downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...
The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013, but we're glad you're here, because that's currently undergoing some under the bonnet refurb! So we've brought this blog back from the dead to tide us over.
We expect to be back up and running next week, just before the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival - see you there?
Hop over to www.downthetubes.net for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!
Saturday, 15 March 2008
Heading up the Film & TV book category was Titan’s hardback companion to Tim Burton’s bloody-thirsty musical thriller, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Mark Salisbury, while in the graphic novel category, Titan held strong with the top two sellers.
At number one was the first volume of the phenomenally successful Heroes, the graphic novel tie-in to the acclaimed US television series, which has already reprinted multiple times since its publication in late November 2007, and is set to be released as a paperback for the first time in July.
Number two in the chart was the perennially popular Watchmen, released as an 'Absolute Edtion' in February . Already regarded as a classic among graphic novels, and the only graphic novel voted into Time magazine’s Top 100 Novels of all time, the movie adaptation of this stunning tale is now in production for release in March 2009.
With more Watchmen titles in the pipeline for Titan in the build up to the film’s release, the company says this is a title that won’t be moving from the limelight in the coming months.
Los Angeles-based animation studio Blur, whose credits include graphics for games such as Tabula Rosa (Quicktime movie link), Warhamer Fantasy and Marvel Ultimate Alliance, will provide designs for the adult-skewed project, expected to consist of eight or nine individual segments with different directors.
Fincher, who's also directing comic book adaptation Black Hole, is expected to direct one segment, publication owner Kevin (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Eastman another and Tim Miller, owner of Blur Studios, a third.
All three will produce the film.
Launched in 1977, Heavy Metal is well known for its blend of dark fantasy/science fiction and erotica, the brainchild of publisher Leonard Mogel who, according to Wikipedia, discovered the magazine on which it is based, Métal Hurlant, while in Paris the the mid-1970s to launch the French edition of National Lampoon. (Métal Hurlant itself ceased publication in 1987 but resumed in 2002, published by Humanoids Publishing).
Mogel licensed the American version, renaming it Heavy Metal and reprinting strips from Métal Hurlant by artists such as by Enki Bilal, Jean Giraud (also known as Moebius), Phillippe Druillet, Milo Manara and Philippe Caza. Strips specifically for the US Heavy Metal include work by Richard Corben and Matt Howarth, and the current magazine includes features and interviews alongside comics.
Heavy Metal has previously inspired an eponymous animated Canadian movie in 1981 (also an anthology) and a direct-to-video sequel, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K, in 2000 (although this was based on based on The Melting Pot, a graphic novel written by Kevin Eastman and drawn by Simon Bisley, not stories from the magazine. That comic is currently being serialised on the HM web site).
• Heavy Metal Official Site
• Heavy Metal Fan Page
Friday, 14 March 2008
Folk reading downthetubes may recognise Steve as the artist behind the brilliant Astounding Space Thrills, one of the best SF web comics ever, which he tells me is about to be collected.
Steve's other cartooning work includes drawing Michael Chabon’s Escapist and, most recently, Star Trek: Year Four for IDW. In order to draw Kirk and Spock, Steve had to get approval from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Steve is, he tells us, Shatner-approved.
• Read Steve's "Gaffe of Media" Strip | • digg story
The actors will perform comedy stand-up as well as talking about Red Dwarf, celebrating its 20th anniversary of the show, and answering questions from fans.
It's the first time the pair have embarked on a tour together (although they're both circuit veterans, and Norman once toured with Chris 'Rimmer' Barrie back in the late 1990s), and there are plenty of dates to choose from.
The pair will also be attending 13 conventions in the United States from July through to December. See Official Red Dwarf site for venues and dates.
• Full tour dates at www.normanlovett.co.uk/gigs.htm with more dates to follow.
Changes to The Comic Book Challenge submission process are detailed on the contest website, but include the submission of three pages of artwork, instead of only the single page required in previous years. Aspiring comic book creators will have one month to submit their entries at www.ComicBookChallenge.com.
An internal Platinum Studios committee will select the Top 50 entrants, who then will move on to pitch their ideas to a panel of celebrity and entertainment industry judges on 24 July during the 2008 Comic-Con International in San Diego, CA. The finalists chosen by the judging panel will then have their work voted on by fans across the globe, with the winner receiving a multitude of prizes including the coveted publishing deal.
“We’re upping the ante a little bit this year with our three-page requirement because comics are about effective storytelling in a visual medium and not about key art or character designs,” said VP of Content Development, Dan Forcey. “We really want to see what your vision for the piece is and that you can really shine in the medium of sequential art.”
“We have seen The Comic Book Challenge grow significantly in just a few short years,” said Platinum Studios Chairman & CEO, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. “With last year’s entrants representing nearly two dozen countries -- triple the number of countries from our inaugural contest -- we look forward to continuing to build on the success of The Comic Book Challenge.”
The Comic Book Challenge 2008 winner will receive a publishing deal with Platinum Studios, which will include print, online, and mobile distribution. In addition, the company will help develop the property for film and television.
The Comic Book Challenge past winners include DJ Coffman’s Hero By Night, which sold out through Diamond Comics Distributors during its first print and is now an ongoing series in its second volume, and Jorge Vega’s 2007 winning entry, Gunplay, which will debut at Wizard World LA.
Gunplay centres on a buffalo soldier, post-Civil War madness in the South, and a terrible curse.
Thursday, 13 March 2008
With the release of his new book, Twelve Hour Shift, Matthew Badham has just interviewed London-based cartoonist Sean Azzopardi and both have kindly given permission for us to republish the piece here.
In the interview, Sean talks about his do it yourself ethic, what's good and bad about the small press, and just what's going on comics-wise down at London's Camden Market.
How did you first get into this small press malarkey?
Around 2001, I had been writing and drawing some material and trying to work out how to make a comic. With some help from Jessica Abel's website, I had it figured eventually. Then, taking advantage of my offices photocopier, I printed my first comic, Grey Sky. This was then distributed via a plastic bag at the Bristol Comics Con in 2002.
Loads. It varies from day to day. At the moment, I'm reading manga, and Osamu Tezuka is my current favourite author.
Twelve Hour Shift seems to have a lot of autobiographical content, but you've decided to make it a fiction with Steve Jones, the main character, almost like another you. Why is that?
Simply that I wanted to put some distance between me and the material, to prevent it spiralling into a self-pitying, whinge fest. When I started Twelve Hour Shift, I was feeling pretty miserable about a lot of things. Developing a story around this would maybe become very boring quickly for the person reading it. If I had a character I could speak through, I thought that it might curb this excess. The character quickly developed its own personality and voice, and ran the show, but I'm not sure I like Steve Jones, really.
Ed is an attempt at balance, or trying something different, a light story. Up to the first issue of Ed I had been wallowing in the grim and gritty introspective gutter. I found it difficult to present this to people as it was all a bit miserable. So, I thought about it, about what the life of a cheery character would be like. I looked at my home life and the normal events that surround it, and made this Ed's world.
I projected a sort of idealised reality onto him, in the hope that one day this will shape my life. He's a stay at home illustrator, enjoying the day feeling fulfilled.
Will there be a similar collection of Ed mini comics when that series is finished, just like Twelve Hour Shift?
Yes. I have finished Issue Four, and two more issues are scripted and storyboarded. When they are completed, hopefully this year, then I will collect them into a book. I would like to have it ready for the end of this year.
Have you approached any pro' publishers? Any luck there?
No. I don't feel my self-published work is of a standard that a monthly comic demands. I did have a brief experience where I was drawing a book for NBM, but it fell down because I felt I wasn't up to the task. Which was the right decision.
What other projects are you involved with at the moment?
What's going down at Camden? How are you involved?
The Camden Comics Stall is great fun. I turn up every two weeks and help sell comics. There is a bit more to it than that, though. There are a lot of ideas floating around, and various individuals choose which of these ideas they think they would like to handle. For instance, we needed a website, so I set that up, but it needed a banner, so Oliver (Lambden) and Phil (Spence) designed that. David (Baillie) decided to design some promo stuff. Then there is Oli, who seems to have a very good grasp of promoting stuff.
It's really inspiring, something I have always wanted to be involved in. A group activity that everyone can contribute to, and benefit from, while remaining an individual creative.
What are the good and bad things about the UK's small press scene?
The good things?
The good aspect of the small press is that there is a ready-made platform to launch your work from. The people are very friendly and will help you with any difficulties you have, will publish your work (in anthologies) and review it. The social side of things is excellent. It's a very vibrant, happening environment.
The bad things?
Cheerleading everything in small press. The idea being that all small pressers will benefit from this, which I'm not sure that they will.
I don't see anything bad, but there are a few things that maybe I feel uncomfortable about. I sometimes think that there can be a bit too much self congratulatory back slapping in small press. This can extend to slightly ridiculous claims for the merits and achievements of some publications. This also extends to an industry-in-a-bubble attitude.
Now, I'm sure I will get a good kicking for this, and these are my own views, so there we go. I have been to a lot of UK cons, read a lot of stuff on-line, spoken to a lot of people and the one thing I hear again and again is that we are the industry when it comes to comics in this country. This is quickly followed by a verbal beating up on the big two American comics companies.
This worries me on some level. The output of self-published material has increased over the six years I have been involved in the small press, and due to digital equipment, the full colour comic is no longer expensive or difficult to produce. Distribution is also more sophisticated. These are all good positive developments.
But there's still a healthy percentage of shite produced. And anyway, I believe outside of self publishing, there is a comics industry in the UK. Shouldn't this be embraced in some positive way?
My attitude has maybe come about because of making Twelve Hour Shift. Putting together a book, getting involved in other stuff around publishing, has changed my viewpoint. I am a lot more appreciative of the effort that goes into producing a book. Even a mediocre one. My attitude when I was grappling the office photocopier, for my first issue, and my attitude now, is Do It Yourself. But I want it to be f****** brilliant DIY! I don't want the shelves falling down in my house and someone telling me I have done a good job.
What's next for Sean A?
Probably hiding from angry self-publishers at Bristol. Just remember, I have curly hair, and go under the pen name Oli.
Go on, recommend some good small press comics for my readers.
Ninja Bunny by Phil Spence, Tales of the Flat, written by Laurence Powell and drawn by Oliver Lambden, who is getting better and better. Anything by David Baillie, who is an excellent writer, but is also a much-improved artist/Illustrator. Oli Smith writes and draws some good stuff, but his upcoming projects, Brick (with Oliver Lambden), Fish, and some unnamed sci-fi epic all show a departure from the autobiograpical stuff, very interesting indeed.
Sean Azzopardi, thanks for your time.
• Twelve Hour Shift costs £6.95 + £2.00 postage. Click below for Paypal details. For other payment methods contact Sean Azzopardi.
"On this whistle-stop tour we learn some interesting stuff about Paul including how we got started in writing, who his favorite doctor is, his favourite superhero as well as his favorite medium to work in," says Barry Nugent of Geek Syndicate, the podcast guide "to the murky underbelly of geekdom".
The podcast also delves into some of Paul's renowned Doctor Who episodes and discovers some of the inspirations behind them, and Paul takes listeners through a typical writing day and gives some tips for any would be writers out there, especially his thoughts on writer's block.
In the pipeline from Paul is the new Marvel comic Captain Britain and MI-13, and Paul shares his thoughts on Cap's place in the Marvel Universe and, more importantly, the fast growing legend that is Captain Midlands.
The Geek Syndicate, part of the UK Comic Book Podcast Group, are a UK based group fronted by David Monteith and Barry Nugent, producing a critically-acclaimed weekly podcast celebrating and commenting on all aspects of "geek life", including comics, books, movies, tv, games, technology … and booze!
• Geek Syndicate Episode 72
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
A tributes page has been added to the American artist's official web site, and in lieu of flowers, Dave's family would like people to make donations to the Hairy Cell Leukemia Research Foundation.
Best known for his "good girl" art - particularly of 1940s model Bettie Page, the subject of a book with James Silke, Queen of Hearts, published in 1995 - and The Rocketeer, first published by Comico, Dave was born 29 July 1955 in Lynwood, California. As soon as he became known in comics fandom Mark Evanier says "his skills as an artist were instantly evident to all, and he was encouraged by darn near every professional artist who attended the early cons, but especially by Jack Kirby and Russ Manning."
His first work was for Manning when he began editing a line of Tarzan comic books in 1975 which were published in Europe, working on those comics and also assisting Russ with the Tarzan newspaper strip. Soon after, he worked on a few projects for Marvel (including the Star Wars comic, later working on the newspaper strip with Russ), followed by work as a storyboard and layout artist for Hanna-Barbera in 1977, working with another brilliant comics artist veteran artist and brilliant animator Doug Wildey producer of the Godzilla series.
It was around this time that he became briefly involved in a relationship with Laura Molina, for whom he became something of an obsession and the subject of a controversial art project, Naked Dave, to which he strenuously objected to the point of taking legal action. The controversial work has become the focus of much critical study.
In 1982, Dave created The Rocketeer, later a Disney film, the hero Cliff Secord based on himself and his sidekick, Peevy, on photos of Wildey. The comic first appeared as a back up strip in SF title Starslayer in 1981, centering on an aviator, Secord, who becomes a masked hero after stumbling upon a top-secret rocket backpack. Four ensuing solo comics later, The Rocketeer became an underground sensation, considered a hiply square update of old action serials.
The book was stunning but as Evanier acknowledges, Dave was "almost obsessively meticulous" and his many redrafts surely crippled the book's production, even though the final product was a diamond. Dave served as a co-producer on The Rocketeer film but its lack of real commercial success put paid to continuing the character on celluloid or in comics.
Since then Stevens continued to worked on what his official site modestly describes as "miscellaneous cover art and illustrations", as he had since 1985, many of which remain classics to his fans, such as this one, left, for DNAgents in 1986.
His credits also include storyboarding Raiders of the Lost Ark and working with Michael Jackson and director John Landis on the Thriller video.
"Dave was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life," says Evanier, "and was certainly among the most gifted... Most of the time, what emerged from his drawing board or easel was a deeply personal effort.
To the end, Dave tried to work through his illness, compiling a collection of his work, Dave Stevens: A Creative Life, which was scheduled to have been published last year by Arnie Fenner, editor of recent books about Frank Frazetta and publisher of the highly acclaimed Spectrum, a regular showcase for the best fantasy, science fiction, horror, and otherwise uncategorizable artwork created each year.
Let's hope someone will complete Dave's final project as testament to a stellar comics talent.
Update 9 November 2008: Due for release in February 2009 from Undrewood Books is Brush with Passion: The Life and Art of Dave Stevens, described as an introduction to the first retrospective popular comic film illustrator David Stevens. Brush with Passion charts Stevens' career, encouraged by legendary creators like Jack Kirby, Milton Caniff, and Burne Hogarth. Stevens talks about his work as a storyboard artist for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video and Raiders of the Lost Ark, his days drawing comics, and the trials and tribulations of bringing The Rocketeer to the big screen. Renowned for his wink-and-flirt pin-up art, Stevens is credited with revitalizing interest in, championing the rights of, and befriending the reclusive 1950s model Bettie Page and he recounts their first meeting and subsequent adventures together - including a trip to the Playboy Mansion.
Featuring a wealth of iconic paintings and previously unpublished art, "Brush with Passion" also features commentary by comic book greats Todd Schorr, Richard Hescox, Michael William Kaluta and William Stout. The book is edited by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner, recipients of the Locus Award and World Fantasy Award for Spectrum as Best Art Book.
The Season 8 box set comprises the four episodes which made up the 1989 season - at the time of broadcast they were the first Columbo episodes to be made and shown since 1978.
Do you think it will sell on eBay along with my other weird items?
I have to confess that, knowing some TV crew or other was coming to record a "When is Doctor Who coming back" spot (and there were a few of those) after the show went on 'hiatus', I'd put things like this up to send some fans squealing to their friends to reveal the "latest news" about Doctor Who. The TV crews wouldn't notice them, not being Doctor Who-savvy, but fans might just catch a glimpse of them and they would soon, perhaps, be the talk of the Fitzroy Tavern, one of London's infamous Doctor Who fan haunts once a month. (In reality, fans back then were much more savvy than they are now in the days of wild Internet-inspired rumour and were not, I think, ever fooled by these antics. But I kept trying).
The full-size Dalek in the Arundel House window was just one of those, making think the building was part of the BBC. (I seem to recall we eventually had to move it because so many tourists wanted their photograph taken with it).
Of course, all of this chicanery was pre-Internet, but imagine what would happen these days if someone thought this was a real DWM cover suggesting Alexis Sayle was to be the new Doctor Who and Wendy James of Transvision Vamp would be his companion? How many fans would simply Walk on By without a glance?
Other wicked wind ups were suggesting John Levene (UNIT's Sergeant Benton) worked for the magazine as a receptionist (as seen in Reeltime Pictures Doctor Who Magazine Myth Makers) and hinting the Magazine held complete copies of The Daleks Master Plan and The Power of the Daleks (Myth Makers again). You can't see the folders that were supposed to contain these tapes in this screengrab unfortunately - they're behind Nick Brigg's head - but they were there.
I still have the (empty) folders.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
The title features a comic series drawn by Martin which tells the lives of famous footballers for the magazine, which is aimed at the 8-12 market.
Inspired by the iconic programme, Match of the Day magazine aims to position itself as the must-read title for all young football fans and will be packed with star interviews, match results and tables from the weekend, the hottest football gossip, posters, quizzes and competitions.
The magazine also includes an eight-page pull-out skills guide, encouraging children to get active and to increase their chances of becoming a star of the future.
The first issue features an exclusive interview with Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Supporting the magazine, motdmag.com will feature bespoke football games and up to the minute statistics, which users can personalise to their own team.
"Match of the Day is one of the biggest brands in sport," says publisher Duncan Gray says, "and we’re hoping to build on this success with Match of the Day magazine.
"Research has shown there is significant demand for a title aimed at 8-14 year olds focused not only on the star teams and players, but also encouraging young football fans to increase their own knowledge and improve their own game."
"I'm very excited about the launch of Match of the Day magazine," says Editor Ian Foster, "and am confident that the mix of star interviews, results, gossip and skills advice will prove hugely popular with football-mad youngsters."
• Artist Josh Alves
Josh Alves is a Graphic Designer/Cartoonist/Stand-up Comedian residing in the very green and mostly cold state of Maine, who's been adapting his one frame Tastes Like Chicken cartoons into three frame ROK Comics for mobile. His work has appeared on DC Comics Zuda service and in many other places, with plenty more projects in the way...
• Michael Colbert
11/3/08: Los Angeles-based features and comics author Michael (Mike) Colbert is the creator of the critically-acclaimed SF comic Crazy Mary, one of several strips not only appearing on ROK Comcs but also being translated into Chinese for ROK Comics China.
• Artist Paul Harrison-Davies
9/3/08: Paul is a modest but accomplished comics artist popular in British indie circles, whose work has been published in the Mammoth Book of Best New Manga. His upcoming strip for Accent Press' Robots anthology, "MY Robot!" has been adapted into a ROK Comic series.
• Artist Rich Diesslin
Rich Diesslin is the creator and cartoonist of the KNOTS or Not (or KNOTS) scouting cartoons and a cartoonist for the London's Times Cartoons. He is the author and cartoonist of The Cartoon Gospel of John and The Cartoon Ten Commandments.
• Artist David Fletcher
11/3/08: New Zealand cartoonist David Fletcher claims that for the last twenty years he's been pretending to work from home as a comic strip, drawing a daily strip called The Politician and several weekly strips including The TV Kids which appears in the TV Guide. His cartoons are syndicated to Europe, Britain, Africa, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.
People still keep asking him when is he going to get a proper job...
• Artist Mychailo Kazybrid
8/3/08: Mychailo draws The Do Do Man for ROK Comics, but his career began way back in 1975...
• Artist John Maybury
John Maybury, editor of the Comic Creators Guild annuals, is one of a small number of comics artist utilising ROK Comics for its 'mature readers' strand, reformatting his cult indie character Space Babe for mobile. John describes The Erotic Adventures of Space Babe 113 as "a naughty SF comedy". Too right...
• Publisher Ben Tinsley
Publisher of Wham Bang Comics and president of WBC Entertainment, a journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Tinsley writes for, edits and publishes the comics in his small line.
• Artist Dave Windett
Dave Windett has been with ROK Comics since its initial testing, providing character designs for the Creator Tool and working on other ROK projects. He has worked for a huge range of publishers during his varied career and is one of the few British artists to have drawn for Bongo's Simpsons Comics.
• Writer John Freeman
Managing Editor of ROK Comics and writer of The Really Heavy Greatcoat and Ex Astris.
Sunday, 9 March 2008
The comic, which will be included with the issue published 19th March, features four London-centric stories; "The Crane Gods" and cover illustrated by Liam, "The Little Guy" by Chris Weston (above), "Routemaster" by Dave Kendall, and "Don Pigeone" by Kev Crossley. All the scripts were provided by Mother.
"This is a great chance to take this kind of work to a whole new audience," says Liam. "There are plans to collect the stories into a single book later on, and we're planning on including other big name creators in future editions.
"Time Out sells 200,000 copies, which are meant to be read on average by five people per copy - so it's a massive bit of exposure! Wouldn't it be great if it actually made a difference and brought some new people to our industry? We can only hope!"
Copies of the comic will also be available at the Bristol Comics Expo in May.