Sunday, 1 June 2014

Bulldog Returns

Thirty years ago, when I was a teenager, I created a comic character. I could tell even back then I was on to something. The strip first appeared in 'Amalgam' fanzine but eventually, after some changes and me handing the art duties over to the awesome James Croasdale, Captain Winston Bulldog debuted in his own comic. Self-published, photocopied, A4, it was typical of small press at the time, and actually, even if I do say so myself, a cut above the rest. Fast forward many years and printing is more accessible and higher quality, more brilliant creators are empowered to create their own comics and smaller niche publishers flourish. The notion of amateur small press is almost gone, colliding with print on demand, artisan publishers and mainstream publishers who operate on a relatively small scale but can penetrate the market successfully. There were some forays into attempting to land a publisher for Captain Winston Bulldog, but all unsuccessful apart from the epic 'Bulldog Empire' appearing in 'The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga' volume 1 with Winston's colleague Samurai Commander Keiko Panda on the cover. That was our zenith, and artist Neill Cameron went on to bigger and better things, most notably at The DFC and The Phoenix children's weeklies. Such an array of artists have illustrated my scripts over the years, from 2000AD stalwart PJ Holden to underappreciated geniuses such as Paul Harrison Davies, Mitzi and Kieran Macdonald.
Bulldog by PJ Holden - pinup from Paragon 16

After 'Bulldog: Empire', I wound up the main anthology BAM! (Bulldog Adventure Magazine) with artist Stephen Prestwood briefly taking over the magazine after drawing many of the latter stories. He's great. Where Neill was Bulldog's Alan Davis, he was Bulldog's Ian Gibson. Such a great talent. Apart from the Best Of collections and the one-off short strip collection 'Bulldog Clips' (which are all still available in print from Lulu and as free e-books from Lulu), the character has been in hiatus... until now. Stephen kindly agreed to illustrate a new series for Davey Candlish's 'Paragon', and anthology very much in the BAM! mould. Bulldog is only part of a line-up that includes time-travelling demon hunter Jikan and undead Mexican bandit El Bigote. It's eclectic, it's fun, it's what a British anthology comic should be.
art by Stephen Prestwood from Paragon 16
You can go to Lulu and download the free e-book version or get it in print with its beautiful glossy colour covers. Either way, do head on over to Davey's site to find out more! I was really pleased when he agreed to publish Bulldog. Winston could have been a contender at bigger publishers, but none of the attempts ever worked out. It's a pity - he's iconic and could hold his own beside Judge Dredd or Hellboy on the comic racks. I think the character will always be with me and crop up now and again though, standing as he does for fairness, an unashamedly socialist comic hero working for the military with all the moral conflicts that contains. But, above that, it's FUN. Join Bulldog in his ongoing war against dimension-hopping totalitarians, human-hating vegetable races and... oh, but that would be giving away the villains in 'Paragon'. Buy and find out where it's going.