Combat Colin - 30 Yampy Years

Happy 30th Birthday, Combat Colin!

Combat Colin - 30 Yampy Years
Huge congratulations to longtime British comics creator Lew Stringer this morning, whose much-loved clumsy combat hero Combat Colin celebrates 30 years of publication.

Combat Colin's first appearance in Marvel UK's Action Force
Combat Colin’s first appearance in Marvel UK’s Action Force

The first Combat Colin strip appeared in print in Marvel UK’s Action Force Issue 5, published on 28th March 1987 (cover dated 4th April), and has since featured in numerous publications down the years, including MUK’s Transformers, replacing Lew’s “Robo-Capers” and running to that title’s last issue in 1982, Active Images Elephantmen (later collected in Brickman Returns) and, most recently, Aces Weekly. (Lew hopes Colin will be back in that digital anthology later in the year).

Combat Colin character profile from Action Force
Combat Colin character profile from Action Force
Action Force 43 - Cover featuring Combat Colin
Action Force 43 – Cover featuring Combat Colin

“I had a great time doing the Combat Colin strip,” Lew recalls of the character’s early years, “and the editors basically let me do what I wanted (within reason of course). The strips became increasingly bizarre and surreal at times (but still understandable enough for the target audience I hope) and I had a fantastic time on the strip.”

Colin even interacted with other Marvel characters on a few occasions…

Combat Colin - from 1989
Combat Colin – from 1989

Lew has detailed the crazy and often bizarrely surreal history of Combat Colin on his own blog here, but he may not know that I had a hand in ensuring he regained creative ownership of the character back in the early 1990s. The copyright on many early strips in Marvel UK’s STRIP Magazine, including my own “Rourke of the Radlands”, created with Liam Sharp and now revived in the digital anthology 100% Biodegradable, had been thrown into doubt by some management shenanigans, despite a declared intent that characters featured would be creator owned. When Paul Neary became the Editorial Director the acrimony about the rights situation was one of our many pub lunch discussions, and he and CEO Vincent Conran quickly ensured creators had written acknowledgement of their creative rights. That included Combat Colin, in a broad effort by Paul to recoup some goodwill as he laid the foundations for his Genesis 1992 titles.

Combat Colin - from Transformers Issue 262
Combat Colin from Transformers Issue 262
Combat Colin continues in Aces Weekly
Combat Colin continues in Aces Weekly
Yampy Tales Issue 2 - Cover
Yampy Tales Issue 2

I’m glad that although I’ve never been involved in the publication of Combat Colin I did play a small part in his continued success that enabled Lew to happily continue to pour so much creative energy into the character’s adventures down the years.

But I’m even more delighted that Lew – still one of the most-published cartoonists in British comics, across EPIC, TOXIC, Doctor Who Magazine and more, is now working on a new Combat Colin comic of the character, featuring new material and re-publishing strips from his very first appearance onwards. I’m sure longtime fans of the character will be equally excited!

“I’d hoped the first issue would be out now but I’ve been so busy on mainstream comics work it’ll be out later, in May or June,” says Lew. “I’ll post more information soon of course.

“Combat Colin still proves a popular request for sketches at conventions and it’s a pleasure to now meet the readers who read it when they were kids in the 1980s. My thanks to everyone who has read the strip over the years, and special thanks to Richard Starkings for commissioning me to do it in the first place. Of all the strips I’ve worked on, Combat Colin remains my favourite gig.”

Carry on, Colin! And Lew!

• You can congratulate Lew in person at the following events across the UK soon (follow his blog for further dates): 

Stoke-Con-Trent – 9th April 2017, Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire

Enniskillen Comic Fest – 5th and 6th May 2017, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

International Comic Expo (ICE) Brighton – 10th June 2017, Hilton Metropole, Brighton

Birmingham Comics Festival – 24th and 25th June 2017, Birmingham City University

Read Lew’s account of Combat Colin’s publishing history here

Subscribe to Aces Weekly here

Combat Colin, Brickman copyright 2017 Lew Stringer, images used with permission 

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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