Check out the main DTT site!

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 This blog is no longer being updated.

Latest News on downthetubes.net

Saturday, 17 May 2008

New UK Comics Auction Opens


The Summer 2008 auction at comics auction site Compalcomics (www.compalcomics.com) is now open, with another great range of both British and US items on offer.

There are over 300 lots in this catalogue. DC Thomson's The Broons are once again the stars of this auction with their No. 1 Book from 1940 (right) and given the relatively high grade of the item, it's expected to sell for some £3000 or more.

Several early 1940s Christmas issues of Beano and Dandy are also offered, plus many complete years from the 1960s to the 1980s as well and these can be safely considered for the future as grades are high. From this same era are full runs of Lion, SMASH! and WHAM! along with every 1950s Girl comic, where lot 131 includes the free gift Girl Sun-Visor in yellow - this summer's must-have accessory. (Although I'll probably stick to a Bud-Visor).

Sexton Blake leads the bound volume collection along with a strong run of Union Jack, also showcasing his detective stories. Highlighted other titles are The Thriller, Schoolgirls' Own, Champion, Triumph, Ranger, Radio Fun and Film Fun. There's also a key Gem Library half-year volume from 1939 containing the rare Biggles South Sea Adventure story in 10 complete episodes (Lot 22).

Some of the issues of the Lion in the auction are actually from the collection of Captain Condor creator Frank S Pepper, with 'Pepper' pencilled to the cover of many issues. Incredibly, it seems even the great man had to order his own copy from the local newsagent!

Artwork on offer includes Desperate Dan and Oor Wullie, The Daleks from TV Century 21, Lord Snooty, Tommy Cooper, Dan Dare, The Galloping Glory Boys, Rupert, Frankie Stein, Clever Dick, The Spider and Don Lawrence's rare front cover board for The Trigan Empire. There's also an original cover for Lion (26 June 1965) featuring The Spider by Geoff Campion - perhaps one of the first appearances of the character?

The US section reflects the recent blockbuster Iron Man movie with Tales Of Suspense 39 and, of course, Issue 1. Also included are The Amazing Spider-Man #3 #28 and #129. There are high grade Golden Age Detective Comics, Flash, Sensation and Superboy titles and many 1970s issues of The Avengers, Captain America, X-Men and Green Lantern.

Compalcomics holds four auctions a year. Results of most auctions are posted online two weeks after the closing date.

• Bids will be accepted until Tuesday 3 June at 8.00pm GMT.To go directly to the main page for the catalogue, click here: www.compalcomics.com/catalogue If you have a question about any of the items in the catalogue, please send an email to Compalcomics director Malcolm Phillips at comicbook@compalcomics.com

Friday, 16 May 2008

ROK Signs Roy of the Rovers

ROK Comics has announced the official addition of the legendary Roy of the Rovers comic to its stable of classic comics for mobile phones, in partnership with Egmont UK, starting with a classic 1970s story featuring Roy as England Manager.

(To view a free sample, please visit www.rokcomics.com/royoftherovers.php)

Arguably the most famous British comics character of all, 'Roy of the Rovers' forty-year playing career began on the cover of top-selling weekly comic Tiger in September 1954. Since then, the phrase 'Roy of the Rovers stuff' has become part of the English language, regularly invoked by pundits to describe the essence of footballing dreams.

Working closely with Egmont and its Roy of the Rovers archivist Mark Towers, keeper of the official website, ROK Comics has begun its run of ROTR by serialising the 1970s story in which Roy is offered the opportunity to become England manager. Already a successful player-manager of Melchester Rovers, will he accept the demanding role?

Roy of the Rovers joins a growing number of classic and ongoing British comics being published in the ROK Comics format via www.rokcomics.com and telecom partners in countries such as China, India, Pakistan and South Africa. "British comics have been exported worldwide for decades," says ROK Comics Managing Editor John Freeman. "Now they're being exported digitally over the internet and to mobile phones!"

In addition to Roy of the Rovers, ROK is also publishing Egmont characters such as the secret agent Dredger from Action!, the classic humour strip Faceache and others.

"We're delighted to be working with Egmont on bringing their classic characters to a whole new generation," added Laurence Alexander, Group CEO of ROK “and we’re looking to score big time – home and away - with Roy on our hugely popular ROK Comics service.”

ROK Comics also has agreements with publishers such as the Daily Express (Beau Peep, Jeff Hawke and others), Look and Learn Ltd. (Robin Hood), Markosia (Dark Mists, The Lexian Chronicles) and others. Garfield, which appears in the Daily Mail and Doonesbury, which appears in The Guardian, are also being offered for download and on subscription in key territories.

Read an article about the history of Roy of the Rovers on the main downthetubes web site

Comics, Nerds and Spandex!

As promised: David Hailwood’s account of this year's Bristol Comics Expo -- although it seems he managed to do more avoiding of the event than actually being at it!

(
Which, by the way, is par for the course when you're a comic creator...)

For a round up of other reports we've found, click here.

All photographs ©
D’Israeli (Matt Brooker) and used with his kind permission (for more, visit his Flickr site).


As I stepped off the train at Bristol Temple Meads, the smell of spot-cream and spandex filled the air. I thought to myself ‘this must be the place…this must be Bristol International Comics Expo!’

My suspicions were confirmed when, moments later, I found myself being unexpectedly frogmarched towards the queue by a small legion of well-armed Storm Troopers. As an old lady with a poodle trundled past, the person in front of me felt inclined to comment ‘Great Storm troopers. But the Hoth monster’s rubbish!’

After a ten minute wait and a nifty bit of queue jumping (adopting the much used procedure of pointing excitedly at the sky and yelling ‘Holy crud! It’s the Battlestar Galactica!’), I finally got inside.

Having missed the 2000AD panel, I decided to say a quick ‘hello’ to Adam Grose and Tony Suleri of Clown Press, who were promoting their Cosmogenesis collection and Flood charity comic. After a long overdue chat with Tony that rivalled the Lord of the Rings trilogy in length, I suddenly realised I’d now missed all the events that I’d wanted to attend. Not only that, but I’d only got as far as two foot through the door. I resolved to quicken my pace and explore this mighty comic convention that I had spent six whole Earth pounds to enter!

I made it as far as three tables down, when I bumped into Dave Evans of Futurequake (and just about every other 2000AD related fanzine going). Being up for another one of them Eagle Awards, Dave’s stall was a hive of activity and I just about managed to introduce myself before I was lost in a mass of eager young creators desperate to display their work inside his publications.

Another table that seemed to be doing a healthy amount of business was Accent UK. Their newly released Robots anthology displayed the usual wealth of UK talent, and rumour had it several thousand copies of last years Zombies anthology had already been sold, which is quite remarkable for a small press offering.

Shane Chebsey was there as always, promoting every small press comic that didn’t have its own stall (and several that did) under his Smallzone banner. Shane was the first person to ever publish any of my work, and a very brave man for doing so (since it involved the adventures of a barbarian with a big chin and quiff, named ‘Iron Bru’). It’s nice to see that his commitment to the small press and UK comics industry still hasn’t wavered after all these years.

Having seen a sample of what’s hot in the small press world, I decided to check out what was hot in the world of pro comics, and ventured towards the Ace Comics stall. After a chat with one of the sellers about the merits of buying trade paperbacks instead of comics when you find yourself in a relationship with a comic-hating spouse, the mid-day sun began to make its presence known. Leaving the Ace Comics salesman contemplating the merits of trying to make sales whilst standing in a bucket of ice-cold water, I decided that now would be a good time to try and discover the Ramada Hotel where the rest of the convention was being held.

Since the way wasn’t very well signposted, I opted to use the age-old tactic of following the freakiest looking person I could find. This, I deduced would either lead me to the Ramada or to a long dark alley where I’d get knifed. Since there was a bar located in the hotel, I considered it worth the risk.

I made it there with minimum flesh wounds, and met up with Welsh comic artist Neil Alexander, who’d made even less progress than me. So far he’d visited three pubs and no doubt several off-licenses on route. We decided a fourth pub would make it a nice even number, and headed for that culture capital of the beer ‘n burger trade…Weatherspoons.

On our way there we encountered a lone Storm Trooper in the car park, who’d become separated from the pack. Having seen a lot of movies, we knew how this was supposed to go. We were contractually obliged to jump him, steal his outfit and attempt to overthrow the Imperialist swine who’d taken control of the comic convention. Fortunately, I’d only had one pint and could tell this was probably a bad idea. Had it been a man in a Yoda outfit, I’d probably have gone for it; alas, it was not to be so.

After one of Neil’s legendary shortcuts, which took us across several continents and on many grand adventures, we finally made it to Spoons. As the gathering grew in number and the beer began to flow, the conversation took up appropriately nerd-like topics. After a heated debate about whether The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, Day of the Dead and Day of the Triffids all took place on the same day, Neil asked the immortal question: ‘Would Captain Kirk shag an Ood?’ The general opinion seemed to be ‘Yes, he most certainly would. Even if it was dead.’

As it was now almost 5.00pm and I still hadn’t attended any events or brought any comics, I decided to take my leave. I hot tailed it back to the main hall, hoping to pick up a few bargains. Instead I once again got chatting with Tony and Adam, and by the time I’d finished the convention was closing.

As I caught my train home I realised the only comic I’d actually brought at the convention was Adam and Tony’s Cosmogenesis collection. Clearly they’d used some sort of Jedi mind-trick on me, to prevent me from purchasing any comics other than their own! You’d think with so many Stormtroopers around, these sort of underhand dealings wouldn’t go on. It wouldn’t have happened on Vader’s watch, oh no.

Anyway, to sum up, I had a marvellous time at the convention, met some smashing people, had some great beer and a truly awful burger. Perhaps next year I might actually get to attend an event or two, but somehow I doubt it. I will once again be quaffing ale with the best of them!

Comic Expo Web Site

Eagle Awards Web Site
More 2008 Comic Expo Reports: A Round Up

Ian Stacey's Wet Paint

Much-praised cartoonist Ian Stacey has been in touch to say he has collected over 100 of his fab "Wet Paint" cartoons into a book. Priced at just £2, all proceeds of the sales will go to the Big Issue Foundation.

Alan Grant, Bryan Talbot and Ian Gibson are amongt his many famous fans. "Ian Stacey is an exceptionally funny cartoonist," says Alan. "He aims at just about every target under the sun, from genetic modification to Batman, and hits the mark in every case. Many of his punchlines are so wickedly funny I laughed out loud."

Check out his web site -- www.ianstacey.net -- for samples and buy the book -- it's in a really good cause!

• To order the Wet Paint collection, send a cheque payable to "Charity Cartoons" to 12 Trunette Road,Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, CO15-2BB adding £1 for postage. Please add £2 for posting overseas (non UK).

Alan Moore in London

(via the Forbidden Planet International blog): Great Britain’s Comics Alchemist in Extraordinary Alan Moore will be appearing at London’s Orbital Comics (148 Charing Cross Road) on the 24th May to promote the new DVD The Mindscape of Alan Moore, a 2003 feature documentary distributed by Shadow Snake which chronicles Alan's life and work.

The Mindscape of Alan Moore is Shadowsnake’s first completed feature project, part One of the Shamanautical / 5 Elements series. It is the directorial debut of DeZ Vylenz and is the only feature film production on which Alan Moore has collaborated, with permission to use his work.

Alan Moore presents the story of his development as an artist, starting with his childhood and working through to his comics career and impact on that medium, and his emerging interest in magic.

The film features the first film adaptations of scenes from Moore's acclaimed series V for Vendetta and Watchmen, shot in early 2002. Another key scene features a direct reference to the character of John Constantine from the comic book Hellblazer.

a portrait of the artist as contemporary shaman, someone with the power to transform consciousness by means of manipulating language, symbols and images.

The film leads the audience through Moore's world with the writer himself as guide, beginning with his childhood background, following the evolution of his career as he transformed the comics medium, through to his immersion in a magical worldview where science, spirituality and society are part of the same universe.

Here's a trailer for the film, via YouTube.



You can read a review of the film by Daniel Etherington on the Film4 web site.

There’s also a Polish launch of the DVD coming up on 25th June at the Oúrodek Postaw Twórczych (the Creative Art Center) in Wroclaw; the US official release by the Disinformation Group will be in September.

Quite Frankly, Frank Quitely

When top Scottish comics creator made an appearance at Scotland's National Library in April 2008, Brian D Morgan was on hand to report what he had to say about his approach to drawing comics for downtheubes. Read his full report on the main downthetubes site

Thursday, 15 May 2008

In Review: The Swap

By Antony Moore
Format: Novel

Published: Already Available in Hardback.
Paperback Released by Vintage Books on 5 June 2008

The Plot: Another school reunion looms for Harvey Briscow, and once again he agonises over whether to attend; as the owner of a comic shop, a devout drinker, smoker and full-time misanthropist, he’s spent much of his time wondering what might have been had he chosen another path. Nothing in Harvey’s life has changed since the last reunion, five years ago, or indeed the one before, and short of fabricating a fantastic change of fortune there’s little to be had by going.

Not until Josh, his sole employee and only true friend, suggests he may have opportunity to reclaim a very rare comic Harvey once swapped, does he galvanise himself into action.

On arrival at the crowded event he meets the much-maligned Charles 'Bleeder' Odd, who has now matured into a successful businessman and appears nauseatingly content with his lot. But as Harvey makes inroads to retrieve his lost comic, he begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. The worthless item he exchanged it for must have some significance…

The Review: One man's obsession to retrieve a copy of Superman One, swapped in childhood with one of the most bullied children in his school, finds the miserable Harvey Briscow returning to St. Ives, Cornwall to discover, for the first time in years, that the person he swapped it with is at the School Reunion. Obsession turns to black and, later, bleak farce as Harvey goes so far as to attempt to steal the rare comic back, only to discover something unpleasant in 'Bleeder' Odd's cellar -- Odd's mother, a fresh corpse.

Dishonesty on the part of the deeply unhappy Briscow serves only to make matters worse for him, and despite a brief romantic fling, there seems no hope for the hapless comics dealer, perhaps based on a shop owner Moore once knew (the author no longer collects comics but given his deft portrayal of his lead character that's probably a good thing as he may not find himself very welcome in some comic shops after this).

For a first novel, there seems to have been an inordinate amount of high praise for The Swap, although claims of "Whitehall farce" stretch from one reviewer credulity thin when for the most part the novel is set in Croydon and Cornwall. This is definitely black comedy, but not perhaps the kind of comedy I personally enjoy, and the inevitable consequences of Briscow's lifetime obsession proves fairly predictable and the murderer fairly obvious - although the novel certainly will give anyone considering to step beyond Facebook and attend a school reunion cause to reconsider such an unwise decision.

Despite its faults, The Swap is redeemed in part by skilled and distinctive characterisation, from Briscow to brief encounter Masie (that character developed from her original role at the suggestion of Moore's editor), her aggressive husband Jeff, the put upon, secret-ridden Charles Odd and the investigating police. Even Briscow's shop assistant Josh is brought to believeable life, regularly making buying decisions that cause the hapless comic shop owner even more despair.

I had best qualify my lukewarm review by pointing out that having grown up in St. Ives, some of the inconsistencies in the novel rankled, even though they are minor and of no consequence to any emmett or grokle. It's a bit like watching a film set in New York if you've been there, and know a car chase jumps from one street to another on the other side of the city. It jars your viewing pleasure. For example, in The Swap the implication of the School Reunion indicates it is in a Grammar School (or what was once a Grammar School) -- and St. Ives doesn't have one: if you went to Grammar School you caught the train or bus to Penzance. The Golden Lion pub certainly didn't have much of a beer garden when I was there although it might well now -- it's certainly got a lively music scene judging by its web site. And St. Ives still has its railway, so why does Briscow travel to Penzance to catch a train? Even if trains weren't running from St. Ives when he wanted to leave, he would still only have to travel to St. Erth, half the distance.

As I said, none of these things matters a jot to the casual reader who buys the book on the basis of its positive reviews elsewhere or is looking for a good yarn, but it might to someone who lives in one of the town's where The Swap is set (I can't speak for Croydon). My advice would be that if you're going to use a real setting then don't base it on what might have been a perusal of the area's local web sites -- although given that Moore grew up in Cornwall, I may well be doing him a grave disservice.

Anyone who finds comic dealers travesties of the human species and enjoys seeing them squirm as they plunger ever deeper into a quagmire of their own making, all for a rare comic and the chance of a legover, will thoroughly enjoy this book. For this nit-picking reviewer, my response is muted, but given that this is only Moore's first novel, there's definite potential, sometimes seen in The Swap but, for me, not quite throughout it. Give him time...

By The Swap from amazon.co.uk

The Swap Official web site

Read an interview with Antony Moore

Letting go or your first novel is so very hard to do (Times article by Antony Moore)

Antony Moore's MySpace site

Other Views...

"A surprising and page-turning tale with a comic flair as rare as a Superman One."
- Danny Wallace

"A very funny look at the awfulness of ageing, and also an intriguing thriller."
- Kate Saunders, The Times

"Great fun, and, in its marriage of revenge tragedy and Whitehall farce, truly original."
- Independent on Sunday (did they actually read the book?)

Torchwood - drawn by Paul Grist

Torchwood Magazine Issue 5 is on sale in the UK and Ireland today. If you're in the US, you'll have to wait just that little bit longer - the mag will be available from June 10.

Check out the magazine's Facebook group page for exclusive teaser imagery from the new issue's comic strip "Rift War." I have to agree with comic artist Mike Collins, who I was talking to yesterday -- comics editor Steve White has pulled off a masterstroke getting the brilliant Paul (Jack Staff, Kane) Grist to draw on the Torchwood strip, which this issue is written by Simon Furman.

"Rift War”, which began in Issue 3, is This issue Torchwood’s first big comic story arc, a ten-part epic (broken up into smaller, self-contained stories amidst the main thrust) that sees the team face an alien race led by the dread Sanctified, who have declared all-out war on humankind. Why?

"Because Torchwood, apparently, are to blame for a catastrophic future event, centered around the time and space spanning Rift, " explains Simon via his blog, "one that wipes out an entire civilization. Can it be? Check out “Rift War” for the answers over the coming months. Superlative colour on the strip is by Kris Carter.

More about Torchwood Magazine on titanmagazines.co.uk

Dundee Literary Festival - Comics Day

Scotland's love affair with comics continues in June in Dundee, the home of publishers D C Thomson.

In January writer Alan Grant gave one of the Edinburgh Lectures, while February was the successful Hi-Ex comics convention in Inverness and the release of the latest One Book - One Edinburgh graphic novel, Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and its associated tie-in events. March was quiet, while April was the start of the Local Heroes comics exhibition at the National Library Of Scotland and its wide range of talks and presentations. May continued the Local Heroes exhibition, added the Eagle Society's annual meal and weekend of events and talks in Edinburgh, and will end in Prestonpans with the Prestonpandemonium 3 comic mart with its associated exhibition and talks. Edinburgh still has the International Book Festival to come in August.

Last year Dundee University held a comics conference entitled Biff! Bam!! Crikey!!! as part of the Six Cities Design Festival, which this year has evolved into the Comics Day of the university based Dundee Literary Festival. Running from 1pm until 6pm on Sunday 22 June, the day consists of a series of talks from comics creators and historians in the New Teaching Block of Dundee University, which is only a short walk from the city centre and the main train station.

One of the highlights of last year's Biff! Bam!! Crikey!!! was Paul Gravett's talk on the history of British comics which tied in with his Great British Comics book. This year he is back with a talk on Crime Comics and is preceded by Roger Sabin talking on How Comics Work. The number of comics creators is greater than last year with another highlight of last year, Metaphrog, returning to talk about their Louis graphic novels. In addition to Metaphrog, DC Thomson artist Jim Glen will be there to talk about his work, editor of the Mammoth Book of Best British Manga Ilya will talk about the impact of Manga, while the day will conclude with a talk from Alice In Sunderland artist and writer Bryan Talbot.

More details are available from the Dundee Literary Festival website and tickets cost £10 for the full day or £5 for each half of the programme.

Adipose Copyright Battle Escalates

(First posted 9/4/08, updated, 15/5/08): The Adipose began to take over Britain just days after the screening of the opening episode of the fourth season of Doctor Who, Partners in Crime.

The episode saw the Doctor and Donna (Catherine Tate) the villainous Miss Foster, a powerful business woman and alien Nanny (Sarah Lancashire), and her army of alien Adipose.

The cute Adipose - alien children created from excess fat from rotund couch potatoes (Adipose is the scientifiic name for fat tissue or body fat - no hidden meaning there, then) beyond the show, with an online petition demanding the BBC license a plush toy based on them and more.

Fortunately for Adipose fans, there seemed no need to wait until Christmas when such a toy might appear, because the nation's knitters stepped up to the plate and a lady known only as "Mazzmatazz" delivered a guide to making a woollen alien. Huzzah!

Unfortunately, this fan-created, not for profit pattern was ripped off by pirates who started selling Adipose online, prompting Mazzmatazz to remove the pattern from her site -- just as the patterns were also apparently attracting the attention of BBC Worldwide. Shame, but totally understandable. Given that knitter Hannah's talents extend to providing woollen hats for an Innocent drink ad campaign, perhaps the BBC will get her to come up with some official patterns - she also created designs for a knitted TARDIS, Ood and more.

A BBC News report published 14 May stated the patterns of Ood and Adipose were removed from her website after the BBC's commercial arm complained that they breached its trademark. "Mazzmatazz" says the corporation was "making an example of her".

"The patterns I created, inspired by Doctor Who, were never for sale," she stated on her web site. "They were shared under Creative Commons licenses, to prevent resale, so that other fans could enjoy and share the fun too.

"All I want is for the BBC to be fair. They either need to pursue all parties who have published without authorization instructions for Doctor Who crafts, or, they should permit all parties to publish fan-created instructions so long as they do not threaten the BBC’s intellectual property. To single me out for breach of copyright seems more like an act of making an example than a good faith defense of their copyright."

BBC Worldwide said it acted because finished figures were being sold by others on auction website eBay.

It also denied threatening legal action and as I hopd, it said it had indeed offered to consider marketing the designs itself.

The case is being publicised by the Open Rights Group, a lobbying organisation which specialises in digital rights issues. (There is a detailed analysis of the issues raised on Technollama by Andres Guadamuz, a member of the ORG and who has seen all the correspondence between the pattern creator and the BBC. The dispute boils down to the grey area of a fan providing a knitting pattern for fans in a not for profit manner and whether that is actually allowed. ORG's executive director Becky Hogge told BBC News: "["Mazzmatazz"] doesn't feel she's doing anything wrong yet she's being threatened with legal action."

"In the offline world, what she'd be doing would be fine. But because she's doing it online, which is a public space, it causes a problem."

A BBC Worlwide spokesman countered that it has every right to protect the BBC's commercial interests. "If you don't protect your trademark, it's taken away from you," he said. "And Doctor Who is massive for the BBC. It's up to us to earn money from it so we can re-invest it in the BBC,."

However this all turns out, and whether some flexibility in copyright law can be discovered - both for fans and for the BBC - I don't think there's been as big a rush to wool shops since The Clangers first aired in the 1970s...

(The official knitting pattern for the Clangers, by the way, is available from Peter Gregory of G K P Ltd, Springmill House, Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD17 6AD. But there's an unofficial pattern here on the Radio and Space Plasma Physics Knitting Patterns page, if you're interested. (Amazing what you can find on a site supposedly devoted to a site supposedly about Leicester University's Co-operative UK Twin Auroral Sounding System...)

Gene Colan gravely ill

American writer Clifford Meth has put out an urgent plea to help raise money for the family of one of America's greatest comic artists Gene Colan, who is gravely ill. The funds are needed to cover medical expenses, as they don't have comprehensive Medical Insurance, so they are arranging an auction.

Gene's one of the greats, whose work at Marvel included Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, Captain America and Doctor Strange. Especially notable were his long runs on Tomb of Dracula (with Marv Wolfman) and Daredevil -- and his incredible collaboration with Steve Gerber on Howard the Duck. He's worked in just about every genre comics have ever touched on: romance, war, crime/detective, western, sci-fi, horror, humour, and of course superheroes.

This regularly updated post on Clifford's blog will give you up to the minute details of the fund raising, but already, numerous artists and writers will be contributing drawings and/or signed books to help Gene and Adrienne Colan with their mounting medical costs. Items will be auctioned by ComicLink.com.

This list will be updated regularly. So far, it includes (in alpha-order): Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, Randy Bowen, Ed Brubaker, Adam-Troy Castro, Paty Cockrum, Peter David, Tom DeFalco, J.M. deMatteis, Pat DiNizio, Harlan Ellison, Mark Evanier, Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Joe Kubert, Erik Larsen, Bob Layton, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, Leah Moore, Albert Moy, Michael Netzer, Josh Olsen, Tom Palmer, Mike Pascale, Jim Salicrup, Bob Shreck, Dave Simmons, Gail Simone, Walter and Louise Simonson, Jim Starlin, Juan Torres, Marv Wolfman and Ash Wood.

NY ComicCon, Harris Publishing, IDW Publishing, PaperCutz, and Aardwolf Publishing have also stepped up. Will Marvel, who hired Gene for so many years to work on Daredevil and so much more be joining them?

I'm hoping any creators or collectors reading this will want to contribute, be it a piece of art for the auction, a signed script, or book.

• Even if you aren't a creator, you can help right this minute: Order Meth, Colan & Other Theologians -- the full proceeds will go directly and immediately to Gene. For details, click here.

• Clifford, pictured above with Gene, is also overseeing the sale of artist Dave Cockrum's collection and file copies for his Estate. Sales directly benefit Dave's widow. Interested? Click here.

Comic Expo Reports Round Up

David Hailwood will be reporting on the Bristol Comic Expo specifically for downthetubes in due course, but in the meantime, here's some links to just some of the reports on other comic sites:

Comic Book Resources has an article by James Hunt describing the event as "delivering the same idiosyncratic slice of comics industry shambles that can only come out of the UK," but still "an unmissable experience for all British fans." His report includes Dave Gibbons feelings about the new Watchmen movie. Dave says that the film, if anything, "exceeds the level of detail in the comics" and said that he'll be "very surprised" if the film is anything other than fantastic.

• As we reported earlier, Eagle Award winner D’Israeli (Matt Brooker) has posted his photo report on his Flickr site and his blog has several items on the Festival, too.

• Joel Meadows, he of Tripwire fame, also delivers an initial report on his Walls and Bridges blog, with some great pictures and a promise of more to come. "Mike Allwood and David Morris have transformed the show into a decent weekend with lots to see and do and a good selection of American guests," he says.

Clown Press publisher Adam Grose, who among other things was promoting the new Floods Charity Comic at the Expo delivers his review of the event here

• Jas Wilson of Smuggling Vacation, which we've already reported on -- the book is now at the printers -- offers a short first timer account on his web site.

• Terry Hooper has plenty of pics -- including a scary one of Brian M. Clarke holding up a copy of the comics magazine Crikey you might need sunglasses for -- on ComicBits Online, including news of a potential rival to Comics International, if it gets beyond dummy stage, called Mask, the brainchild of Martyn Parkinson. Terry gives his dummy a big thumbs up. "I don’t think we have a good general magazine centred on the massive comics industry in the UK since the late 1980s/early 1990s," he argues. "This is it."

• New indie publisher C2D4 launched their books at the Expo and offer their report on the event here. The brainchild of cartoonist and comics artist Tony Wicks, keep your eyes peeled for all-original serialised titles such as Last of the Chickenheads, Jack in the Box, Crowman, The Hack, and many others.
Tony is currently collaborating with script writer Martin Buxton co-creating original comic strips available on the internet at C2D4, and at the UK comic conventions they regularly attend.

• Another indie publisher, Itch, also have their own report. The brand new, small fry comics and manga publisher from the UK had a great time, with the event offering many networking opportunities.

• NCSoft's Stephen 'Rockjaw' Reid, Creative Concepts Manager at NCsoft Europe, has his report on the event -- with more pictures - here. His team were on hand to promote City of Heroes once more - their fourth year at Bristol. "Comic Expo is what I’d call a real British comics show," he recounts. "It doesn’t desperately want to be anything else. While the organisers want it to attract more people year-on-year, and want it to have a decent profile, at the same time it is at its best when it’s simple: when it’s just people getting together who love comics. Who love to talk comics, look at comics, buy comics, get comic sketches, and just generally geek out about comics.

"You can see why I like being there.

"We started to attend because we felt like we’d probably have a decent crossover between our core gaming audience and comics fans, and generally we’ve found that is the case. In addition, the concept of Draw the World Together probably fits in better there than at any other show… people at a comics show want sketches. Often quite badly. So the fact that we’re offering them, and the money you pay for one goes to charity… well, that works out quite nice."

Stacey Whittle reports she went to the 2000AD panel hosted by Tharg. "It was chaotic and hilarious and I have developed a massive crush on Al Ewing - A says this is perfectly acceptable because he has one on him too!"

"Mr Twig" reports the event was was "bloody good fun meeting up up with friends and seeing them in their element, even if some of them don't realise just how good the really are. I ended up buying some interesting comics too; the Eleventh Hour Anthologies by Orang Utan Comics, Cages and Layer Zero (both published by Insomnia Publications), The Hunter from Dare Comics and Hope Falls by tonylee." Some good recomendations there - Eleventh Hour is well worth hunting down in our opinion, too.

Jim Boswell reports he got arrested by stormtroopers (twice) but still enjoyed himself, singing the praises of the official venue, the Ramada.

• Over on the Tim, Defender of the Earth site, we're told the the Expo was, unsurprisingly, quite a restrained affair compared to the recent New York shenanigans. "But it was great fun. The awesome Roger Langridge was there, who is always a pleasure to speak to (though possibly not for him - he looked a bit knackered!) And a particular highlight for me was meeting one half of the creative partnership that is Ian Edginton and D’Israeli, who are responsible for some of the finest comics I’ve read over the last six months (SCARLET TRACES, LEVIATHAN and KINGDOM OF THE WICKED, to name a few)."

Robert Bloom has posted some of the sketches he had drawn for him on his blog, including work by David Lloyd and Walt Simonson.

• If it's moving pictures you're after, Jimmy Aquino of the Comic News Insider interviewed Leah Moore, John Reppion and Paul Cornell (the latter of Doctor Who, Wisdom and now Captain Britain fame) which can now be heard at cni.libsyn.com/

"Amazingly, we don't even sound all that hung over..." says John. Hmm...

• The indefatigable and energetic Oli Smith of London Underground Comics has also delivered a visual take on the Expo (below): for some reason it's playing rather jerkily on the new 'beta' YouTube player, but maybe my connection's a bit off. Although, knowing Oli, admittedly only in a 'encountered him by email way', it could be a deliberate...



• Comic book artist Sofia Falkenhem is just one of several mainland European to offer her view on the event on her blog. "I thought it would be maybe a bit messy and busy, with not very much opportunities for spending time with your friends," she reports. "But not at all, it was the perfect combination of big/small, big enough to wander around, picking up interesting minicomics, and listen to fairly well attended panels, but small enough to find quiet moments with frhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifiends, new as well as old. I will treasure those late night-conversations in the warm summer-air.

• French web site Comic Box has a great report, in French, packed with photographs from the event, which it describes as "une jolie fête des comics." Indeed, and, thanks to Kev F Sutherland, we have the Sock Puppets to prove it...


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Eagle Award Wnners Announced

The winners of the 2008 Eagle Awards have been announced, and with the results comes news that this year was a record-breaking one, with well over 12,000 voters participating.

Continuing to expand their worldwide penetration, organisers say the 2008 awards took on even more of an international flavour. Apart from Britain, the USA and Canada, ballots flooded in from more than 100 countries. Among them were several in Europe as well as Afghanistan, Botswana, Egypt, India, North Korea, Russia, Thailand, Uruguay, Vietnam and Zimbabwe to name but a few.

As in previous years, voting in many categories was very tight with nominees running neck and neck. In some instances, the race for the top spot was only decided by the final few votes cast; in one case there were only five votes in it while, in another category, the winner came out ahead by just 23 votes.

A highlight of the Bristol International Comic Expo, the Eagle Awards results for 2007 were announced at a presentation and dinner held at The Ramada Plaza Hotel, Bristol on Saturday, 10 May 2008, which are as follows:

Roll of Honour – Mike Mignola
Creator of Hellboy and all round comics genius

Favourite Newcomer Writer – Matt Fraction
American comic book writer, and co-founder of Artbomb and Savant, Matt describes winning the award as "brainmelting and great and humbling. Thanks to everyone that voted."

Favourite Newcomer Artist – David Aja
A Spanish comics artist whose work includes X-Men Unlimited, Daredevil and Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 1: The last Iron Fist Story

Favourite Comics Writer – Alan Moore
Some beardy old bloke (don't put me in your cellar, Alan!)

Favourite Comics Writer/Artist – Alan Davis
Artist on Excalibur, ClanDestine, JLA the Nail, this Alan does not have a beard.

Favourite Comics Artist: Pencils – Frank Cho
comic strip and comic book creator, writer, and illustrator, best known for his series Liberty Meadows.

Favourite Comics Artist: Inks – D’Israeli (Matt Brooker)
Matt says he'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for him. "Being nominated was more than I'd anticipated; actually winning was just beyond all expectation. It's pleasantly startling to know that my work made an impression of this kind."
Talking of Matt, he's has posted his photo report on this year's Bristol Comics Expo where the awards were announced on his Flickr site and his blog has several items on the Festival, too. "I've tried to do it as an overview for people who don't go to the show (or even follow comics that much) so there's not really any personal diary-type stuff in there," he says.

Favourite Artist: Fully-Painted Artwork – Alex Ross
Best known for Marvels and Kingdom Come, now working on a new Avengers/Invaders story for Marvel.

Favourite Colourist – Laura Martin
Laura's many credits include Planetary, Astonishing X-Men, JLA, Ruse, Serenity: Those Left Behind and Universe X, among others. She has also worked on original graphic novels such as JLA: Heaven's Ladder and JLA: Earth 2.

Favourite Letterer – Dave Gibbons
Because there are only so many times he can win favourite artist, writer etc., I suppose...

Favourite Editor – Tharg (Matt Smith)

Favourite Publisher – Marvel

Favourite Colour Comicbook: American – Hellboy: Darkness Calls

Favourite Colour Comicbook: British – Spectacular Spider-Man
Panini beats out 2000AD and other British comics for this year's award, a deserved win for this originated title which includes scripts by Ferg Handley.

Favourite Black and White Comicbook: American – The Walking Dead

Favourite Black and White Comicbook: British – How to Date a Girl in 10 Days

Favourite New Comicbook – Thor
J. Michael Straczynski has been doing some great stuff on this latest incarnation of Marvel's version of the Norse god.

Favourite Manga – Death Note
As opposed to Sick Note, which would be a silly title for a comic.

Favourite European Comics – Requiem, Vampire Knight
By 2000AD's Pat Mills.

Favourite Comics Story published during 2007 – Captain America 25-30: Death of Captain America

Favourite Comics Cover published during 2007 – World War Hulk 1A (David Finch)

Favourite Original Graphic Novel – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's terrific title. Buy it.

Favourite Reprint Compilation – Absolute Sandman volume 2

Favourite Comics Hero – Batman

Favourite Comics Villain – The Joker

Favourite Magazine About Comics – Wizard

Favourite Comics-Related Book – Our Gods wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes

Favourite Comics-Based Movie Or TV – 300

Favourite Comics Related Website – Marvel.com

Favourite Web-Based Comic – The Order of the Stick

• Nominating forms for next year’s Eagle Awards will be ready for publication early January. Magazines wishing to run the forms and websites wanting to host links are invited to contact Cassandra Conroy at: eagleawards@btconnect.com

Cameron's Crash Course Launches

The BBC has just published an 88-page full-colour online interactive comic called Crash Course drawn by top British comics artist Neill Cameron.

Neill told downthetubes he spent "a good chunk of last year working on the comic for the BBC" which can be read for free via: Neill Cameron has just gone live, and can be read and enjoyed for free via www.bbc.co.uk/schools/studentlife/games/crashcourse

In Crash Course, eight students embark on a school trip where they end up learning more than they expected. Some find love, some find courage and others find goats. Join them on their journey and choose where the story takes you.

You will need both JavaScript enabled and Adobe's Flash Player plug-in to access the comic reader. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe's Flash Player and how to enable JavaScript, but for most web users it's easy to use and requires no "under the bonnet" fiddling with your computer settings. "Just click 'Play Game' and then 'Start New' to start reading the comic in all it's zoomy-inny-outy choose-your-own-adventure glory!" says Neill.

"It was a lot of fun to do and I hope people enjoy reading it. For a sneak peek at the art in its virginal, unlettered state, pop over to www.neillcameron.com, where I've posted a few pages.

In other news, Neill reports he is still working his socks off on Mo-Bot High, my strip for The DFC, the new British subscription-only weekly children’s comic launching later this month from Random House.

"It’s all starting to get rather exciting," says Neill. "The official press launch is this Thursday at the British Film Institute, so if all goes to plan you should all be hearing all about it in various papers, radio programmes and what-have-you very soon.

"Apparently there’s a chance I may be on the BBC's Newsround, if you can wrap your head round that. (I doubt this will happen, and if it did I’m sure it would only be for a split-second, scuttling around in the background wile they interview Philip Pullman. Which, frankly, I could live with.)"

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Spoof: Thunderbirds hit by spiralling fuel costs

Satirical British website NewsBiscuit has jumped on the Thunderbirds bandwagon that seems to be rolling rather rapidly right now, with an article claiming International Rescue, commonly known as Thunderbirds, has announced that they have been forced to limit their world-saving activities due to soaring fuel costs.

‘Given that rocket fuel and petrol prices are hitting $120 per barrel, we are having to limit rescue missions by only sending one Thunderbird craft at a time and using public transport for non-emergency missions,’ admitted Scott Tracy. (Obviously, Jeff Tracy must be on holiday or stuck without fuel in a desert somewhere).

Apparently, new fuel economy plans will see Lady Penelope downgraded from her chauffeur-driven pink limo to a Toyota Prius.

Click here to read the full story on NewsBiscuit

Monday, 12 May 2008

2008 Eagle Annual - Cutaways

(With thanks to Will Grenham): Last September, Orion published the rather confusingly titled Eagle Annual: The Best of the 1950s Comic, which reprinted pages from the first decade of the weekly Eagle comic.

It was a nice nostalgic book, but was criticised at the time for its intentionally distressed look -- a design element restricted to the cover but also carried over into the internal pages. Today's collectors may almost always see the surviving red covered, half century old, Eagle annuals in a distressed condition, but surely the designers would have realised that the target audience of nostalgic grandfathers remember the annuals from their childhood in the immaculate condition they were in when they originally received them as gifts.

At the end of that book it promised a second book to be published in Autumn 2008 covering the 1960s Eagles. This second book has been bumped back a year to 2009 and in its place, with an only slightly less unwieldy title, is The Eagle Annual of the Cutaways.


The new book retains the distressed cover style of the first and based on the illustrations from the book featured in the Daily Mail, the modern day book designers have been reformatting the text around the cutaways. Compare the original Avro Vulcan B1 cutaway from Eagle Volume 9 Number 20, dated 16 May 1958, by Eagle's undoubted cutaway master Leslie Ashwell Wood, with the new version with its reformatted Introduction and Key To How It Works.


While Ashwell Wood painted the numbers onto the artwork, all the text was added during production based on his pencil notes sent with the artwork. In the case of the Vulcan, the book designers have also elected to move the plan views of the bomber at the right hand side of the art.

Yet for all the changes that may have happened, this book could well be a 'must buy' for those interested in the Eagle cutaways as, according to amazon.co.uk, for a cover price of £14.99 it has 326 pages, almost twice the number of last year's book and over three times the number of pages contained in Denis Gifford's 1988 book, The Eagle Book of Cutaways, (also available from secondhand dealers via amazon and priced at nearly £30).

The Eagle Annual of the Cutaways is currently scheduled to be released on 18 September 2008 and is available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk

Slaine Slayed?

Last year, we reported how anti road campaigners in Eire had borrowed Pat Mills 2000AD character Slaine to promote protest over the building of the M3, much to Pat's delight at the time.

Sadly, it seems not even barbarian warriors have been able to stop the road building, which will destroy an archaeological complex containing at least 160 sites covering a timespan from 3600BC through to bronze and medieval ages, even though the European Commission has effectively said the construction work is illegal.

The road has been described by archaeologists as the worst case of state-sponsored vandalism ever inflicted on Irish cultural heritage.

SchNews reports that last Wednesday at the Hill Of Tara. Ireland, the solidarity vigil camp was evicted by an assortment of goons led by the Office of Public Works. The camp - on public land - was mostly destroyed, including a (newly made) wooden temple structure shredded by chainsaws, but the protesters managed to save the sacred fire, lit two years ago, within a tipi.

At 9.30am the camp was descended upon by 20 OPW workers plus 15 private security and twenty Gardai (police) - and amongst the security was at least one known employee of Ferrovial, the Spanish construction company running the project which will put the M3 motorway through one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe.

This latest development comes after the Direct Action camp at Rath Lugh was evicted on 17th April.

Since last July, when the European Commission declared that construction of the M3 broke 37 EU laws, the road build has continued, illegally - in fact it has been rushed through because of this.

The head of the OPW archaeologists have agreed to leave the fire until a meeting on May 19th, as they could not quote a law to use to extinguish it - just as they couldn't offer a legal legitimation for the entire eviction. Protesters are arguing that the fire is part of their individual and collective religious belief, which apparently carries some weight in Ireland as 'rights to religious expression' is in the constitution.

It also looks like this whole road fiasco is being built on a financial sandcastle. Ferrovial haven't paid any of the contractors yet for their work, leading many Irish firms to the brink of bankruptcy, and recently Howley Construction of Cork were repossessed. Several quarries are now refusing to supply the roadworks with hardcore until they'vebeen paid, and landowners whose land was compulsory purchased have not seen the cash. Protesters say that Ferrovial - presumably (hopefully) suffering financially in the crunch - are forced to bring in their own employees as security because they have no doubt run up tabs with all the local security mobs and are running out of goons.

As always, more people are needed at the Hill of Tara to continue the fight against this illegal and destructive road project.

• See www.tarataratara.net for updates or Indymedia.ie, Savetara or HillOfTara Yahoo groups for the latest news

Brains Works Best When Hydrated!



(with thanks to Jeremy Briggs): Hot on the heels of the Specsavers Thunderbirds-inspired ad for their Reaction glasses comes a new commercial from mineral water company Drench using a dancing Brains to promote their product. Brains dances his way through the ad, refreshed and taken to new heights (literally!) when he drinks Drench water.

The Guardian reports that the £5.5m Drench ad campaign, created by ad agency Clemmow Hornby Inge, breaks tomorrow, Tuesday 13 May, and marks the agency's first TV work for the Britvic brand.

The campaign for Drench aims to position it in the "mental hydration" sector of the water market.

Drench's TV campaign will be supported by a digital push that will include the launch of www.staydrenched.co.uk, a website where users will be able to test their mental performance by making Brains dance using a webcam or keyboard. The Drench site also includes a Making of film.

This is the third Thunderbirds-inspired advertisement to surface this year: as mentioned, Specsavers have used Virgil and baddie The Hood to front a recent campaign and in January, EDF Energy featured a "recycled" clip of the show in a TV ad pushing the company's green credentials.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Nebulous Returns

The SF comedy series Nebulous returns to BBC Radio 4 at 11 pm on Thursday 15 May for the first in a new series of six episodes.

Set in 2099, the comedy series involves the Key Environmental Non-Judgemental Taskforce (KENT) in their fight against alien threat and ecological disaster. Starring Mark Gatiss as Professor Nebulous and David Warner as his nemesis Dr Klench, the series is written by Graham Duff, who also appears as the Professor's assistant Rory Lawson, and is directed by Nicholas Briggs.

The illustration of the KENT team is taken from the Radio Times and is by Graeme Neil Reid who describes its creation on his blog.

BBC’s Comedy Map Of Britain – Newcastle

The BBC2 programme The Comedy Map of Britain turned its attention to the North East of England for the third programme of the second series.

Having previously been to the impressive century old headquarters of D C Thomson in Dundee to cover the Beano, this time they went to a terraced house in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne's Jesmond district.

Not just any terraced house of course but the one owned by the parents of Simon and Chris Donald - parents who were blissfully unaware of their off-spring creating Viz in their front bedroom. There, the brothers reveal that the way they avoided showing their parents a copy of the comic was to keep telling them that it had sold out.

Selected clips are available on the programme’s website. To view the clip from Jesmond, select the Newcastle To Leeds programme and The Viz Boys Return To Jesmond clip.

Contact downthetubes

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

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

Click here to subscribe to our RSS NewsFeed

Powered by  FeedBurner


downthetubes British Comics Events Calendar

downthetubes Newsletter

Receive an email version of the downthetubes blog!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner