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Friday, 18 April 2008

More straight to DVD Stargate

Stargate: Continuum debuts exclusively on DVD and Blu-Ray Disc in the US on 29th July, with members of SG-1 find themselves returning to a world where their history has been dramatically altered.

Continuing the legacy of Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Continuum folows up on the prevous straight-to-DVD release Ark of Truth and reunites Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O'Neill, with series favourites Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Claudia Black, Golden Globe winner and three-time Emmy Award-winning actor, Beau Bridges and Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson.

The most northerly-filmed movie production in history, filmed partly in the Arctic, Stargate: Continuum is the most ambitious Stargate production yet, featuring incredible visual effects, out-of-this-world battle sequences and breathtaking scenes shot on the Arctic ice.

According to Producer Brad Wright, We've got nuclear submarines, F-15's and the bone fide arctic circle. Add our fabulous cast, including Beau Bridges, William Devane and Richard Dean Anderson and you've got yourselves a movie.

Stargate: Continuum, also being considered for the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Northerly Film Shoot, is packed with a host of all-new bonus content on DVD and Blu-Ray, including feature-length audio commentary with Producer/Writer Brad Wright and Director Martin Wood, as well as three featurettes.

Delving into the extraordinary making of Stargate: Continuum, the featurettes explore how the US military provided assistance, such as a Navy nuclear submarine and F-15 fighter jets from the Air Force, what it was like shooting in the Arctic, and how science and science fiction collide.

The only series ever to receive the United States Air Force Seal of Approval, Stargate SG-1 also boasts four Saturn Awards, two Gemini Awards, nine Leo Awards, eight Emmy nominations and three Visual Effects Society nominations.

• Stargate: Continuum will be available for the suggested retail price of $26.98 U.S./$37.98 Canada. The Blu-Ray release is priced at $39.98 U.S./$49.98 Canada.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Haunted Liverpool book materializes

John Reppion's new book, Haunted Liverpool, featuring art by Andy Bloor, David Hitchcock, Declan Shalvey, Mo Ali, Oliver Redding and others has just gone on sale via the Leah Moore and John Reppion's web site shop.

On offer is the special edition of 800 Years of Haunted Liverpool (limited to 24 numbered and 26 lettered copies) featuring an exclusive bookplate by artist Mo Ali, signed by John Reppion.

Also included is a special bonus article “The Underground Empire of Joseph Williamson” in the form of a handmade booklet signed by John and its illustrator Leah Moore.

Each volume costs £9.99 (plus postage and packing) and will ship in early July 2008.

Hanuted Liverpool is a creepy collection of true-life tales that takes the reader on a tour through the streets, cemeteries, alehouses, attics and docks of Liverpool.

"Containing many tales which have never before been published, it unearths a chilling range of supernatural phenomena," says John, "including the Grey Lady of Speke Hall, the poltergeist who scrawled ‘I want you out’ on a blackboard in a cottage in Hunts Cross, and the truly terrifying tale of ‘Spring Heeled Jack’, the unidentified apparition who terrorised the citizens of Everton during the 1830s."

Illustrated with more than sixty photographs, maps and drawings, this book will delight anyone with an interest in the paranormal, folklore and local history.

• Visit the HauntedLiverpool.blogspot.com for more information.

Beano Reunion on Radio 4

Comics guru Paul Gravett is just one of many creators involved in a special comics-focused The Reunion show on BBC Radio 4 this coming Sunday (Sunday 20th April, 11.15 to 12 noon).

"The Reunion is a fascinating series bringing people together to recall past events," Paul explains. "In this case it's the heydays of The Beano and Dandy - the Beano being 70 this July.

"The main interviewees are artists Bill Ritchie (of Baby Crockett fame, more about him on Peter Gray's web site) and Jim Petrie (who drew 2,000 Minnie the Minx episodes) and writers Walter Fearn (at The Beano during the 1950s, notably on Jonah with Ken Reid) and Dave Torrie (another ex Dandy editor).

"There are also archive quotes from Leo Baxenedale, Tony Robinson, Jacqueline Wilson, A N Wilson, Michael Rosen and others."

The Reunion is repeated Friday April 25th at 9.00am and you will be able to "Listen Again" for seven days following.

Abadzis in The Guardian


Nick Abadzis, whose book Laika has drawn deserved critical acclaim from many quarter of late, has just announced that he has a a three-page strip in The Guardian from this Saturday (19th April)that runs for six weeks (every Saturday in the Family section).

Called Cora’s Breakfast, you will also be able to download the strip at some point, probably on this page, as you can with most recently-published Guardian strips such as Monkey Nuts, Go Fish, Robot Girl and Good Dog, Bad Dog.

Cora’s Breakfast is part of a longer story that will eventually be serialised and then collected by an as yet unnamed publisher. Check out Nick's blog to keep abreast of further news.

Laika is the story of the world's first space traveller, a dog sent up in the Soviet space program. Nick was interviewed about the project for the Comics Reporter site earlier this year. It's a wonderful take and well worth checking out.

(If you need another excuse to buy this Saturday's Guardian, Paul Gravett written an article on superheroes and their role as propaganda for the Guardian Guide. This ties in with the Iron Man movie looming, and the story of the United Nations working with Marvel on a comic
book with their superheroes to show what the UN does).

Lee's Legion of 5

Opening Reception For ''Stan Lee: A Retrospective''
Image details: Stan Lee at the opening Reception For ''Stan Lee: A Retrospective'' in February 2007. Image via picapp.com


Marvel Comics Master Stan Lee and his Pow! Entertainment, along with Brighton Partners have teamed with CG producers Rainmaker Entertainment (now owners of Mainframe) to launch the new animated superhero story, Legion of 5, beginning with a series of CG animated movies.

The property will also be extended into electronic comics, games and merchandising as well as online and mobile content releases.

Rainmaker will develop the project and produce the feature length movie based on the Legion of 5 property, co-owned by Pow!, Brighton and Rainmaker.

HammerWeb Revamped

It's been a long time coming, but the Hammer Films official web site (www.hammerfilms.com) has just been updated to fully reflect its new productions, while still celebrating its groundbreaking history as Britain's favourite horror film company.

The site has had a comprehensive makeover in the same week that the first new production from Hammer in over 25 years, Beyond the Rave, is released online.

The new site, replacing the one designed by downthetubes John Freeman and designer Pete Chamberlain some years ago now, has been designed and coded by Altogether Digital, and will be keeping Hammer fans up to date with the latest news about Hammer and its new productions, including Beyond the Rave.

The popular Hammer Films filmography section has been overhauled, and will continue to be expanded as the rest of the site develops.

Beyond the RaveAcross almost sixty years, Hammer has saved the world from alien invasion, revelled in Sapphic bloodlust, pitted Hollywood legends against English schoolboys, summoned the Devil, played with evil twins, been driven mad by the abominable snowman and fought-off Chinese vampires. It has created monsters, resurrected aristocrats, exhumed the undead and run away with a blood-sucking circus. With Beyond the Rave, which is being releaased episodically on MySpace, Hammer hopes to combine its genre heritage with contemporary themes and kick-ass tunes, delivering the heady mix as immersive entertainment for long-time fans and Hammer virgins alike. Episode One is live on MySpaceTV now (Over 18s only)

Produced in association with MySpace,
the film is a vampire story set in England’s underground party scene, and a combination of traditional horror themes and contemporary setting and characters. The movie, which will also be released on DVD later this year, follows the last hours of freedom of local soldier Ed, who is flying out to Iraq the following morning. With the help of his best friend Necro, he spends his last night in the UK tracking down his missing girlfriend Jen, last seen partying with a bizarre group of hardcore night-time ravers led by the mysterious Melech.

But as he catches up with Jen at a party in a remote forest, Ed discovers that Melech’s crowd, who are hosting the event, are looking for more than a night of fun, and that not everyone will make it through to dawn…


Links
Official Hammer Films web site
Beyond the Rave Official Site
Beyond the Rave on MySpaceTV

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

BBC Seeks New Writers

The next generation of TV writers are being sought by the BBC for its Drama Writers Academy, a unique course that equips writers with the skills to work on BBC flagship continuing drama programmes.

The Academy is the only course in the world that guarantees writers the opportunity to work on prime time television.

Established by BBC Controller of Drama Production John Yorke, its aim is to create a pool of writing talent to work on some of BBC One's major shows – EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City and Doctors.

Students that secure a place will enjoy masterclasses from the best in the business including genre writers of interest to regular downthetubes readers such as Tony Jordan (Life On Mars), Dominic Minghella (Robin Hood), Jed Mercurio (Frankenstein), Ashley Pharoah (Life On Mars, Ashes To Ashes), as well as leading directors such as Bharat Nalluri (Spooks, Life On Mars).

Alongside training on all aspects of drama production from editing to scheduling, students will receive direct writing experience on continuing dramas, with the aim of transmitting their finished scripts on BBC One.

Since its inauguration three years ago, 22 out of 24 graduates have gone on to gain full-time work in writing for TV, with nine of the graduates now established as core writers on continuing drama shows. In addition, many writers have graduated onto other shows.

Creativity, talent and a passion for telling stories are essential criteria for those applying.

Applicants must have had at least one professional commission in either television, theatre, radio or film.

John Yorke, BBC Controller of Drama Production and Course Tutor, says: "Whilst you can't teach writing, you can create a framework for new and emerging talent to find its voice.

"Over the last three years, with the help of some of the best people in the industry, we've been able to give new writers the space, time and tools to allow them to develop strong, individual work.

"It's fantastic that in the current climate the BBC is still able to make such a major investment in new talent.

• Applications are open from Monday 14 April until Monday 12 May 2008. Details on how to apply can be found at bbc.co.uk/jobs

Cartoonists invade Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury will be invaded by all manner of cartoonists this coming weekend (18th - 20th April), intent on enjoying themselves to the maximum at the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival. Guests include Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, Steve Bright, David Fletcher (creator of ROK Comics "Crumb", all the way from New Zealand), Ian Baker, Bill Stott, John Roberts, Roger Penwill and Andy Davey, with support from The Cartoon Club of Great Britain, the Professional Cartoonists Organisation and more.

"It's the fifth of these annual events, and very popular among locals and visitors alike," says Steve Bright. "The sun has never failed to shine (that's the kiss of death now), and there are loads of events and exhibitions planned throughout the weekend."

Steve will be found in the town square (weather permitting), drawing gigantic cartoons. There will also be cartoon workshops and clinics for the public to participate in, and a plethora of caricaturists drawing all-comers - absolutely free.

• More information at: www.shrewsburycartoonfestival.com

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Exhibition Review: Make Mine Manga!


I approached the How Manga Took Over The World exhibition at Manchester’s Urbis museum, writes Matt Badham, with some trepidation. I’m not a massive manga and anime fan and certainly don’t know my shonen from my shojo. However, perhaps because I’m not a fan, I found that I got a lot out of this exhibition, which, despite being relatively small, is densely packed with information.

Urbis itself is a massive glass ski-slope of a building that sits just across from Victoria Station. It houses all sorts of exhibitions, from retrospectives on music and street culture to showcases of local graduate work. On the day I attended the museum, the foyer had been given over to a youth information festival with stallholders handing out flyers about subjects as diverse as housing and sexuality. There were also some children doing various arts activities, which, I’m informed, is a regular weekly event. It was nice to see Urbis doing its bit to encourage young people to come into the museum. I hope that as they get older, they’ll visit again.

Anyway, one ride later in Urbis’s rather unique lift*, constructed, I kid you not, by Italian rollercoaster engineers, and I was thrust into the world of manga and anime. Fortunately for me, Urbis had come up with some nifty ways of combating my ignorance of both.

The first was a rather stylish comic strip introduction to manga and anime drawn by Dave Siddall, which not only gave a brief history of Japanese comics and animation, but also presented both in terms of their cultural context and their growing impact on other countries’ media. Thanks, Dave, for holding my hand as I took my first faltering steps as a potential mangaphile…

Dave’s comic strip was accompanied by a definition of manga, which, if I were nitpicking, I would say should be the first thing in the exhibition, and some text that gave a potted history of the form. There was also information about Japanese artist Hokusai, who apparently coined the term manga, alongside examples of his work.

The second nifty thing that Urbis had done was to split the exhibition into separate sections that each dealt with different types of manga/anime. Each section was prefaced by a little introduction from Umeko, a manga character specifically created for the show by artist Sonia Leong. Depending on what subject she was introducing, Umeko, or ‘Plum Blossom Child’, was presented as, amongst other things, a vamp, a little girl or an action heroine. The various types of manga and anime covered by the exhibition were adult manga, manga for commercial and educational purposes, action and horror manga, and cute manga. There was also a section in the exhibition about Japanese fashions and trends, a manga lounge where you could read comics and draw, and a mini-cinema playing anime.

And so the first thing that I did was to venture into the adult section (stop sniggering at the back…). To be honest, this was more out of a desire to get this section out of the way. Items inside included a bondage Hello Kitty, a brief guide to love hotels (Google it, actually, maybe not…) and some rather disturbing anime. Suitably sickened, I stumbled back out past the attendants, it’s 18s only, and, journalistic duty done, started to relax and enjoy the rest of the exhibition.

And I really did…

Enjoy it, I mean.

To my mind, a good exhibition is all about context. You don’t just want to know what something is; you want to know its context. So not only did I get information about Naruto and Studio Ghibli, I also got an insight into and information about Tokyo street fashions and cosplay.

And if the above is gibberish to you, then you’ll probably enjoy the exhibition too. However, if you’re a big manga and anime fan, a word of warning, it may well be that everything in the show is old news to you, a snapshot of a sub-culture that you’re already immersed in.

For this old fart though (in his 30s and losing his hair), it was a real eye-opener and provided me with a tantalising glimpse of a vibrant medium (or media, perhaps – manga and anime do tend to get shoehorned together) that I've previously failed to appreciate fully.

My highlights were pretty much everything except the adult manga. My lowlights… well, it has to be bondage Hello Kitty (shudder).

But there was so much to take in that I feel the show warrants a second visit and, despite her whips and chains, even Kitty won’t stop me from returning.

* If you want to know why the lift’s unique, then I’m afraid you’ll just have to visit Urbis.

How Manga Took Over The World runs until 27 September 2008.

Matt Badham is a freelance writer. His work has appeared in the Judge Dredd Megazine, 2000AD and Tripwire. He once lived in Japan for a year and now realises that he really didn’t make the most of it.


2D Returns to Derry

2D, The Northern Ireland Comics festival, will return this year and will take place from the 5th - 7th June in the Verbal Arts Centre and other locations here in Derry, Northern Ireland.

The festival is organised by the Verbal Arts Centre, an educational charity, and is a celebration of comic book culture. It will feature an exhibition, workshops, signings, sketching, panel discussions and portfolio review sessions. The workshops will be held mainly on Thursday and Friday in the Verbal Arts Centre; panels will be held in a local bar on Friday and Saturday evenings and the festival will culminate on the Saturday with the Open Day. There will be a closing party on Saturday night to round things off.

The festival is completely free of charge and aimed at offering an accessible and exciting resource for anyone to tap into. Have a look at the Festival's old website and photos from last year's event by going to at www.2dfestival.com and while you are there you can also visit their forum and keep up to date with festival news, make suggestions for the content of the festival, post your own work and generally have a chat about anything from comics to TV to just where did that Cloverfield monster come from?

"We're determined to improve the festival this year in terms of variety and quality and make it even better than last year, which was a great success," says organiser David Campbell. "While we encourage everyone to come along to as much of the festival as possible, the main opportunity for exhibitors will be on the Saturday, for which we are offering free table space.

"We have a limited amount of table space but will do our best to accommodate as many creators, dealers and exhibitors as possible. If you would be interested in attending and would like to find out about booking a table please get in touch. If you would like to enquire about anything else regarding the festival, need help with travel and accommodation information, or have any suggestions please feel free to email us."

In Review: Local Heroes Exhibition

We have been promoting the National Library of Scotland's free Local Heroes graphic novel exhibition in Edinburgh, and its associated events, here on downthetubes for some time now, and having finally seen it, it certainly is an impressive exhibition.

With information panels around the walls detailing the history of British comics, the display cabinets have everything from Obadiah Oldbuck to the current Virgin version of Dan Dare. Graphic novels rub spines with comics history and reference books, newsstand comics and small press. The inevitable copy of Maus is there, but so are Alice In Sunderland, Judge Dredd reprint books, bound copies of Action and Battle, and even Hiberia's small press reprint of new Eagle's Doomlord.

As you venture further into the large exhibition room you will find original D C Thomson artwork. Three pages of Grant Morrison's black and white artwork from Starblazer 15, Algol The Terrible, including its title page are there as well as Ian Kennedy's painted cover to Starblazer 101, Forgotten World. Strangely enough downthetubes used the same images to illustrate our Blazing Through The Secrecy Starblazer article two years ago. There is also a page of Dudley D Watkins artwork from the D C Thomson version of Kidnapped. The eight panels of this have been extended and coloured since their original publication.

And yet the best is left for last. When Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy created a new version of Kidnapped for the One Book One Edinburgh reading campaign in 2007, the National Library of Scotland bought the original artwork for the successful graphic novel. In addition to Cam Kennedy's painted cover and a selection of preparatory sketches and colour tests, the exhibition has the entire 63 pages of original painted art framed and on display in printing order. Indeed there are so many art boards that they do not fit on a single wall and wrap around onto a second wall. It is a quite breathtaking display of original art by one of Britain's best living comic strip artists.

The exhibition runs until 1 June 2008 and is open seven days a week. It is even being promoted on Edinburgh's bus shelters.

Webby Awards Nomination for Ring Tales


The 12th Annual Webby Awards has nominated US company RingTales for the Best Animation Video of 2008, based on a selection of RingTales animated versions of the print cartoons from The New Yorker magazine.

Winners will be announced on 6th May, 2008, and honoured in New York City on June 10th.

Called the Oscars of the Internet by the New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. This years Awards received nearly 10,000 entries from around the world.

RingTales Webby Award nomination is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators, said David-Michel Davies, executive director of The Webby Awards.

The RingTales team is thrilled with the nomination, said RingTales CEO Jim Cox. Its a great confirmation of our commitment to creating quality entertainment, something our rapidly growing audience also confirms.

You can expect to see another announcement soon about how were expanding our slate of cartoon properties and our distribution network, added RingTales President Mike Fry.

RingTales animations of The New Yorker cartoons premiered online in March 2007 and have enjoyed over 24 million views, with four million views in March 2008 alone. They can be seen on a growing number of websites, including RingTales.com, NewYorker.com, MSN Video, iTunes Podcast, and Comcast Video.

Santa Monica-based RingTales LLC creates animated versions of popular print cartoons and syndicates them across the internet, mobile and broadcast and mobile device markets. RingTales was founded by two industry veterans, Jim Cox and Michael Fry, who previously collaborated on the hit DreamWorks animated feature, Over The Hedge.

Our goal is to replicate the print comic experience in animated digital form, says Cox.

• Fans have until May 1st to vote for RingTales in The Webby Peoples Voice Awards at http://pv.webbyawards.com.

Septic Isle debuts

UK independent comic publisher Moonface Press will launch its new graphic novella Septic Isle with a limited edition of just 100 copies at next month's Bristol International Comic Expo.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Jacob Marley was MI5’s most revered and feared agent. But he turned his back on Queen and country to pursue a more peaceful existence. Now, 15 years later and with his life collapsing around him, Marley has returned to find that the world of British espionage is more dangerous than ever before.

Ageing, heartbroken and off his game, Marley must now face off against Jerome Quinn. A former MI5 man himself, Quinn leads Odin’s Sword, a neo-Nazi terror organisation that has declared war on Britain’s Muslim community. He’s every bit as ruthless as Marley, only younger, stronger and smarter.

To beat him, Marley will need every shred of courage and cunning at his disposal – and it still might not be enough...

Written by Andy Winter (Hero Killers, Blood Psi), drawn by Mick Trimble (MC2, The Many Worlds Of Jonas Moore), the limited edition of Septic Isle on sale at the Expoboasts a wraparound cover by Declan Shalvey (Hero Killers, Freak Show). Andy and Declan were the creative team on Hero Killers which won last year’s Eagle Award for Best British Black and White Comicbook and Declan is nominated for an Eagle again this year as Favourite Newcomer Artist.

An exclusive limited edition first printing of just 100 copies of the 52-page Septic Isle will be available at the Bristol Expo, priced £3.95. Andy, Declan and Mick will also all be on hand at the Moonface Press table at the Expo to chat about the book and sign copies.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Torchwood Toys go Underground

BBC Worldwide has chosen Underground Toys as the North American and UK licensee for Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, with several product lines planned, including mugs, key chains, plastic replica items, laying cards and resin busts. Expect products to start shipping this summer (2008).

In the US, Underground will also oversee distribution of action figures and Minimates, where it already distributes various Doctor Who product lines produced by Character Options.

We just have to wonder - will the action figures have removeable clothes?

More Moore

Ronald D. Moore, that is - not Alan. US broadcaster Fox has ordered a two-hour sci-fi pilot, Virtuality from Ronald D. Moore (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica) and produced by Universal Media Studios. Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun along with Ronald and Michael Taylor are executive producers.

The plot centres on 12 astronauts on a ten-year journey aboard the Earth's first starship, the Phaeton. Also on board are virtual-reality modules giving the crew members a chance to be adventurous and take on different personas - which all works fine until the virtual system is invaded by a mysterious bug.

Production on Virtuality begins in July. Sounds to us like Moore's chance to wreak revenge on all those often tiresome Star Trek holodeck stories...

Twilight Zone and Flyings Saucers come to Comics

The newly revamped icv2.com reports that UK publisher Walker Books is launching a series of eight graphic novels based on classic episodes of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone. The first two volumes will be out in October, just one year shy of the show's 50th Anniversary.

Mark Kneece, who has written for Marvel, DC and Kitchen Sink Press, is adapting the episodes, all of which were originally written by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, and the graphic novels are being illustrated by artists from Savannah College of Art and Design's Sequential Arts Program.

The first two graphic novels adapt two first season episodes, Walking Distance (pictured left, from October 30th of 1959, in which Martin Sloan, a successful middle-aged man, attempts to re-enter the world of his childhood) and The After Hours (pictured above, from June 10th of 1960, the story of a woman trapped inside a department store where the mannequins come to life once the store is closed).


icv2 also reports on plans by Bluewater Productions to release the graphic novel collection of its Flying Saucers vs. The Earth comic book series in August, adapting the classic 1956 film Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, under its "Ray Harryhausen Presents" banner. Full story here

Expo Latest - Exclusives Promised

With now only four weeks to go until the UK’s biggest comics convention at Bristol's British Empire & Commonwealth Exhibition Hall on 10th and 11th May 2008, it’s time to reveal some of the new books, offers and EXpo EXclusives on show.

The Bristol International Comic Expo website (www.comicexpo.net) will be updated shortly with these details and more on the panel rundown for the weekend. In addition, the Virtual Bristol Anthology returns this year – a chance for readers to preview some of the new books available at Bristol, and reserve a copy in advance or order a copy if you sadly can’t make it this time.

• AAM Markosia (www.markosia.com) celebrate moving into their fourth year of publishing with EXpo Exclusive editions of the Eagle Award-nominated Starship Troopers: Bad Blood #8 and the critically acclaimed The Boy Who Made Silence #3. Specials this year include trade paperbacks offered at £4 each, or three for a tenner – with £10 of back issues given away for free with every £10 spent.
Various AAM/Markosia creators will be around all weekend for signing and sketching, with editors running portfolio reviews for artists and pitch sessions for writers throughout the day on Sunday.

Ardden Comics are bringing the brand new Flash Gordon #0 and some posters for Shock Squad Seven. Both artists, Neil Edwards (SSS) and Paul Green (FG) will be attending the show and doing signings.
Flash Gordon
#0 has an exclusive 12 page story by Brendan and Paul, and won’t be printed again for the direct market.

Studio Blink Twice, otherwise known as The Etherington Brothers, are the creative team responsible for the award-winning title Malcolm Magic. Their current series, Monkey Nuts, has recently enjoyed a two month run in the Guardian newspaper, and will soon become a regular weekly feature in the children’s comic, The DFC.
They’ll be launching of their new book, Malcolm Magic - the Big Kahuna Collection. Gathering together all twelve issues, the Tusk special, a complete cover gallery and a stunning wealth of bonus material, this perfect bound 304 page trade paperback is truly the one to rule them all! This limited edition gem will be available on May 10th where you’ll be able to get your copies signed by the creators. Additional exclusives to be revealed at the weekend so hurry over and meet the team!

• Graham Pearce brings both issues ten and eleven of Sgt Mike Battle: The Greatest American Hero – issue ten wraps up the epic adventure Last Admin Hero, with eleven a great jumping-on point for new readers: at only £1.50 for 40 B&W pages with a fantastic colour cover, it’s hard to beat.

On The Banks of The River Croal by Rob Jackson had Comic Book Resources writer Tom Spurgeon gushing: “I wish every cartoonist would do something local like this. There’s something powerful about comics that use the depiction of something right there in front of the artist as the visual component for a work, something arresting just for itself.”
As well as this book, Rob is bringing his brand new comic Bog Wizards a fantasy story which comes with the extra tiny comic How to Read Bog Wizards, and his entire back catalogue.

Tokyopop UK will be bringing its wall of manga, 10 metres of the latest and greatest titles. Special offers as always throughout the weekend. Rising Stars of Manga artwork from the 2nd years competition will be on display, and TokyoPop writers and creators will be there all weekend, including Hans Steinbach (A Midnight Opera, Poison Candy), Anike Hage (Gothic Sports) and a number of RSOM UK winners. Also: portfolio reviews, and try your hand at playing on their Nintendo Wii and DSs.

• Fanfare (www.fanfareuk.co.uk) and Spain’s Ponent Mon bring the first public UK viewing of the long awaited Disappearance Diary by Hideo Azuma. They’ll also be bringing a wide selection of Marvel and anime T-shirts like you’ve never seen, including the new “Punisher shot on your chest” shirt.

• Diamond UK will be exhibiting in the hall for the first time, and will be giving away copies of Previews and other catalogues along with showcasing new samples of products due throughout the year (hopefully some of the items will be seen for the first time over here in the UK). They’ll also be talking to Indy / Self press publishers to explain how they can look into getting their comics into Previews and will be chatting to consumers and retailers about Diamond throughout the weekend.
Diamond UK are also hosting a Retailer Open Day on Friday 9th May 2008 at the Ramada Plaza and all Diamond account holders are welcome - they just need to register prior to the event. Each retailer that attends will receive exclusive items only available to order and collect at the Expo (these are shared exclusives with the New York comic convention and each have very limited availability).
The following items will be available to buy: Marvel: Iron Man Legacy of Doom # 1 Sketch Variant; Iron Man Mark 1 Battle Damaged Armour Wobbler; Metal Gear Solid: Raiden Stealth Camo Action Figure.

• Clown Press (www.clownpress.com) will exclusively release their new book, The Prison and other tales at the Bristol Expo. This is a collection of observational stories based on creator Adam Grose’s perspective of the 21st Century and the current events happening around us, political observations, some prose and poetry and some short stories based on the concept of love. In all there are 14 stories, ranging from one page to six pages and there will be a sketchbook section with seven illustrations, preview images for an upcoming graphic novel and some paintings/examples of my art. It will be perfect bound, 52 page graphic novel comic book and available for £4.95.
The recently released collected TPB of ‘Cosmogenesis’ will also be available, a 550 page graphic novel collecting all the books.

• Newcomers to the self-publishing arena C2D4 (www.c2d4.com) will be making their Bristol debut at this year’s Expo. Comprised of Tony Wicks, artist writer, and Martin Buxton, writer, they are planning to bring their twisted take on all things to comics with the launch of three titles:

Last of the Chickenheads - In a genetically modified future, a pandemic leaves the fittest of the fit to fight for the abandoned technology. Lions, hyenas, chickens, cockroaches…Oh my!!
Jack in the Box - Men are products of their environment. This theory will be put to the test by otherworldy beings living beneath our feet. But is their cruel experiment about to be inadvertently ruined by a young girl?
Crowman - Welcome to the town of Havenville. A town long in the grip of corruption and fear. Not a nice place to live, an even worse place to die. But that’s all about to change.

• Liz & Terry Martin from Urban Jester will be bringing issues 1, 2, 3, and hopefully issue 4 of Murky Depths, their ‘Quarterly anthology of speculative fiction’. They recently set up a publishing arm called ‘The House of Murky Depths’ and are publishing a Richard Calder comic entitled Death and The Maiden. All titles will be available at reduced prices for the Expo, and there will be a special rate for new subscribers. They will also be looking at portfolios and pitches from potential contributors to their anthology.

• Dare Comics’ (www.darecomics.com) David Golding and Adam Handy will be signing copies of issue #1 and #2 of The Hunter, and will bring the full portfolio of original artwork for both issues of The Hunter. David will be around both days to draw original commissions.

• Image Comics’ book, Studio Space, receives its worldwide launch at the Expo – it's not released around the world until 29th May, but exclusive copies of Studio Space in paperback will be available to buy from the Tripwire magazine table at the show. A Studio Space panel will also be taking place on Saturday afternoon at the show and both writers of the book, Joel Meadows and Gary Marshall, will be appearing at Bristol.
A 320 page oversized paperback and limited hardcover, this unique project looks at the work of 20 of the world’s finest comicbook artists and illustrators, examines their start and gets into their working patterns and practices. With an introduction by Guillermo (Pan’s Labyrinth) Del Toro and a foreword by fantasy grand master Elric creator Michael Moorcock and a list of artists that reads like a who’s who of the comic industry, Studio Space will be an indispensable addition to the library of any aficionado of popular art. The full list of artists featured: Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Tim Bradstreet, Howard Chaykin, Sean Phillips, Duncan Fegredo, Joe Kubert, Mike Mignola, Tim Sale, George Pratt, Tommy Lee Edwards, Adam Hughes, Sergio Toppi, Walter Simonson, Jim Lee, Frank Miller, Bryan Talbot, Alex Ross, Steve Dillon, and Dave Taylor.

• Finally for now, Tim Perkins and Wizards Keep are packing their stand with events and launches including the Worlds End Ashcan, which comes with a money off voucher that will enable the purchaser to redeem it against the cost of the graphic novel upon its release in 2009; Worlds End Signed and numbered limited edition Figurines and unpainted Kits; and a very limited supply of Black & White Giclees from a selection of pages from Dark Crusade issue #1 and the unpublished #2 Signed by both the Writer. The company is also running an exclusive Expo competition - more details on their web site (www.wizards-keep.com)

The Bristol International Comic Expo 2008 will be held over the weekend of 10th and 11th May 2008 at the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum and the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Bristol, England, with an early bird film night on Friday 9th May. Full details are available on the official website, www.comicexpo.net – including ticket ordering details, just £6 for adults for each day, accompanied children free, ages 12-16 just one pound.

Times features Classical Comics

Today's Times newspaper carried a full feature on bringing Shakespeare to teenagers "as they like it" and included a plug for both the recently-published Manga and Classical Comics Shakespeare comics. The piece has made Classical Comics artist Jon Haward's day, especially after his work on Macbeth was described in glowing terms.

"His green-faced, red-eyed, scrubbily bearded witches are far nearer the hellish creatures that Shakespeare conceived than the prancing Glasgow chavs or glum Morningside housewives I've seen in the theatre," writes Bernard Nightingale. "And his Macbeth is as formidable as he should be: a big, grim warrior who nevertheless sweats and ogles with horror at the spectral dagger or Banquo's blue, eyeless ghost. Haward has caught the play's terror and tension a lot better than many productions that I recall."

The article, inspired in part by Stand Up for Shakespeare campaign, provides another welcome promotion for the Classical Comics range. Paul Harrison Davies reviewed Henry V earlier this year for downthetubes.

• More on the Stand up for Shakespeare campaign from 01789 272520 or www.rsc.org.uk/standupforshakespeare

Yuri's Night Celebrated in Style

Supporters of space exploration were busy celebrating this weekend, with annual Yuri's Night events across the planet on Saturday, marking Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's first human space flight on 12th April 12th, 1961 and the first launch of the US Space Shuttle on 12th April 1981.

Yuri's Night is regarded like a St Patrick' or St George's Day for space. It's one day when all the world can come together and celebrate the power and beauty of space and what it means.

Almost 200 parties took place across the globe, with several in the UK, including one in Manchester to help raise money to save the world-reknowned Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, under threat of closure thanks to penny-pinching government idiocy, a plan widely condemned by scientists (including Sir Bernard Lovell and The Sky at Night's Sir Patrick Moore), celebrities (Queen's Brian May, for one) and many others. (More on the campaign ot save Jodrell Bank here).

The largest Yuri's Night celebration on the planet drew an estimated 7,000 people to the tarmac at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, as young-minded people celebrated space exploration with music, dance, technology and art.

The celebration - the largest of 178 held around the world - was co-hosted with the Space Generation Advisory Council.

"When humans go into space, we take with us not just our science and technology but our hopes, our dreams, our art and our personal interactions," said Ames Director S. Pete Worden. "At Yuri's Night 2008, we celebrated all of these, and the enthusiasm of our guests was gratifying and reinvigorating."

More than 20 speakers including Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and SimCity game creator Will Wright addressed participants and demonstrated cutting edge technologies. Musical acts including Telstar, a new trio led by former Grateful Dead basist Phil Lesh and DJ phenomenon Amon Tobin of Montreal performed on four stages. A trio of American and Soviet-era aircraft demonstrated aerobatics over Moffett Field, and San Francisco's interdisciplinary dance company Capacitor displayed human acrobatics.

Pictured above: One of many wild costumes at Yuri's Night. Photo courtesy of NASA Ames Research Center / Paul Langston

Podcasters Paraded!

Whether you’re looking for a place to discuss comics with like-minded individuals, or you’re after ideas for new titles, comics podcasting has the answers - and now, the makers of some of the UK's finest shows are about to reveal some of their secrets at the upcoming Bristol Comics Expo in May.

As broadband and MP3 players became commonplace, it made distributing large files over the internet much easier and not long after, podcasts were born. Simply put, podcasts are typically fan-produced internet radio shows on any subject they feel passionate about.

Comics podcasting started in the USA about three years ago and some shows have now produced over 400 episodes.

Comic creators have always been more accessible to readers than other media, appearing at more conventions and signings, but rarely is there time for a long talk with other people stood in line. Now fans have a means of contacting creators directly and a chance to discuss all those burning questions in a live forum. This was previously possible with Q and A columns in magazines, but podcasts allow real-time interaction, without the delay.

"Comics podcasting has continued to evolve," explains Barry Nugent from British podcasters Geek Syndicate, "and now video podcasts, and live recordings of talks from comic conventions around the world are available.

"Comic podcasts have developed to reflect the diversity available within the comic medium itself," he adds, "so while some will focus on mainstream superhero comics from Marvel and DC, others look at independent comics, or a specific segment of the industry, such as horror comics or all ages titles."

Inspired by others, comics podcasts from a UK perspective are now being made. So whether you're looking for a guide through the murky world of geekdom (Geek Syndicate), a trans-Atlantic view on comics from the women of (Birds of Geek), the true antidote to the average comic book podcast (Quiet! Panelologists at Work), another view of comics from a woman’s perspective (Comic Racks) or some hidden gems from the world of independent comics (Comic Book Outsiders), the UK comic book podcasts group has it all.

Hosts from all of the UK comic book podcasts will be appearing on a panel on Sunday at the Bristol Comic Expo to answer your questions about podcasting and comics.

• For more information visit comicspodcastsuk.wordpress.com/main-page or drop by the Geek Syndicate table at the Festival.

Art Attack!

May 1st-15th sees the return of Street Blitz to London - the interactive way to conduct guerrilla art. The idea is to use the whole city as an open gallery. Install your art, or creative urban landscape subversion, and then post up details on the Blitz website map with text and pics to encourage others to visit / enjoy / join in.

As the organisers say, "The corporate image factory... doesn't ask your permission to push images in your face so neither should we seek consent in order to leave our own mark on the city..."

Will comics creators join in with Banksy and others, we wonder?

• More info: www.streetblitz.org

Streetblitz "Partners"

Art in Cities

Wooster Collective

Stencil Archive

The Anti-Advertising Agency

Graffiti Research Lab

CrimethInc

Stencil Revolution

Arofish Stencil Graffiti

Art of the State

Graffiti.org

Space Hijackers

Adbusters

Reclaim the Streets

Indymedia UK

Art Crimes

Banksy

A-Infos

Space Invaders

Obey Giant

Instructables

Blek le Rat

Billboard Liberation Front

Sticker Switch

Street Res

L'Atlas

Ekosystem

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

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