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Saturday, 5 April 2008

Comics International back in favour

After many behind the scenes problems too tiresome to detail here, there's some good news for Cosmic Publications, the publishers of comics news magazine Comics International, with the Famous StarStore blog the latest to offer a positive review of the title, now hopefully back on production schedule.

"The reinvented British comics industry monthly is going from strength to strength," they reveal to the uneducated who might not already know, and "This latest issue [of Comics International] features some great stuff, including a great piece on the Dan Dare relaunch, features on Heroes, 30 Days of Night, Stardust, World of Warcraft comics and more."

Giving the magazine a 10/10 rating, the store's staff reckon "This title really is indispensable, and remains very readable for a wide audience of fans, pros and the curious. Their coverage of the obscure and forgotten is always entertaining too. A magazine that deserves a much larger readership."

For those who don't pick up Comics International already from their local comic store, the magazine proves its quality by publishing the Really Heavy Greatcoat by myself and artist Nick Miller, so we're inevitably a little biased about it. But if you haven't picked up an issue in a while, Issue 205 may be a good place to start. In addition to the features above it also includes a terrific piece on Gerry Anderson TV series-inspired comics such as TV Century 21 and Countdown by Shaqui le Vesconte - the first of six features spanning over 40 years of comics.

• Cosmic Publications is offering Gerry Anderson devotees an exclusive a money-saving opportunity to have these six special issues featiring Anderson-related features delivered direct to their door every month as they come off the presses. Not only is it dropping its usual 12-issue minimum, but it is offering six issues for the price of five! Get #205-210 for just 15 (19 first class) in the UK; mainland Europe 25/36; rest of the world $60 (air)/$46 (surface). Full details here

In Review: Britten & Brülightly

(Updated 5/6/08): Just published by Jonathan Cape is Britten & Brülightly, a film noir-styled debut graphic novel by Brigton-based Hannah Berry, a graduate of the illustration course at Brighton University.

This dark, unsettling but often funny tale centres on ‘Private Researcher’ Fernández Britten, often a messenger for bad news who would view being shot as a blessing. The years spent uncovering people’s secret dramas and helping to confirm their darkest suspicions have eventually taken their toll. Battered by remorse over the lives he has ruined, he clings to the hope of redemption through delivering, just once, a truth with a positive impact. It’s a hope he has been clinging to for a long time.

And so Britten and his 'unconventional' partner, Brülightly (a tea bag!), take on the case of Berni Kudos’ suicide... at least, suicide was the official verdict. His fiancée, Charlotte Maughton, believes his death was something more sinister. Accompany them on this troublesome quest through rain-soaked streets, looming mansions, and dripping woodland, in search of the truth at the heart of this dysfunctional family drama.

Blackmail, revenge, murder are part and parcel of this great book. It's beautifully drawn, and proves an unconventional whodunnit in every sense of the word, with a both caustic and at times macabre script, and a great graphic novel debut by Hannah Barry. Storytelling throughout is strong and certain characters positively leap off the page for sheer nastiness, including a certain waiter and the miserable Britten himself.

For all the quality of both art and script, I have to say I was deeply unimpressed by the book's lettering. Given the costs involved in the production of such a book, whoever decided to allow such a scratchy, occasionally near illegible finish, made a poor decision. Lettering should never jar the reader of a graphic novel which, sadly, this does on almost every page.

That said, Britten & Brülightly is still a great read and worth tracking down in your local bookshop, especially if you are a fan of deteive novels or film noir.

Britten & Brülightly, published by Jonathan Cape on 3rd April 2008, £12.99

Buy Britten & Brülightly from amazon.co.uk

4/6/08: Read an interview with Hannah Berry on Forbidden Planet International's blog

Read an article by Hannah Berry about writing the novel on Dazed Digital

Smuggling Vacation Serialised

Smuggling Vacation comic

The independent comic Smuggling Vacation, which we reported last month, is beginning a two year serialisation as part of Weedworld Magazine starting this month, prior to print publication. The magazine sells some 50,00 copies an issue.

Smuggling Vacation, the result of scores of letters sent back and forth over an 18 month period between British cartoonist Jason Wilson and a convicted but reformed smuggler, is the story of a young couple who discover a stash of cannabis on a Spanish beach and try to smuggle it into Britain.

"Weedworld, the UK's number one cannabis magazine will be introducing our story to tens of thousands of new readers all over the UK and Europe," Jason explains, "but also Canada and the United States, where it sells in big numbers."

The serialization begins in Issue 74, which can be bought straight from Weedworld or from almost 300 UK head shops. "If your local head shop doesn't sell it then they should be," Jason argues, "and I hope you'll direct them to so they can rectify matters."

Weedworld will feature six pages an issue from the strip. "That's an unusually high amount for any serialisation, but a number that I think will make the strip very effective," says Jason. "The latest issue even a features a story on the making of the strip as well as the first six pages of our story."

"The Prison" Trailer



Clown Press have just released this trailer for The Prison, a new colection of stories, prose, poetry and soapbox ramblings based on the observations of Adam R. Grose, writer of Adam R. Grose, Cosmogenesis: The Chronicles of Quongo.

Grose writes of a world some might prefer to sweep under the proverbial rug, where all and sundry is laid bare. His comic pages and illustrations range from pencil to brush and ink drawings; illustrating the complexities of the 21st Century. Which all sounds pretty deep, but if you've read Cosmogenesis that should come as no surprise!

The Prison is on sale from 10 May 2008. More information from Clown Press.

Who's the Best Who?

... the answer, I've always believed, is that the best Doctor Who is almost always the one you grew up with. It's no surprise then that, given the modern show's target audience (a recent Broadcast feature indicated this is anyone from 8 - 12), David Tennant recently won the "Best Doctor" award in Dcotor Who Magazine.

But it's a testament of the times, and the sheer ratings success of the new Doctor Who that the Daily Telegraph this week took up the gauntlet and challeneged writers Dominic Cavendish and Sarah Crompton to argue the case for their favourite Time Lord - Tom Baker or David Tennant?

Cavendish plumped firmly for 1970s Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, arguing that special effects-wise, "I concede that there's no contest" between the original Doctor Who's then cutting edge effects (no, really) and "Today's CGI technology" which "leaves the attempts of yesteryear, however noble and occasionally successful, looking decidedly kindergarten by comparison.

"But they just don't make Doctors like Baker any more," feels Cavendish. "In fact, they only ever made one, and I doubt very much whether, if he hadn't filled Jon Pertwee's shoes, we'd be watching Doctor Who today."

Crompton much prefers Tennant, arguing "Baker's performance itself, though vivid, is so mannered and eccentric that it is hard to care about him or his companions. And that voice! So rich it sounds false, heightening the essential unreality of the entire concept."

"Tennant brings real intelligence to his portrayal. As the plot lines extend all over the place, he is capable of expressing everything from love (when he becomes a man in The Family of Blood) to awe (faced with the sight of other planets) to the chill of fear at planetary extinction."

While the ensuing debate among the newspaper's readers proved polarised - with many casting thier vote for Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, evidence no doubt of the paper's target audience fro all its many revamps - it's fascinating to see a daily quality newspaper like the Telegraph even publishing an article like this about an SF TV show. While debate rages among some new and old fans about the overall quality of the show, that the series has pushed SF centre stage is a testament to the success of the production team and cast.

One has to wonder just why ITV hasn't countered with its own revival in addition to the new Primeval. The Tomorrow People, anyone? UFO? Sapphire and Steel?

Friday, 4 April 2008

How not to get ripped off in the creative industries

A one day seminar takes place later this month offering a basic guide to the law, covering the steps a creative professional should take in order to stop your work being stolen.

Being copied and someone else ripping off your creative ideas is a major concern once you start to sell, publicise and promote your creative work. You need to protect your ideas and make sure you know what to do if someone does actually copy or makes money from work that is rightfully yours.

This seminar, backed by OwnIt.org in conjunction with Innovation Central and supported by creativematch, shows how to stop somebody else stealing or otherwise using your work without your permission (including copyright, patenting, trade marks, licensing and design rights). The organisers say there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions of speaker Tow Cowling of media law firm Swan Turton, who is a partner in the firm’s Litigation and Advertising & Marketing Groups, advising a broad range of corporate and individual clients.

Tom specialises in intellectual property and commercial litigation but has particular expertise in contractual and copyright disputes, defamation and non-contentious trade mark and internet matters. Tom has been involved in numerous trials and appearances in the High Court and is experienced in the use of mediation as a means of resolving commercial disputes.

Tom started his career as an investment banker in the City and in Paris before training as a solicitor and qualifying with a leading West End media and entertainment practice.
He joined Swan Turton from the Indonesian office of a global intellectual property consultancy where, amongst other clients, he managed the Motion Picture Association’s Indonesian anti-copyright piracy programme.

How not to get ripped off in the creative industries

Date: Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Venue:
Innovation Centre/Conference Room
(entrance on Red Lion Square)
Central Saint Martins
Southampton Row
London
WC1B 4AP

Time: 6.00 – 9.00pm followed by drinks/networking. Admission free. As places are limited please register online to reserve your place.

• Click here for directions.

In Memoriam: Johnny Byrne

downthetubes is sad to report the death of writer and script editor Johnny Byrne.

Byrne, born in Dublin in 1935, worked on many British television shows including Heartbeat, Tales of the Unexpected and the two BBC One vets series All Creatures Great And Small and One By One.

For us, he will be best remembered as the script editor during the first season of Gerry Anderson's Space:1999 and as the writer of the Doctor Who stories Arc of Infinity, Warriors of the Deep and The Keeper of Traken.

In writing The Keeper of Traken for Doctor Who he reintroduced The Master, played by the late Anthony Ainley, to the series and created the Doctor's companion Nyssa, played by Sarah Sutton. For Space:1999 he wrote eight of the first season episodes and another three in the second season including The Metamorph which introduced the regular alien character Maya, played by Catherine Schell.

Fanderson chairman Nick Williams said, "Although we didn't get the chance to have Johnny along to many events, everyone who got a chance to meet him quickly learned what a warm, intelligent and humourous man he was. He was always very supportive of Space:1999 and the club's activities and will be greatly missed."

Ex Astris heads to Spaceship Away

A bit of self-promotion: artist Mike Nicoll is at work on a ten page Ex Astris strip of mine, "Homecoming" which will appear in black and white in UK Indie title Bulletproof #2, which is edited by Egmont editor Matt (TOXIC) Yeo in his spare time (check out the web site at www.bulletproofcomics.co.uk). Ex Astris: HomecomingMike's also working up a colour version of the same strip and there's an early draft of a panel of the opening page here, right.

The good news is that the early visuals for this so impressed Spaceship Away editor Rod Barzilay that we are now also working up a three part story for that Dan Dare-inspired prozine, which will run from Issue 16, on sale Autumn 2008.

Mike and I are also contributing a three page story to the next Misty special, an anthology inspired by the 1980s British girls title. This is being published with the full blessing of Misty copyright owners Egmont. Check out the official web site: www.mistycomic.co.uk

ROK Comics, the comics to mobile project I am Managing Editor for, is going very well. We 've now had initial sales figures from China where strips such as Garfield, TMNT and Crazy Mary are appearing on mobile in translation and these are looking good: we're about to publish a lot more strips in Chinese there including David Fletcher's Crumb.

ROK Comics now has partner WAP subscription sites in Pakistan, South Africa and the UK via retailer Claire's as well as the main site (www.rokcomics.com) and more are in the pipeline: we've had interest from elsewhere so the future for mobile comics - already huge in Japan, where they are known as ketai - looks very encouraging.

Heroes Webisodes Scheduled

Digital Media Wire and other news services report NBC has announced plans to launch original webisodes in July for some of its most popular TV shows, including Heroes, The Office, 30 Rock and Chuck.

A webisode is an episode of a television show that airs initially as an Internet download or stream as opposed to first airing on broadcast or cable television. As yet, there is no "set" standard for length, but most webisodes are relatively short, ranging from 4-15 minutes in length. TV series that have already experimented with the format include Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who (TARDISODEs have been made for mobile download by the BBC). Wikipedia carries a growing list of internet TV shows here.

Vivi Zigler, EVP of NBC Digital Entertainment, says the webisodes will "continue to weave online with on-air creative to give fans a deeper entertainment experience."

Variety reports that the new deal agreed between recently striking US writers and producers helped pave the way for the new foray into webisodes and the reaction to NBC's new shows will no doubt something other US and UK networks will be monitoring closely, for both web and mobile, with the mobile equivalent of webisodes, mobisodes, growing in popularity. (Both Lost and 24 have experimented with this mobile form).

Thursday, 3 April 2008

The Eleventh Hour is Here

Eleventh Hour Volume One from British indie publisher Markosia in association with creators Orang Utan Comics, due for release in June, is now available to pre-order from your local comic shop.

Featuring twelve stories across 80 pages of stunning artwork from the creative minds at Orang Utan Comics Studio with the usual high production values of an AAM/Markosia published title.

You can find it on page 200 of Diamond's Previews catalogue, the order code is APR08 3484.

• Visit www.orangutancomics.co.uk to find out more.

Rainbow Orchid's new Publisher

Egmont UK is to publish The Rainbow Orchid, first published independently by writer-artist Garen Ewing (inteeviewed by downtheubes in 2006). The Rainbow Orchid story, to be published in 2009, will join the Tintin series on Egmont's publishing list and is the latest in a number of recent acquisitions by Egmont UK as it grows its share of the children's book market in the UK.

The Rainbow Orchid is an adventure story in the "Ligne Claire" style, the term given to the drawing style developed by Hergé and others in the 1970's and the series earlier stories have attracted huge critical acclaim on both sides of the English Channel.

Set in the 1920s, The Rainbow Orchid tells of the search for a mythical flower last mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher and botanist, Theophrastus. The story's hero, Julius Chancer, is a determined adventurer who travels to the forgotten valleys of India to find the orchid while the villainous Urkaz Grope does everything in his power to stop him. The story will be available in three volumes, with book one publishing in 2009.

Rainbow orchidThe story has been in existence as a number of short series and an online comic for some time and was nominated for two National Comic awards at the Bristol Comics Festival. The series already enjoys a varied international readership online.

"The Rainbow Orchid is traditional adventure at its best," says David Riley for Egmont publishing, "and a fantastically modern creation. The concept and design have real stand-out quality and the series will appeal to fans of comics, design, illustration, or those who just love a good adventure! The market has never been more right for a series like this."

Author and illustrator Garen Ewing has been writing and drawing comics since childhood. In 2002, work on The Rainbow Orchid began in earnest and the series was soon picked for representation by Blake Friedmann.

"From the outset, Garen and I were extremely impressed by Egmont's passion and vision for The Rainbow Orchid," says Oliver Munson at Blake Friedmann. "When you look at the enormous success they've had over the years with household names such as Tintin, we really could not have found a better home for young Mr. Chancer."

Garen is currently working on a new strip for The DFC, a new subscription-only comic due for release in May (see news story).


Dan Dare's Holy Grail

First broadcast in the 1950s, Radio Luxembourg's Dan Dare Radio Show has become something of a 'Holy Grail' for fans, some still believing copies of the series may yet be found.

Aired on Radio Luxembourg between July 1951 and May 1956, the series, based on the first Dan Dare comic story from Eagle, was made on wax discs that were then sent to Luxembourg to be broadcast.

The Dan Dare Info site reveals Bob Danvers-Walker announced the Adventures of Dan Dare, whilst former Dick Barton actor Noel Johnson took the part of Dan, Digby was played by John Sharpe, Peabody by Anne Cullen, and the Mekon by Francis De Wolfe. Other parts were played by Kenneth Willams and Ralph Richardson. The series was produced in London by John Glyn-Jones.

The Dan Dare Radio Show was sponsored by drinks company Horlicks, who encouraged young listeners to enroll in the Horlicks Spacemans Club, and then marketed a series of related items that could be bought - usually for six pence and a label from a Horlicks jar. The Spaceman Club items included The Spacemans Club Handbook, a Dan Dare Tie, Spacefleet Service Identity Card, The Spacemans Club Badge, the Dan Dare Spaceship Cup (for drinking one's Horlicks, of course), and a Periscope.

RTL, the former Radio Luxembourg have been kind enough to search their archives for one fan, but copies of the show have never been found there and it is believed they were either destroyed after the broadcast, or when their "sell by date" expired.

However, like Doctor Who fans tracking missing TV episodes, there is a remote possibility copies of the show may exist elsewhere. Eagle, and many of its strips, was republished in many countries including Australia, France, Potugal and Croatia (to name but a few) and the radio show was also broadcast in Australia. The original scripts were also sent to Spain where they were translated into Spanish and broadcast by Spanish actors. (The name Dan Dare was quickly changed to Diego Valor).

In Australia, 4AK QLD and 4BK QLD Radio broadcast the show each Monday and Tuesday but so far, no-one has had any luck tracking copies down under. Unlike the Biggles radio show, the Australian National Film and Sound Archives does not appear to hold copies, but now fans are trying to find out of the series was ever broadcast or elsewhere.

It seems unlikely the show was broadcast in South Africa - as yet, no-one seems to have tracked down South African versions of Eagle comic - but New Zealand is a strong possibility.

The BBC’s Radio 4 produced a four part Dan Dare radio serial in 1990 - Dan Dare, Pilot Of The Future, again, based on the first comics story. This time Dan was played by Mick Ford, with Terrance Alexander as Sir Hubert.

• If anyone has further information they think might help tracking down these elusive recordings, please get in touch.

Doctor Who Silly Season Continues

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): The Wiltshire Times recently reported a Trowbridge Christian has renounced the 'evil' of Doctor Who in favour of his religion is selling his collection on internet auction website eBay.

The paper reports that having discovered Christianity after a life of Doctor Who collecting, Mr Smith, who had to retire early from his job as a nurse at the Royal United Hospital in Bath in 1998 because he was suffering from bipolar disorder, has renounced his old life and is putting the whole collection up for sale in local trade magazines and on eBay.

"God delivered me from the evil that is Doctor Who, materialism and alcoholism," he told the paper.

"Through my relationship with Jesus I saw that none of this was making me happy and I was born again like Lazarus."

There's no information on what Mr Smith planned to do with the £7000 he expected to make from his collection, which includes a life-size TARDIS.

Comic Expo Update

With just five weeks to go until the largest comics show in the United Kingdom, guests and schedules are starting to be announced for Bristol's well-established Comics Expo. Once again hosted by the British Empire & Commonwealth Exhibition Hall and Ramada Plaza Hotel, this year’s lineup promises to be the biggest and the best so far…

It all kicks off on Friday 9th May with Diamond UK Retailers Day (featuring exclusive presentations to UK & European retailers of the major releases for the rest of this comics year) and the Orangutan Comics Film Night ’08 for all early arrivals, starting 6pm at the Ramada Plaza Hotel.

Saturday 10th May and Sunday 11th May feature two full days of events, including presentations on upcoming Marvel and DC releases, the world famous Hypotheticals panel hosted once again by Dave Gibbons, DC Portfolio reviews by editors Karen Berger, Eddie Berganza and Hank Kanalz, the Saturday evening presentation of The Eagle Awards (first presented in 1976, these are the comics industry’s longest established awards). As usual, the first 1000 people through the door on Saturday are eligible for a free goodie bag – in previous years this has contained graphic novels, comics, posters, badges, action figures and once again the contents are a well-kept secret…strictly first come, first served, strictly one per person.

Special Guests signing, sketching and/or hosting talks throughout the weekend include:-

Jim Shooter - Editor-in-Chief Marvel Comics 1978–1987 Founder and Publisher of Valiant Comics and Defiant Comics. Shooter began his career as writer on The Legion of Super Heroes in DC’s Adventure Comics. He has also written The Avengers and Secret Wars (Marvel). Magnus Robot Fighter, Doctor Solar and Harbinger (Valiant). He will be the new writer of the Legion series, beginning with issue #37, returning to the Legion a little over 30 years from his previous run, it will be his first major published comic book work in years.

Walt Simonson - Writer / Artist on Star Slammers, The Mighty Thor, Orion, Fantastic Four, Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer (written by Elric's creator, Michael Moorcock), X- Factor (with Louise Simonson), Manhunter (written by Archie Goodwin) for which he won the Shazam Award and Hawkgirl.

Louise Simonson - Writer on Magik of the New Mutants as part of a four-issue Mystic Arcana, Magnus Robot Fighter (ibooks), Warlock, New Mutants, Galactus the Devourer, Superman: Man of Steel and Steel. Author of two books for teens based on the Justice League cartoon: The Gauntlet and Wild at Heart (Bantam Books)

Jim Starlin - Writer / Artist best known for "cosmic" tales and space opera and as the creator of the villain Thanos. Works include Captain Marvel, Warlock, Metamorphosis Odyssey, Dreadstar, Cosmic Odyssey, Batman, Gilgamesh II, Silver Surfer, the Thanos and Infinity Gauntlet sagas and Marvel Universe: The End. He's currently writing and drawing The Death of the New Gods for DC.

Yanick Paquette - Artist on Ultimate X-Men, Civil War: X-Men, Adventures of Superman, Areala Warrior Nun, Avengers, Gambit, Gen¹³, JLA, Superman: The Man of Steel, Terra Obscura, Tomorrow Woman, Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City, Seven Soldiers: The Bulleteer, Wonder Woman, and Xena: Warrior Princess.

Dave Gibbons - Legend of the British Comics Industry. Artist on Harlem Heroes, Dan Dare and Rogue Trooper for 2000AD. He was the original artist on Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly but is perhaps most famous for his collaboration with Alan Moore on Watchmen. Recently he produced the Eisner Award winning graphic novel, The Originals.

Mike Carey - Writer of Ultimate Fantastic Four, X-Men, Wolverine, Vertigo’s Crossing Midnight, Lucifer, Hellblazer and the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Wildstorm’s Wetworks, Marvel’s Spellbinders, Virgin Comics The Stranded and author of the Felix Castor Novels The Devil You Know, Vicious Circle and Dead Men's Boots from Orbit.

Alan Davis - Artist on Captain Britain (Marvel UK), Marvelman (Warrior) and DR & Quinch (2000AD), Batman and the Outsiders and Detective Comics (DC). He's creator writer and artist on Marvel's Excalibur and Clandestine. During his career he has written and drawn most of Marvel and DCs'characters and titles including JLA: The Nail and Another Nail, The Avengers, X-Men, Killraven and Fantastic Four: The End. He is currently writing and drawing the new Clandestine series.

Mark Buckingham - Eisner Award winning artist on Vertigo's Fables. A regular on Vertigo titles such as Hellblazer, Sandman, Shade the Changing Man and Death: The High Cost of Living he is also well known for his work on Miracleman (better known as Marvelman in the UK). As well as extensive runs as artist on Batman: Shadow of the Bat and The Titans (DC), Generation X and Peter Parker:Spide -Man (Marvel) he has recently designed Sandman and Fables based Statues for DC Direct and has just illustrated his first children's book, Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants.

Paul Cornell - Novelist, TV writer and comics writer. Best known for his work on the new Doctor Who, he has also written for the Primeval TV series. He's the writer of the Marvel Comics series Wisdom and 2000AD's XTNCT. He has just begun a new ongoing title for Marvel: Captain Britain and MI-13.

Many, many other guests are listed on the official website: www.comicexpo.net/08guests.html

• Tickets for the Bristol International Comic Expo are available online for six pounds per day for adults, or just one pound for 12 to 16 year olds under the Kids For A Quid scheme. As usual, all accompanied attendees under the age of 12 get in for free. Book now via: www.comicexpo.net/08tickets.html

Digital Comics APA

The Temple APA is currently looking for contributors to its first Digital Comics Anthology, deadline 1st May 2008.

For those who've never heard of the Temple (formerly titled 'Temple of Heroes'), it's the UK's longest running comics anthology, whose membership includes David Hailwood, John Freeman, John Kirkham, Neill Cameron and other comics creators.

The Temple APA is non-exclusive and welcomes artists (that includes writers too) of all shapes and sizes, from amateurs to professionals.

"Contributions should be a maximum of five pages," says David Hailwood, "with a front cover that contains contact details and a short piece about yourself. (Here's a link to the full guidelines in PDF format). They should preferably be JPGS, of 150 DPI and 1200 pixels in width (as this'll help keep the PDF down in size).

"You can either email pages directly to me at purecrass@hotmail.com or post them on the Temple APA site, once you've joined (www.templeapa.ning.com)

"Once a PDF is put together, the plan is to attach it to online forums and other places, so as to get more exposure for the creators work inside," David explains. "We also we hope to put the PDF onto a CD which will be distributed at conventions. The Temple site will be used to provide critiques on the work, which may help creators to improve or spot mistakes they wouldn't have otherwise noticed.

"If you have a web comics, feel free to reprint pages as your contribution."

Northern Ireland Comic Con details

The organisers of 2D, Northern Ireland's only comics convention at present, have just sent us the first details of their next event in June.

2D - Northern Ireland Comics Festival 2008 runs from 5th - 7th of June and takes place at the Verbal Arts Centre & Sandinos Bar, Derry, Northern Ireland.

Thursday and Friday are devoted to various comic workshops (with some panels on Friday) but
Saturday is an Open Day with signings, sketching, workshops, panels, dealers, exhibition, portfolio reviews and more, all with the aim of celebrating comic book culture, meet comics’ creators and fans, buy cool stuff and generally have a good time...

The entire festival is completely free of charge. Tablespace is also free for all Creators, Dealers, Publishers but is of course limited and will be provided on a first come first served basis.

Guests so far include: artists Garry Leach (Marvelman, Dan Dare, The VCs, The Twelve), Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl, Metal Gear Solid, 2000ad, Snaked, Gorillaz), Charlie Adlard (Savage, The Walking Dead), Laura Howell (Beano, TOXIC!), Stephen Thompson (Star Wars: Republic, Buckaroo Banzai, Star Trek: New Frontier), Stephen Mooney (Angel, CSI, The Mummy, Strangelands), Nick Roche, Declan Shalvey (Hero Killers, Frankenstein), writer-artists David Hine, (Spawn, Son of M, Daredevil: Redemption, District X, X-Men: Colossus) Bob Byrne (2000AD's Twisted Tales, Mr Amperduke, The Shiznit, MBleh) and writers Alan Martin (Tank Girl), artist-editor Ilya (Mammoth Book of Manga, Transformers), and Shane Chebsey of Independent Publisher/Editor - Scar Comics.

For more info, email David Campbell at david@2dfestival.com. To see pics and website from last year go to www.2dfestival.com and for latest news on the event, check out the blog:
There's also a 2D forum at www.2dfestival.com/forum

Their new site for 2008 will go live soon.

The 2D team tell us they are constantly looking for ways to improve the 2D Festival, so if you have any ideas for guests, panels, workshops or anything else, please get in touch with them or register with their forum.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Calling Fireball Agents!

Who is Fireball?FIREBALL FOR HIRE

Mysteries solved -

problems licked -

lost things found -

crooks straightened out -

anytime - any place


BUT... ONLY TOUGH JOBS ACCEPTED.

Do you recognise this man?

As the agent/adventurer from D C Thomson’s mid-1970s Bullet comic, Fireball was the comic’s major character and was represented in Bullet’s editorial pages, and the odd pin-up, in photographs.

IPC's equivalent of Bullet was Action! which also had a photographic editor -- writer Steve Moore. But who donned the medallion and leather jacket to become Fireball?

Warlord and Starblazer editor Bill Graham knows and tells downthetubes in a wide ranging interview covering his long career at D C Thomson and the many and varied titles he has worked on, also revealing some perhaps previously unknown history to the Dandy.

ComicCon In A Pub!



(with thanks to Paul O'Connell); The Gladstone (opposite Sainsburys, Lewes Road, Brighton), is hosting an indie small press comics event this coming Saturday (5th April) with comics, drink
promotions, live music in the evening and more. If you're in the area, check it out!

Monday, 31 March 2008

Who Watches the Watchnuts?

Good Grief! Charlie Brown as Doctor Manhattan? Young art star Evan Shaner has mimicked cartoonist Charles Schulz by combining his Peanuts characters and the Watchmen. The drawing includes Charlie Brown as Doctor Manhattan, Linus as The Comedian, Schroeder as Ozymandias, Lucy as Silk Spectre, Snoopy as Rorschach, and Pigpen as Nite Owl.

read more | digg story

What A Sweet Dalek!

If a gingerbread Tardis is not to your taste perhaps you would prefer cake, icing and chocolate while waiting for 6:20pm next Saturday?

This cake was created for a young Doctor Who fan's birthday and was based around the size of Cadbury buttons which were used as the Dalek sense spheres. Add to those After Eight sticks for the arm, gun and eye stalk, Liquorice Allsorts for the sucker and eye, and finally some jellies for the lights and you end up with a very sweet Dalek indeed.
This Dalek will not pose a threat to the planet as it was rapidly exterminated by hungry mouths.
Doctor Who, starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, returns to BBC One at 6.20pm on Saturday 5 April, 2008.

Missing Believed Wiped

Still on the subject of Doctor Who -- sort of -- the Missing Believed Wiped team are trying to drum up new members for their Facebook group.

Missing Believed Wiped is a team dedicated to seeking out episodes of TV shows, including Doctor Who, missing from the official archives at the BBC, ITV and other UK YV producers. A considerable amount of our TV heritage was destroyed in the 1970s, black and white episodes (as well as some colour) apparently to make room for more recent productions in the vaults.

Although it's likely many shows are irrevocably now the stuff of mere memory, often programmes were transferred to film for sale overseas and it is this that gives the MBW team hope that one day the shows will live again. While foreign broadcasters were supposed to either return the prints to be destroyed or destroy them themselves once they had been shown, this often did not happen and were filed away and forgotten in the vaults of TV stations worldwide. Films also 'escaped' destruction, onto the collector circuit .

Episodes have been recovered from both these sources many times throughout the years and hopefully will continue to be for many years to come.

The MBW Facebook group complements the work of the MBW web site, aiming to group to spread the word about the 'lost' classics of television, film and radio and maybe even find a way of plugging some of the gaps. Have you, or your parents or grandparents, got a collection of Film Reels tucked away in an attic or shed somewhere, gathering dust? Did someone in your family have one of the earliest video recorders in the late 1960s?

Despite interest in the missing material, which includes episodes of shows such as Ace of Wands, Doctor Who (such as Marco Polo, pictured above, which currently exists only as telesnaps), Dad's Army, Timeslip and more, "We seem to have hit a bit of a glass ceiling with members," says Cliff Chapman, "hovering around the 290 mark or thereabouts for quite a while, dropping off a couple of people every time another couple join."

Cliff hopes a renewed appeal for members might spur someone to come froward with missing material - or leads to it.

"One of the remits of this group is simply to make people aware of the situation, and get them to check if they're sitting on anything useful without realising it," he explains. "We must thrive on getting a message out... otherwise it's just preaching to the converted, grandmothers, sucking eggs etc...!"

Click here for the Missing Believed Wiped Facebook Group (Facebook membership required)
Missing Beleived Wiped web site
Missing Episodes Overview List

Local Heroes Events in Edinburgh

As the National Library of Scotland's graphic novel exhibition Local Heroes approaches, the Library have announced a program of talks in conjuction with the Edinburgh exhibition.

On Wednesday 9 April at 7pm Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy will return to the library for another discussion on their work which includes the recently released Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, while on Tuesday 15 April at 1pm Dr Mel Gibson will give her talk on Getting To Grips With Graphic Novels, Comics and Manga.

On Wednesday 23 April at 7pm Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers of Metaphrog will be discussing their range of Louis graphic novels, and this will be followed on Friday 25 April at 2pm when Exhibition curator John Birch will give a guided tour of the exhibition.

The range of events concludes on Tuesday 29 April at 7pm when DC Comics artist Vincent Deighan, better known as Frank Quitely, will talk about his work From Electric Soup To Superman.

All events are free but ticketed and there are more details on the events and how to obtain tickets at the NLS exhibitions page.

The Local Heroes exhibition in the National Library of Scotland on Edinburgh's George IV bridge opens on Friday 4 April and runs through to Sunday 1 June. It is open seven days a week including some late nights and is also free. Opening time details are available from the NLS exhibitions page.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Gingerbread TARDIS

With the BBC ramping up its publicity for the fourth season of Doctor Who of the 'modern era', what better time to celebrate with a special TARDIS cake?

Which is exactly what one enterprising fan has done, and a smashing looking item it looks too. Here's a link to the full recipe.

Sadly it seems the cake isn't bigger on the inside, so it's unlikely to last much longer than ooh, about ten minutes after the series begins next Saturday night in our house...

Doctor Who, starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, returns to BBC One at 6.20pm on 05 April, 2008.

Dan Dare at the Science Museum

The Eagle's Dan Dare will be the focus of a new exhibition at London's Science Museum later this month.

Titled Dan Dare and the Birth of High-Tech Britain, Dan Dare enthusiast Dave Britton, who, among other things, has helped organise several Dare exhibitions in the past across the UK, tells us there will be one or two cabinets with items he is lending the Museum, and other references to Dan Dare and Eagle and their context in shaping the role played by technology in creating post-war Britain.

"There is also the possibility that the two murals that Frank Hampson painted for the new Space Gallery that opened in 1977, will be put on display," says Dave. "That is not final yet."

Dan Dare and the Birth of High-Tech Britain runs from 29th April 2008 to 3rd May 2009. Entry is free and details may be found on the Science Museum Website.


If only it would happen here...

News this week that the US courts have ruled that Time Warner, owner of DC Comics, is no longer the sole proprietor of Superman must be be good news for the heirs of Jerome Siegel — who 70 years ago sold the rights to the action hero he created with Joseph Shuster to Detective Comics for $130.

The heirs are now entitled to claim a share of the United States copyright to the character, subject to inevitable appeal in a court case that has rumbled along since 1999, but The New York Times reports the ruling left intact Time Warner’s international rights to the character, which it has long owned through its DC Comics unit.Still to be decided is how much the company may owe the Siegel heirs for use of the character since 1999, when their ownership is deemed to have been restored.

Imagine if the creators of comic characters in the UK, or their heirs, were able to make similar claims against DC Thomson, IPC, Egmont and all the other comics companies that have laid claim to all rights to the creations that have made them a fortune in terms of comics sales and merchandising.

Unfortunately, they will all happily point at the work for hire agreements all creators will have signed when working for them which, bar some characters, mean those who put the effort into making them a success on the printed page will never see any royalties in terms of initial use, reprint in comic collections or t-shirt sales. A situation I have always regarded as bizarre when companies can so easily work out how much to pay another company in fees and royalties when it comes to licensing, but not build in similar payments to the creators who may have written the licensed comics.

As usual, the individual creator has to wait for a landmark case like this one to start the ball rolling in their favour and most simply do not have the energy to devote to such a cause.

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