Tuesday 29 March 2022

It's COMBAT COLIN's 35th Anniversary!

Thirty five years ago this week, in 1987, a new strip of mine made its debut in the pages of Marvel UK's Action Force weekly. Codename: Combat Colin was its title, although it soon became simply Combat Colin.

At that time I'd been working full time in the comics industry for just three years, and was contributing strips to IPC's Oink! regularly as well as doing Robo-Capers for Marvel's Transformers comic. I was still relatively new in the business but I was keeping busy.

The editor of Action Force, Richard Starkings, invited me to come up with an idea for a new humour strip for the comic. It needed to have some sort of militaristic angle to match the comic's theme, and my initial rough doodles (shown below but never submitted) had the character as a kid named Rambo Johnson. I quickly dismissed that idea as it seemed too much like a Whizzer and Chips type strip which wouldn't be right for Marvel. Eventually, I settled on the big gormless-looking character you're familiar with, except he was called "Dimbo" (a kind of spoof of the Rambo movie character). 

Marvel liked the idea, but the editors felt that the name "Dimbo" wasn't right and would feel out of date as soon as the Rambo movies were less popular. They were quite correct, and I'm eternally grateful to Marvel UK editor Steve White who suggested the name "Combat Colin" as an alternative. (Steve himself became the inspiration for Colin's sidekick "Semi-Automatic Steve", a name suggested by Richard Starkings.)


Published version after Marvel staff coloured it.

The first few Combat Colin strips were self-contained gags, usually about Colin being an out-of-place mercenary type who lived with his parents. Gradually, I developed the character and his motivation and Colin and Steve became the local heroes fighting fantastic and bizarre threats to Wallytown. Rather than sticking to complete stories every week I was allowed to develop short serials of two to six weeks. (This had always been an ambition of mine, inspired by the comedy serials I grew up reading such as The Cloak and Eagle-Eye, Junior Spy in Pow! and Wham! comics.) Quite often though, they were just daft self-contained pages, which were equally fun to do. Over time I also expanded the cast to include Colin and Steve's girlfriends The Giggly Sisters, Colin's agent Roy L.T. Check,  Combat Kate and Headline Howard, and recurring villains such as Madprof, The Brain, Bankrobber Man, The Amazing Dave, and others.

Action Force ran to just 50 issues, then merged into Transformers in early 1988. Luckily, Combat Colin transferred over too, replacing my Robo-Capers strip. Combat Colin would remain a fixture of the comic until the final issue in 1992.

I had a great time doing the Combat Colin strip, and the editors basically let me do what I wanted (within reason of course). The stories became increasingly bizarre and surreal at times (but still understandable enough for the target audience I hope) and I had a fantastic time on the strip. 

Marvel UK played such an important part in the careers of many British comic creators. Its editors gave opportunities to newcomers that some of the longer-established and more traditional publishers might have passed up on. Even better, Marvel UK's page rate was higher than that of some of its rivals! 

Comics such as Action Force gave work to a new generation of creators, most of whom had grown up fascinated by comics and were eager to work in the business. I was one of those fortunate to have freelanced for Marvel UK at this time. Many of us got to know each other socially too, at comic marts and conventions, so a sense of community and cameradre developed on a scale that may have been missing amongst UK comics creators of earlier generations.

Combat Colin still proves to be a popular request for sketches at conventions and it's a pleasure to now meet the readers who read it when they were kids in the 1980s. After Marvel UK decided to pursue far more serious comics in 1992 I gained the rights back to the strip and have published a few Combat Colin comics myself, selling them through mail order. He's also appeared in brand new colour strips occassionally in David Lloyd's digital anthology Aces Weekly

Five years ago I decided to reprint all the Combat Colin stories from the start in a series of comics. I've published four issues of Combat Colin to date, with the much delayed fifth issue hopefully appearing sometime this year, finances allowing. Issue 1 is out of print now so I intend to publish a revised reprint soon of Combat Colin No.1 to mark the character's 35th anniversary. This edition collects all of Colin's adventures that appeared in Action Force. I'll post more info when I know for sure when I'll publish it.

Not final cover.

Issue No.4 is also out of print so that'll be reprinted sometime too. Meanwhile, issues 2 and 3 are still available from my eBay store at this link.


My thanks to everyone who has read the Combat Colin strip over the years, and special thanks to Richard Starkings for commissioning me to do it in the first place. Of all the strips I've worked on, Combat Colin remains my favourite character, and I intend to keep him around for a good while yet.

(PS: In case you're puzzled by the word "yampy" in the image at the top of this post, it's a Midlands phrase meaning "crazy". Seems to sum up Colin's adventures. :) )


Monday 28 March 2022

In print this week: Sea Devils and Pups!

If you follow my work (and I presume that's why you're here) I have two strips in print this week. On Wednesday there's the fourth in my new series of Pup Parade in Beano No.4129. This week the spotlight is on the smallest pup, Manfrid!

Then, the next day, Doctor Who Magazine No.576 includes amongst its many contents another Daft Dimension strip by me. This time it features the Sea Devils, to celebrate their return to TV when they appear in the next Doctor Who TV special this Spring.

Beano No.4129 - On sale Wednesday 30th March.

Cover by Wayne Thompson.


Doctor Who Magazine No.576 - On sale Thursday 31st March.

DWM 576 comes packaged with various extras.


Both titles available from WH Smith, some newsagents, and supermarkets. 


Saturday 26 March 2022

The Unofficial History of The Beano - New book out now

It's out at last! The Unofficial History of The Beano, written by ex-staff member Iain McLaughin. I've just started reading it and it's a very interesting account of the Beano's 80 years. No strips are shown but this is a prose history of the people involved with the comic, from its 1930s origins to today, (and I feel very honoured to be mentioned several times).

Iain was the writer of Super School that I drew for the Beano years ago, plus a series of Ivy the Terrible we worked on. It was always a pleasure working on his scripts. They were well crafted and very funny! It's fascinating to read his insider's viewpoint of the Beano and although this book is unofficial it's still a positive appraisal of the comic.

An essential purchase for anyone interested in comics history. The book is available from the publisher at this link:

Friday 25 March 2022

MACC-POW! returns this July!

Updated convention list.

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be one of the guests at Macc-Pow! on Saturday 2nd July when the event returns on Macclesfield Town Hall! The show, run by cartoonist Marc Jackson, debuted in 2016 and has been an annual event ever since. However, the pandemic meant that the 2020 and 2021 shows could only be done online but this year it's back as a physical event! 

Thank you to Marc for always being a valued supporter of my work and for inviting me to every show. You can see the online interview he did with me last year at this link:


You can find out more info regarding Macc-Pow! 2022 at their Facebook page here:


As you can see from the image above, I've updated the list of events I'll be at this year. Hope to see you at some of them!


Wednesday 23 March 2022

BAD PETS return in today's ANIMAL PLANET Magazine

Every now and then I'm asked to draw a mini-strip called Bad Pets, written by brilliant Nigel Auchterlounie, for D.C. Thomson's ANIMAL PLANET magazine. Very proud to contribute to this as it's a superb kids' mag about animals and the environment. I'm in the latest issue which is out today from all good newsagents and supermarkets.

The publishers have another two Bad Pets strips to use but I'm not sure when it'll be published as that space in the mag is usually given to another strip. Hopefully there'll be more work at some point but I've only been in four issues over the past twelve months so I have to see it as just a nice occassional addition to my portfolio rather than regular work. It's a good mag though and well worth buying for your kids!


Monday 21 March 2022

This week's PUP PARADE preview

Here's a glimpse at the first panel of this week's Pup Parade strip that appears in Beano No.4128. It'll be in the shops on Wednesday 23rd March. 

As you can see, Pug is the main character this week. I thought you might also like to see the size difference between my original art and the published strip. I draw my Beano strips "twice up" as was the tradition of drawing back in the early days of comics. It's just a more comfortable way of working than drawing same size or half up. 

Sunday 20 March 2022

Close Encounters in The Kirknewton Story!

One of the comics projects I did recently will soon be published so I think it's OK to give it a plug now. The Kirknewton Story is a 56 page comic book that reveals various historical anecdotes about the Scottish village of Kirknewton. Editor Tony Foster commissioned me to draw a two page strip called Close Encounters written by Colin Maxwell, telling the story of two local guys who had a UFO experience in the 1990s! 

I really enjoyed illustrating the strip. I also lettered it and instead of hand lettering straight onto the page as I usually do, this time I used computer fonts I'd created based on my lettering. I think it turned out well so I'll use this method again for some other work coming up. (Although I'll generally still hand letter my strips for things like The Daft Dimension and The Dandy annuals.)

The Kirknewton Story also features strips by Staz Johnson, Martin Baines, Andrew Sawyer, Kev Sutherland, Tanya Roberts, Sarah Millman, Gary Erskine and more, plus a fabulous cover by Ian Kennedy, which was sadly one of his last paintings before he recently passed away. As you may have noticed, I based the UFO design in my strip on Ian's version on the cover for consistency.

The comic will be distributed free to every house in Kirknewton but if you don't live in that area and want a copy there's more info at John Freeman's Down the Tubes blog at this link:


Friday 18 March 2022

New convention announcement!

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be a guest at Comic Con World at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool over the weekend of 7th and 8th May this year. As Blackpool has always been one of my favourite places to visit I'm looking forward to it! 

The Winter Gardens is a large indoor venue not far from the sea front and close to the famous Blackpool Tower. I'll be doing sketches on request and selling my comics so I hope to see you there! Other guests include Manga artist Sonia Leong and others to be announced. 

You can find out more info and book tickets from the Comic Con World website here:


Then later on 28th/29th May I'll be at the Lawless Comic Con in Bristol:


On the 25th/26th June I'll be at Comic Salopia in Shrewsbury...


...and there'll be other shows in other locations yet to be announced on 2nd July, 20th August, and 10th September! More news soon!

Thursday 17 March 2022

Still available to download: BARMY COMIX No.1

As you know, I'd intended to have Combat Colin No.5 out in print by now but various factors over the past two years have delayed it. As a form of compensation to those of you waiting for the comic, a while back I created Barmy Comix No.1, a one-off 32 page compilation of a few of my creator-owned strips from over the years.

It features Combat Colin, Brickman, Derek the Troll, and Pedantic Stan, the Comics Fan... PLUS a 9 page preview of Combat Colin No.5! So at least you'll have a quarter of the postponed issue of Combat Colin plus a few "best bits" thrown in!

It's free to download but I'd appreciate a small donation of £2 after you've read the comic if you wish. You can PayPal me at:

Without further ado, here's the link to download Barmy Comix No.1. It might take a few minutes as it's over 170MB (compressing the files tended to downgrade them too much so I avoided that). If you have any problems with it let me know...


I'm thinking of doing a second digital issue, reprinting some obscure stuff that hasn't been seen for many years. Would anyone be interested in that or aren't digital comics your thing? Would you pay £2 voluntarily for another download? Let me know below. 

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Pete and his Pimple Lost In Space! (OiNK! comic, 1988)

I was reminded yesterday of this Pete and his Pimple story I did way back in 1988. Towards the end of the run of Oink! comic I asked readers to come up with ideas to cure Pete's giant pimple. Reader Daryl Selby was one of many who sent in suggestions, and this one was about sending Pete into space, so I took that idea and developed it. 

Yesterday, Daryl posted a query on the Oink! Comic Facebook group asking to see it again and group moderator Phil Boyce kindly replied with scans of the strip. I thought I'd post it here today so that more of you can see it.

This originally appeared in Oink! No.66, dated September 1988. It was when the comic had become a 68 page monthly so we were allowed more pages for our stories. I really enjoyed doing this three pager and I think it was one of the best in the series. I hope you enjoy seeing it again, 24 years later!

Incidentally, my original art was censored in one panel! I'd show Pete (with his back to us) having a wee against the robot but that was too much for IPC. They stuck a piece of paper over him and changed the tail of the word balloon so it looked like Pete was hidden behind the robot... but the paste-over was opaque and with a bit of Photoshop enhancement you can see Pete's silhouette...

If you want to join the Oink! comic Facebook group here's the link:


Phil Boyce also runs The OiNK! Blog at this link:



Monday 14 March 2022

Pup Parade preview: Beano 4127

Here's a glimpse at the next Pup Parade which will be in Beano No.4127, on sale Wednesday 16th March.

As the format is a three panel mini-strip it's a bit restrictive to find something for all nine Pups to do every week so I'll be focusing on one Pup each week, although others will appear too. This week the spotlight falls on Peeps, out for a walk in the sunny weather. What could possibly go wrong?

See the full version in Beano No.4127 on Wednesday!

Thanks again

A big thank you to those of you who bid on my artwork in last week's auction. It's very much appreciated especially as I know how finances are tight for everyone these days. I'll be sending the art to the winners over the next day or two. 

I'll probably list some more art next week.



Friday 11 March 2022

Current auction ends on Sunday!

Just a reminder that this week's auction of my artwork ends this Sunday!

There are three pieces up for bids; a Tom Thug page from Oink! (1988), one of my earliest Robo-Capers strips from The Transformers (1985), and an unpublished Tails pencil sample page intended for Sonic the Comic (1993).

You'll find more info about each of them in my listings at this link:


Best of luck with your bids!

Thursday 10 March 2022

Convention Dates For this Summer!

After two years with no comics events (apart from the Meanwhile In Coventry one I did last September) I'm pleased to say that I'll be venturing out to a few this summer. I've been invited to five so far. I'm not sure if there'll be more, but I'm not going to do as many as I used to yet as I'm still very cautious about Covid. While I'm sure the venues will be safe and organisers taking all precautions, it's travelling to and from the venues on trains tha concerns me most. No, I'm not "living in fear", just being calmly cautious at my age, especially now infections are on the increase again.

Anyway, the dates I'm booked for are shown in the graphic above. I'll update it when the organisers of the other shows announce their guest lists. (I always feel it would be rude if I announced myself as a guest before the event itself makes the official announcements, but I am confirmed for those dates.)

More info about those shows here:

Lawless Comic Con:


Comics Salopia:


I'll be doing sketches on request at the shows, and selling my self-published comics. I may also be on a panel or two. Hope to see you this summer!

Wednesday 9 March 2022

See you at COMICS SALOPIA 2022 in June!

Getting back onto the convention circuit I'm pleased to announce that I'll be a guest at the Comics Salopia International Comic Arts Festival 2022 over the weekend of 25th and 26th June in Shrewsbury.

Events will be happening at the Shrewsbury Castle grounds, The Museum & Art Gallery, the Library and at their new partner venue Coffee & Creatives.

I was a guest at the previous event back in 2019 and enjoyed it very much, so I'm looking forward to returning to Shrewsbury this summer.

Part of Comics Salopia in 2019.

The full guest list and events timetable will be published soon and news about the festival will be in in the Shrewsbury local press over the coming weeks and months.

You can find out more info at these links, and of course I'll be posting updates on my blog too.




Don't forget that the Shrewsbury Comics Trail is still running there too, with specially designed billboards by nine comic artists (including one by me) situated in the town. See this old post for more info:


Photo by James Fletcher.


Tuesday 8 March 2022

Sgt.SHOUTY Sneak Peek!

Sneak peek at a bit of my next Sgt.SHOUTY comic strip for The77 issue No.7, out soon. Like a lot of my characters, Shouty isn't supposed to be someone to admire, but rather someone to laugh at. Will his abrasive personality change in the months to come? And what's really going on with the Moon in the 27th Century anyway? Keep buying The77 to find out!

Back issues are available here:


Robo-Capers, Tom Thug, and TAILS Original Art in this week's auction

I've put some more pieces of my original artwork in eBay and the auctions run until Sunday 13th March. This time there's a very early Robo-Capers from Marvel UK's Transformers, a Tom Thug page from Oink!, and one that fans of Sonic the Comic may be interested in! Here's more info...

As most of you know, during the 1990s I was one of the main regular writers on Fleetway's Sonic the Comic. When I first submitted work to them though it was as an artist. I sent off three pages; one penciled, one inked, and one coloured. I've since sold the latter two, but now I've found the penciled page; a sample of Tails in action.

STC never used me as an artist but they gave me lots of work as a writer, so it all turned out OK. Therefore this Tails page has never been published, or even seen outside of Fleetway until now. If you're interested in bidding on it you'll find it listed at this link...


Robo-Capers was one of the earliest professional comic strips I did, and it began in Marvel UK's Transformers comic in 1985. The one on eBay this week is from issue No.22 and features the recurring villain King No-Nose! If you wish to bid you'll find it here...


Tom Thug was one of my most popular and longest running characters, and he started out in Oink! comic. The one in the auction this week is a full page complete story from Oink! No.45 from 1988. You'll find it in my eBay listing at this link...


Thanks to those of you who have bid already. It's much appreciated. Each listing shows close ups of the art for you to peruse. Best of luck with your bids!

Saturday 5 March 2022

PUP PARADE returns to BEANO this Wednesday

I'm pleased to say that after a year's absence I'll be back in the Beano next week with the start of a new series of Pup Parade mini-strips. Very happy to be working on these characters again. I've no idea how long it'll run for but I've done about nine so far. 

My first series of Pup Parade was in 2016 but of course the characters have been around far longer than that, dating back to the 1960s when Gordon Bell was the original artist. In more recent times, Steve Beckett and Nigel Parkinson have been amongst the artists drawing the strip before it was handed over to me six years ago.

How the art looked before completion.

As some newer, young readers won't be familar with the Bash Street Dogs I thought this first one should feature all of them and serve as a sort of introductory piece. It's a bit restrictive to have nine characters in three-panel mini strips every week so after this one I'll focus on two or three each week, with every Pup taking turns to be the main focus. 

Beano No.4126, in shops on Wednesday 9th March. £2.99. Here's the cover by Nigel Parkinson to look out for...


Friday 4 March 2022

Anyone have FUN-SIZE DANDY No.129?

I like to have an edition of everything I've been published in but one comic has eluded me. Twenty years ago I drew about a dozen stories for Fun-Size Dandy and Fun-Size Beano and I have them all but one. Fun-Size Dandy No.129, published in 2002, includes a seven page Korky the Cat story I drew but I've never seen the published version.

Here's the first two pages which I scanned from my art before posting it off (back in the days before I emailed art to the publishers). Obviously the word balloons would be added by the D.C. Thomson designers, as would the colour back in those days. (The Fun-Size comics were printed in basic colours on newsprint.) I designed the logo, based on the style of logos that Korky had in the 1960s.

If anyone has a spare copy they don't want, please let me know and hopefully we can come to some arrangement. I should stress that this is Fun-Size Dandy No.129 I'm looking for, not Dandy Comic Library 129, which was a different publication. No links to pirated copies please. It's the physical paper comic I'm after.

Here's an article I wrote a few years ago about the other strips I drew for the Fun-Size comics:




Thursday 3 March 2022

Dandy and Beano Annuals revealed for 2023

Over on his comics news blog, Down the Tubes, John Freeman has shown the cover images for the 2023 dated annual that D.C. Thomson will be publishing. As always, the books are dated a year ahead but they'll be out in late summer; usually August. (For example the 2022 annuals were published on August 1st last year.)

Here are the covers of The Dandy Annual 2023 and Beano Annual 2023 to look out for later this year:

Both books will contain all new content as usual. For The Dandy Annual I've written and drawn 4 full page Keyhole Kate stories, and 8 Postman Prat mini-strips. For Beano Annual I've written and drawn 8 Biffo the Bear mini-strips. 

It's a bit too early to show any proper samples but I thought I'd post some photos of close ups of my original art before it was completed. These are the pencil/ink stages before I scanned them into Photoshop to fill in the solid blacks, made corrections, and coloured them.  

The publisher's own online shop will have the books listed for pre-order soon so bookmark this link for quick access:


See the Down The Tubes news item at this link for more annual covers: 


Wednesday 2 March 2022


As you probably know by now, over on his OiNK! BLOG, Phil Boyce is reviewing each issue of Oink! in the order they were published. The latest post covers issue No.22 from February 1987 and includes a story I'd totally forgotten about! 

Dice Maniac was a satire of the role-playing game comics that were around at the time. I'd even based the name and logo design on IPC's Dice Man comic, which was a sadly short-lived title that contained some quality work. (Seek it out if you can.) 

I remember now that I did a second Dice Maniac strip for a later issue of Oink!, that was in full colour. Anyway, for today, here's the first one, shown above. I actually made myself laugh when I read it as I'd forgotten what happened, so thanks to 1987 me for cheering up 2022 me. :) 

You can see more about that issue, and other comics that Phil reviews, on his excellent OiNK! BLOG at this link:



38 years in comics... or is it 39?

Photo of my drawing board on 18th January 2020.

It's 38 years to the day since I officially became a self-employed cartoonist/writer. Although in reality it's more like 39 years. I sold my first professionbal cartoon in 1983 (in Marvel UK's The Daredevils No.7), and other bits and bobs of work followed but I was still on the dole at the time. Yes, I did declare it, but those initial cartoons only paid £5 a month so it wasn't enough to affect my benefits. 

Eventually I was getting enough work to sign off the dole, and on March 2nd 1984 I went full time as a professional freelance comic artist.

So... 39 years in comics but 38 years full time. (Actually, if we include fanzines that I did before turning pro then that takes us back to late 1978 so that'd be 44 years. If we include the comics I drew as a kid that I only showed my parents that'd be 55 years... but let's keep it simple and stick to the professional work.)

It's never easy being self employed, and the last couple of years have been particularly difficult due to cutbacks of the pandemic and the associated stress that brought, but I'm still hanging in there. There are some very anxious days ahead for all of us of course, with rising prices being the least of it, so let's hope the war doesn't escalate and we can all keep going.

My thanks to all of you who have followed and supported my work, whether it's been since the beginning or any time over the past four decades. I can't remember what I was actually drawing on this day in 1984 but today I'm writing the next Daft Dimension (for Doctor Who Magazine No.576), and drawing the next Sgt.Shouty (for The77 No.7). Then it'll be straight on to drawing that Daft Dimension, and also the next Pup Parade for Beano. Next week I'll be focusing on a commission I had ages ago that really needs to be finished, and a couple of other bits.