By Lew Stringer
Available from Lew’s web shop, direct from Lew at appearances and a limited number of comic shops
The Book: The second in a six-issue mini-series reprinting Lew Stringer’s “Combat Colin” strips from the 1980s and early 1990s.
Combat Colin was a character Lew Stringer created for Marvel UK back in 1987 and became a popular back-up strip in their comics. When The Transformers comic ended in 1991 and Marvel clearly had no plans to revive Combat Colin, Lew enquired about copyright and thanks to negotiations by John Freeman, Marvel UK agreed to return the rights to its creator. Most of the strips have been scanned directly from Lew’s original artwork, and he has added dates to the foot of every strip so you know where and when it first appeared.
The Review: Re-reading more of these “Combat Colin” adventures, crammed with daft one liners, crazy villains, and insane predicaments for hero Colin and sidekick Semi-Automatic Steve, my delight at these new collections is tinged with regret that these are characters very unlikely to ever get commissioned today.
Behind the crazy new cover of this 40-page collection – comprising 70 half page strips first published from February 1988 to July 1989 – you can’t help but wonder how some modern parents might react to a gun-toting comic hero, for all the obvious absurdity of Colin’s encounters with villains such as Madprof and Mr. Magno for the first time. You can almost sense the apoplexy from quieter parts of suburban Surrey even now, which is all a bit sad, but of course Colin wouldn’t be the first comic character to be a bit of a victim of changing times.
For those who can see beyond the concept, I know you’ll more than enjoy stories that include the return of the evil Aunt Arctic of the Antarctic, the secret of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, the introduction of the Giggly Sisters and much more. The Bigfoot sequence is a particular favourite, with some pertinent comment about humans and the way we treat our planet that is as pertinent as it now as it was back in the 1980s.
Comprising strips published when The Transformers and Action Force comics merged, all that’s missing from the collection (in terms of sequential publication alone) are only a few stories featuring the Gwanzulum, characters created by Richard Starkings and myself for Marvel UK, who appeared in different guises in every comic published by the company within the space of a month, including Doctor Who Magazine, The Real Ghostbusters and Thundercats. Because they are Marvel owned, Lew decided to omit them from this collection.
Despite this, there’s more than enough to enjoy, so kick off your DMs, pull up a wobbly chair and slip back to more innocent times, when a machine gun wielding nutter was a perfectly acceptable as a humour strip character.
Long may he be enjoyed – no matter the modern day naysayers of suburban Surrey!
• Combat Colin is the latest in a series of comics that Lew Stringer is self-publishing, reviving characters he owns the IP to. Previous comics have featured Brickman, Derek the Troll, and Rock Solid, Space Hero. All are available to buy directly from Lew at his online store
Lew Stringer has been a professional comic artist/writer for 35 years, and has contributed numerous strips to Beano, Buster, Oink!, VIZ, TOXIC, Sonic the Comic, Doctor Who Magazine and many more. Find him online at www.lewstringer.com