Campfire Comics

These are not British comics but are in fact Indian comics. However they are far too good to go unmentioned and India used to be in the empire anyway, so hush.

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Three of the titles, all from the “Classics” range.

They are best described as being in between Classics Illustrated and Classical Comics. Like Classics Illustrated they are in a ‘typical comic sized’ format with a low page count, and like Classical Comics they are drawn in a modern “graphic novel” style rather than a proper comic art style with simple colouring. The price is middlin’ too – Classics Illustrated is £3.25, Classical Comics are £9.99 (assuming you can find them in a shop which you usually can’t, so add delivery on that) and Campfire Comics are £6.99.

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 Classical Comics on the left, Campfire in the middle, Classics Illustrated on the right

 Campfire comics are divided into four ranges – Classics, which are drawn from classic literature, Mythology, which are drawn from legends (Classics Illustrated also do this – for instance Robin Hood and Knights of the Round Table – which have no actual ‘author’). Biography, which tell the story of famous people (Winston Churchill forthcoming, i suppose! Would be nice to compare with The Happy Warrior) and Originals, which are new stories.

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The typical Campfire art style, in this case from Hound of the Baskervilles. There seems to be a “house style” enforced – but not too rigidly!

The comics make a big thing out of the long association with the camp fire and story-telling. An idea which i think is great! I just wish i had thought of it myself.

Of course, it would be best if they were printed in the form of a weekly comic called “The Campfire” with several stories running at once, chapter-by-chapter. But that sort of thing isn’t done anymore, so instead they are to be found in the graphic novel section of bookshops alongside the usual 100-page long punch ups. As they are pretty thin you’ll have to look carefully – but the reward is well worth it!

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A further size comparison.

If you can’t find them in shops, there’s always the website: http://www.campfire.co.in/ which contains the magic words “free delivery worldwide!”.  You can’t go wrong really!

Bad news from Classics Illustrated! + new stuff.

After my last post, suggesting that perhaps Classics Illustrated were going to start using a more sensible colour scheme in Macbeth, i couldn’t wait to get the comic – well i did yesterday, and it appears that i was premature with my praise. The preview picture on the back of the issue had evidently been taken from an old issue, as they hadn’t finished ruining “modernising” the artwork for publication. Here is what the previewed page actually looks like:

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As you can see the bright primary colours have returned with a vengeance! Just look at this page from elsewhere in the issue:

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Pink and yellow fields? Purple mountains? Green and yellow castle walls? Based on the preview image on the back of this one, the next issue, The Invisible Man, is going to be back to abnormal too.

New items!I’ve actually bought a great deal of new stuff since my  last post, which will hopefully be described in future posts. But here are some of the more recent and interesting items:

Sexton Blake: A Celebration

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This is a book from 1994, published by “Museum Press”, which details the history of Sexton Blake in exhaustive detail (though not as exhaustive as the recent radio documentary… but that also made a few mistakes / deliberatley twisted details to ‘fit in’ with the awful “comedy” series / read out period adverts in a ridiculous voice). I paid £25 for it and i haven’t seen it before, which suggests it’s pretty rare. Perhaps “self published” in a small print run? The end of the book mentions a planned TV series, which ended up never being made.

A TV series could be well-done today if producers put thier minds to it – taking Doctor Who for inspiration they could jump around Blake’s extraordinary lifespan, setting one episode in the 1890’s and the next in the 1950’s, for instance. Mind you i wouldn’t trust many people in the ‘meedja’ to do such a series correctly… they’d probably turn it into unfunny trash just like with the radio series. (And apparently the 1978 TV series was pretty bad too)

James Bond Omnibus

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This is a beautifully-reproduced collection of several of the James Bond newspaper comic strips which existed before the films. They are products of their time rather than being, well, products of their time like the films are. This means that Bond thunders around in a pre-war “blower” Bentley rather than an Aston with loads of comedy gadgets. I certainly know which one i’d prefer! The collection is enticingly numbered 001 – are they aiming for a ‘complete run’ of all the strips eventually?

The Gem issues 1-15

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Wha-a-a-a-a-t?, as Quelchy himself might say. These aren’t the originals, but facsimilies, seemingly sold individually just like the real issues were (only on much thicker, better paper) and bound privately by a collector, as opposed to the W Howard Baker preprint books which collected ‘runs’ of issues as a book.I didn’t know there had been individual facimilies issued… perhaps they were sold through the now-defunct “Old Boys’ Book Club”? (well, i beleive it continues as a Charles Hamilton focused Yahoo group… but i was summarily thrown out after, i suspect, they looked at the other groups i was a member of – gay/swinging ones – and got rid of me) Either way there was several of these being sold on Ebay, the Gem in blue covers and the Magnet in red covers, all beautifully bound and certian to last down the generations, it’s a shame the collection was being broken up really, but i couldn’t have afforded them all! Still it’s a shame i didn’t buy more as several would have looked great on the shelf together:

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Oh, and like Batman, the most famous character from this comic didn’t actually appear in the first issue! Here he is appearing in the third:

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Tom Merry & Co certianly took over in The Gem a lot more quickly than Sexton Blake did in the Union Jack. In issue 11 he moved from his initial Clavering school to St Jim’s, where he would remain for almost 40 years (erm, best not think about it, it just works!) and from then on the main story in each Gem was about this school and the boys and masters in it. Once the Magnet had been launched and established crossovers between the schools and characters of the two papers (and later other schools from The Boys’ Friend, and girls schools from papers such as School Friend) became commonplace. Other AP characters including Sexton Blake also made appearances from time to time.

Good news from Classics Illustrated!

Well, i’ve been meaning to make this post after my “christmas” post reviewing the 1914 Christmas issue of The Union Jack. But as that post is taking time to get written (or started) and as we’re nearing the end of the month i suppose i’d better make this one.Basically every issue of Classics Illustrated carries a small preview of the next issue on the back cover, and the preview of next month’s issue, Macbeth, looks as if they are either using the original colouring, or else thier “modern recolouring” is going to be done a lot more skilfully than it has been:


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When Classics Illustrated’s re-publication was first announced there was no small amount of controversy (well, OK, a few annoyed posters on Comics UK) that the artwork was going to be re-coloured in a “new, modern way”. This meant horrible bright primary colours that destroyed some of the finer line-work and made a lot of the art look needlessley cartoonish. Just take this scene from Jane Eyre, it’s supposed to be her discovery of burned-out ruins on a bleak moorside, but looks like something from a western!


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