Friday, 17 April 2015

Misty



If you want to get almost any British girl of a certain age all nostalgic, just say one word to them: Misty.
What early 2000AD was to boys, Misty was to girls ( and boys in the know, obviously ). Even girls who never read comics read this comic, and individual issues go for ludicrous amounts on ebay.
Misty was a mystery anthology weekly, with serials and one-off stories, and like all UK weeklies, had it's own host, the winsome earth spirit / willowy white witch / groovy goth girl title star.
Misty herself never said very much, and was much given to wafting around her Cavern Of Dreams and writing us missives on the intro page, welcoming us to that week's scares.




Although it wasn't as scary as it might've been, with original mastermind Pat Mills' plan to create a 2000AD for girls being downgraded to 'spooky but safe', Misty still had some absolutely great stuff in it, like The Sentinels ( spooky tower block is actually a gateway to a parallel world where the Nazi's won WW2 ), Paint It Black ( schoolgirl possessed by Victorian ghost artist ) and Moonchild ( Mills rips off Carrie, but does it really, really well ). And if any boy had the brass nerve to walk into their local newsagents and buy a girl's comic, they'd find themselves immediately hooked. And yes, I got my ( female ) cousin to buy it.


Also, as was the norm for UK weeklies, the art duties were divided between homegrown talent and spanish artists, giving Misty almost the look, if you squinted, of a Warren mag for teens.


So lots of Misty stuff on the way, but as a teaser, it's worth checking out the lass herself as she appeared in some gorgeous covers and posters. The only name I can find for these is a British artist named Shirley Bellwood, who's now a high class portrait painter. Not sure if Shirley did all these, but whoever's responsible, they're stunning.









Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Herb Trimpe



Well, we just lost another one, sadly, as Herb Trimpe passed away last night. To be totally honest, Herb was one of those artists, like Frank Thorne, like Carmine Infantino, that I absolutely loathed as a kid, finding his work ugly, wonky and wrong-headed. I also never really liked The Hulk, unless he was surrounded by other characters he could bounce off of, like in The Defenders.
I've obviously got a little bit smarter since then, and know from interviews with Herb that he was actually trained to draw in the Marvel house style ie. to get as close to Kirby as possible without actually doing Kirby, and was never very happy about having to do that. So in fact, what we saw in all those Hulk's wasn't actual, real, undiluted Trimpe, which is an interesting thought.
As a dumb kid though, there was a period of Incredible Hulk that even I could see was gold. Jarella, Doc Samson, Wolverine, it seemed like there was a classic being born every month. Here's one of them, in a bittersweet tale that seems appropriate today. Then let's look at some 'real' Herb...










So here's the strip where we got to see full, unfettered Trimpe, Skywarriors from the second coming of Savage Tales. This is an absolutely brilliant series, and was the one that made me realise I'd been wrong about Herb Trimpe all these years, as here he's freed from the restrictions of having to draw in that house style and can cut loose as he'd clearly always wanted to.
It's a post-apocalypse strip, but that's irrelevant. The setting is really just an excuse for Herb to draw one of his favourite things: Planes in action. He was a pilot, and an avid fan of old aircraft, and Skywarriors is an obvious, and fantastic, labour of love.
















Sunday, 12 April 2015

Jeff Jones, Louise Simonson, Berni Wrightson & Bruce Jones Are All.... Hung Up



Here's a cracking little EC style murder tale from the 8th issue of Skywald's Nightmare, that comes with an all-star cast. It's by the mighty Bruce Jones, one of my favourite writers ever since I first saw his work in Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction.
As well as being a great yarn, with tight script and photo-realist art from Bruce, it has the added frisson that it stars Jeff Jones as the murderer, Berni Wrightson as one of his victims, and Louise Simonson as Jeff's mistress.
This particular group of friends got up to a lot of this sort of thing back in The Bronze Age of course. For instance, if you check out Swamp Thing's original appearance in House Of Secrets #92, you'll spot Berni as the hero, Mike Kaluta as the villain and Louise as the imperiled heroine who also gets the cover shot.


Not sure who Mary is in this story though. Unless it's Mary Skrenes, who did Omega The Unknown with Steve Gerber?











Friday, 10 April 2015

Flash Gordon Meets The Cragmen Of The Lost Continent



Here's fun, courtesy of Alan Class' seemingly endless series of Bronze Age reprint anthologies, this one being Amazing Stories Of Suspense. Though, as Alan didn't believe in continuity, could've equally appeared in any of his books. It also comes with, as was always the case in Class comics, printing that's rougher than a bulldog's tongue, but that will instantly transport you back to your summer holidays in the '70's. And by the way, these are All Astonishing Tales, which is good to know.
It's originally from the King Comics series, and is by Bill Pearson & Reed Crandall, though I spotted a few Wally Wood poses here and there, and it doesn't look like a full Crandall job, so who knows.
Regardless, let's join Flash, Dale & Dr. Zarkov as they embark on a walking tour of Mongo. Let the adventure begin...