Friday, 7 May 2021

Combat Colin: from board to screen


For this sunny Friday I thought you might like to see how the first page of the latest Combat Colin story looked when it was on my drawing board, partially done. This was taken on Thursday 22nd April at 9.30 at night. I finished this and the other two pages of the story the next day, scanned it into Photoshop, and coloured it over the weekend.

By the Monday (26th April) all three pages had been completed and was available to the public in Aces Weekly Vol.50 No.7...

That's one of the advantages of online comics. Print comics are drawn between at least four to eight weeks in advance due to the time it takes to print and distribute them, but digital comics can be online minutes after you've drawn them! In the case of Aces Weekly I sent the files to David Lloyd on Sunday evening and it was online the next day. 

To read the rest of the story subscribe to Aces Weekly at the link below, and see it in Vol.50 issue 7...

Do you like or dislike digital comics? Have you read any of the new online Combat Colin stories? Post your opinions in the comments section below!


Monday, 3 May 2021

The 35th Anniversary of OiNK!

It was 35 years ago to this very day when Oink! No.1 arrived in newsagents! A preview issue of the comic had appeared a week earlier as a free gift in Buster, Whizzer and Chips, and Eagle, but today, 3rd May 1986, was when the first proper issue went on sale. 

I distinctly remember buying a couple of issues from WH Smith that day. (IPC never gave us freebies.) It was an exciting time for me. I'd only been working professionally as a cartoonist for three years and being in an IPC comic for the first time felt like another step forward in my career. Even though I'd been freelancing for Marvel UK for a while, IPC had a long history going back to Fleetway, Odhams, and The Amalgamated Press, so this felt like I'd become part of the traditional timeline of UK comics. 

My contribution of course was writing and drawing Tom Thug, the brainless bully. I've previously shown the very first Tom Thug strip that was in the Oink! Preview Issue in this post: 

However, today I thought I'd show the Tom Thug story from Oink! No.1, that readers would have seen on this day in 1986. It's shown at the top of this post.

I'd been a big fan of the Odhams comics Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! as a boy and their style of irreverent, visually robust humour was the inspiration for my Oink! work. 

I know people think that we were trying to imitate Viz but that couldn't be further from the truth. Most people hadn't even seen Viz in 1986 as it wasn't yet distributed to WH Smiths and suchlike. Editorially, the biggest influence on Oink! was Mad Magazine, and (for my part at least) the aforementioned Power Comics. Most of us were just doing our own thing, inspired by various sources, but mainly driven by a desire to create funny comics!

Oink! ran for 68 issues in total, before merging into the more traditionally tame Buster in 1988. I was fortunate to be one of the only two cartoonists to move over to Buster from Oink! (Mike Green being the other). Tom Thug became more of a standard school bully after the merger, but proved popular enough to survive in Buster for many years. 

As I've stated before, Tom Thug was never an anti-hero. He was always depicted as the villain whose schemes would backfire on him. He was never a character to admire, but to laugh AT, not with. One of the few exceptions being the 'Culture Corner' mini-strip at the foot of the page above, where Tom seems to get away with his graffiti, but it's suggested that the trail of dripping paint will lead the policeman to him. 

Working for Oink! comic was a happy time in my life and career. I wrote all my own material but I also wrote strips for others too. Many of us were new to the business and the editors allowed us to develop our skills and to experiment with layouts and storytelling styles. There really hasn't been a mainstream British comic like it since, and that's a shame. Happy anniversary, Oink!

On this special celebratory day be sure to check out these links too! Andy Luke runs a podcast and in the latest one he's chatting to Oink! historian Phil Boyce. You can listen to it at this link:

Phil runs the OiNK BLOG that all fans of the comic should be following! Every fortnight Phil will be reviewing each issue on the date it would have been published 35 years ago, plus he keeps people updated on the work of ex-Oink! contributors and suchlike. He does a good job of it and you'll find his blog at this link:



Sunday, 2 May 2021

Combat Colin: pencils/inks and finished product.

I know that some of you like to see the progress of a drawing so I thought I'd show you this panel from last week's Combat Colin story for Aces Weekly. On the left is my original art at the stage it reaches in "traditional" form, ie: pencilled, lettered and inked onto Bristol Board. 

On the right is the finished art after I've scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, made corrections and digitally coloured it (and added the title block with a Comicraft font). As always, click/tap on the image to see it bigger.

You can read the full three page story exclusively online in Aces Weekly Vol.50 No.7 by subscribing at their website here: 



Friday, 30 April 2021

Ellis is back next week!

Ellis meets The Bash Street Kids!

I'm pleased to say that not one but two of my Ellis's Great Escapes strips will be in the Beano next week! 

This is the first time I've had anything in the comic since my series of Ellis strips ended in December, although they've kept a few in stock since then. I had no idea when they'd be used so it's good that two will be in print next week.

Why now? Well, Ellis the Elephant also makes an appearance in the Dennis and Gnasher strip in that issue (drawn by Nigel Parkinson) so I guess it was the right time. There are also a couple of other Ellis strips in stock but I don't know when they'll be used. 

Ellis even appears on the cover (also drawn by Nigel Parkinson) so this is the issue to look out for when it arrives in the shops next Wednesday, 5th May! 

Cover by Nigel Parkinson.


Thursday, 29 April 2021

The Future of Football (1990s)

Here's some old artwork of mine that I found today. I'm not sure if it was ever published, or which comic it appeared in if it was used. As there's a note at the top to fax it to Graham Hey I think it's a fair bet it was intended for either Sweet F.A. or C'Mon Ref! as he was the editor of both of those football comics. I was a regular contributor to them but I don't know if these strips were used or not. I'm guessing they probably were, as Graham was a good editor and always keen to give me plenty of work.

Sweet F.A. and C'Mon Ref! were comics similar to Viz, but with an all-football theme and (slightly) less bad language so that they could be sold to younger readers as well as adults. That said, shops still put them on the top shelf, although some did stock them alongside the football magazines which is where they should have been. 

When I have time, I'll dig out my old issues and show a few pages here. 

By the way; for those who have complained the images on this blog are too small, I'm guessing you're using a smartphone? Click / tap on the images and they'll open up at a larger size where you can read them more clearly.


Monday, 26 April 2021

Combat Colin is back today!

Read Aces Weekly on your tablet!

In his first all-new strip in five years, Combat Colin returns to Aces Weekly today! The new three page story appears in the online comic Aces Weekly Vol.50 No.7 that went live tonight. The new adventure sees Colin and his sidekick Semi-Automatic Steve face their old enemies Professior Madprof and Bankrobber Man! 

Combat Colin was a character I created for Marvel UK back in 1987 when he appeared in Action Force and The Transformers weeklies. When his run ended in 1991, Marvel returned all rights to me and Colin has appeared on and off in various places over the past 30 years. A reprint collection of all his stories was halted by the knock-on effects of the pandemic after issue 4, but issue 5 will appear sometime this year. 

A few new Combat Colin stories have appeared in Aces Weekly over the years since its debut issue in 2012. 

You'll find the first one in Aces Weekly Volume 1 No.1. Colin and Semi-Automatic Steve encounter a new menace in the form of the Zombie-Yeds!

The second new complete story appeared in Aces Weekly Vol.8 No.7, with a guest appearance by The Giggly Sisters leading to Colin and Steve encountering their old enemy Madprof!

The third new Combat Colin strip appeared in Aces Weekly Vol.16 No.6, with our heroes flying into space to avert the Ass-teroid!

The fourth new strip appeared in Aces Weekly Vol.21 No.7, and saw Colin and Semi-Automatic Steve battle each other!

...and now they're back again in Vol.50, No.7 as part of Aces Weekly's celebrations of reaching 50 volumes. Each volume is comprised of seven weekly issues, meaning that this week's edition is No.350! Pretty good for an online comic that some were skeptical about when it launched nine years ago.

I'm very pleased that editor/publisher David Lloyd invited me to contribute a new story for this significant issue. Combat Colin remains my favourite creation so I'm very happy to bring him back once more! 

This issue also features five other strips including David Leach's Psycho Gran. You'll remember that she originated in Oink! comic back in 1986 so in this week's Aces Weekly you're getting two classic 1980s characters back in new stories! (By coincidence, today is the 35th anniversary of Oink! comic!)

Subscibing to Aces Weekly costs just £7 for each volume, meaning that each issue is only £1 each, - and the beauty of it being digital is that every previous volume is always available to buy too! Go to the website at the following link to read more and sign up!



Meet The Curator!

In the next issue of Doctor Who Magazine I've done a daft spin on the 11th Doctor meeting The Curator in my Daft Dimension strip. Doctor Who Magazine No.564 will be in shops on Thursday 29th April for £5.99. There's the cover below. Don't miss it!