Thursday, 27 December 2018

ROY OF THE ROVERS - "KICK OFF" (Graphic Novel)

Good afternoon, football fans. It's a pleasure to welcome you once more to 'Footy Fan Focus' with me, Des Limeham...

And me, Johnny Grotson. Today we're looking at the rebirth of a player many had thought they would never see grace a pitch again, the inimitanble Roy race, also known as Roy of The Rovers.

Indeed, Johnny. Roy's career kicked off...

It's a bit early for that sort of pun, Des.

...sorry Johnny. Roy's career started way back in 1954 in Tiger, getting promoted to his own title in 1976. We thought it was all over when he was taken out of the game in 1995, and apart from some substitutions in Match of The Day magazine it certainly was.

Listeners may be wallowing in nostalgia at this point - I know I am! I fondly remember Roy captaining Melchester Rovers to many a title and cup victory, often with last minute goals. he was shot, kidnapped and generally mucked about over the years, but through it all he was always our Roy.

Except maybe when he signed two blokes from Spandau Ballet, eh?

Well, yes, but it proved he was fallable, Des, and no doubt added a few teenage girls to the readership as well. 

So what's the sory with this new book, Johnny? Surely a one legged pensioner isn't going to attract many young footy fans!

You've hit the nail right on the head there, Des .Luckily, writer Rob Williams has jettisoned Roy's history and rebooted the whole football match from scratch. Roy is now a seventeen year old chancer who breaks into the first team of a Melchester Rovers bereft of players and languishing at the bottom of League Two. Mention is made of the glory days of old, but at the moment this is a teanm that seriously needs a rocket behind it, Roy's Rocket if you will.

 So does this mean we're going to see more old characters rejuvinated? Maybe 'The Hard Man' Johnny Dexter, 'Mighty Mouse' or even Gordon Stewart, the 'Safest Hands In Soccer?'

Funny you should mention them, Des...

You told me to, Johnny

Yes, yes... anyway, an interesting fact about the new strip is that the coach of Melchester Rovers is none other than Johnny Dexter himself (who hasn't mellowed, by the way) and the manager is none other that Kevin 'Mighty' Mouse. Roy's team mates include familiar names such as Loty Peake, Vic Guthrie, Paco Diaz and in goal is a young Scottish lad by the name of Gordon Stewart. It's a smart piece of tactics from Williams, and one that will bring a smile to many old faces including mine.

I must say, Johnny, that I was very impressed by the art myself. New signing Ben Willsher, previously a team player at 2000AD, has produced a nice, friendly, uncomplicated style that will entice youngsters. It's a bit more cartoony that his Judge Dredd work, but it fits the subject matter and sizzles with energy when required.I wouldn't be surprised if the lad drew for England one day.

Indeed, Des, and while you were lookig at the pretty pictures I was thoroughly enjoying the script, which is both exciting and funny throughout. Most of the giggles come from Johnny Dexter if I'm honest, and there's nice interplay between Roy and his new Team mates as well.

I see that instead of a comic this is an actual hardcover book, and it's not too big at just 56 pages. This worried me at first but I realised that this makes it the same size as two full issues of your standard Marvel of DC comic at about the same price or cheaper, meaning it is cracking value and sits on your shelf next to all the old annuals.

It remains for me to say, Des, that at the final whistle 'Roy Of The Rovers: Kick Off'' was as enjoyable to read as the old classics themselves without being in any way dated. Personally, I'm eagerly awaiting volume two in March, and hope that there's many more to come. Any final words from you, Des?

I like the pictures, Johnny.

I love you like a brother, Des, but you're an idiot.

Ha ha, you kill me Johnny...

Buy for only £4.50 At Amazon! SCORE!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018


We all remember the joy of a meaty annual at the end of each year, usually crammed full of strips that in many cases weren't good enough for the weekly it was representing. In the case of The Beano or Dandy single page strips would be handily enlarged so they could be stretched out to ensure the publisher got the most bucks for the smallest of bangs. Annuals aren't so much of a thing now, but new mag on the block ComicScene has decided to take the bull by the horns and offer an annual so huge it puts the efforts of the good old days to shame. With great girth comes great price tag, though, and before you shell out your £20 you might be wondering if it's worth the investment.

As far as the physical quality goes, there's little to compalin about. Not only is there 300 pages of strips contained within, but the paper is of a high grade and the printing clear as you could want. Turn the book over and you can read a 'widescreen' sci-fi serial by accalimed creators Simon Furman and Geoff Senior (Dragons Claws, anyone?). Previously unreleased, it's a solid 40 page prequel to their online series.

Elsewhere, the material veers from very impressive to quite woeful. The standouts are a trio of stories from the well respected Flintlock magazine, all writtten by Steve Tanner. Each of these historical tales is a gem, particularly the full length "Lady Flintlock" with lovely art by Anthony Summey. It's the sort of tale that made me vow to investigate the parent magazine in future, so it does it's job well.

The problems start when you get to self published stuff that has obviously never been through the grubby hands of a good editor. You get spelling mistakes, overlong tales, stories that just stop with no resolution.... it can be a frustrating read, that's for sure. John Erasmus' "Happy App" is a nice little future shock, and I was amused by Mike Higg's "Ninja Monkey' and the lovely looking 'Hail To The Cheif' by Peter Duncan and Andrew Pawley. Also of note are a few of Pete Doree's "The Kids From rec Road" strips which are always fun. Special mention goes to Claudia Doyle, who wrote the simple but properly structured "Galactic Man" when she was just 11, and was lucky enough to have a talented dad (Ed Doyle) to draw it up in full colour.

This annual is indeed an admirable attempt to bring a load of comics to the people, I hope that if we get another one next year a bit more restraint will be taken with regards to the content. Showcasing strips from small press magazines is a good way to go, with adverts as payment. We could even see some from the Zarjaz and Dogbreath 2000AD fanzines, for example, or one of the many well edited publications from Owen Watts (The Big O). There's a little too much 'If you've drawn it we'll print it' here, but one still can't argue with the noble intent or sheer wealth of stuff inside.


Monday, 3 December 2018


It's Treasury Of British Comics time again, and 2019 sees the release of Turbo Jones, a character that many will not be familiar with. Turbo (must have been an odd christening) was the star of the short lived, bi-weekly comic Wildcat saw out end of the 80s with it's paltry twelve issues. After a typical hatch, match and despatch merger with Eagle in 1990 Turbo's adventures continued for a while before bowing out gracefully.

The story of Turbo Jones converned Turbo's conclusion that the Earth was doomed (We're doomed, I tellls ya), and the fact that none of the big nobs believed him (see Trump and climate change). He arranges for a massive ship called Wildcat (hey! That's the comic's name!) to be built, so that the human race can search for a new planet. Was he right? Well, as the Earth blows up not long after the colonists have left I'd say he was spot on!

The idea of the Wildcat comic was that it would have several strips, each one following a different main character on the quest for a new world. It's an ambitious and pretty smart idea when you think about it, but obviously something didn't take with the public. Masterminded by editor/writer Barrie Tomlinson, the Turbo Jones strip was lucky enough to be illustrated by the great Ian Kennedy, whose brilliant art elevates some poor scripting in places. Turbo's three main associates were Loner, an ex-mercernary who pays for the whole thing with his lottery winnings (really), Kitten Magee (stop sniggering at the back), a mysterious woman with secrets and stuff, and Joe Alien, who is an alien.

Collected here are Turbo's strips in their entirety, so whilst we are introduced to the others they just disappear to do their own thing. Turbo himself is a bit of a Dan Dare character, all heroic and manly, aided by his companion Robo. Now Robo is quite obviously a chimpanzee that has been cybernetically augmented so he can speak, reason and do helpful electronic stuff. The thing is, he's referred to as a 'Robot' throughout, even by himself, and it's REALLY irritating. Take a look in the mirror, Robo, you're a bleedin' chimp with metal bits glued to ya!

Anyway, Turbo and Robo visit a few different planets and invariably end up getting involved in local affairs, The message seems to be that most aliens are bascially dicks. It's all rather entertaining, though, and when the scripts fall down, which they do a few times, Kennedy's art is always there to drool over. Apparently the comic was aimed at a younger reader than 2000AD, which by then was proper teenage aggro stuff, but it's not a 'kiddy' story and is quite acceptable today for any age. The main problem I have is that for an Editor Tomlinson lets some very poor scripting through the net, with logic going out of the window a few times.

This is the first time I've ever encountered Turbo Jones, aside from reading an article or two, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's the sort of thing that would have a made a great Saturday evening show alongside the likes of Battlestar Galactica dn Buck Rogers, just in comic strip form. Whislt the scripts are sometimes flawed they are still entertaining and contain a few very decent science fiction ideas, and as I've stated the art is as good as you could want. Hopefully if this one sells okay we'll find out what happened to Turbo's crew mates in a future volume.

Turbo Jones is released on Jam 10th 2019