Check out the main DTT site!

PLEASE NOTE: The main downthetubes.net now features all our news direct, as well as interviews and other features on British Comics. This blog is no longer being updated.

Latest News on downthetubes.net

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Spaceship Away #14 counting down

Spaceship Away, the glossy magazine that is home to new Dan Dare adventures as well as reprints of classic sci-fi strip Journey Into Space and Sydney Jordan's new Hal Starr strip, is nearly out again.

Issue 14 (cover seen left, artwork by Martin Baines) promise to include the following...
The Green Nemesis story continues, Murder on Mars concluding, Jet Morgan's problems escalate in Planet of Fear, Sid Clark's latest model is of a Phant war-machine, Andrew Darlington writes about Dan Dare lives after the original folded and Hal Starr reached the penultimate episode.

And there will be a full colour centrespread by British illustation legend Ian Kennedy. His first work on Dan Dare for many years.

This and much more will be squeezed into 44 full colour pages of A4 loveliness for you to enjoy.

The issue is at the printers currently but will be available at the end of February.

The website with all the details of how to subscribe is avilable here
http://spaceshipaway.org.uk/

Steve Whitaker

I have just learnt that British artist and colourist Steve Whitaker is no longer with us.

I don't know many details except that he died on Thursday after becoming unwell, but at this point I just want to say how sorry I am so sorry to hear this.

I had known Steve for over 20 years, although not as well as some of the regular readers of this web site.

He was an extraordinary talent who will be so missed. I will post more later.

John Freeman

A golden Oldie

In celebration of his 100th birthday Willaim Geoge Bunter, better known of course as Billy Bunter, features proudly on the cover of the Oldie magazine this week.

The Oldie promises "...Deliciously politically incorrect, the Bunter stories were nevertheless underpinned by the virtues of tolerance, decency and loyalty. Bill Hagerty celebrates the Fat Owl's centenary".

The fat owl of the Remove alos had radio programme dedicated to him this week. It was on Radio 4 on Tuesday (19th, at 11:30 am) and was entitled 'Billy Bunter's Birthday Bash' and was presented by Gyles Brandreth. It'll be on the radio 4 website for a bit I'm sure.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Iron Legion Reprinted Again!

The Iron Legion, perhaps the most reprinted Doctor Who strip ever, is to be collected again, this time as a collection of several strips currently being published as a monthly comic by Idea & Design Works (IDW) for the US market.

IDW's Doctor Who Classics comic is not being distributed outside North America for licensing reasons, but amazon.co.uk are offering the collected volumes of the title.

Doctor Who Classics Volume 1, which includes a newly coloured version of The Iron Legion written by Pat Mills and John Wagner and drawn by Dave Gibbons, is scheduled for release in July.

The Iron Legion was the first strip featuring Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor to appear in Doctor Who Weekly on its launch back in 1979, the story set largely on an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire never fell has been reprinted many times. This new colour version by Charile Kirchoff is impressive, judging from the quality of the first IDW issue.

Titan scores with Roy of the Rovers

In an extensive deal for worldwide book publishing rights, Titan Books has acquired a licence to publish an exciting range of classic comic strip collections from Egmont UK, in what promises to be the beginning of a winning range of title series, revelling in nostalgia.

The first character that Titan will return to shelves is iconic fictional footballing hero Roy of the Rovers, with the release of a paperback collection, The Best of Roy of the Rovers: The 1980s, in June 2008, followed later in the summer by Roy of the Rovers Archives, the first volume of a series of hardbacks presenting the classic strip chronologically from its beginnings in the weekly sports comic Tiger in the 1950s.

Joining Roy at Titan are the phenomenally popular boys’ war-story comic Battle, the humorous, long-running Buster, and the violent and mid-1970s forerunner to 2000AD, Action!.

Conceived by Pat Mills, Action! was met with censorship controversy on its release and was rapidly diluted amid a storm of protest that included questions in the Houses of Parliament - but was highly influential in its reflection of the changing social and political climate of the time. (There's more about Action! on www.sevenpennynightmare.co.uk)

From within Battle, Titan has plucked some of the top strips for attention – air ace Johnny Red (drawn by Joe Colquhoun’s and John Cooper), the super cool, Bentley-driving Major Eazy, and convicts-cum-commandos, The Rat Pack.

But it’s not all about the boys; for the girls, Titan has also acquired Tammy, the magazine home to classic stories of boarding schools, sinister holiday camps and secret agents, plus fan favourite mystery-horror comic Misty, with stories of alternate dimensions, reincarnation and ghosts, the tone of which was inspired by classic movies such as Carrie, Audrey Rose and Flowers in the Attic.

Covering an impressive range of some of Britain’s best-loved comics and characters, the launch of this deal sees a major new expansion in Titan Books’ line of classic comics collections, which already includes favourites such as James Bond, Modesty Blaise, Dan Dare, Jeff Hawke and Charley’s War.

• More information from www.titanbooks.com
Buy Titan graphic novels from the downthetubes amazon store
Visit the official Misty web site

Johnston's Dead Space

British writer Anthony Johnston's latest project is Dead Space, a new comic book series from Electronic Arts and Image Comics based on the upcoming survival horror video game.

The new six-book series is set in the Dead Space universe is a co-creation with artist Ben Templesmith, and the first issue is on sale 3 March, with a limited edition version of the first issue with exclusive cover art available at the San Francisco comics convention WonderCon this weekend (22 - 23 February). Anthony will be at WonderCon to promote the book.

Anthony is perhaps best known for his work on comics work such as his much-praised book for Oni Press, Wasteland, and work on Greg Rucka's Queen and Country series, as well as Stormbreaker (adapted from the Anthony Horowitz novels). His next project is a manga verson of Wolverine for Marvel.

He's also an accomplished novelist: his debut novel, Frightening Curves, won the 2002 American Independent Publishing Award for Best Horror. His second novel, Stealing Life, was published last year under Rebellions Abadon Books imprint.

The Dead Space game is under development at EA's Redwood Shores, and set to ship from autumn 2008 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the PC. Johnston is coy about the actual game because of a non disclosure agreement but told Comic Book Resources it looks fantastic.

"The demos I've seen are very creepy, and the book itself is a good fit for both Ben and I. "Intelligent horror" is how we've been labeling it from the off, and hopefully we can live up to that."

Anthony Johnston's Official Blog
• Read the first issue of Wasteland:
onipress.com/thebigwet/downloads/freeissue1
Buy Wasteland Volume 1: Cities in Dust from amazon.co.uk

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Star Trek Online and Streaming

In a major expanison of its online offerings, classic episodes from the US network CBS archive, including Star Trek and The Twilight Zone, are being made available online on CBS.com and across the 300 websites that make up the network's CBS Audience Network, which includes partners such as AOL, Microsoft, CNET Networks, Joost, Bebo, Amazon, Apple and Yahoo.

The episodes don't appear to be viewable outside the US, but the move continues CBS strategy of enabling fans of its content to watch their shows on their favourite sites, rather than forcing them to a specific site. All the content is free to view, supported by advertising.

The initial lineup includes full-length episodes of seasons one, two and three of the original Star Trek - presumably not the recently ReMastered editions featuring new effects - seasons one and two of The Twilight Zone and the first seasons of MacGyver, Hawaii Five-O and Melrose Place, with more programs and clips to be added in the coming months.

More War Toys from Starkings and Moritat

Elephantmen: War Toys #2 (or 3), from US publisher Active Images, goes on sale next week (27 February) in all sensible (and some insensible) comic shops.

Written by former Marvel UK head honcho and First Tiger Richard Starkings (he who got me into the world of comics publishing in the first place) War Toys #2 features by Moritat, recently singled out by Newsarama's Ryan the Iowan as Best Penciller of the Year in his Yearly Review Power Rankings.

The cover is by Boo Cook, with a variant cover also on offer by Ladr├Ânn.

In War Toys, Africa and China are at war. The battlefield: Europe. Enter: MAPPO's genetically engineered soldiers, The Elephantmen with Starkings and Moritat telling the story of the war to end all wars in a special three issue mini series!

In this latest issue of the future saga, France has fallen to MAPPO... but even the Elephantmen have sustained heavy casualties. As Africa's forces advance into the North of Europe, Hip Flask, Ebony Hide and Obadiah Horn find that their way forward is not as easy as they thought it would be.

Click here for a special five-page preview

Chat Show Horror?

No stranger to celebrity appearances, the fourth season finale of Doctor Who is to feature Paul O'Grady, according to The Sun.

The TV presenter will play himself discussing "strange goings-on" during his chatshow as David Tennant's Doctor departs on a mission.

A BBC source told The Sun that O'Grady had been wanting to appear on the show for some time and his role would be a little more "sinister" than people are used to. (There's no word on whether or not his canine sidekick Buster will play his evil side by weeing up the side of the TARDIS).

Doctor Who has seen many celebrity appearances down the years, including Ken Dodd, Hale and Pace and others, some more well received than others. In addition to his work as a popular chat show host, Paul O'Grady has had a successful acting career on stage and on televsion, in addition to his performances as acerbic alter ego Lily Savage.

"Paul has been desperate to be on the show for ages and asked if he could be a guest star," revealed the BBC insider. "Fortunately, Russell T Davies is a big fan of his too, and jumped at the chance.

The scenes will apparently be shot on the set of Channel 4's Paul O'Grady Show, which is recorded at London's BBC TV Centre.

Former assistants Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman and Elisabeth Sladen will also join David Tennant's Doctor and new companion Catherine Tate in the season's two-part finale.

There's no word as yet if Paul O'Grady's own companions, either dogs Buster or Olga, will make an evil appearance by weeing up the side of the TARDIS...

• The fourth season of the modern Doctor Who is expected to begin screening in April.

Mr T in GB (Books, that is)

Preceding the worldwide launch of their Mr. T graphic novel in summer 2008, British publisher Mohawk Media has announced that they are celebrating with a special Limited Advance Edition.

With a total number of only 4,000 copies, Mr. T: Limited Advance Edition - described by Mohawk as an all-new adventure written by Chris Bunting, who also worked on the short-lived AP Comics title launched with considerable press attention back in 2005 - is now available via Mohawk's web site (www.mohawkmedia.co.uk).

The book is drawn by J.L. Czerniawski, who has worked in both the fantasy and comic book industries, including providing art for such properties as Transformers (for IDW) and, with the movie’s director Joe Carnahan, Smokin’ Aces.

Mohawk says it marks the return to prominence of Mr. T, the Mohawk muscleman who was voted the fourth “Greatest American” in a 2003 global BBC poll (behind Homer Simpson but ahead of George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt).

"It’s great to be the star of a graphic novel," says Mr. T. "And great entertainment is always driven by great writing!’

‘There’s my long-time fans, but there’s also a new generation because of The A-Team reruns, my cartoon show reruns, and the renewed interest in Rocky III following the recent sequel," he continues. "That’s humbling, and this graphic novel is my method of reaching them all. I’m so proud of all my life’s work, but to see myself in this book feels extra special."

"We’ve seen comebacks happen over and over again in the entertainment industry, whether it's John Travolta, the Spice Girls, or fictitious characters such as Indiana Jones or Rambo," adds Chris Bunting. "Now it’s Mr. T’s time."

Mr. T last appeared in comics in 2005 from British publisher AP Comics, spearheaded by writer Chris Bunting (interviewed here about that project) and pencilled by Neil Edwards, with inks from Randy Emberlin. Mr. T was also involved in that project as a Creative Supervisor on the series, but it ran for just two issues and disappeared in a storm of controversy widely reported in the comics press. US publisher NOW Comics published 14 issues and one annual of Mr. T and the T-Force, written by Pete Stone with art by Neal Adams back in the early 1990s.

Mr. T: Limited Advance Edition can be ordered direct from publisher Mohawk Media at www.mohawkmedia.co.uk for the exclusive price of £15.99 / $39.00 including delivery. Alternatively, from April 2008, it will be available through bookstores worldwide, including online, by quoting its 13-digit ISBN: 9780955680403.

Under the Eagle

Under the Eagle, a new play from author, script writer and former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel has just begun a three week run at the White Bear Theatre, London.

Directed by Conrad Blakemore, Andrew says the play is a darkly humorous political drama exploring the nature of Britain's 'special relationship' with the United States. When stand-up comic Vi Hooper becomes the reluctant weekend guest of the Prime Minister’s wife, she encounters the US President and gains an unexpected insight into the corridors of power.

Francesca Anderson, whose credits include As You Like It and Godspell, Angela Dixon (seen on TV in No Child of Mine and appearing in the new film Oscar opposite The Bill's Mark Wingett), David Morley Hale, Eve Pearson, Jonathan Rigby and James Sobol Kelly.

Director Conrad Blakemore has worked in the fields of theatre, film and photography. His recent productions include The Lodger (Time Out Critics' Choice), his own adaptation of Strindberg's Miss Julie, Roulette at the Finborough and Happy Christmas at the New End Theatre.

Andrew's previous play, End of the Night, was hailed as an "entertaining, stylish intrigue".

Under the Eagle runs until Sunday 9 March (Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Sunday Matinee at 5pm, no performance Mondays) at the White Bear Theatre, 138 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DJ (nearest tube: Kennington). Tickets £12. Concessions £10. Box office: 020 7793 9193 or book via the theatre web site.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Live-action Akira planned

Hollywood Reporter notes that anime and manga classic Akira is getting the live-action big-screen treatment courtesy of Leonardo DiCaprio and Warner Bros.

A link to British comics is of course tenuous but Marvel UK did run the manga in the short-lived monthly title Meltdown, which I edited back in 1991.

Goodness only knows what Editorial Director Paul Neary was thinking when he negotiated the deal to reprint this amazing comic by Katsuhiro Otomo as even if Meltdown was continuing even today, it would probably still not have finished running the strip...

Gary Whitta has been hired to write the adaptation, which DiCaprio will produce.

Akira
originated in 1988 as a manga, later published in the West by Marvel's Epic Comics, then Dark Horse and then as an animated film co-written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. The story is set in a neon-lit futuristic post-nuclear war Tokyo in 2019 where a teen biker gang member is subjected to a government experiment which unleashes his latent powers. The gang's leader must find a way to stop the ensuing swathe of destruction.

(Meltdown also reprinted strips such as Nightbreed and Light and Darkness War and was, like the weekly Havoc, I suspect, a stop gap to get new titles on UK shelves while the real Marvel UK regeneration, codenamed Genesis 1992 that included Death's Head, Warheads and others, was developed).

Monkey Nuts!

Following up on our earlier post about the new DFC comic, just to note the Etherington Brothers Monkey Nuts comic makes its debut in The Guardian this coming Saturday (23rd February).

"After a long(ish) period of enforced silence we are proud to finally announce that StudioBlinkTwice is back with a comic vengeance!" they tell us, revealing Robin and Lawrence have been studiously ferreting away on a number of brand new comic properties which will form part of the line up of the brand new weekly comic, DFC.

The boys have also been working up material for release in The Guardian newspaper’s weekend supplement, The Comic, and the first issue of their brand new series, Monkey Nuts, which will also run in DFC, hits the shelves of every newsagent/ supermarket/ garage/ fish & chip shop in the country on Saturday 23rd February.

So, get ready to meet Sid and Rivet – a most unlikely crime busting, weirdness-fighting duo.
Their mission: to protect the tranquillity of the Bermudan paradise, the Isla de Monstera, from all manner of oddballs and criminals.

Your mission: to laugh at their hopeless endeavours.

Prestonpandemonium Returns

Just a quick reminder (since Jeremy Briggs posted the info a couple of weeks ago) that Prestonpandemonium III, the third comics and small press event in Prestonpans, Scotland, will take place on Saturday 31st May 2008 – 12.00– 3.00 p.m. at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg (a.k.a. “The Goth”), 227-229 High Street, Prestonpans, EH32 9BE.

Scotland’s Smallest Small Press event takes part during the annual 3 Harbours Arts Festival which attracts several thousand visitors.

Admission is free.
Tables can be booked at www.prestonpandemonium.com

Doctor Who, Torchwood, top iplayer faves

In an announcement that may renew calls for the BBC to contribute to increasing Internet infrastructure in the UK, the corporation has announced the number of programmes downloaded or streamed on demand via BBC iPlayer has already reached 17 million, up to 500,000 a day.

Top shows on the new digital service for the UK included Doctor Who and Torchwood, with the BBC making ever more content available for viewing and download (the latter currently PC only).

Announcing revamps and expansions to its online offerings, the BBC, which is already working on a US version of iplayer, says BBC-branded entertainment channels showing clips on Yahoo! with Blinkx and MSN to follow soon. (The existing BBC-branded entertainment channel on Yahoo! is at uk.tv.yahoo.com). An iplayer for iphones and ipods is also due for release soon, along with a mobile iplayer.

A selection of BBC shows is now also available for purchase and download from the iTunes Store in the UK (www.itunes.com/uk).

The BBC says over 17 million programmes have been streamed or downloaded on demand on BBC iPlayer in the first seven weeks since its marketing launch, according to the latest figures. Daily volumes have been increasing strongly during January and February and last week the total number of streams and downloads in a single day broke through the half a million barrier.

During January, more than 2.2 million people watched a programme on BBC iPlayer, with approximately 11 million TV programmes streamed or downloaded on demand. This complements the 15.9 million radio downloads during January (rising from 13.4 million in December) and totalling 27 million requests for TV and radio programmes.

While all this is good news for the BBC which spent over £130 million developing the iplayer as it tries to reach out online to licence fee payers, there have been concerns that the services is playing havoc with ISPs bandwidth and last year there were calls from some for the BBC to compensate them. But The Register reports that during the announcement of viewing figures, the BBC's Director of New Media and Technology Ashley Highfield said the impact of iPlayer on ISP networks has been "negligible", with traffic representing a "few per cent" of overall bandwidth.

Last August, the BBC hit back at ISPs, pushing the issue back to the ISPs, which it said are responsible for pricing, monthly limits on how much data can be downloaded as well as acceptable use polices for their users.

"Inevitably, some ISP packages will be more suitable than others for the download of large amounts of data," the BBC said in a statement. "All broadband is not equal."

The row highlighted how much investment ISPs need to put in their infrastructure to accommodate greater demand for video and the rift over bandwidth was seen by some observers such as Jonathan Coham, a broadband analyst at Ovum, as a red herring, where the real issue was that the BBC's content would compete with content offerings from ISPs such BT Group and Tiscali. Based on the viewing figures announced today, those content providers have every reason to be concerned.

The BBC has also been criticised for favouring Windows users on iplayer over and open source and cross platform approach to offering downloads as well as streaming, concerns BBC Director General Mark Thompson sought to address in a post to the BBC Internet Blog earlier this month, citing technical and rights issues as some of the reasons for not offering downloads to Linux and Mac as well as PC users.

BBC iPlayer Top 10: 25 December 2007 - 12 February 2008

1. Doctor Who

2. Louis Theroux Behind Bars

3. Torchwood

4. Ashes To Ashes

5. Torchwood

6. Six Nations Rugby

7. Top Gear

8. Mistresses

9. Mistresses

10. Torchwood

New Knight Rider set for full series

The Guardian reported earlier this week that NBC's Knight Rider remake looks likely to earn a full series commission, after the 1980s show returned to US TV on Sunday night with almost 13 million viewers.

The two-hour Knight Rider TV movie special was watched by 12.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen preliminary ratings for Sunday.

Newcomer Justin Bruening is now the star of the show, although cult favourite David Hasselhoff made a guest appearance as original Knight Rider Michael Knight.

Oz Comes to the UK

(Updated 20/3/08): The top-rated mini series Tin Man, inspired by The Wizard of Oz and screened on SciFi Channel US last year, will air in May on the UK SciFi Channel.

As we reported last year, the fantasy adventure, produced by RHI Entertainment, earned the miniseries "most watched miniseries in Sci Fi history" status with 6.3 million viewers over the three nights.

The screening follows SciFi's successful bid for exclusive pay TV rights to the critically acclaimed drama across three European regions; the Benelux, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the UK.

The agreement - negotiated by SCI FI’s Head of Acquisitions Monica Iglesias and RHI Entertainment’s President Production & Distribution Joel Denton - also includes mobile, internet and VoD catch up rights for the UK.

The series is an epic re-imagining of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that gives the story a heavy science fiction fantasy emphasis and gives only allusionary references to most of the original story. Gone is the Wicked Witch Of The West and country-bumpkin Dorothy Gale… leather-clad sorceress Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson) is pitted instead against DG (Zooey Deschanel), a young woman living in the American Midwest is who transported to the decaying world of The O.Z (The Outer Zone) to fulfil her destiny.

Richard Dreyfuss delivers a powerful performance as The Mystic Man – the contemporary version of The Wizard – alongside Glitch (Alan Cumming), an odd man missing half his brain; Raw (Raoul Trujillo), a wolverine-like creature longing for inner courage; and Cain (Neil McDonough), a heroic former policeman (known in The O.Z. as Tin Men) seeking vengeance for his scarred heart.

The acquisition of Tin Man continues SCI FI’s relationship with international distributor RHI, through which the channel secured similar UK, CEE and Benelux rights for the new Flash Gordon series, which is the inspiration for a new comic being produced by a British team.

Starring Eric Johnson of Smallville fame in the title role, the series is already airing on the SCI FI channel in Poland, and Tin Man will premiere on Sundays at 8.00pm from May 11 in the UK.

Captain Britain's new book

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): Marvel releases the first issue of a new book starring Captain Britain in May, written by Paul Cornell and drawn by Leonard Kirk.

Captain Britain and MI:13 is a new ongoing series which finds some of the Marvel Universe’s most popular British heroes coming together to fight the shape shifting Skrulls’ “Secret Invasion” of Earth when it hits the England of the Marvel Universe.

Paul Cornell and his editor Nick Lowe talk extensively about the series in an interview just posted on Comic Book Resources.

Intelligence organisation MI:13 figured prominently in Cornell’s Wisdom miniseries, whose job is to deal with the weird stuff, using occult, alien or superhero methods.

The inaugural story in Captain Britain and MI: 13 unfolds over the course of the series’ first four issues. “It's about bare survival for Britain and the team, out of which Pete Wisdom and Captain Britain, in their different ways, manage to conjure up what the major, ongoing situation for our heroes is,” Cornell tells CBR. “There's a big point to what they do and why they do it, and why they'll stay together. They're not just a random super team; they're here to do a job. This isn't 'that British book', it's a book that uses certain things about Britain to its advantage, but we might well take these British heroes off to the United States in a later story.”

Captain Britain first appeated in Captain Britain Weekly in the 1970s and has gone through many transformations down the years. It will be interesting to see what Paul does with the character and the many guest stars he's included.

Read the full interview on Comic Book Resources

Pullman joins new weekly British comic

Britain will see the launch of a brand new comic in May, which will include a weekly strip by award-winning author Philip Pullman.

DFC, the new weekly comic for boys and girls is the brainchild of David Fickling, publisher of the eponymous and highly successful imprint, David Fickling Books, at Random House.

DFC's content will be created by world-class contributors, including Philip Pullman, well known for his enthusiasm for comics. He's currently working on a weekly strip entitled The Adventures of John Blake, illustrated by John Aggs, one of the contributors to RapidFire.

The details of Philip's work are a closely guarded secret – only to be revealed when the first comic is delivered into homes by the Royal Mail on Friday 30th May.

Launch season strips in the DFC also Charlie Jefferson and the Tomb of Nazaleod by Garen Ewing, creator of the highly acclaimed Rainbow Orchid; Mobot High by Neill Cameron, creator of Thumpculture; The Boss by Patrice Aggs; and Good Dog, Bad Dog by Dave Shelton (pictured right) and Monkey Nuts by The Etherington Brothers, creators of Malcolm Magic – both featured in the Saturday Guardian.

"I still remember the heart pounding excitement of receiving my very own comic on the doormat every week and now the DFC can bring that to every child in the land," enthuses David Flickling. "But this isn't a revival. For today's children it is almost a brand new form of entertainment. Only completely original material will be published in the DFC. No advertising, just 100% storytelling delight. Joy in an envelope."

"I've always loved comics, and when I first heard about the DFC, I leapt at the chance of being involved" said Philip Pullman. "The chance to work in this wonderfully fluid and exciting form was too good to miss. I've had a lot of fun with the story of John Blake, and I hope readers will enjoy it as well as all the other great things in the DFC."

The full colour DFC will be supported by the innovative DFC website - www.thedfc.co.uk. Currently a holding page, the website will open to reveal an exciting world of interactivity (including a creative comic maker), fascinating background material and new editorial content.

"I'm a book editor but I reckon a lot of my story sensibility came from reading comics," adds Fickling. "They are great story carriers. And you want to read, you don't even think of it as reading, it's far too much fun. I've always wanted to publish comics, or at least books like Tintin or Asterix. This is a truly international product, anyone wherever they are in the world can receive the DFC, with just a simple click on the website".

Needless to say this is very exciting news for British comics fans - launching an adventure comic in today's tough market is no easy task but the creative line up looks terrific and we look forward to seeing the first issue in May.

Digital Artists Handbook

folly - the digital arts agency and charity based in England's NorthWest - recently launched an important new project, the Digital Artists' Handbook, backed by Arts Council England, which might be a useful resource for comics creators.

The Handbook is a new, up to date, reliable and accessible source of information that introduces artists to different tools, resources and ways of working related to digital art.

The Handbook has been edited by Marloes de Valk and Aymeric Mansoux of GOTO10, a collective of international artists and programmers and folly's Creative Director, Kathryn Lambert, says the organisation is very excited about the Handbook.

"We hope it will be an indispensible resource for artists seeking an introduction to the world of free and open source technologies," she says. "folly strongly believe that free/libre open source software (FLOSS) is an empowering, cost-effective and democratic way to introduce digital art technologies to artists".

Building on the colloborative and accumulative nature of the web, the Digital Artists Handbook will always be a work-in-progress, with new articles being commissioned on an ongoing basis, and new fields explored.

While there are as yet no articles on digital comics creation, the folly team would no doubt be happy to consider them (click here to send article suggestions).

folly describes the goal of the Handbook as a "signpost", a source of practical information and content that bridges the gap between new users and the platforms and resources that are available, but not always very accessible. The Handbook will be slowly filled with articles written by invited artists and specialists, talking about their tools and ways of working.

"We're especially pleased that folly has worked with a range of international artists and specialists who have shared insight into their areas of expertise," adds Kathryn.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Tennant and Tate's tet-a-tet

(via the official BBC Doctor Who site): Catherine Tate is to interview David Tennant in the first of a new series of BBC Radio 4's Chain Reaction.

The lighthearted show's format is a form of 'interview tag', with each edition's interviewee going on to quiz a new guest the week after. Next week, David will be chatting with Richard Wilson, who played Doctor Constantine in the Doctor Who stories The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.

Wilson, in turn, will interview one-time Big Finish audio Doctor Arabella Weir in the the third show.

Chain Reaction is recorded in front of an audience and the interviews focused on the life, career and the passions of the interviewee but often prove to be as revealing about the interviewer.

Chain Reaction can be heard at 6.30pm on Thursday 21 February on BBC Radio 4. It will also be available via Listen Again for a further seven days.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Al Davison's new project

(via the Forbidden Planet International blog): Comics artist Al Davison, perhaps best known for his critically-acclaimed graphic novel The Spiral Cage (incredibly, the Active Images edition is not available through amazon.co.uk), is busy with a new project about Dwarfism.

“I have been commissioned by Nowgen/Manchester University to produce a graphic novel about Dwarfism," he reveals on his blog, where several pages of the new story, Alisa's Tale, are previewed, and more will follow as they are completed. "I, along with actress and Psychologist Amy Silver ran a couple of drama workshops with a group of young people with dwarfism, and some average of height, they also kept diaries between the sessions.

“I then went over the results with Amy, and I wrote a treatment for the book. I created a character that started off isolated, having not met any other Dwarfs, her mother, also a dwarf, died when she was young, and her Father is average height, she is fifteen. We follow her journey to becoming self sufficient and discovering that she isn’t alone. Her story is paralleled by a children’s book her father is producing that, initially, reflects his inability to understand what his daughter is experiencing.

"... The book addresses issues such as access, prejudice, even the use of the word dwarf, amongst other things.”

Read more about Al's new work on the FPI blog
Visit Al Davison's blog
Buy the Active Images edition of The Spiral Cage from amazon.com
Buy The Spiral Cage from Astral Gypsy

Norbert le Mouton

Norbert le Mouton aka Derek the Sheep(via Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics): Gary Northfield's popular Beano (and first creator owned) strip Derek the Sheep has been collected into a 64-page softback book for the French market.

Published by Actes-Sud-l'An 2, the full colour Norbert le Mouton album collects the early Derek material.

Sales of the French edition at last month's Angouleme Festival were apparently brisk, according to Gary, who owns the rights to the character.

Bloomsbury will be publishing a Derek the Sheep hardback this September in the UK. "It will comprise the same stories (as Norbert le Mouton)" says Gary, "but with Beano-esque speech bubbles as opposed to handwritten, and with a totally different cover".

View pages from Norbert le Mouton
Visit Gary Northfield's web site
Pre-order the Bloomsbury Derek the Sheep hardback

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Hi-Ex Lives On

One of the organisers of the Hi-Ex comics convention in Inverness, Vicky Stonebridge, will be returning to Hi-Ex's Eden Court venue on Sunday 25 May 2008 to host two workshops on How to Draw Manga.

The two sessions will be for 9 to 12 year olds from 12.30 to 2.00pm, while 12 to 18 year olds will get the chance to participate between 2.30 to 4.30pm.

More details are available from the Eden Court Box office on 01463 234 234 or from their website.

Meanwhile the Hi-Ex site confirms that the convention will be returning to Inverness in February 2009.

Book and Magazine Collector 292

Book and Magazine Collector The latest issue of Book and Magazine Collector, number 292 dated March 2008, has two comics related articles by the writing duo of David Ashford and Norman Wright.

In the latest of the Great British Comic Artists series they cover Mike Hubbard, best known for taking over the Daily Mirror's Jane strip from Norman Pett, but who also worked on Knockout, Tina, Modern Wonder and Look and Learn amongst others. The 13 page article includes a photo of the artist and a short Price Guide to his publication.

Ashford and Wright also contribute the cover story, One Hundred Years of Billy Bunter. This 14 page article covers the Bunter character from his original appearance in The Magnet story paper in 1908 to his last new appearance in the novel Bunter's Last Fling in 1965.

If the comics articles in the magazine aren't enough to tempt you to buy the issue there is also a 13 page feature on the American science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon.

Who's in London

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): Doctor Who comes to London, and not just in a specially created event for EastEnders, either. The Doctor Who Exhibition, Earls Court, London opens to the public Easter 2008.

The exhibition will be situated in the Museum Hall, beneath Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

Web Link: www.doctorwhoexhibitions.com/earls.html

BBC Angouleme Comics Festival Report 2008

BBC reporter Hugh Schofield has filed a report on this year's Angouleme Festival on the BBC web site as part of coverage by Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent news programme, still reeling, it would seem, from arriving in the comic crazy town and being bear-hugged at the station by a sky-blue pixie in a Phrygian bonnet.

France sees itself as the world capital of "bandes dessinees" or BDs, what we might call comics. Thousands of albums are published every year and the international festival in the town of Angouleme is a major event in the European comics calendar.

Read the report on the BBC web site
The programme was broadcast on 16 February and you can "Listen Again" for seven days

Solar Wind lives on

(with thanks to Paul Scott): The legend that was UK indie title Solar Wind (now buried in a shallow grave on the equally unmissable www.omnivistascope.com) lives on.

Warlock Holmes, the photo-comic detective wizard extrordinaire featured in the award-winning title has a new comic out, in full colour featuring the Solar Wind stories plus a super length new story.

The Casebook of Warlock Holmes, available via the omnivistascope web site, contains three of Warlock Holmes' finest cases: The Curious Case of the Black Bog Beast, The Jam Smuggler's of Rumaica and A Christmas Case for Warlock Holmes.

Warlock Holmes first appeared in Solar Wind issues #7 and #8, and while the first two stories are reprinted here, an all-new 11 page story is included. The first two stories have been re-edited to fit the new format, but have no fear, we're told no new jokes have been included.

Griefbringer by Ben Clark, another Solar Wind contributor, also has his own comic book. Visit magicbeans23.wordpress.com for more info.

Contact downthetubes

• Got a British Comics News Story? E-mail downthetubes!

• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials: editor@downthetubes.net

Click here to subscribe to our RSS NewsFeed

Powered by  FeedBurner


downthetubes British Comics Events Calendar

downthetubes Newsletter

Receive an email version of the downthetubes blog!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner