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Friday, 27 July 2007

Creepy and Eerie return... but who owns the characters?

I'm a huge fan of Warren's classic titles Creepy and Eerie -- the time travelling 'Rook' a particular favourite character -- so make mo apologies for a straight as supplied reprint of Dark Horse's press release about their revival, although I have to wonder quite where the copyright lies as regards some of the characters featured in the original titles. See below for more about this.

The magazines that gave a whole generation the shivers are back. Creepy and Eerie were the definitive horror and sci-fi comics of the 1960s and flourished up until the early 1980s. Dark Horse Comics has entered into an agreement with New Comic Company to create archive editions of this classic material, as well as launch new Creepy and Eerie comics for modern horror fans. The licensing deal will encompass publishing, select film and TV development, and merchandising. Many of today’s brightest stars will lend their talents to the venture, including horror legend Bernie Wrightson (City of Others) and modern master Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre).

Creepy is best remembered for its classic horror and was hosted by Uncle Creepy, while Eerie often ventured into science fiction and featured Cousin Eerie as its host. The rest of the gang includes Hunter, Child, El Cid, Marvin the Dead Thing, and the newly developed Creepy Family.

The magazines, originally published by Jim Warren are remembered as presenting some of the era’s greatest genre comics work.

“Both Creepy and Eerie are fondly remembered by comics fans as representing the best of science fiction and horror, and Dark Horse is proud and excited to relaunch these classic titles,” said Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson.

“Mike Richardson and Dark Horse have an impressive and deep understanding of what it will take to help us correctly re-launch Creepy and Eerie. It’s a great fit for our brands,” said New Comic executive and Submarine Entertainment Co-President Dan Braun, who negotiated the deal in cooperation with CAA — who represents both New Comic and Dark Horse. Deals in TV and Film are expected to be announced shortly.

New Comic Company acquired all rights in all media to the Creepy and Eerie comic book series earlier this year and was formed by New York based Submarine Entertainment and Los Angeles based Grand Canal Film Works.

New efforts are expected to debut this fall with the classic tales being prepared for the hardcover Dark Horse Archive series.

New Comic and Grand Canal Film Works executive Craig Haffner added, “The depth of this library across the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres makes it truly tantalizing for a multitude of different platforms. Our association with Dark Horse will take us one step closer to realizing our goal of returning the Creepy and Eerie brands to their former stature and beyond.”

Dark Horse has set a tentative release date for the comics in early 2008.
I think this is great news: many of the Warren strips are simply superb, and well deserving of a modern collection. However, given the bizarre history of Warren, I suspect that since some creators feel they own the characters published -- creator Bill Dubay says he owns "The Rook" for example -- there may be some interesting spats ahead. Other characters and stories may also have reverted to the artists.

Dark Shadows Returns

Variety (subscription required) reports Warner Bros. is teaming with Depp's Infinitum-Nihil and Graham King's GK Films to develop a film based on the 1960s daytime supernatural TV show Dark Shadows.

Notching up a staggering 1,225 episodes, Dark Shadows is something of a cult classic amnong its many fans, who include Johnny Depp. The soap, which aired weekdays on ABC in the US from 1966 to 1971 featured vampires, monsters, witches, werewolves, ghosts and zombies and is celebrated at regular Dark Shadows Festivals. Two feature films were produced in the 1970s -- House of Dark Shadows, heavily adapted from the TV series plot lines, and Night of Dark Shadows - and was revived, albet briefly, in the 1990s by NBC.

A new Dark Shadows pilot was produced for in 2004, but was not picked up for broadcast.

Gold Key (and, in the 1990s, Innovation) published comic books based on the series and a newspaper strip - see panel above - drawn by New York-based artist Kenneth Bruce Bald (under the pseudonym "K. Bruce") was published between 1971 and 1972, which appeared in US titles such as the Los Angeles Times and The New York Daily News. there have also been several Dark Shadows books, including Barnabas & Company: The Cast of the TV Classic Dark Shadows and The Dark Shadows Collectibles Book by Craig Hamrick the latter only available from the Pomegranate Press website (and at Dark Shadows Festivals)

As a child, Depp revealed in an interview for website Combustible Celluloid in 1999, the vampire patriarch Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid was a huge obsession. "I loved Barnabas Collins more than I loved the Harlem Globetrotters," he explained. "I wanted to be Barnabas Collins so much that I found a ring, it was probably one of my mother's rings, and I wore it on this finger, and I tried to comb my hair like Barnabas Collins, and I was trying to figure out how I could get fangs. It really had a heavy impact on me, a heavy influence on me."

Infinitum-Nihil recently secured a rights deal to the show with the estate of Dan Curtis, the producer/director who created the soap. Depp and King will produce the film with David Kennedy, who ran Dan Curtis Productions. until Curtis died in 2006.

Web Links

• UK Dark Shadows website: www.collinwood.net - this site has a detailed episode guide and an exhaustive links section
darkshadows.com - More useful resources
Dark Shadows Reborn All-new Dark Shadows audio drama on CD from Big Finish
Darkshadowsdvd.com (for US fans) · MPI Home Video (an all region box set, Dark Shadows: The Beginning, is apparently in preparation)

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Paisley Who

The rather self-explanatory Adventures In Time And Space - An Exhibition Of Doctor Who Memorabilia is currently on in the Paisley Museum and Art Galleries in the Scottish town of Paisley near Glasgow. Free to enter and running until Sunday 26 August, the museum is displaying a selection of props, merchandise, models, costumes and figures from the television series.

Paisley Museum has a surprising history of promoting the television programme. In 1988, as part of the celebration of 500 years of the town, they celebrated 25 years of the programme by presenting a similar display of items organised by the three central Scotland local groups of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, complete with an exhibition booklet with cover art by Raymond MacFadyen. The then Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, opened the exhibition and the museum even opened up their lecture hall on the Saturday of the exhibition closest to the actually anniversary date for a fan event which, while not advertised as such, was rapidly dubbed PaisleyCon.

Raymond MacFadyen would go on to organise Doctor Who exhibitions in Kilmarnock, Nairn, Forfar, Dunfermline, Stirling and Motherwell, while one of the people behind PaisleyCon, Stuart Halliday, persuaded the Museum Of Childhood in Edinburgh that the capital shouldn’t be left out. Their exhibition ran through the summer of 1990 and included a visit from Sophie Aldred who played companion Ace. The tour buses in the capital even began stopping on the road outside the museum so that their passengers could photograph the Dalek in the window.

Meanwhile back in Paisley in 1992 the museum brought the Behind The Sofa exhibition from London’s Museum Of The Moving Image north of the border and this time it was opened by the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. The associated convention with the new exhibition was organised by ex-Who producer John Nathan-Turner who, under the banner of The Doctor Who Roadshow, brought the Brigadier, Nicolas Courtney, the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Carole Anne Ford, and the fourth Doctor himself, Tom Baker, to a sell-out crowd.

It does leave you wondering though if that young Paisley Doctor Who fan, David McDonald, ever made it to any of those events back then. Perhaps, perhaps not. Maybe he was too busy listening to the Pet Shop Boys and changing his name to David Tennant.

Classic British Comic Creators: Handy Links

Courtesy of downthetubes contributor Jeremy Briggs, here's a handy list of links to pages about, and featuring the art of,  just some comic creators who arguably created some of Britain's best comics up until the 1990s.

I'm sure there are other creators deserving similar accolade, particularly many modern creators working on 2000AD and other titles, but this is a start!

Frank Bellamy
frankbellamy.co.uk is a terrific web site devoted to the man who not only drew strips for Eagle but also TV21, Swift and the Radio Times.


Luis Bermejo
Luis drew mainly war stories and made many contributions to the Thriller Picture Library, and took over the Eagle character Heros the Spartan from his creator Frank Bellamy.

Jesus Blasco
The artist who brought chilling life to The Steel Claw. British comics expert Lew Stringer points out that the images on the page are not not his most representative style.

Geoff Campion
Personally, my favourite Campion strip is Spellbinder, which appeared in Lion, but he also
drew Stonewall Jackson for Eagle

Ian Kennedy
Ian's work on Dan Dare for the 1980s Eagle and many other strips for a variety of companies is without equal

Brian Lewis
A regular contributor to the TV comic Countdown, Lewis also drew strips for House of Hammer.

Mike Noble
Probably one of the best 'likeness artists' ever when it came to bring comics life not just to puppet series such as Captain Scarlet for TV21 but live action shows like Robin of Sherwood for Look In.

Ken Reid
Ken's hilarious characters such as Faceache and Frankiestein are as funny today as when he first drew them. 2000AD co-creator Pat Mills wanted Ken to draw a strip for the title, but managers balked at the idea of there being anything funny about the survivor of a nuclear war living in a fallout shelter. Some of the samples on this page aren't actually by Ken Reid, but the pages does lead to some great links about this important cartoonist.

Dudley D Watkins
Creator of Oor Wullie and many striops for an assortment of DC Thomson titles including Topper.

Roy Wilson
Pre-World War II artist perhaps best known for cartoon animals such as George the Jolly
Gee Gee and Chimpo's Circus

Mike Western
Mike's work included many, many briliantly-executed war strips for titles such as Battle Picture Weekly

Titan Re-Releases "Hammer Story"

Fifty years ago, Hammer Films released their first ‘gothic’ horror movie, The Curse of Frankenstein, beginning a series of films that changed the face of horror cinema. ‘Hammer Horror’ made international stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and inspired a generation of Hollywood filmmakers, including George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, earning the company an esteemed place in cinematic history.

Over the decades, Hammer Films (now under new ownership) has been the subject of dozens of books, essays and documentaries; now, Hammer has given active backing to a fully-authorised history of the company. Compiled with unlimited access to the Hammer archives this new edition of The Hammer Story from Titan Books, due for release 26 October 2007, provides a film-by-film dissection of the history of Hammer Films, dripping with rare promotional material and previously unpublished photographs.

Co-author Marcus Hearn is a highly acclaimed expert on Hammer Films (and he did some brilliant work for me when I edited Doctor Who Magazine) and was the editor of the short-lived Hammer Horror magazine, for which Alan Barnes wrote features.

The first edition was excellent and Marcus tells me this second revised edition is packed with new pictures and considerably improved versions of the old ones. Titan are also doing a limited edition with a leather cover, which sounds very fancy.

The Hammer Story is, frankly, one of the best books on Hammer Films ever written, in my opinion, and well worth grabbing if you're a fan.

Buy The Hammer Story from amazon.co.uk
Buy The Hammer Story from amazon.com

Top Ten Hammer Facts

• 2007 is the 50th anniversary of the release of Hammer’s first gothic horror movie, The Curse of Frankenstein.

• Hammer films influenced a whole generation of film directors, including Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton and George Lucas.

• Though best known for their horror films, Hammer also made thrillers, swashbucklers, war movies, and comedies. In fact their comedy On the Buses was the British box office champion of 1971!

• Hammer were also responsible for the indelible image of Raquel Welch in a fur bikini, in their historically inaccurate but hugely entertaining dinosaurs vs. humans epic One Million Years B.C.

• Hammer’s films were exported around the world, and benefited the British economy to such an extent that the company was presented with The Queen’s Award to Industry in 1968.

• The ‘vampire bats’ which menaced the cast in Kiss of the Vampire were actually toys bought from Woolworths.

• Hammer were masters of the poster tagline. One of their best was for The Mummy’s Shroud: ‘Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet!’

• The legendary Bette Davis starred in two Hammer films, The Nanny and The Anniversary.

• The even more legendary Oliver Reed scored his first leading role in Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf.

• Hammer Films Limited was recently bought by a company owned by John de Mol (the Dutch media giant behind Big Brother). With several new films in development, Hammer is set to rise from the grave!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Danger Diabolik on DVD

Danger DiabolikKitsch, cult and seriously cool, Danger Diabolik - out on Region 2 DVD from 13 August - is one of those 1960s weird films that remains impossible to pigeonhole.

Based on the comic book adventures written by the sister act of Angela and Luciana Giussani and directed by fellow Italian Mario Bava, Diabolik is an enduring yet under appreciated tale of glamour and heist with a healthy dose of danger thrown in for good measure.

With a superb cast and production values for the time, web site Eccentric Cinema says of the film that "in many respects one of the most successful comic book adaptations ever filmed, Diabolik shows director Mario Bava at the top of his game.

"A painter with a tremendous interest in graphic design, he clearly understood the comic book medium exceptionally well," says Troy Howarth. "Compared to other films of its ilk — including the better known Barbarella, shot at the same time with some of the same cast and crew — it never comes across as condescending to its subject matter or stiff in its attempts to translate the art form to the cinematic medium."

John Philip Law plays Diabolik, a dreaded murderous thief whose sole aim is to wreak as much havoc as possible on the entire government for his own pleasure and amusement. Helping himself to hefty amounts of cash and a highly prized set of emeralds and gold, Diabolik is determined to defy authority and will let nobody stand in the way of increasing his own financial gain and twisted pleasure; a thrilling premise which blurs the traditional lines of good and evil in a film.

Together with his beautiful and curvaceous girlfriend Eva, played by Marisa Mell ,the delicious duo are sexier than Batman and Robin and more ruthless than Bonnie and Clyde. As the perilous pair swing their way through the sixties in sleek white jaguars, hiding from the Mafioso and cops in their glitzy, grotto of a lair, no one can argue that they don’t dodge the law with innate panache.

Danger Diabolik has remained a cult reference point for many subsequent beacons of cool including the Beastie Boys’ 1998 video ‘Body Movin’ – included on the DVD Special Features - and is also said to have influenced Roman Coppola’s film, CQ.

The film is a pop art classic and includes deeply wicked scenes that most Mafioso flicks can only dream of and thankfully boasts an impressive line up of special features (a bare bones version of the film was considered, but this special edition has been released instead) including commentary from John Phillip Law and Tim Lucas and the accompanying documentary ‘Danger: Diabolik from Fumetti to Film’

Buy Danger Diabolik from amazon.co.uk

RedEye Re-scheduled, Donations Sought

Originally scheduled for release in May, the critically acclaimed Redeye 7 has been hit with a number of delays, which has lead to a restructuring of the entire magazine, and a rethink on how best to produce a regular publication promoting Brit comics.

Says editor and publisher Barry Renshaw: "I'm trying something new: RE7 will now become RedEye Winter 2007 Special. Double sized, it will serve as a bookend to the first volume.

"I think all the contributors have done some fantastic work they can be very proud of over the last few years, but without the financing to pay them, it's not fair to expect them to be working all hours to send stuff in. And although we sell out of each print run, without the initial investment to push it beyond several hundred copies at a time, we won't be able to get the mag in front of as many people as we know would want to read it."

With mounting costs of print bills, convention costs and postage charges as demand grows for the magazine, there comes a point when one have to step back and decide in what direction the project should go.

"It's a fact of life that the major problem facing comics in the UK is finance, a way to make it pay for itself," states Barry. "What I intend doing, in the 18 month long break between RedEye Vol 1 and Vol 2, is to establish a business model that will not only serve to make Redeye a success, but also one that can be adopted and adapted by other publishers. As a companion peice almost to the Rough Guide out in October at the Birmingham Comics Festival, I'll be looking at any grants, government or arts council funding, private investing and advertising/marketing that can be used by Brit comics.

"The results, positive or negative, I hope will be a shortcut to success for other people."

In the meantime to get the RedEye Winter 2007 Special to the printers, the editor is looking for help.

"I'm asking for donations to help make the magazine to print, putting a request out on MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, blogs and message boards. I'll be adding a Paypal Donate button to www.enginecomics.co.uk with the next update.

"The donations will go towards not just the printing but the running costs of distribution, conventions and postage. If it doesn't hit the required figure by October, the content will
instead be published on the web in December. Subscribers will receive a refund at that point in October for any unpublished issues, and the Redeye subscriber button will be taken down shortly from the site."

To give a taste of what will be in the Special, the magazine will expand on its normal mix of interviews and articles on creators old and new. "Behind a fantastic wrap around cover by Malcolm Magic artist Lorenzo, we have a great interview with the Brothers Etherington on their new Moon! series; we also speak with New York cartoonist Liz Baillie, creator of My Brain Hurts; the Godfather of modern British Comics, Pat Mills, in an uncut, epic face to
face interview done over two days; the creator of Matter, Irish cartoonist now living in Canada Phill Barrett; and inventor of the Ultranet and Book of Lists, Paul Rainey; plus a few surprises.

"We also have an article on the Secret History of Irish Comix; Dave Baillie's instructive Grammar of Comics; a retrospective on the much loved Transformers Marvel UK comic; and we investigate the creation of Look and Learn, the highly influential 1960's comic."

Reviews will continue to be published at the Owl in Daylight blog, which will be updated again very shortly, so you can still send review copies to the same editorial address.

"In addition to this," adds Barry, "I'm planning more reviews the Indiespinnerrack podcast and a channel on youTube looking at Brit creators. By using these other mediums as alternate forms of marketing, we can help fulfill RedEye's original mandate of introducing people to great comics.

"The RedEye Special will be the best of the bunch, and it's best to go out on a high note. I hope everyone else will think so too."

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Crazy Mary joins ROK Comics

Acclaimed comic Crazy Mary has joined the ranks of a growing number of independently-created comics on the mobile comics website ROK Comics, edited by downthetubes John Freeman.

Crazy Mary is a cyberpunk action series about a bounty hunter, Mary, who can see a twisted supernatural universe that overlays and interacts with our own. Mary uses this ability along with her military training to compete in the intense world of “freelancers” a blanket term applied to Bounty Hunters, Bodyguards, Detectives, Assassins, and any other folks who get their hands dirty.

Crazy Mary combines elements of SF, Action and Horror and delivers a heroine perfect for the new millennium on the new millennium’s hottest platform.

Crazy Mary is created and written by Michael Colbert and art by critically praised painter J.K. Woodward (Peter David’s Fallen Angel, Marvel’s X-Men Mythos: Beast).

A free sample promo and serialized episodes are now available for download through www.rokcomics.com.

Crazy Mary also exists in analog form through Digital Webbing Presents as an on-going series, starting in November 2007.

• Official Crazy Mary Website: www.whoiscrazymary.com

Transformers Comic Signing!

To celebrate the launch of Transformers comic, a special Transformers Comic signing is taking place on Saturday 1st September at the London Film and Comic Convention.

All we can tell you at this stage is attending the signing so far will be writer Simon Furman, artist Geoff Senior and editor Steve White. The Transformers Camaro (Bumblebee) as seen in the new movie will be on display as well.

For updates on this signing and information about a very exclusive competition on the day, join Transformers Comic MySpace page - www.myspace.com/transformerscomicuk

The London Film and Comic Convention will take place at Earls Court 1, Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9TA.

Fret for the Day!

Fret for the Day by Nick Miller

Really Heavy Greatcoat artist Nick Miller just sent me this gem -- just one of his regular "Frets for the Day" published on his blog.

It's about time some newspaper started publishing these!

Transformers UK #1 Reviewed

Ian Wheeler has reviewed Transformers #1, published by Titan Magazines, for downthetubes. Click here to read the review

Monday, 23 July 2007

John Freeman interviewed on Nightgig

Heads up everybody! After wrestling with Skype (actually not that hard once I realised my headphones had a volume control) I can confirm that I will be being interviewed for the comics podcast site Nightgig.

I don't think the interview will be broadcast live but check out www.nightgig.com/gigcast for the final interview over the next few days, which will centre on my work for ROK Comics.

The interview is to be conducted by hosts Tim Shea and Scott Gallatin.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

David Lloyd at San Diego

David LLoydDavid Lloyd just dropped me a line to advise that if any downthetubes visitors are heading for San Diego ComiCon, he'll be signing there at the DC Comics stand on Friday from 12.30-1.30pm, and Dark Horse stand at 5-6pm. Then Saturday at DC from 4-5.30pm.

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