This is a list of just some of the great British comics that are available in collections and details of where to get more information.
It is not intended to be an exhaustive list: please check the downthetubes blog for the latest news or Steve Holland's useful 'Comic Cuts' page on his brilliant Bear Alley blog for more book news (Steve is one of Britain's foremost archivists of British comics, along with other great champions of the British comics industry such as Lew Stringer and Paul Gravett, among many others. (You can find all of Steve's books here on amazon.co.uk).
We hope this list helps you track down some of your favourites.
MAGAZINES REPRINTING CLASSIC BRITISH COMICS
Spaceship Away, published three times a year, has featured reprints of Garth (from the Daily Mirror), Charles Chilton's Journey into Space and Nick Hazard, Interstellar Agent, as well as new adventures of the original Dan Dare from Eagle.
• Web Link: http://spaceshipaway.org.uk
Launching in 2011, STRIP Magazine will include a re-presentation of Hookjaw from the 1970s comic Action.
This will be in colour and re-lettered (but not censored), which may upset purists but the work being done is top notch (declared bias - I commissioned it), with some stunning re-presentation work by Jim Campbell and colouring by Gary Caldwell.
• Web Link: STRIP Magazine
BRITISH CLASSIC COMIC COLLECTION PUBLISHERS
Titan Books launched its collections of Johnny Red from Battle Picture Weekly in 2011.
Other collections include James Bond and Modesty Blaise, with more character-focused projects in the works. These include the release of an uncensored collection of John Wagner and Mike Western's classic but perhaps controversial Darkie's Mob from Battle Picture Weekly, on sale in late March.
Titan have also published a number of Dan Dare collections from the original Eagle, The Misadventures of Jane, compiling strips from the femme fatale's early adventures in the Daily Mirror, and seven volumes of Charley's War, with Volume 8 in pre-production - a volume that will include hero Charley Bourne's dangerous encounter with a young Adolf Hitler.
Collections of other strips from Battle are in development, although one major issue is finding good quality copies of the original comics.
Web Link: http://www.titanbooks.com/
• DC Thomson has been no slouch in getting some of its classic comics work in print. Quite aside from collections of Beano and its other humour comics, Carlton have published several collections of Commando stories and of course The Best of Victor was released last year.
In terms of sheer volume of re-releases, 2000AD publishers Rebellion surely win hands down, with a wide range of collections featuring the likes of Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and other. Here's a link to a search for 2000AD titles on amazon.co.uk.
Fans of 2000AD try and keep an eye on the upcoming trade collections over on the 2000AD forum (the latest update is usually within the last couple of pages, so you can skip to the end and work back). It is only updated news is picked up from comments or interviews but graphic novel editor Keith Richardson is around to correct any errors so it is relatively accurate and runs through to the end of 2011.
TV CENTURY 21 COLLECTIONS
Reynolds and Hearn published four collections of TV Century 21 and Countdown stories inspired by the Gerry Anderson science fiction shows such as Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and UFO, with a fifth in the series on its way from the same editorial team (but different publisher, no matter what Amazon says).
• Gerry Anderson's Century 21 Volume One: Adventure in the 21st Century
• Gerry Anderson's Century 21 Volume One: Invasion in the 21st Century
• Gerry Anderson's Century 21 Volume Three: Escape from Aquatraz
• Gerry Anderson's Century 21 Volume Four: Above and Beyond
• Gerry Anderson's Century 21: Volume Five: They Walk Among Us
THE BOOK PALACE
And then there's the work of the Book Palace, who have been republishing a lot of Frank Bellamy's work, and a glorious (but pricey) collection of Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton from Express Weekly.
• Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton: The Complete Adventures
All of Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton stories, gloriously reproduced in colour to the very highest standard and at the same size as they originally appeared in Express Weekly, with over 300 pages!
Wulf the Briton was without doubt Ron Embleton's comics masterpiece after he took over the strip - which was a single page cover feature on Express Weekly - in 1957.
• The Don Lawrence Westerns: Wells Fargo and Pony Express
Wells Fargo and Pony Express … all the exploits of the men driving and protecting the mail stages and their passengers. Wyatt Earp rode shotgun for Wells Fargo in Arizona, Wild Bill Hickok was a coach driver for the Pony Express and even Apache leader Cochise worked as a woodcutter for the Overland Mail.
Web Link: http://www.bookpalace.com
|Black Tower Adventure Volume 1|
The Black Tower Gold Collection - the brainchild of Terry Hooper, who edits the ComicBitsOnline web site - covers the forgotten British Golden Age (1939-1951).
Terry uses lulu.com to publish the collections.
"While people have continued writing and talking about the Beano and Dandy from this period it seems that no one is really interested in the comics of the other companies," feels Terry, "Gerald Swan and Swan Comics, Secret Service Comics, Soloway, Cartoon Art Productions and others.
"This period saw the creation of Britains first occult detective, Dene Vernon (soon to feature in a new book of his own) not to mention Robert Lovett in Back From The Dead. Some may have heard of the British super-man Ace Hart (even if his continuity is a bit odd), but there was Wonder Man, Bring ‘Em Back Hank (a sort of time-travelling Tomb Raider); TNT Tom, given super powers by aliens he rescued. Tiger Man, who got cat-like powers after fighting a tiger… in Africa. The axe-wielding Iron Warrior – one of the bloodiest strips in British comics up until Action.
"There are also Cat Girl, Phantom Maid, Skybolt Kid, Speed Gale, The Phantom Raider, Streamline, Super Stooge and many others including some humour strips.
"The strips were printed in orange, red, purple, blue and even green and considering the throw-away attitude the quality was not perfect," Terry notes. "In some cases it has taken a month of work to remove sellotape repairs, foxing and just plain decayed pages. Quality ranges from high to medium - but then, if you are interested in this period or a comic historian these collections are about the only place you’ll find the strips and cover prices are low (ignoring all the work put into the books).
"They are a labour of love and definitely not big money-makers!
"The Iron Warrior, Krakos the Egyptian as well as The Bat have all returned in new stories but if you want to see British super heroes and crime-fighters as they appeared in the 1940s up to 1950 then these books are for you."
• Check out the Black Tower range at http://stores.lulu.com/hoopercomicsuk
AND THE REST...
There is, of course, a huge amount of British comics material that could be reprinted. Of the companies that own rights, the newspapers are perhaps the most receptive, with Rebellion and DC Thomson leading the field in terms of keeping their properties in print. Egmont is supportive of licensing deals - Billy's Boots was re-published in Striker, for example.
IPC Media own rights to a lot of British characters, revamping many of them back in 2007 in the Albion mini series by Leah Moore, John Reppion and Shane Oakley. There have been limited attempts to reprint other IPC characters such as Steel Claw and Spider (again by Titan Books), but apart from the superb Trigan Empire collections from The Don Lawrence Collection, there's so much more that could be reprinted from their archive - but that's of course dependent on many factors, not least of which is finding an audience.
Strangely, both Kelly's Eye and the Steel Claw are in print in Spanish from Planeta Comics:
• Kelly's Eye (El Ojo Mágico de Kelly)
• The Steel Claw (Zarpa de Acero)
• Trigan Empire (El Imperio de Trigan)
• Contributors to this page: Jeremy Briggs and John Freeman
• Compiled with thanks to 'The Emperor', Marcus Hearn, Terry Hooper and 'Paw Broon'