Saturday 31 October 2020

Halloween Fun from 30 Years Ago

As it's Halloween I thought you might like to see these old pages of mine that appeared in the Halloween issue of Buster back in 1990

The pages that celebrate a special occassion are always my favourite ones to draw, whether it be Christmas, Easter, fireworks, or in this case Halloween. In 1990 I decided to have The Vampire Brats as suitable guest stars in the Tom Thug story. Tom's exploits didn't usually involve supernatural shennanigans but I made an exception sometimes. Script and art by me. Creating a new title banner for the occassion was something I felt need doing too. I didn't get paid any extra for stuff like that as it was my choice to do it, but I felt that if the issue was going to have a theme then the title banners should reflect it.

The Vampire Brats also appeared in their own regular strip in that issue. Script by Roy Davis, art by me. Writers never had a credit in Buster, which I felt was unfair, so I added Roy's initials next to my signature. It was my idea to add a rhyme to the title panel though.

Back in those days I was colouring my Buster pages with Dr.Martin's water colour inks. I was never completely satisfied with the results on the larger areas as the colour tended to be patchy. In retrospect I wish I'd learned to use acrylics like some other artists did. Anyway, it's a moot point now because since I bought my first Mac in 1999 I've been colouring with Photoshop, which I find far more enjoyable, and the results are exactly what I want. 

As an extra today, I thought I'd post this following strip again, which has appeared on this blog before a few years back. Monster Mash originally appeared in Oink! No.13, for Halloween in 1986! The first appearance of Pigswilla! Script by the late Mark Rogers, art by me. Mark had originally sent me an idea for a story called The School Dinner Monster and asked if I had any ideas to add to it. I added a few bits and bobs to the plot and dialogue, and thought the title Monster Mash was catchier. I gave the name 'Pigzilla' to the giant robot pig, although Mark changed that to the much more inspired Pigswilla...

I hope you enjoy this flashback to long ago, whether you remember the pages from your childhood or even if they're new to you. Have a Happy Halloween at home, and stay safe!


Tuesday 27 October 2020

It's SHOUTY time again!

The third issue of the new British anthology comic The77 is out now! Amongst its 64 packed pages you'll find strips by Kek-W and Conor Boyle, Michael Powell and Sarah Millman, Bambos Georgiou and Andrew Sawyers, and many more, inlcluding Part 3 of Sgt.Shouty of the Moon Force by me! 

This time we discover Shouty's origin and meet the villain of the story! All in nine panels! 

I'm really enjoying doing this creator-owned series. Script, art, colouring, and lettering all by me ('cos I like to have complete control over my work if possible) so I hope you'll check it out! 

Remember, The77 is an indie comic and not available in newsagents. Hopefully that will change in time, but for now you can order it by mail from these online stores:


Cover art by Ade Hughes.


Flashback 2010: The new-look DANDY makes its debut!

It's been exactly ten years today since The Dandy was revamped for a new generation of readers. Yes, 27th October 2010 was the day that The Dandy No.3508 arrived in newsagents, replacing its previous Dandy Xtreme format. 

Dandy Xtreme had been an attempt to turn the long-running weekly comic into a boys' fortnightly magazine in the style of Egmont's successful Toxic. It didn't really work, and so another major revamp was used to turn The Dandy back into what it did best; being a weekly funny comic full of strips, not "gross" themed features! However, it was always going to be difficult to win back the readers who had left and appeal to the kids of 2010.

The Dandy's sales had been declining for years, and even with the best intentions the Xtreme makeover hadn't helped. Turning it back into a comic was the best idea, but making it look exactly like it had before the Xtreme revamp would have been pointless, because the old "traditional" look is where the sales decline had begun. If it was going to be revamped, it needed a bold contemporary new look and a totally fresh start. 

The new-look Dandy that arrived ten years ago was practically a new comic in all but name. New logo, new design throughout, brand new characters and even printed on top quality paper. Old favourites Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat were still there, but had been completely updated by Jamie Smart and Phil Corbett. Other new artists and writers had been commissioned too. This was a radical revamp.

The cover star was now popular TV personality Harry Hill, thanks to popular cartoonist Nigel Parkinson, an artist who had contributed to The Dandy for years. You can read about the background to that over at Nigel's own blog here:

As for me, I was one of the relative newcomers to the comic. I'd never worked for The Dandy before (apart from a few Fun-Size editions 20 years ago) so I was over the moon to be commissioned to draw two new pages; Kid Cops and Postman Prat. Originally, scripts were supplied to be by freelance writers or the Dandy staff but later I scripted my own. (I was used to writing my own material although I'm happy to work with writers too if the scripts are funny, and the ones for The Dandy were!)

Reactions to the new Dandy were mixed, as you'd expect with any major revamp. Some people struggle with changes, even to comics! However, the vicious abuse that some artists received was uncalled for. Grown men posting hate about artists of children's comics? Quite pathetic really. 

Other reactions were more calm and reasoned. Even if they didn't like what they saw, they understood that The Dandy wasn't aimed at 50 year old men. Pleasingly, a lot of people loved the revamp and the positive voices online certainly outnumbered the negative. See this link for more on that:

Sadly even changing The Dandy back into a comic couldn't halt the decline in sales for long. The first issue did well when it was getting media publicity but not so well when it was out of the limelight and shops rapidly decreased their orders. Society is different to how it was when we were younger and this generation of children just haven't developed the habit of buying a comic every week. They can't be blamed for it as it's just how it is. The Beano has always survived because it's always had the advantage of a regular solid base of characters that loyal readers knew would be in the comic every week. The Dandy, like most other comics, always tended to shake up its contents every now and then, which is great for variety but can also upset readers who prefer consistency and familiarity. The changes to The Dandy had come too late to save it, but it was a valiant try. 

The Dandy ended on its 75th anniversary in December 2012. Ironically that last issue completely sold out within days and had to go to a second printing to meet demand! Such is life in publishing. It was immediately relaunched as a digital comic but sadly it was somewhat "buggy" and folded after 13 weeks. 

Some people blamed the contribitors for the comic's end, forgetting that sales were plunging years before the revamp. They insisted that a more old-school look would have saved it... but that never saved Beezer, Topper, Whizzer and Chips and every other "traditional" comic did it? Fact is, everything has its day, and instead of pointing the finger of blame perhaps we should celebrate that The Dandy lasted for 75 years, making it the second-longest running UK comic in history!

I felt it was a privilege to be part of The Dandy's long history as it was the first comic I had regularly when I was a child. Although The Dandy ended as a weekly comic in 2012 it has continued as a summer special (mostly reprint) and as The Dandy Annual (all new). The Dandy Annual 2021 is in the shops now, with four new double-page Postman Prat stories by me, so make sure you grab a copy and remember the old slogan... Always Keep A Dandy Handy!


Monday 26 October 2020

A glimpse at this week's ELLIS'S GREAT ESCAPES

If I reveal too much of the strip it'll have you guessing how it might end so here's a close up of a fraction of one panel! The latest episode of Ellis's Great Escapes with script, art, colouring by me is in Beano No.4059, on sale Wednesday 28th October. 

Saturday 24 October 2020

Remembering LUCKY BAG COMIC!

Lucky Bag Comic was pretty much the first of its kind, but its innovation is something that's resented by many people today. To explain, Lucky Bag Comic was launched in 2002 by Oldham-based company Toontastic Publishing. Its inventive gimmick was that it was a monthly 32 page full colour humour comic sealed within a plastic bag full of mystery gifts including toys and sweets. (The contents couldn't be seen because the bag featured artwork too.) "Lucky Bags" had been aound for decades of course, consisting of a closed bag of sweets, cards, and cheap toys, but Toontastic cleverly paired the idea with a comic too.

A bagged comic with gifts was a novelty 18 years ago when other comics featured gifts that were enclosed within the comic or cover-mounted with sticky tape. However it soon became commonplace with other publishers wanting to imitate the successful format. It's now resulted in the shelves being stuffed with bagged comics and "plastic tat" with magazines sliding untidily into a mess, obscuring each other and spilling onto the floor. The other huge disadvantage is that potential readers can't browse the comic before buying! This air of mystery worked for Lucky Bag Comic but it's not ideal for every title! Such bagged comics now mainly sell on the attraction of their "gifts" rather than the excitement of the reading matter. (Fortunately The Beano is very rarely bagged with gifts, instead selling on the strength of its content.)

Lucky Bag Comic did well initially. I think it ran for three years in all but I'm not sure because I quit after a couple of years but it was a fun title to work for. I was assigned to draw (and often write) the two page strip Horror Bags, - a team of monsters inspired by a range of crisps of the same name! Other contributors to the comic included Mark Bennington, Joe Matthews, Nigel Kitching, Paul Palmer and more.

The cover shown above was done in 2003 and is the only one I drew for the comic (although I did illustrate one of the plastic bags too, which I'll show when I find it). Editorial suggested I made it look like a torn cover showing the Horror Bags looking at a page inside, which was a nice effect.

Here's the final Horror Bags strip I did (script, art, colours) which appeared in issue 23 in 2004. (The comics didn't have cover dates so I can't be more specific.) I thought the "game over" panel was appropriate as I was leaving the comic. The artwork used for that panel was something I created using a landscape generation software called Bryce.

As Lucky Bag Comic was hidden within a bag every issue it's likely that a lot of you have never seen it before so I hope you found this post interesting!

Thursday 22 October 2020


What happens when mad scientist Black Hole Bert gives Postman Prat a pair of Time Pants to help him deliver his letters on time? Find out in The Dandy Annual 2021.

This is just one of four double page Postman Prat stories I did for the book, plus eight Keyhole Kate mini-strips. Cheer yourselves up this winter with the latest annuals, in the shops now!

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Terry Knowle, - Telly Knowall

Here's a strip of mine you may not have seen before. Terry Knowle, Telly Knowall was a one-off character I created in 1996. His only appearance was in the back of a Combat Colin special I self-published that year. 

If you're familiar with 1960s British television shows you might recognise a few faces. If not, you'll probably get the joke anyway 'cos it's not that subtle. :)

As always, click / tap on the image to see it full size. 

Saturday 17 October 2020


Here's a quick glmpse at my next Ellis's Great Escapes strip, which will be in the Halloween edition of the Beano. See the full story and loads of other spooky strips in Beano No.4058, on sale Wednesday 21st October. 

Here's the cover to look out for, drawn by Nigel Parkinson... 


Friday 16 October 2020

Beano strips - free to read!

The Beano have made a load of their old mini-strips free to read on their official website. It includes several Rasher strips I did for the comic a few years ago. (I always enjoyed doing those.)

Follow this link to see one of the strips and explore the page when you get there to see more: 


Thursday 15 October 2020

Clowning Around

As I mentioned a while ago I was asked to draw a clown for a new illustrated book and the book is now in print. Circus De Niro is written by Michael Powell with artwork by Phil Elliott, with bonus illustrations of the circus performers at the back of the book by Paul Grist, Robert Wells, and me. (My illustration was coloured by Phil Elliott.)

Circus De Niro tells the story of Edgar and Elsa, two twins who escape the sinister grip of their father to discover a strange new world. Not a comic, but an illustrated story, it features some of Phil's best artwork to date, showing his mastery of black and white illustation. You may remember Phil Elliott's work from the days of Escape comic in the 1980s. He's been in the business a long time and has honed his craft. Here's an example of his work in the book:

To buy a copy of the book, contact Phil via his Facebook page at:

...or e-mail him directly at 


Tuesday 13 October 2020

Beano No.4057 preview

Here's a preview of my contribution to this week's Beano. It's a panel from the latest Ellis's Great Escapes strip (script, art, colouring and sfx lettering by me). The comic will be in the shops on Wednesday 14th October. 

It also includes loads of other strips of course from today's top cartoonists. Here's the cover to look out for by Nigel Parkinson...

Monday 12 October 2020

The Daleks are back!

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine cover features the invaders from Skaro, relating to the launch of the new Daleks! CGI series coming to YouTube next month. 

If you want to see a trailer it's here:

Other contents include the next comic strip chapter of Monstrous Beauty by Scott Gray and John Ross, a feature on Doctor Who Annuals and much more...

...including another Daft Dimension strip from me. Naturally, with this issue's Dalek-centric features I couldn't resist putting Daft Daleks into my strip, which also has an appropriate Halloween theme.

The official BBC Doctor Who Magazine No.557 will be in shops on Thursday 15th October. Accept no inferior imitations or you will be exterminated!



Saturday 10 October 2020

Shouty's Secret Origin!

The next issue of The77 will be out soon and amongst its packed contents will be another page by me featuring Sgt.Shouty of the Moon Force! In this episode I reveal his origin so if that doesn't make it a collector's item, what does? (Let's face it, every issue of The77 is a collector's item. It's the breakout comic of 2020 and I'm proud to be one of the contributors.) 

You can pre-order The77 No.3 now and it comes with a choice of three covers. All of them are excellent so it's a tough choice! Get it from the Get My Comics website at this link:


Thursday 8 October 2020

Tom Thug meets Rover!

When I was doing the Tom Thug strip for Buster I always had him go on holiday during the six-week school break. Even the strip itself changed its title to Tom Thug On 'Oliday during those weeks. For the 21st August 1993 issue of Buster Tom and his Dad visited Portmeirion in North Wales.   

By that stage I'd been a regular visitor to Portmeirion myself for several years. Friends of mine were part of the co-ordination team that organised the annual conventions dedicated to The Prisoner, the unique 1960s TV series starring Patrick McGoohan. For this story I timed it right so that the issue would be published a week before the convention as a free advert for the event. Fortunately the editor was up for it so there was no problem with Fleetway charging advertising fees. 

(Incidentally, if you're wondering who the "Rover" is in the title of this post it's the name of the strange white sphere from The Prisoner, used to keep people from escaping the Village. In reality it was an inflated weather balloon.)

I could have done an illiustration of Portmerion for the first panel (as I had when I put Combat Colin in the village a few years earlier) but I liked the idea of using a photo for authenticity. I had loads of photographs I'd taken of Portmeirion over the years so it was easy to find a suitable one to use.

The people in the final panel are all based on friends and acquiantances of the time. (Well, some are still friends to this day.) The guy with the big nose is the late cartoonist Tony Reeve, based on the way he'd draw himself. (Tony was a regular attendee too.) The guy in the red shirt is professional magician Dave Jones, who also appeared in Combat Colin strips as The Amazing Dave. Next to him (with the stripey shirt) is journalist Howard Foy, who also played a part in Combat Colin strips as Headline Howard! Everything is connected in the Lewniverse! 

The Prisoner Appreciation Society was at its peak in those days and the conventions were great. Several of us used to stay for the rest of the week after the con for a holiday, having hired the cottages in Portmeirion. By 2001 things weren't so good within the fan club and problems with the unethical behaviour by some of the other coordinators led to many of us quitting the society. (Which we still consider to be one of the best decisions we ever made and have no regrets over walking away.)

If you're interested in The Prisoner TV series I highly reccommend The Unmutual Website. It has no connections to the fan club and is a totally free rescource of information and news. You'll find it at this link:

As a bonus, here's part one of the Combat Colin serial which was set in the Village, which I did for The Transformers comic back in 1989...

Wednesday 7 October 2020


Every single one of us has seen this year change our lives and our plans for 2020. The impact on our jobs and careers is a relatively minor part of the decimation that COVID-19 has caused, but its effects are still being felt and will be for a long time to come. 

It seems incongrous perhaps to talk about comic strips in this context but the pandemic has affected the livelihoods of comics creators along with everyone else. If the virus hadn't swept across the planet the Liverpool Heart Beat Magazine I contributed to would have seen more issues than just its premire edition. It launched just as the lockdown began, and that put paid to that, but hopefully it'll return one day. 

Ellis's Great Escapes, which I do for the Beano would have ended at the start of summer, and I had been commissioned for a new series to replace it. Then the pandemic hit and Ellis (and other mini-strips) were immediately dropped from the Beano to be replaced by puzzle pages. Ellis is back now, for a run up to Christmas, but I've no idea about work beyond that yet. 

With the loss of income, I decided to put my Combat Colin comic on hold. Issue 5 would have been published in April, and No.6 would be out around now, but everything is on hiatus is now until 2021. There are no conventions where I can promote it, and even though I usually sell my comics by mail order I really don't want to be standing in a post office queue every day, especially as our local staff aren't enforcing social distancing or the wearing of masks! 

Thankfully Doctor Who Magazine was still a constant and my Daft Dimension strip (shown above) has continued to run throughout this year, so that's been some help. And The77 was launched, with Sgt.Shouty in there, which is reaching a growing audience. Over all, this situation hasn't been condusive to coming up with ideas for humour strips though and isolation does affect one's mental health.

So, in a personal "What If" scenario things would have been a lot different but I'm managing to survive and count myself luckier than many people. Even though some days it feels like we're taking one step forward and two steps back, like all of us, we have to look forward with as much optimism as we can muster. 


Saturday 3 October 2020

Next week in the BEANO...

Here's an advance look at next week's episode of Ellis's Great Escapes. Script, art, colouring by me. You can read the full story (and many more by other creators) in Beano No.4056, in the shops on Wednesday 7th October! 

Here's the cover to look out for, drawn by Laura Howell...

Thursday 1 October 2020


I thought you might like to see what this week's Ellis's Great Escapes looked like when I was drawing it. Here's part of a panel during the inking process. As you can see, my pencil roughs are VERY rough and untidy, but I find it's the best way to convey the energy of a drawing from my imagination to the paper. I know which line I'll be inking but I don't think anyone else would! Fortunately Beano artists ink their own work and don't use the factory system that American comics have employed for years. (Although no doubt if one artist was churning out several 20 page comics a month then we would have to use separate inkers and colourists.) 

Below is the finished job, after I'd inked and coloured it, and the lettered, printed version as it appears in the Beano No.4055 out now! Buy your copy to read the full story and loads of other fun strips!