Thursday 31 October 2019

Tom Thug will return!

I'm going to make sure that Tom Thug turns up in next year's Cor!! Buster Easter Special. In fact, John Freeman has written him into the script. It's only a cameo part, but he'll be part of a crowd scene in a few panels. (He also appeared briefly in this year's special, if you recall.)

Hopefully it'll eventually lead to Tom coming back in his own strip one day. After all, he was one of the most popular strips in Oink! and Buster from the late 1980s to the final Buster in 1999 and even took over the cover position on several occasions.  When I did the last one I counted up how many Tom Thug strips I'd drawn, and it was well over 400. 

People still ask me for a sketch of him at conventions, so the brainless bully is still fondly remembered. He was never a character to emulate of course. More of a catharsis for readers to see the bully get his just desserts every issue. Readers laughed with the other Buster characters, but Tom was designed to be laughed at

If you'd like to know how Tom Thug came to be, I wrote a blog post about it five years ago. Click on this link to read it...

Tuesday 29 October 2019


Comics tend to avoid stories featuring fireworks these days. Maybe because it's not easy to feature them in a story without characters acting irresponsibly with them, - but years ago we knew it was wrong to be foolish with fireworks. Even if the comics showed characters holding onto a rocket or being surprised by a banger, we knew it shouldn't be imitated. 

Anyway, I didn't want the opportunity to pass if I could help it so in this week's Pup Parade I came up with a story where I could show a firework display (at a distance) and do a plot about keeping pets safe. See how it turns out in the Beano No.4009, on sale Wednesday 30th October! 

Saturday 26 October 2019

BUSTER is coming back in 2020

As you may have read on my other blog, 2020 will see Rebellion publish twelve specials across the year, most of which will revive classic comics of the past with brand new material. 

One of the first to be released will be the Cor!! Buster Easter Special. A second outing for the successful humour special published last year. It'll be packed with old favourites given a new spin, and I'm very pleased to say that I'll be drawing a three page Buster and Delbert strip written by John Freeman
The three pager involves an Easter egg hunt, and will feature a lot of familiar comic faces, - not just from Buster, but from other comics of the past too. (A few going wayyy back.) 

I was one of the original artists in Buster comic (on Tom Thug) throughout the late 1980s until it's end in 1999 so it's a thrill to draw the title character. I'm excited to be following in the footsteps of such great artists as Bill Titcombe (the first artist of Buster in 1960), Angel Nadal, Reg Parlett, Tom Paterson, Jimmy Hansen and many more! My version will try to capture the essence of all the previous styles but will essentially be my own. A few preliminary sketches accompany this article. 

The Cor!! Buster Easter Special will go on sale in early April 2020. I'll post more news about it in the future! 

Below: the cover by Neil Googe and Jim Boswell...

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Combat Colin nominated for an award. VOTE NOW!

I'm pleased to see that my Combat Colin comics are amongst the nominations in the Best Indie/Small Press category of the new Comic Scene Awards. If you enjoy my comics please consider voting and perhaps I'll win an award for the first time in my life!

Here's how Comic Scene explain how to vote...

"E mail your preferred winner in each category by giving the category number and letter of your choice to – you don’t have to vote in all categories if you do not wish to do so.  There will be daily polls on our ComicScene Facebook and twitter feeds for extra votes!" 

Thanks to those of you who nominated me, and thanks in advance if you're going to vote for Combat Colin in these final nominations. 

Monday 21 October 2019

More comics dispatched

Another batch of orders sent off today for people who have bought my Combat Colin comics. My thanks for your ongoing support of my self-publishing ventures! 

If any more of you are interested you can order the comics exclusively from my online shop at this link:

Friday 18 October 2019

Another sneak peek at the latest Daft Dimension

There won't be a Pup Parade strip in next week's Beano unfortunately, but Doctor Who Magazine No.544 will still be on sale featuring a full page Daft Dimension strip from me. Here's a preview of one panel. To see the rest, pick up the mag from WH Smiths, supermarkets, or comic shops! 

Tuesday 15 October 2019

My earliest BEANO work

I found it really tough to get work from D.C. Thomson at the start of my career. IPC, Marvel, Viz, and other publishers would use me but it took 16 years before the Beano would commission me. I've just realised it's been 20 years since my first Beano work appeared... these pages were in the Beano Summer Special in 1999...

I never did any more for the Summer Specials but I've since drawn lots of material for the weekly Beano, including Super School, Rasher, Ivy the Terrible, Lord Snooty, and of course Pup Parade, which is currently running in the comic. 

Monday 14 October 2019

London and comics

I was in London last weekend and exited the tube at Blackfriars, so I couldn't resist taking this shot of Kings Reach Tower which is over on the South Bank. Many of you will know that this tall structure was once the home of IPC Magazines, publisher of Buster, 2000AD, Whizzer and Chips, Tiger, and many other comics. 

It brought back memories of one day in late 1985, trudging over Blackfriars Bridge in the pouring rain. I'd just been told at the time by Marvel UK that my Captain Wally and Snailman strips were ending in Spider-Man Comic, so I set out over the river to see if IPC could offer me anything. The comics offices were on the 25th floor if I remember correctly. Perhaps group editor Bob Paynter took pity on me looking like a drowned rat, but he offered me some work on the Whoopee! Annual 1987 writing/drawing a six page Bookworm story. 

I used to visit London a lot back in those days. Not just on business, but also for pleasure, as there were the Westminster Comic Marts every other month or so. That's where I'd meet up with Kevin O'Neill, Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon, Alan Moore, Richard Burton, Robin Smith, and numerous others for a pint in the Westminster Arms, then go for a pizza with them after the mart had finished. Great days. 

Anyway, I was in London last Friday for a party at the pub in the left of this photo to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who Magazine. I remember four decades ago and Dez Skinn, the original editor, announcing the imminent launch of Doctor Who Weekly (as it was then) at the 1979 Comic Con at the Metropole Hotel in Birmingham. I never imagined back then that the mag would still be running and I'd be a regular contributor. 

The party was busy although there weren't many other comics people in attendance apart from Dez Skinn, Jamie Lenman, Scott Gray and a few others. However it was good to see people connected with the tv show such as Steven Moffat, Sophie Aldred, Frazer Hines, and Katy Manning and to catch up with writer/reviewer Rob Fairclough who I hadn't seen for many years.

Here's original editor Dez Skinn and current editor Marcus Hearn about to cut the cake...

I'd booked a room for the night in a nearby hotel, so on Saturday I enjoyed having a stroll around the streets of London. I paused at Covent Garden to listen to a talented string quartet called ClassyCool and bought their CD...
Being so close to events in history taking place nearby I couldn't resist talking a walk into the Extinction Rebellion encampment in Trafalgar Square. One of the organisers asked me what I thought about it. I told her it had a nice friendly atmosphere (which it did). "It's not a festival, it's a protest!" she replied. I understood that, and admire their intentions but I can't help feeling that their actions will only harm small businesses already struggling, while the megacorp billionaires will carry on regardless. 

I wouldn't want to live there but I do like London, although I rarely visit these days. Hopefully I'll make it down there more often in 2020!

The 40th anniversary issue of Doctor Who Magazine (issue 544) will be in WH Smiths, supermarkets, and comic shops on Thursday 17th October. I have a full page strip in this one. Here's a sneak peek...

...and here's the polybag sleeve to look out for on the shelves...

Greetings from soggy London! 

Sunday 13 October 2019

Pup Preview

This week's Pup Parade spotlights Tubby! Why's he looking surprised? Find out in Beano No.4007 this Wednesday! 

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Never Be Without a BEANO!

Enlargement of a small part of a panel.
It's Wednesday, and that means it's Beano day! Issue No.4006 is in the shops now featuring all the regulars by the UK's top humour artists and another Pup Parade strip from me! Don't miss it! 

Monday 7 October 2019

A few thoughts on clarity...

One of the things that was always stressed by one of my first editors (Richard Starkings) was to remember that every comic is someone's first issue. Therefore the plot should be clear enough to be understood by new readers, and the characters defined enough for people to know what part they play in the story.

In addition, I'd also say that art-wise, it should be clear what the characters look like and where the story takes place, so there should be at least one full figure shot if possible and enough background info to let readers know the location, even if the strip is only a page or less in length. (Classic newspaper strips were a masterclass in this kind of thing.)

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case these days, leading to confusing stories, which can fail to engage the reader and lead to them abandoning the comic. We often (quite legitimately) blame High Street retailers and their treatment of comics for falling sales but sometimes we as creatives have to shoulder some of the blame too. It's all about being aware... mindful, to use the modern term... of a clarity of storytelling that appeals to everyone, not just to the regular readers.

Also, with a month or so between issues, there should be enough info for everyone to catch up on the plot. Sometimes readers are just dropped into a continuing story with no resumé. People have busy lives and although the creative team will remember what happened in the previous issue, the average reader might have forgotten.

I hope that doesn't come across as preachy. I'm sure most people reading this will know it already anyway, but it's just something I wanted to put down. One of these days, if I ever get around to writing an autobiography / how to do comics/ history of comics book, I'll elaborate on it there.

Friday 4 October 2019

This month...

I have quite a few one-off jobs to draw throughout October. Some include work for next year's Dandy and Beano (2021 dated) annuals, while others are completely new things. I'm also drawing a jokes page for an upcoming issue of the Beano. See the rough sketch above, which is just a small part of it.

Hopefully some of the jobs will lead to more regular work in the future. Freelancing is always unpredictable but these days it's more precarious than ever. I wouldn't advise anyone to give up their day jobs at present. I gave up mine back in 1980, but things were different then! 

Meanwhile, you'll find my Pup Parade strip in the Beano every Wednesday (except for the Halloween issue at the end of this month), and my Daft Dimension strip in Doctor Who Magazine every four weeks! Plus The Dandy Annual 2020 is in the shops now, with three pages of Keyhole Kate by me, and the current Comic Scene has an article on TV Comic I wrote. 

Not to mention my self-published comics of course. Oh go on then. I'll mention them again. Combat Colin No.1 to 4, Derek the Troll, and Pedantic Stan are all available to buy exclusively from my web shop at this link:

Tuesday 1 October 2019

This week's Pup Parade preview!

Here's a sneak peek at a panel from this week's Pup Parade that I've done for the Beano No.4005. See what happens next when the comic hits the shops on Wednesday 2nd October!