Saturday 30 March 2013

Tom Thug, Easter 1990

With the 14th April 1990 issue, Buster comic underwent a significant revamp, gaining a new masthead and gaining 'all colour' throughout its 32 pages. (It had previously featured a large amount of black and white pages.) Truth be told, some of the 'all colour' pages were only done with basic primary spot colour rather than hand inked/painted full colour. However, I was fortunate in that Tom Thug had proved popular enough to be one of the pages to switch to proper full colour.

Above is the Tom Thug's Skooldayz page I did for that issue. The first in full colour for the new-look Buster. I created a new logo for it because the previous blackboard style one would have looked too drab for a colour page. I thought a tatty, stained exercise book style would be more suitable and still 'Thuggish'.

The colours of the strip reproduced more dark and intense than I intended in this issue, but I kind of like the richness to it. 

And, as it's Easter weekend, the Eater Egg theme of this story seemed appropriate. Hope you like it. Happy Easter!

Thursday 28 March 2013

Things to come

Pencil version of an upcoming Beano pranks feature.
This new blog has been up and running for four weeks now, so a big thank you to all of you who have followed it. Thanks also to the blogs and websites who have given it a plug, and to those of you who have retweeted/shared my posts. It's all very much appreciated. 

Recently I've been drawing quite a few of those Dennis and Gnasher You've Been Pranked features for The Beano so you'll see those appearing in the weekly over the next couple of months. I've also just completed an extra-length one for BeanoMax which will appear in next month's issue, No.77. 

Rasher continues to appear in The Beano too. I'm several weeks ahead on those mini-strips and have just drawn one with a summer holiday theme. (Let's hope the weather improves by then!)

I completed my pages for the 2014 annuals a few weeks back. Six pages for The Dandy Annual (three Smasher strips plus three of something else) and two pages for The Beano Annual (a classic character I've never drawn before). They should be out in July.

I'll soon be starting work on another Combat Colin three pager for the online comic Aces Weekly. I hope that everyone who misses the traditional format of the UK adventure weeklies is supporting it. At just £6.99 for each seven-issue volume you can't go wrong. See the website for free samples and a current special offer:

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Have a Beano Easter!

In this week's Beano, The Bash Street Kids think their Easter Eggs will be safe inside that shed. But someone with four trotters and a snout has planned ahead...

Also in this issue is a You've Been Pranked page I drew featuring the severed finger in a matchbox trick. How's it done? Find out in The Beano, on sale now!

Want a free preview? Visit The Beano website:

Monday 25 March 2013

CGI Combat

Thirteen years ago, in 2000, I self-published a one-off Combat Colin Limited Edition Special, featuring reprints of a few of my Combat Colin strips from the 1980s. I chose to create a CGI version of the character for the cover and back cover strip. The only software I had that might accomplish this over-ambitious idea was a copy of Bryce that had been given away in Macworld magazine. Bryce is primarily software for designing realistic-looking landscapes and hardware rather than people, so the limitations of that, combined with my lack of experience of working in CGI, meant the results were never going to be spectacular. Nevertheless, I thought you might like to see it. 

Sunday 24 March 2013

In the news

My thanks to Paul H. Birch for this plug on the Birmingham Mail website. If you're not already a regular reader of Paul's Speech Balloons column, check it out for regular news about comic creators from the Midlands:

Saturday 23 March 2013

Spot the Difference!

Back in 1995 I self-published three issues of a comic called Yampy Tales which featured reprints of Combat Colin strips plus (in issues 2 and 3) a new Brickman adventure. The splash page of the Brickman strip showed how chaotic and grim Guffon City had become in its hero's absence; a street scene full of crime and sleaze. High above, was an aircraft about to plow into a towering skyscraper. 

Ten years later, in 2005, when Richard Starkings contacted me regarding his generous idea to reprint all the Brickman strips in one book, he quite rightly expressed concern about that image. Since its original publication the world had witnessed the appalling events of 9/11 and, understandably, that page would not sit well with some readers. It had to be changed, and naturally I agreed. 

Simply deleting the 'plane from the drawing wouldn't work as it'd leave the composition unbalanced with nothing happening in the top right of the page. It had to be replaced with something else, so I decided it'd be a monster, coiled around the skyscraper, about to eat it. At least there was no fear of that happening in real life.

That done, Richard's company Active Images published Brickman Begins! in April 2005 as a 152 page digest softback. It collected all the Brickman strips to that date, along with brand new Brickman illustrations by Alan Davis, Hunt Emerson, Tim Sale, Mike Higgs, and many more. If you missed it, I still have copies available which you can order from my website: 

Speaking of Richard Starkings, I recommend his excellent series Elephantmen if you haven't tried it already:

Richard is also the founder of Comicraft, the top place for comic book lettering fonts. (I use some of their fonts myself on this blog, as does The Beano these days.) Check them out:

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Rasher and Gnasher

What's up with Rasher this week? Nope, it's not flies up the snout again. Or anywhere else. Find out in the latest Beano, on sale now with your free Prize or Prank ticket.

As you can see, this week's story guest-stars Gnasher, Dennis the Menace's dog. I've drawn Dennis and Gnasher quite a few times recently for various You've Been Pranked pages. No doubt they'll start appearing in The Beano in a week or two. 

Over the next few days I have three more Rasher strips to draw for The Beano, plus a two page Dennis and Gnasher pranks feature to draw for BeanoMax. I'll post previews of some of them on my blog at a later date.

Official Beano website: 

Official Beano Facebook page:

Monday 18 March 2013

Combat Colin vs... Doctor Doom!?!

Back when Combat Colin was a regular strip in Marvel UK's Transformers weekly there were a few occasions when he met characters from the Marvel Universe. And why not? He was, at that time, a Marvel character and therefore part of that universe... at least as far as I was concerned. (A million Marvelites may disagree.) The story guest-stars another character of mine, - Macho Man, - who had previously appeared in his own strip in Marvel UK's Secret Wars comic.

Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to have Colin meet one of Marvel's super-villains, - no less than Doctor Doom! Here's the two parter that featured that brief encounter, from Transformers No.270 (19th May 1990) and No.271 (26th May 1990). 

And in panel three of that first part (above), you may notice that I drew a Desperate-looking character with massive arms and tiny legs nearly 20 years before a certain comic cowboy's revamp. Spooky coincidence!

After Colin's adventures concluded a year or so later, Marvel UK gave me the rights to the character, so these days he's not part of the Marvel Universe. He's now part of the Lewniverse. 

Um... okay. Maybe I'll call it something less egotistical.

Friday 15 March 2013

Unseen Horrors!

Whilst sorting through some old artwork the other day I found this page I drew 21 years ago, - The Curse of Bumface! Where's it from? Was it ever published? I can't remember exactly, but from the school theme and the mild swearing I'd guess it was intended for a comic for older children. Acne perhaps? Possibly not. Maybe it was for a comic that didn't get past the 'dummy' stage? I know I definitely didn't do any more than this first episode, but I did revise the character as Butt-Face for Toxic ten years later in 2002.

If you can shed any light on it, please let me know. 

Meanwhile, I thought it'd be fun to create a mock up of the cover of the comic that features in the story, so yesterday I knocked this together. The never-before seen ('cos it never existed) cover to Horror of the Bum Spirit No.1 from March 1953. Click on images to see them larger.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Know How!

Back in the summer of 2002 Egmont UK launched Know How!, a new monthly activity magazine for children. Contents included various arts and crafts subjects and light educational features. Editor Claire Mewett invited me to contribute quite a few illustrations every issue but my two main assignments for the mag were the Funny Find-It and Crazy Colouring double page spreads.

Funny Find-It consisted of one huge busy picture with a different setting every issue. One month it'd be a beach, the next a shopping centre and so on, with the reader invited to scour the picture in order to find several characters or objects. 

Crazy Colouring was a black and white centrespread in the mag, again with a different topic every issue. The idea being for kids to colour them of course. This gave me the opportunity to illustrate various genres including pirates, sword and sorcery, spies, Western, and more.

I thoroughly enjoyed drawing these spreads as I was able to apply a slightly different and more detailed style than I'd normally use for smaller images. Even today, 11 years later, I still consider these large black and white spreads for Know How! amongst my favourite pages. It was really a pleasure to work for this magazine.

I'm guessing that most comic collectors won't have seen this side of my work (as Know How! wasn't a comic) so here's a selection for you to browse.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

What's up with Rasher?

Find out in this week's Beano, - on sale now with free stickers!

For those of you who may not have seen it before, Rasher (Dennis the Menace's pig) is the regular 'mini-strip' that I write and draw for The Beano every week. It's a revival of an old character that Dave Sutherland drew a few decades ago. I've drawn 25 up to now, so I'm a couple of months ahead. After this week there's another eight in store. Hopefully I'll be asked to continue doing it for a while yet. He's a great character to draw!

Monday 11 March 2013

How Oink! Was Produced

One of the great things about freelancing for Oink! comic was that not only did it feature regular strips but it also had room for many one-off strips and features. This had the twin benefits of providing readers with unexpected material every issue as well as a nice bit of extra work for the creators.

One such strip was How Oink! Is Produced, which I did for the back cover of issue 15 (15th November 1986). This one-off story revealed the genesis of the comic, from the creators to the shops. 

It's quite unrealistic and unfair of course. The editors treated us fairly and generously. Although copies were actually delivered to shops by a pig on a cart pulled by a butcher.

This was one of the first strips I did in colour, (using Dr.Martin's liquid water colour and Caran d'Ache pencils) and it was a bit of a trial by fire but I'm pleased with how it turned out. I'm selling the original artwork this week on eBay, so if you're interested click HERE

I'm also selling a Tom Thug half pager that I did for Oink! No.32. This one's unusual in that the story is told in rhyme! I remember being pleased with panel three, with the shading on the scarf and the stippling on the post. Here's a scan taken directly from my original art:

Bidding ends on Sunday 17th March. All bids welcome!

Saturday 9 March 2013

Make Mine Marvel!

Several years ago Panini UK were reprinting Chris Giarruso's Mini Marvels strips in their licensed Marvel comics. They eventually ran out of them so in 2006 they asked me if I could provide brand new ones, script and art for their new Rampage comic.

I was asked to keep to Chris' style to a certain extent, so the characters were more compact than I'd otherwise draw them. Even so, I really enjoyed doing the strip and it was refreshing to draw in a slightly different style.

Rampage eventually folded but a couple of years later, in 2008, I was asked to provide a second series for Panini's Spectacular Spider-Man comic. Panini's staff had coloured the strip when it was in Rampage (and a great job they did) but I was asked to colour the new series, which I enjoyed immensely. 

Here's a handful of my Mini Marvels strips. Firstly the rough pencils which I sent editors for approval, then the finished artwork prior to it being lettered by Panini.

Unfortunately, Disney (Marvel's owners) no longer allow outside companies to generate new artwork on the comics they license from Marvel but it was great while it lasted! 

Friday 8 March 2013

Pig with a title

 A few months ago The Beano asked me to design a logo for the Rasher mini-strip which I write/draw for the comic. Prior to that they'd been using a logo designed in-house which utilized a font, but they wanted one that was more suited to the character. 

As you can see from the image above, I submitted three roughs so the editors had a choice. The top one was perhaps too ordinary. The second was probably too decorative considering it would be reduced quite small on the printed page. (And in retrospect it was probably too 'soft' to be a suitable representation of Dennis' pig!)

They chose the 'hairy' logo. I was pleased as I preferred that one myself (which was actually the design I first thought of). It's basically Rasher's characteristics as a logo. 

With the rough approved I set to work on the finished version. Here it is:

And here's how it appears on the strip. (This is before the speech balloons are added obviously.) Walter discovers it's a bad idea to scoff at Rasher when he's dreaming he's chasing turnips.:

You can read Rasher every week in The Beano. (Except for this week, which is a Red Nose Day special issue.) 

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Thursday 7 March 2013

The Daily 'Combat Colin' - Part 6

Here's the final episode of One of our Milkmen is Missing, which originally appeared in Action Force No.19, 11th July 1987.

Editor Richard Starkings gave me a full page for this one, so I was able to be a bit more inventive with the layout. And hopefully provide more daftness per square inch. 

As always, click on the image to see it larger.

I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a comment to let me know what you thought. 

I'll upload another Combat Colin adventure in a week or two. In the meantime, I'll be blogging about other stuff.

Below: The 1987 issues of Action Force where this serial first appeared. 

Wednesday 6 March 2013

The Daily 'Combat Colin' - Part 5

Part five of the first Combat Colin serial, One of our Milkmen is Missing from Action Force No.18, 4th July 1987.

What better situation for a cliffhanger serial than ending an episode on a cliff? See the final episode tomorrow from 9.00 A.M. (GMT).   

<<< Previous episode

Tuesday 5 March 2013

The Daily 'Combat Colin' - Part 4

Here's Part 4 of One of our Milkmen is Missing from Action Force No.17, 27th June 1987.

This episode introduces Doctor Nasty who would become Colin's recurring nemesis throughout the strip's run in Action Force.

Again, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the depiction of the natives, and having a white guy as their ruler doesn't exactly help matters. I had intended to reveal the origin of Doctor Nasty at some point, explaining how he became ruler of Evilonia but I never got around to it.

Perhaps I should do it as an 'untold tale' for a future issue of Aces Weekly? I'll be creating a new Combat Colin story for that digital comic soon. (And if you missed the all-new Combat Colin strip in issue 1 of Aces Weekly, it's never too late to subscribe!) 

Chapter five of One of our Milkmen is Missing will appear tomorrow at 9.00 A.M. (GMT).

<<< Previous episode

Monday 4 March 2013

The Daily 'Combat Colin' - Part 3

Time for part three of the first Combat Colin serial, One Of Our Milkmen Is Missing! See previous days for the first two parts. 

Originally published in Action Force No.16, 20th June 1987.

Looking at this episode now, 26 years later, I'm a bit embarrassed about the depiction of the natives. You'll see the point I was making, turning prejudice on its head by showing that appearances can be deceiving, but it was a clumsy way to do it. 

That said, I was pleased that it showed up Colin's ignorance. I liked to make my heroes flawed, sometimes idiotic in fact. Having a lead character for the readers to laugh at, rather than a clean-cut cleverclogs to relate to, provided more opportunities for laughs. That was my theory anyway. 

Part four tomorrow, when you'll meet the villain of the story! 

<<< Previous episode 

Next episode >>>

Sunday 3 March 2013

The Daily 'Combat Colin' - Part 2

Here's the second part of One Of Our Milkmen Is Missing! Originally published in Action Force No.15, 13th June 1987. 

This episode introduces the 'Colinplane', although I'd later redesign it as the Combat Plane. (In retrospect, perhaps Colinplane was funnier?) Anyway, the smiley, tongue-out decal on the 'plane became an occasional motif I'd use on various Combat gear in later stories. I'm not sure if I was the first to customise the smiley face with a tongue (surely not?) but it certainly pre-dates the emoticons used on the Internet.

<<< Previous episode.

Next episode >>>

Saturday 2 March 2013

The Daily 'Combat Colin' - Part 1

When Combat Colin began, back in Marvel UK's Action Force No.5 (4th April 1987) it was a weekly gag strip, with each story self contained. Enjoyable as it was to do that what I really wanted was to turn it into a comedy serial, in the fashion of The Cloak and I-Spy (two of my favourite strips when I was a boy). 

Action Force's editor Richard Starkings gave me that opportunity so with issue No.14, I commenced Combat Colin's first serial, One Of Our Milkmen Is Missing!

I'll be running the entire six-part serial on this blog every day, over six days. Here's part one, from Action Force No.14, dated 6th June 1987. Click on the image to see it larger.

I hope you enjoy it. Comments welcome. Click here for part 2.

Friday 1 March 2013

Tom Thug - on the scrapheap

Back in 1987 the fortnightly Oink! comic celebrated its first anniversary with issue 26, but how do you get nostalgic about a comic that's only a year old? I decided I'd go back a bit further, several decades in fact, and feature cameo appearances by a load of characters from classic comics of the previous 90 years.

This was published by IPC, but several years later the rights to IPC's characters were divided between them and Egmont. Not to mention Dan Dare being sold off elsewhere. Consequently these characters can never appear together in a comic again. 

The above scan is from Oink! No.26. Here's a close up taken from my original artwork. See how many characters you can identify:

Thankfully Tom's fears of ending up on the scrapheap of forgotten characters wouldn't come true for a long time after this was published. His strip ran for ten years, and another three years as a reprint, ending with the final issue of Buster at the very end of 1999.

(Click on the images to see them larger.)

A feast of fun

Welcome to my new blog, lewstringercomics. Unlike my previous venture, Blimey!, this new blog will not be covering the history of British comics but will, as the title implies, focus solely on my own work. (More or less.) Most comic creators have their own blogs these days so I thought it time to join in. I'll try to keep it lively, so no nodding off at the back there.  

Firstly, here's a preview of what I have in print this week. At the top of this post is one of the illustrations I drew of 'Fatty' from The Bash Street Kids for a feature in the latest issue of The Beano. Below is another feature page I did for the same issue; Ninjabread Men! I never expected to be asked to draw a cookery page for The Beano but it was good fun to do. D.C. Thomson supplied the script and I illustrated it and also designed the page so I thought I'd show the screen grab here. Look at the time I finished it; 3.00 A.M. in time for the deadline later that morning. We Beano artists are a dedicated bunch. Well, either that or insomniacs.

This is only a low resolution scan of course, for copyright reasons. If you want to see it in clear legibility, buy The Beano! Here's the cover to look out for, by Nigel Parkinson. Lots of good stuff in there these days for only £2.00.

Cover art by Nigel Parkinson

Blimey! took up a lot of time in researching old comics, writing reviews etc, and ran for six years. I don't really have time to devote to that any more but this new blog won't take up as much time. (Basically because the info is already in my head, if I can remember it!) 

I won't be updating this blog as regularly as I did with Blimey! but I'll be using it to promote my latest comic strips and to look back at my work over the past 30 years. I'll be showing some of my old strips plus character sketches, previously unseen artwork and suchlike. There's a few obscure items I found recently that I'd forgotten about so I'll share those here in a few days. (And if there's any particular strips of mine you'd like to see, please let me know. Yes, I even do requests... within reason!)

Thanks for visiting the blog. I hope you'll stick around! Please leave comments if you wish.