Wednesday, 21 February 2018


You're not mistaken at all Semi-Automatic Steve, it's the start of 40 more pages of exciting adventures for you and your pal, the unmistakable Combat Colin!  Fans of Marvel UK's Transformers comic like I was will be in their element here with the first selection of Lew Stringer's humour strips from that title from 1988 and '89.  Originally created for the weekly Action Force comic, Colin came along for the ride when it merge into the Robots in Disguise from issue #153 onwards and was an instant hit with his new readers.

I came on board from #192 so Colin was all I ever knew as far as the comic's humour strip went and it was only from friends giving me their old issues years later that I was introduced to Lew's original strip, Robo-Capers, episodes of which you can read here and here.  It all meant when Lew released #1 of his new Combat Colin collection the vast majority of the strips were brand new to me, having been printed originally in the pages of Action Force.  It was a great read, very funny and a top quality comic to boot:

Well now Lew has finally released the news we've all been waiting to hear, with the publication of the sophomore edition, collecting the first eighteen months worth of strips from the newly merged comics.  Now, about ten or so years ago I did read through the Transformers comics from beginning to end (which I'm currently showing off through photographs on Instagram, with catch-ups on the blog) so surely I can't be looking forward to this next issue as much as I did the first?  I've read all of these already after all.  Yes, but that was a long time ago and, when you've just hit 40, comics you read when you were 30 seem like an awful long time ago and I'm going to relish rereading all of these again.  I have every faith these strips will be just as much fun as last time.  Of course, having them all collected together into one volume is also a huge bonus and the main selling point here:

Speaking of selling, that's exactly what Lew is ready to do.  #2 is available right now from his site's online shop for the great value price of only £3.50 (plus £2 postage), where you'll also find #1 still available too either individually or as a bundle with the new issue to save on postage.  He's also written up some further details on his two blogs, links to which are below.  My own issue is on its way (thanks Lew!) so expect a write-up very soon.  I can hardly wait myself!

You can also purchase both issues of Combat Colin in a bundle with Brickman Returns (read my write-up here), in which Colin guest stars in several strips.
Also(!) Derek the Troll (there's a write-up for this one too) is getting a second printing and will be available again very soon!

Friday, 16 February 2018


Remember this?:

One of Hasbro's less successful toy ranges was the Visionaries series of action figures, which included holograms on their chests and weapon staffs, as well as on various fantastical looking battle craft.  Holographic toys just didn't seem to sell well in the 80s.  Despite being really cool to look at, kids had to stop play to hold them up to a light source at a certain angle in order to see them in their albeit glorious 3D, along with any animation when you turned them slightly back and forth.  Even as a child I remember it meant during play you just couldn't see them, then with Visionaries in particular there appeared to be something missing.

I watched the cartoon every single Sunday morning on BBC Two and loved it dearly.  The characters could turn into magical totems, animals which matched up with their own personalities, and I always felt the toys should've included a small animal figure in there.  Instead we'd characters who on TV and in the comic could transform themselves but when we went to play with them, we had to stop, hold them up to a light, watch the hologram and then, well, pretend the characters had changed.  Ah, a child's imagination, eh?  The story and the set up was superb though, so even with this omission from the toys I was still in love with them and spent hours with mine.

Back to comics though.  I'd only started collecting Marvel UK's regular Transformers comic from #192 and so was unaware of the Visionaries' previous appearance in the title, or that they'd had their own comic for five months here in the UK too!  I did get the annual for Christmas 1988 though, the toy range's one and only real festive season (though I'd continue to collect the toys for one more year).  This included the lengthy original story and a couple of text pieces, so when they appeared in the pages of Transformers as the back-up strip I was initially disappointed it was the same story all over again, only split into seven weekly parts.  I still enjoyed it though, however my wish for further adventures was not to be as they disappeared after that, never to return again.

I've read some of their original adventures over the years, specifically in earlier Transformers and their UK comic will be making an appearance on the blog at some point.  But recently while in a local comic store awaiting my copy of the latest Ghostbusters Answer the Call I noticed part of a word, "aries" poking out from behind a comic on the shelf.  I immediately thought of the Visionaries and wondered what this similar sounding comic was, but I never expected it to actually be them!  Plus they were in a comic with the Transformers!  I'd heard Hasbro were considering bringing them back as toys for today's kids, with Paramount already saying they planned a crossover universe between the hugely successful Transformers movies, a relaunched G.I. Joe, Visionaries and more Hasbro properties.

(Brilliantly, Paramount did state - I paraphrase - "Don't worry, you won't have to watch them all!", which I thought was a funny dig at certain other franchises.)

Unfortunately the comic was the second issue but thankfully it was easy enough to order in the premiere issue so now I have both editions available so far:

My first reaction was a negative though.  That really is a terrible title logo isn't it?  It's barely legible, especially on that darker cover of #1.  Why on earth did they not use the actual ones they've banished instead to the bottom of the page?  That aside, I'm excited to get stuck in.  It does spin off from IDW's Transformers universe which I haven't been following but this won't be an issue, with a quick recap included.  The cover of the first issue in particular has got a lovely gloss to it, with pieces of the art raised up which I've tried my best to capture in this photo below.  Everything points towards this premiere issue being a big deal and a possible start to an ongoing Visionaries, so again I have to ask why the title banner looks like it was created at the last minute on a word processor!

Anyway, I've some catching up to do so will be reading these individually as soon as I can and writing them up immediately afterwards.  First impressions though?  Inside there's a page introducing the characters before the story itself and my first reaction was why have they changed the Visionaries so much?  But then I remembered how the Transformers movies very successfully updated their characters and online I found a great source for fans of the Knights of the Magical Light and if you click here you can see exactly how these brilliant, overlooked 80s characters have been updated.  I love them!  Not only are they more diverse, which is great, but also there's so many nice little nods to the originals in there.  More than that, it's clear the artist Fico Ossio has gone right back to the source material and developed and updated them with great respect, looking like a very natural progression to a modern day take.  It's got me very excited to get stuck in and I'll be back with more as soon as I do.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


Some great news pig pals!  Lew Stringer has just announced he's put up for sale some of his drawings from the Sketch-A-Day concept a couple of years back.  Available through eBay each one is an original piece by Lew, not a published version (in fact none of these were for print and instead were put up online) or a copy, these are the actual drawings.  Here's a quick sample of the 17 pieces you can get your trotters on:

Each page is an A5 which means you're getting a decent-sized image which would look great in a frame.

The bids are starting between £9 and £13 per sketch, so get yourselves on over to Lew's auction page now and take part for your chance to own an exclusive one-off sketch from one of Oink!'s most prolific cartoonists.