link:

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Back from Wigan!

Wigan Comic Con was a well organised event! I've posted a few photos and thoughts about the day over on my Blimey! blog at the following link...

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Reviving the Troll

I started work on drawing the new Derek the Troll series today. It's going to appear exclusively in the new digital comic Goof! that will be launched at this year's Macc-Pow! convention on Saturday 23rd June. From that day onwards you'll be able to access the new monthly comic online on your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Goof! will be an anthology comic featuring lots of single page strips from various cartoonists. The Derek series will be an ongoing serial with self contained chapters under the story title of Derek the Troll and the Quest for the Magic Whatsit!

Sign up for Goof! here:

It feels good to be working on new Derek the Troll stories. He was one of the first characters I created for professional publications, way back in the mid 1980s for Games Workshops' Warlock and White Dwarf magazines. Even though I only produced a dozen pages or so back then, the character has been fondly remembered by many over the years. 

A few years ago I published a compilation of all the Derek strips (along with the complete Rock Solid, Space Hero, another early character of mine) in Derek the Troll No.1. It recently went to a second printing and you can buy copies from my webshop:

Before Macc-Pow! I have a few other conventions coming up, and one of them is this Saturday, 26th May, when I'll be a guest at Wigan Comic Con! I'll be bringing along my comics and doing sketches on request so I hope you can join us! More details here:

Monday, 21 May 2018

Timeless journey

As I said in my previous post, today is the fifth anniversary of my mum's passing. I know she wouldn't want me to wallow, so after drawing a Big Eggo strip this morning I set off on a good long walk this afternoon of about five miles.

I love the peaceful timelessness of areas like this, with just the enjoyable tweeting of birds breaking the silence. The acres of farmland around here have changed very little since the days when my granddad worked on the land 100 years ago, and it was comforting to think he would have gazed upon similar landscapes back then. 

Back to the drawing board tomorrow!

In remembrance of my Mam

It's been five years today since my mum passed away. Always in my thoughts. I'll always treasure her kindness and selflessness and the moral support she gave me. A good, gentle woman who deserved more happiness in her life than that which fate dealt her.

You can read more about her here if you're so inclined:

I'll be having a quiet day of reflection today.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Coming this Wednesday...

I have two strips in print this coming week. On Wednesday 23rd May, Toxic No.306 sees Team Toxic enter a gateway to another world. Unfortunately for them it's the world of the Eye-Bots! Yes, it's a sequel to the previous issue's story, with the Eye-Bot that Doc Shock tricked now out for revenge! 

That same day sees Beano No.3936, which includes another Big Eggo strip! This time, Big Eggo hides out in a school. What happens next? Find out on Wednesday!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Combat Colin No.3 news update

My thanks to everyone who's bought a copy of the first two issues of Combat Colin (which are still available here). My initial plan was to bring out No.3 in mid-May, but due to commitments on my other strips, and fighting off a virus, that won't be possible now. 

So... the new plan is to publish Combat Colin No.3 in late June to mid-July. I'll be starting on it soon, so that should be achievable. This issue may include one or two special back up features, which I'll keep under wraps for now. 

I will of course be posting exclusive updates about the comic on this blog and on my Facebook page:

In the meantime, above is a preview of the first strip in issue 3, which introduces Headline Howard, ace reporter for the Wednesday Wart! Originally published in The Transformers No.226, back in July 1989.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Upcoming conventions

Here's the complete list of the rest of the conventions I'll be attending this year. Hope to see you at some of them!

Saturday 26th May 2018

Sunday 3rd June 2018
Fab Café, Manchester

South Manchester
9th June 2018

Saturday 23rd June 2018

27th - 29th July 2018
Olympia, London

17th, 18th, 19th August 2018.
Metropole Hotel,

NICE 2018
1st/2nd September 2018
Bedford Corn Exchange,

ICE 2018
Saturday 15th September

Monday, 14 May 2018

TFNation for August!

As most of you know, Combat Colin originally appeared as a back-up strip in Marvel's Transformers comics of the 1980s. I'm pleased to say it's just been announced that I'll be one of the guests at TF Nation, a Transformers convention, that takes place over the weekend of August 17th to 19th at the Hilton Metropole hotel, Birmingham. 

You can find out more details, buy tickets, and see who the other guests are, at the wonderfully slick TFNation website:

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Preview: the next Big Eggo strip

As I mentioned over on my Blimey! blog, I'm resting that blog for a few weeks but I'll continue to post updates about my own work here. Above is a preview of the upcoming Big Eggo strip for the Beano. Terry Tuff has wheels now, so how can Big Eggo outrun a sports car? Find out this Wednesday when Beano No.3935 goes on sale!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Preview: This month's Hygiene High

I've just received my complimentary copy of Epic No.146 so here's a quick preview of the strip I drew for it. Hygiene High, written by Niall Murray with art by me, is about a classroom of stinky schoolkids, - and this month they bring their stinky pets to school. Chaos ensues as always and you can see the full story when the issue hits the shops on Wednesday 16th May. 

It's bagged with a bunch of gifts and here's the package to look out for in your local newsagents and supermarkets...