Sunday, 27 November 2016

Supergirl



I really like this short Supergirl series ( 10 issues from 1972-1974 ) that came off the Maid of Might's appearances in Adventure Comics. It's gentle stuff that won't hurt you, and Supergirl comes across as a good egg, which is the way I've always seen her, plus in a career of bad costume choices, there's a lot to be said for the small 's' and hotpants combo.


The stories are by Cary Bates, Superman's joint best Bronze Age writer alongside Elliott S. Maggin, and the artwork, by Art Saaf, is akin to a particularly well done romance comic. Even Vince Colletta on inks comes out of this well.
It's bright, breezy and bouncy, with a carefree Supergirl having a lot of fun attending university and flying around and just, well, being Supergirl. Remember when superheroes had fun?
It's a nice comic, that's all, and we can always do with a few more of those. Here's the first issue.

















Wednesday, 23 November 2016

King Cobra



King Cobra, probably British comics' most American-styled superhero, ran in boys' paper The Hotspur, and was the creation of the great Ron Smith, an artist who did acres of stuff for DC Thompson, and then went over to IPC and worked on Judge Dredd, both for 2000AD and The Daily Star.
Ron must've fought tooth and nail to get DC Thompson ( DC to IPC's Marvel ) to agree to doing a superhero, as The Hotspur was much more comfortable pushing upper class historical adventure and cowboy strips at the time, and King Cobra stands out quite a bit from his labelmates.
He is a bit more like a Golden Age hero, than a swinging '70's one though. For starters, he never really seems to have that much trouble bringing in the bad guys, his cobra suit coming up with all sorts of add-ons and extras.
Plus Marvel-type angst completely passed 'the ace crook-catcher' by. In his secret identity as Bill King, amiable but clumsy reporter, he's like Clark Kent playing in the Batsuit.
Maybe Smith was harking back to the heroes he grew up on, but whatever, what makes King Cobra special is, of course, Ron's fantastically dynamic, and slightly wonky, art. A bit like Jim Mooney, Smith's work always seemed to me to be on just the eccentric side of normalcy, and I wonder what he and Steve Gerber might've got up to together.
Here's a few of The King's early adventures. How do you like this new pal, lads?











Monday, 21 November 2016

The Sweeney



' Shut it, you slag! Get yer trousers on, yer nicked!!! '
When I was a kid, if we were extra good, we were allowed to stay up late ( past 9:00! ) and watch The Sweeney.
The adventures of two-fisted, hard-drinking, tough swearing Flying Squad detectives Jack Regan ( John Thaw ) & George Carter ( Dennis Waterman ) were compulsive viewing in our house.
Regan was so hardcore, he even got off with middle class, mumsy totty Diane Keen off The Cuckoo Waltz:


And like all great Bronze Age TV shows, The Sweeney didn't just have a great opening sequence, it had a great closing one too.
So here's the opener, with the lads chasing down that week's blagger:


And here's the closer, with Regan, Carter and their uptight boss Haskins heading for the boozer after closing another successful case. ' Drink, George? ' ' Yeah, alright, Guv. '


Like every genre TV show, The Sweeney got their own Christmas annual for a few years running.
Christmas annuals were great, special hardback books full of photos, features and comic strips. And text stories you never read, but that usually came with illustrations by a young John Bolton.
And in this, the 1977 one, you got strips by the late, great Brian Lewis. I'm still discovering how much Brian did, and how wonderful all of it was, just like here.
These strips, being for a kid's TV annual, and not wanting to offend parents, slightly neuters the concept and cuts down on the feral '70's rage the best episodes had. But hey, you can always watch Life On Mars, a remake in all but name.
Here's the lads taking on a terrorist on the loose in London. The Slag.







And here, in a Zip Nolan stylee, is your chance to solve the case before Regan does, sadly without getting to lay into anybody or crash any Ford Granada's through several piles of cardboard boxes.





Didja geddit?  No? Here's the solution.


That's right, Jack. No sane man would be caught dead wearing a clashing tie. That's why you're a Detective Inspector and we're not.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Al Williamson's Savage World



Savage World is an interesting one. At first, it seems to be 'just' another wonderful Al Williamson piece, with the added attraction that it stars Larry 'Buster' Crabbe. But there's a lot more to it than that, including the fact that it covers nearly the whole of comic history, having first appeared in the '50's, then being seemingly endlessly reprinted in the '60's, '70's, '80's AND '90's. Not bad going for a simple 8 pager. Plus, this actually isn't Williamson flying solo.
Here, from Kitchen Sink's Death Rattle, is Al in conversation with Dave Schreiner, to tell the whole story:



 And here's the strip:
















And, as we're all completists here, how about a gander at the aforementioned rewrite by Bruce Jones, from Alien Worlds. You got yerself some brass ones, don't'cha Bruce, rewriting Wally Wood & Al Williamson?