ATOMIC COMIC Issue 1
Welcome to Atomic Comic - the newest fanzine on British comics! We're here because we love comics, and since you're reading this, we assume you must love them too! There's some great stuff crammed into this issue, such as a look at the first year of The Phoenix, an interview with Dandy artist Andy Fanton an Will Dawbarn and a look at some rejected comic strips by Steve Beckett plus a whole load more!
So I hope you enjoy the fanzine, and be sure to stick around for future issues there's some great stuff to come!
..... A Year Of The Pheonix
..... Webcomic Of The Month
..... Specky/Wiggy Hector
..... A Brief History About British Comics (Part 1)
10 ..... Interview with Andy Fanton 13 ..... Phil Comics 14 ..... A Blast From The Past 16 ..... Auction Watch 18 ..... Interview with Will Dawbarn 25 ..... Rejected 26 ..... Harry's Countdown of the Top 10 Phoenix Strips of 2012 31 ..... Congratulations To James Turner 32 ..... Wizzo Advert 23 ..... Steve Beckett Draws The Bash Street Kids 35 ..... About Us And Futher Reading
A Year Of The Phoenix - By George Shiers The Phoenix celebrates a year in publication this month, and what a brilliant first year it was! The comic was an instant hit from the start, and I was so happy when the first issue landed on my mat when the postie delivered it! I ripped open the special Phoenix envelope to get to all the comicy goodness and was greated with a fantastic, bright cover by Neill Cameron! Issue one brought us some truly fantastic strips such as Jamie Smart's Bunny Vs. Monkey, The Etherington Brothers' Long Gone Don, Kate Brown's The Lost Boy, Adam Murphy's Corpse Talk and a whole host of others! I whizzed through the comic at light speed, thrilled by Long Gone Don's strange journey into a mysterious land, fascinated by sailors using giant dinosaurs as transport and laughing myself silly reading Star Cat! Every week I would wait eagerly by the letterbox, waiting for the beautiful publication to drop through, hoping that the heavy rain I always seemed to have hadn't ruined the envelope or the comic! To write a list of my five favourite strips inside The Phoenix seemed an impossible task at first, every strip is so amazingly drawn, written and coloured by some of the UK's finest talents, to not put any up there at the top seemed impossible! However, after many hours of scratching my head and pouring through dozens of issues of The Pheonix, I finally sat down and wrote the list! Wether you agree or disagree, I'm sure you've all liked these strips to some degree!
5. Corpse Talk - Adam Murphy Yes, I've given spot number five to the only non-fiction strip in the comic - Adam Murphy's Corpse Talk! Each week Adam would "dig up" a famous dead celebrity that a reader had suggested, and interview them! The very first one in the free Issue Zero was Amelia Earhart, and we went on to learn about many greats such as Tutankhamun,
Florence Nightingale, Mary Shelly and a whole host more! At first, I didn't think the strip would work, a mixture of non-fiction in a comic strip didn't seem like something that would catch on, but catch on it did, giving it a nice comfy place at number 5!
4 - Bunny Vs. Monkey Jamie Smart Bunny Vs. Mokey was a very popular strip with readers, crowning it as the winner of the very first Phoenix Comic Strip Battle in 2012! As always, cartoonist Jamie Smart delivers a page of madness, mayhem and fun, gives it a funny title and a great story, makes up some wacky characters and put it in a truly fantastic comic, and there you have it - a masterpiece! The strip is very funny, based around the battle between a monkey (who crash landed in the woods after a failed space mission) and a bunny. Monkey wishes to destroy the forest for reasons not made clear wheras Bunny sees it as his home, and tries all he can to stop him! A fantastic strip, wonderfully written with Jamie's crazy drawing style that suits the strip, what could fit slot number four better!
3. Ghost Ant - Dave Shelton Although only making one appearance way back in issue 2, Ghost Ant was a hilarious strip from the hands of Dave Shelton! Ghost Ant would have worked as a Gary's Garden (by fellow Phoenix artist Gary Northfield) strip, but I find the strip very funny on it's own! A real shame it only made one appearence, the story has many possibilities and would make an enjoyable series in the comic! For those of you who haven't read it, Ghost Ant is the tale of an ant who was killed by (presumably) Dave's foot, and is desperate to seek revenge, but always seems to fail! A very funny character, maybe even something that would have appeared in a Fleetway comic, if they were still around! So Dave, if you're reading this bring him back!
2 - Zara's Crown - John and Patrice Aggs Zara's Crown is the thrilling serial adventure of a group of kids who were forced to steal the Crown Jewles by a mysterious company! Illustrated by Patrice Aggs and written by John Aggs, the story has kept me on my toes right from the very start and each issue I excitedly read the strip to see what happenes next! An amazing, exciting, extremely well-drawn strip gives it a well deserved place at number two!
Of all the fantastic comic strips that have appeared in The Phoenix over the past twelve months, only one of those can take my number one spot. It took me a lot of reading and re-reading issues to reach my conclusion, as so many Phoenix strips are fantasticly written, drawn and coloured, and everybody who has worked on the comic has done a stellar job! However, the winner is.....
1 - Star Cat - James Turner James Turner's Star Cat recieves a gold medal and takes the number one spot! The comic was always funny, well written and brilliantly drawn in James' funny, simple-yet-brilliant style! I loved the randomness of the strip, the added fun of solving the pilot's speech bubbles and all the hidden jokes! I loved this strip at the start, and I love it now! That sums up my countdown of the five best strips, but I'm sure many of you disagree. Whatever your opinions are, I'm sure you all love the comic they appeared in! Each week it is a beautiful comic filled with colour and fun from cover to cover! Always having a bright cover image, it's no suprise that it sells out almost as soon as the stores open each Saturday! For 2013 I'd like to see the comic more wide-spread, appearing in newsagents not only all over th U.K. but overseas as well! But whatever happens, I'm sure it'll be great! Go on Phoenix, give us another fantastic year!
Specky/Wiggy Hector Comics Collector! - By George Shiers Eagle-eyed readers who managed to pick up a copy of the last Dandy may have noticed that a character in The Smasher by Lew Stringer called Wiggy Hector had a similar name to another of Stringer's characters from Buster - Specky Hector! Both characters are clearly fans of comics, having collected all the comics of the title they appear in (Buster for Specky, Dandy for Wiggy)! I've asked Lew if he'd tell us about them, and if Wiggy is indeed Specky as an adult! Here's what he said: "Wiggy is a different character to Specky, but I wanted to use an exaggerated comic collector type in the story and 'Hector' was the only name that rhymed with 'collector'. Or the only one I could think of at the time anyway. Perhaps in my Lewniverse all comic collectors are named Hector. Yes, that'll do. :) "
A Brief History About British Comics - By George Shiers To write an article about the history of comics you do of course, have to go back to the very start. But the question is, where is the start? Although different people have different opinions, I personally think it all began with Ally Sloper, the creation of William Giles Baxter, which originally appeared in Judy on 14th August 1867. The character was so popular that he eventually got his very own comic book, the world's first comic, in 1873, called 'Ally Sloper - A Moral Lesson' (a page from this book is featured on the left). Ally Sloper was arguably the most famous character of the late 19th and early 20th century. On 3rd May 1884, Ally Sloper's Half Holiday was launched, coming out weekly on a Saturday, when many people only had a half day at work and the afternoon was called a Half-Holiday, hence the name of the comic. Although we would not recognise Ally Sloper's Half Holiday as a comic today, it set the template for what was to come.
Continues in the next issue of Atomic Comic.
Andy Fanton is a british cartoonist whose work appears in The Dandy each week. He has created characters such as Dave The Squirrel, George Vs. Dragon, Boo and online The Carrotty Kid and Lord Likely. Can we call you Fants? "No. You must call me 'sir'. Or 'supreme overlord'." What was your favourite comic as a kid and why? "Oooh, that's a toughie. I loved them ALL. I remember Oink! really blowing my brain as a kid, though - it was just so different to anything else out there at the time. I loved the variety of styles in it, and it's slightly naughty humour." What is your earliest memory of drawing? "Probably copying a picture of Danger Mouse out of an issue of Look In magazine. I used to LOOOVE Danger Mouse. And still do, in fact!" Did you always want to be a cartoonist? If not what other intentions did you have? "I always wanted to be either a cartoonist or a writer, those were my two main aims. Thankfully now I get to do both, which is great! Hooray!" When did you start drawing for comics? "August 2010, when The Dandy kindly let me draw George Vs. Dragon for them." What was your very first published work? "A little mini-strip called 'Little Vandal' in my local newspaper, I think. It wasn't brilliant, but I was dead excited at the time!"
Little Vandal - Andy's first published work, was printed in the RIngwood and Fordingbridge News in 1994. Andy said he was a mix of Dennis the Menace and Bart Simpson "with even worse hair", despite what the newspaper said! Did you have a favourite artist and character and did they inspire you to take up drawing? "Easy. Tom Paterson, and Calamity James. My all-time favourite strip, and my all-time favourite artist. I remember becoming aware of Tom's work as I grew older, as he had stuff appearing EVERYWHERE, and in some of the titles he got to sign his work, so he was the first cartoonist I really latched onto. And yes, he inspired me hugely, I used to spend ages carefully copying his work into my sketchpads!"
Any current characters you'd love to have a shot at drawing? "Roger the Dodger - he's a classic character that's been in reprints for a while now, I'd love to have a go at doing some new dodges!" How long does each comic strip take you? "It depends really. Sometimes is the ideas are flowing easily and all is going well, then it's possible to turn one page around within a day. More often though, it can be two-three days I think, on average." Looking back at the art you did as a kid, or even when you started working professionally, how much would you say you've improved? "I'm always improving, or at least I hope I am. Even looking back at the first couple of George Vs. Dragon strips, I can see I've honed the style a bit, and got a bit more ambitious with some layouts and that. I think we're all learning all the time, so I'm always trying to push myself a bit more with every fresh strip." Do you plan to stay in comics for now or go off into the world? "I would love to keep drawing comics, as I genuinely do love it. I'd like to spread out into other titles, ideally. But I would also like to get back to doing some writing, as in book writing...I've got some ideas nestled in the back of my head that I must get out there before they drive me CRAAAAAZZZZZYYYYY." What's your favourite thing to draw? "Probably Boo!, the ghost from the strip of the same name I did...as he's so very easy to draw, yet very expressive as well. He's just fun! For a ghost." Least favourite? "BICYCLES. *Shudders*"
If you could draw any classic character, what would you really love to draw? "Oooh....there's so many to choose from! I'd really like to have a bash a Biffo the Bear, I think. It's a shame he fell out of favour, and I really liked Sid Burgon's silent take on him before he disappeared. So yeah, Biffo!"
Any advice for budding artists? "My advice is to just keep drawing, every day if you can. And read lots and lots of comics, carefully look at the way the pros work and layout things, and see what you can learn from that. And look at nature and real - life, too, so you know how to draw things from the real world! But basically, just draw and draw and draw. AND DRAW."
Phil Comics! The cover for this issue of Atomic Comic sure is a fantastic one. It comes from the 1941 Beano Book, the second one published. This book is considered the rarest of all Beano books, and good copies can sell for thousands of pounds? So, how did we manage to get ourselves such a great scan? For that, we'd like to thank Phil from Phil-Comics!
Phil has been buying and selling British comics since 2001, and has helped many collectors get the rarities they've been after! But if you don't have tons of cash and would still like to buy some great comics, Phil also does cheaper auctions. In fact, if it's British and it's a comic - Phil will sell it! You can find him via his website or you can search for him on eBay: (philcomics). So once again, cheers Phil! www.phil-comics.com
A BLAST FROM THE PAST! GNASH! Dennis the Menace and Gnasher are the quite possibly the most famous duo in British History! Together they have caused laughter, happiness mischief to millions of children all over the world! But Dennis didn't always have Gnasher, in fact before he met him he had several different dogs, although most of them lasted no more than one issue! The first of those can be seen in Dennis' first ever adventure, back in 1951! Gnasher first appeared almost 20 years later, on 31st August 1968 - in Beano #1363. Davey Law's instructions were very simple: 'Dennis' hair with a leg in each corner and a face'. It worked very well, as you can see here! He was a hugely popular character, occaionally appearing every now and then for the first few years but he swiftly became a regular! All the most popular free gifts are based upon the Abyssinian Wire-Haired Tripe Hound, and in later years he even had his own pups, keeping only one - Gnipper! They went on to creat the Gnasher and Gnipper strip, something that will stick in peoples minds for years to come!
Auction Watch! Issue one of Gerry Anderson's Joe 90 comic came out on January 18th, 1969. Originally costing 8D when it was released, it had a larger price tag than most other comics and so wasn't a success, folding after just over 30 issues. The issue you see on the left, issue number one, recently sold on ebay for an incredible £66.09!
These early TV Comic holiday specials (1963 on left, 1964 on right) are both in very good condition and are extremely rare, something the final bidder must have agreed on with the 1963 issue selling for £79, and the 1964 isue for £67! A special 2013 Beano book was given away at the British Comdey Awards, with the front cover featuring many different comedians, illustrated by Nigel Parkinson (based on the original cover by Steve Bright). The only way you could get one of these is if you attended the awards, so when this copy was put on ebay people really wanted it, and it sold for £36!
This Super Summer Holiday Annual from the 1960's featured a collection of american comic characters, including Batman, Superman and Davy Crockett. It was 96 pages big, the same size as most specials of the time, and originally for just 3D. This one sold for a higher price of £14!
Terrific was one of the five Power comics of the 60's, and issue one came with a free Iron Man transfer! However it is no longer a free gift, as both the comic and the transfer sold for £88, with over 20 bids lifting the item to such a high price!
The second Beano book came out in late 1940, although is recognised as the 1941 annual. I love the cover of this annual so much that it's used as the front cover of the very magazine you are reading! This annual is thought to be the rarest of all the Beano books...
and, with a start price of just 99p, bidding quickly took off. When the auction closed the book sold for a suprisingly low price of £490! Another 1941 Beano book recently sold for £2500!
REJECTED! is our aim to collect heaps of rejected comic strips, drawings or ideas, and publish them for the first time! This month's rejection is Rolf on (F)art by Steve Beckett! Apparently Rolf Harris is "too old for The Dandy". Really?? I'm sure lots of kids know who he is? Steve doesn't have many completed rejections because he always submits them and if they are rejected they never get through the scripting or light pencil stages! None the less, here it is printed for the first time ever! Enjoy! Also - here is an original 'Good Egg Bad Egg' sketch which only got as far as this light blue doodle. Steve pitched the story along with his son Ethan, who came up with the original idea, but sadly the Dandy Editor turned it down. A six year old's imagination is a powerful place though! I hope they try again! Never mind, better luck next time guys!
Harry's Countdown of the Top 10 Phoenix Strips of 2012 - by Harry Rickard With The Phoenix just passing its 1 year anniversary, for our first issue of Atomic Comic, George and I have decided to share with you our top Phoenix stories - the episodes that made us pick up the Phoenix each week and thrived us to read many more. Below is my Top 10 of Phoenix greats so without further'll do, here's the countdown: 10. PLANET OF THE SHAPES - Richardo Tangle To begin my countdown, we start at the top at number 10 with Ricardo Tangle's ingenious 'Planet of the Shapes' - a silent half-page story that has appeared in every single issue since the limitededition Issue 0 which tells the stories of differentshaped characters living on the Planet of the Shapes. The storylines are simple, clever and are very silly - not one being predictable and some even being quite cynical! A brilliant way to start off my Top 10 and a deserving entry. 9. THE LOST BOY Kate Brown From Issue 1 up to Issue 35, each issue at two pages each - the readers of The Phoenix were treated to the story of Jim-on-Thursdays and his loveable "accomplice", Bob, written and illustrated beautifully by Kate Brown. The story is one of the most memorable stories in The Phoenix for me due to its many twists and turns, silly pieces of humour, its dark scenes when the shadow creatures appeared and finally its surprising end - the story was marvellously put together and kept me wanting to read more each week.
8. BUNNY VS. MONKEY - Jamie Smart Bunny VS. Monkey reached the top of the Phoenix Contest for greatest story this year and its wonderful writings and illstrations allow it to snuggly fit in at number 8 on my countdown. The characters are all unique and silly from the boastful Monkey to the grumpy Le Fox. Bunny VS. Monkey aso holds top spot in the front covers for me with a wonderful comic strip on the cover of Issue 49 featuring Weenie and Pig dong what Weenie and Pig do best, be ridiculously silly - and of course the mad inventor, Skunky.
7. GARY'S GARDEN - Gary Northfield
6. LONG GONE DON - The Etherington Brothers
Gary's Garden is the perfect gardenthemed series with its wacky humour and clever storylines as well as an amazing recurring cast including Rupert the Squirrel, Chompy the Caterpillar and Larry Ladybird, as well as my favourites, Boris and Munroe - the unlikely sleuthing friendship of a fox and hedgehog. Gary's Garden allows everyone to relate to the settings - almost all of us (unless you live in a flat) have a garden full of garden creatures and I love the idea of seeing how they all behave when Gary isn't watching. With silly stories and brilliant characters, Gary's Garden certainly deserves to be in my Top 10.
And now over to Broilerdoom where Don Skelton has ended up after drowning in his oxtail soup. Is it heaven? Or perhaps hell? A dream? A nightmare? No, it's a desrving entry for No. 6 in my Top 10! Long Gone Don is brilliant - it's fast-paced, full of entertaining characters and has some fantastic language using wondrous words such as "flibbertigibbet" - oh, and the villain and his accomplice, even they're likeable! Particularly Count Valush with his brilliant hat gags and sarcastic personality. Every character has an explored and broad personality and when you're in Broilerdoom, you have no idea what is coming next! An incredible series and one I very much enjoy every week!
5. CORPSE TALK - Adam Murphy And finally we reach our Top 5 of 2012 Phoenix strips, and what better way to start it off than to give the place to Corpse Talk by the brilliant Adam Murphy? Corpse Talk is the perfect way to do a historical and educational series, include witty humour, beautifully-illustrated storytelling and a horrid yet fantastic concept. Corpse Talk has been fascinating with every famous figure interesting me in one way or another the greatest in my opinion being either the Henry VIII's Six Wives feature special or Albert Einstein's interview which was drawn so beautifully and included every single emotion you could imagine. A perfect way to begin the Top 5 countdown and a perfect series 4. ZARA'S CROWN - John and Patrice Aggs Action-packed and brilliantly-written, John And Patrice Aggs team up in an awesome mother-and-son double act with one of the most exciting serials I have ever read full of adventure, twists, turns and fast=paced action. The story is simple to understand by the end and leaves no stones unturned with a brilliant beginning and even "brillianterer" ending, (I'm even making up words now to express how much I loved this series!)!
3. GOOD DOG, BAD DOG - Dave Shelton My favourite story without a doubt in The DFC was Good Dog, Bad Dog by Dave Shelton - it was funny, adventurous, puzzling and a joy to read all round with surprise twists and a great variety of characters including the lead cast, the adventure-crazy and serious Kirk Bergman and the strong, stupid and yet loveable Duncan McBoo - so imagine my happiness to see it get a run in The Phoenix! Good Dog, Bad Dog has had one serial so far in The Phoenix called 'Double Identity' and is probably the best one yet! I enjoyed reading it every week and was sad to see it go when the story ended - please come back soon, Good Dog, Bad Dog!
2. COGG AND SPROKIT - Jamie Littler I LOVE Cogg and Sprokit. I love it to pieces! The characters are brilliant, the storylines are bursting with action, humour and fantastic plot-lines and Jamie Littler's makes it an absolute pleasure to read! Whenever I saw Cogg and Sprokit in an issue, I knew I was in for a treat - and never was I wrong. It may have gone out first in the Phoenix Championship but to me, it deserved a place in the final. But sadly, one story just beats it - and only just. It's time for my top spot and it's an obvious one, it's...
1. STAR CAT - James Turner You all knew it, didn't you? Of course it was going to be Star Cat - with Captain Spaceington, Officer Plixx, Robot 1 and The Pilot, how could this series NOT claim the top spot? Star Cat is the perfect mixture of bonkers storytelling and some fantastic adventure with every panel being a ribtickler with Robot 1's vanity, Plixx's stupidity, Spaceington's enthusiasm, The Pilot's crazy one-liners or crazy gags such as the Mutant Haptaagons or Ambassador Jelly - with Star Cat, you're always guaranteed a laughpacked read!
And that finishes my Top 10 Phoenix strips of 2012. The comic began back at the beginning of that year and really has risen from the DFC's ashes rising higher and higher with every issue - all I can say is, roll on 2013!
Congratulations To James Turner! - By George Shiers You may have noticed that in both mine and Harry's review of the best Phoenix strips of 2012 we both had the same character in the number one spot - Star Cat! Star Cat deserves that spot more than anything, and for me and Harry to actually agree on something is amazing! So we'd like to take this spot to congratulate Star Cat's creator - James Turner! Now, just like at any of those boring awards shows they have on T.V., we asked James to say a few words: "Hi George, thanks so much for picking my strip! I guess I came up with the idea just because I wanted to do something original and I hadn't done a science fiction comic befor so I thought, ok, so it's in a spaceship, but the spaceship is also a cat, and it all just came from there since I didn't think anyone had done a comic with a cat that was also a spaceship before." So once again, congratulations James! We hope to see a lot more Star Cat in 2013!
Steve Beckett Draws The Bash Street Kids!
- By George Shiers
Steve Beckett, who amongst other things draws Oscar's Orc Army for Toxic, has drawn a special Bash Street Kids page for The Beano Max entitled 'Pranks A Lot', featuring a variety of pranks for kids to try at home, as demonstrated by the Bash Street Kids! Steve Beckett's style suits the characters very well (in my opinion), I particulary like his version of Fatty (seen below), and would be intrested to see more pages of these great characters in the future, both puzzles, short interactive strips (such as this one) and full strips!
Left: Work in progress and the finished result!
We managed to get in touch with Steve and asked him about the Bash Street Kids. Is this the only time he'll be drawing them or will we be seeing more appearences? here is his response: "Just a one off for now. I have a puzzle page coming up soon, not sure if it will be in the weekly or Max. I've spoken to Craig Graham and Mike Sterling and they seem keen to give me work. A strip maybe a possibility very soon." News of a strip sounds very promising indeed, but we'll have to wait and see what develops! We should also give mention to Stu Munro, who also drew a Bash Street puzzle for the Beano recently. I also find Stu's simpler version works for the characters, but when asked about drawing the weekly comic strip he replied: "I could never draw the strip, way too hectic!" For now though, we still have David Sutherland's fantastic Bash Street Kids to look forwards to each week, as we have for the last 50 years! One day David will unfortunatly ink his final panel for the characters, and another artist will have to take over. Will it be Steve, Will Dawbarn or will it be another artist worthy of the task. Only time will tell, but hopefully that wont be for a while yet!
About Us and Futher Reading George Shiers
It was George's idea to create a comic fanzine, and he has written a majority of the articles in issue one. He is also the author of the blog Wacky Comics, which updates regulary featuring articles on all era's of British comics, and draws several comic strips, inluding Graham's Onions, Pete and Squelch and Billy and Sid. www.wackycomics.com Harry Rickard Harry is the other author of Atomic Comic. More of an expert in modern comics, Harry also created the Wizzo and has his own website about British comics, although he is considering covering other things too. Harry is also a fantastic graphic designer, and can do just about anything on the computer! http://wizzkid97.wordpress.com
Some futher reading on early British Comics: The Sloperian Victorian Comics by Denis Gifford http://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-funnyfolks-of-1875.html