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Saturday, 24 May 2008

Thunderbirds: Countdown To Action!

As mentioned here earlier in the year, FTL Publications in the USA are publishing the first in a series of new novels based on the Gerry Anderson series Thunderbirds.

Written by Joan Marie Verba and with a cover illustration by long time Anderson artist Steve Kyte, the trade paperback Thunderbirds: Countdown To Action! is due to be released in June 2008 and will retail for $15.95. This will be the first new novel set in the Thunderbirds universe since John Theydon's Lady Penelope novel The Albanian Affair published by Armada in 1967.

Under their licence with Granada Ventures, FTL will only be distributing the title to Canada and the United States Of America, however the first chapter of Countdown To Action! has been posted on the FTL website as a taster for Anderson fans the world over.

Thunderbirds: Countdown To Action! is available to buy direct from the FTL website.

In Review: Dan Dare and The Birth Of Hi-Tech Britain

Dan Dare And The Birth Of Hi-Tech Britain is one of the exhibitions currently on at the Science Museum in London. Using the character of Dan Dare and the cutaway illustrations from Eagle comic, the museum relates the technological advances in post-war Britain from 1945 through to 1970.

Located on the second floor the exhibition begins with the Dan Dare section including the two murals Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson painted for the museum in 1976. The originals of these are on display as well as large reproductions on banners covering the museum's windows.

Two display cases contain original Dan Dare artwork and Hampson's ideas book which is open at an illustration of a Phant Army Lorry, previously published in Spaceship Away. The cases also contain an impressive selection of 1950's Dan Dare toys and games from the collection of David Britton.

The single largest item on display is an RAF Bloodhound 1 anti-aircraft missile which hangs in mid-air just beyond the balcony railing and which which is displayed with L Ashwell-Wood's cutaway illustration of it from Eagle.

The two balconies are divided into Reinventing The Home, which shows some of the technological breakthroughs of the time, from a coffee percolator to a video cassette recorder, and Building A New Britain, which shows items relating to the nuclear power industry, jet airliners and a practise round of the WE177 free-fall nuclear bomb carried by RAF bombers of the time.

While the Dan Dare section is relatively small in comparison to the rest of the exhibition, illustrations, cutaways and the Eagle masthead style yellow lettering on a red background visually tie the two separate galleries into the Dan Dare section well.


The Science Museum shop has a selection of tie-in merchandise specifically relating to the exhibition with two different t-shirt designs, one featuring the head of Dan Dare and and the other featuring the head of the Mekon, in a variety of children's and adult sizes, a set of seven postcards in a presentation wallet consisting of a series of head shots of different Dan Dare characters, and a separate postcard of the main exhibition advertising illustration.

Dan Dare And The Birth Of Hi-Tech Britain is on at the Science Museum in London until 25 October 2009 and entrance is free.

Buy the Dan Dare t-shirt from the Science Museum Store

Buy the Mekon t-shirt from the Store

Prestonpandemonium 3

A reminder for those readers in the south east of Scotland and the north east of England that Saturday 31 May sees the return of the Prestonpandemonium comic mart to Prestonpans just off the A1 near Edinburgh.

The third PP will run from Noon until 3 pm in the Prestongrange Gothenburg pub and entrance is free. All tables have now been booked and the mart will consist of a mixture of comics dealers, artists and small press publishers.

In addition writer Jim Alexander will give a talk on the scripting and pitching process for comics and there will be a silent auction with proceeds going to the DEC Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone Appeal.

More details of the event and directions to it are available on the Prestonpandemonium website.

Mike Western: 1925 - 2008

Following the death of British comics artist Mike Western, reported earlier this week, we've published two new features on the main downthetubes site to celebrate his life and work.

In Mike Western Remembered, Ian Wheeler pays tribute to the late, great comics artist. Included is a selected stripography, with additional information courtesy of Steve Holland, who is currently working on an updated edition of his book, The Mike Western Story.

Tributes to Mike Western have come in from many comics creators including John Wagner, writer of one of Mike's best known strips Darkie's Mob, Tiger and Eagle editor Barrie Tomlinson, former IPC editor Dez Skinn, artists Rufus Dayglo and Chris Weston and many others.

"Mike was one of a dwindling band of true comic heroes, old school in the very best sense of the words," recalls Wagner. "The complete professional - gifted, totally reliable, a terrific artist and a genuinely decent man. He will be missed."

"I always wanted to see how Mike would have handled modern or mainstream comic strip stories," says Chris Weston. "It would have been nice to see him draw an episode of Bad Company or Rogue Trooper. Imagine him working on Batman or Superman!

Alas, all these un-drawn strips are now dispatched to the "What If" drawers. But I tell you something, they would have been great. Really, really great!"

Friday, 23 May 2008

Bishop is Not The Weakest Link

Former editor of 2000AD David Bishop did comicdom proud this week by winning BBC contest The Weakest Link. In an episode broadcast on Friday 23 May (available via iplayer for the next seven days), David beat a sports journalist for an impressive cash prize of over £1400, although he modestly gave credit to rival Graham as the better player through the actual game.

David, whose credits include the recently published history of 2000AD, Thrillpower Overload, and who writes The Phantom for Egmont Sweden will I suspect soon become quite sick of people asking him what the Milky Way is also known as based on its Greek derivation.

I expect he's got a very pointy sword to go with that dashing moustache and Musketeer-ish beard, so don't push your luck!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

From Inverness, With Love: Hi-Ex 2009

After the success of Hi-Ex, the Highlands International Comics Expo in Inverness last February, the dates for the follow up convention have been announced.

The 2009 Expo will take place on St Valentine's weekend, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 February 2009, once again at the Eden Court complex on the banks of the River Ness in the centre of Inverness. Writer Ferg Handley and artists John Higgins and Gary Erskine are confirmed so far with more guests promised.

The downthetubes reviews of the 2008 Hi-Ex are here and here.

Manga Maniacs Day at Manchester's Urbis

Crazy about Astro Boy, think you could make it as one of Gwen Stefani’s next Harajuku girls or would just love to star in your own version of Spirited Away?

Manchester's Urbis Centre is inviting manga and cosplay fans to take part in their Cosplay competition and win an evening with friends in their mini Manga cinema and have your very own portrait painted by UK Manga artist Sonia Leung.

On Saturday 28 June, between 12 - 3.00pm, the Centre is inviting fans of Cosplay to come to Urbis dressed as one of their favourite Manga/Anime characters. There will also be workshops for young and old alike in Manga animation, guiding you in the principles of Manga design and giving you quick cheats on how to produce your own masterpieces.

On the day, you’ll have your photograph taken to be displayed on the Gallery wall for all visitors to see. If you can impress the selected panel of Manga specialists, and if you’re the winner, you’ll get an exclusive evening preview in the Centre's mini Manga cinema for yourself and a bunch of mates, and have the cinema all to yourselves!

You’ll also win your own Manga portrait painted by Artist Sonia Leung, which the Centre, currently running the How Manga Took Over the World Exhibition until the end of September, will frame for you to take home and display with pride. They will also be giving away Manga themed goodie bags for 50 runners up.

Visit the Urbis Official web site
Read Matthew Badham's review of How Manga Took Over the World

Stick Man's Adventures Continue

Lothian-based cartoonist Malcolm Kirk has been publishing his madcap Stick Man on ROK Comics for a while now. Check out the strip via this link -- they're all free to view online and on your phone.

The strip has progressed from black and white to vivid technicolour and continues to hit my humour bone! (But I am odd). Here are just three examples...








• Check out Mal's official web site at: www.myspace.com/mal_comix

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Mike Western: A Personal Tribute

Mike Western Christmas CardFor a little over five years, John Freeman and I produced Eagle Flies Again, a fanzine dedicated to British boy’s comics with a bias towards 1980s Eagle and other comics of that era.

John and I were blessed to have support from many artists and writers from the great days of British comics. But there were perhaps two men who supported EFA more than anyone else - one was Barrie Tomlinson, the former Editor and Group Editor of New Eagle. The other was Mike Western.

If there was one word to describe Mike it would be 'gentleman'. The word is perhaps overused but Mike was one of the old school - politeness, kindness and generosity were the qualities I will remember him for. I never met him but during the time EFA was in production, we maintained regular contact by letter.

When I first contacted Mike, I was delighted to receive a letter back from him written in the sort of precise, immaculate handwriting that only an artist can produce. We interviewed Mike about his Battle work in issue 3 of EFA and when he saw the finished result he commented ‘It makes a splendid article.’

Mike followed up the Battle interview by writing an article on his work for New Eagle. When we reprinted the Battle and Eagle pieces in a compilation of EFA material, he wrote to me to say 'Many thanks for the Best of Eagle Flies Again compilation copies - I was delighted and my sons will appreciate getting to see the old man getting so many pages to himself!'

When artist Martin Baines lent me a copy of a European comic reprinting Mike’s work, I sent Mike a photocopy and he was fascinated to see his artwork with foreign words. Then, for his 80th birthday, we compiled a birthday special tribute issue of EFA. The special was my idea but largely down to the efforts of John Freeman who commissioned written and artwork tributes from some of the biggest names in the comics industry - all of who were happy to work for free to pay tribute to Mike! Mike said of this issue 'Very many thanks for the copies of EFA carrying your birthday greetings on my 80th, which I found very moving - and heart warming to read the messages from the people who contributed to the issue.'

Mike’s generosity is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that he drew two original pictures for EFA, one of which featured The Sarge from Battle (my favourite Mike Western character) and which I used as the cover of our sixth issue.

Mike and I exchanged Christmas cards, his hand-painted efforts (illustrated) far outshining the mass-produced cards I sent him! Last year, I did not receive a card and I worried that it might be because his health was failing him.

Mike, I never met you but you were a pleasure to communicate with.

In Memoriam: Mike Western

Sad news via Steve Holland's Bear Alley: one of the giants of British comics, Mike Western, has laid down his pen for the last time.

Mike, who suffered a heart attack in 2007 and was laid low by it for several months, died late on Tuesday, 13 May, at the age of 83.

His credits included The Wild Wonders for Valiant, HMS Nightshade and The Sarge for Battle and many, many more fantastic strips.

It's no secret that Steve Holland was a huge fan of Mike's work and over the last few months had begun putting together a new edition of The Mike Western Story. Read his tribute in full here.

"I'm sure you'll all join me in sending his family your best wishes," Steve writes. "Mike still has a lot of fans and, whether he realised it or not -- and I hope he did -- he brought a lot of laughter and thrills into our lives through his work."

For my part, Mike was one of many British comic creator who enthusiastically supported the fanzine Eagle Flies Again edited by downthetubes contributor Ian Wheeler and sent us wonderful notes thanking us for mentioning him.

The fanzine paid a special tribute to him in 2005 and as soon as I can, I'll post articles from that on the main downthetubes site. Tributes and memories from downthetubes readers would be welcomed: we'll pass these on to Mike's family.

The Return of Paper?


British comic creator Adam York Gregory has just released his new book based on his webcomic, The Flowfield Unity -- but has abandoned trying to sell it by Print On Demand in favour of a tried and tested distrbution method -- print.

"After selling Flowfield Unity for a year via print-on-demand, I've decided to make the book by hand, from start to finish," Adam told downthetubes. "The reasons for me doing such a thing, and some of how I do it are on my website, but the truth is, I've spent the last five years of my life dealing with printers, publishers and outlets and distributors, and whilst POD is a good way to get a professionally finished product out there, it has also lost some of its appeal for me.

"Actually, there's a lie there, about the professionally finished product,' he confesses. "I worked as a typesetter and designer for a publishing house for a while, and I know how to set books, but using a couple of the POD services I found that whilst 90% of the time the end product was fine, there would be a few occasions where the printers would mess up – lost pages, bad cropping, someone else's book appearing in the middle of mine – and since the books are sent directly without me, or apparently anyone else checking them, the first I would hear is when I received an email from a disappointed customer… and that made me feel rather bad.

"That's just not on. At least by hand, making the book I get to approve every copy.

"It has taken a bit of time, but I also believe that as a physical object, the book is made to a better standard by me than it is by the POD printers," feels Adam. "The reason for this is that I use a traditional method, stitching the pages into sections (or signatures) and combining them before I add the cover. Compare this to the POD books where individual pages are bunched together and glued directly to the spine. I'm not saying that my new books are indestructible, but in my tests the only way a page is going to come loose is if you tear it.

"[There are issues with] paper quality and the card stock too… Understandably, there is a limit on how much a POD service can offer. But in my opinion, different books have different requirements and since this is primarily a book full of pretty pictures I want them to look their best in a suitable setting. No more 80gsm high-white!

"But construction standards and quality control aren't my only reasons for doing this," Adam adds. "One of the main reasons I've decided to go in what some people may consider a backwards step is that POD is so impersonal. There was a time with these sort of comics when you knew that the person drawing them had very likely stapled your copy together… there's a contact link right there… and I wanted to go one further, I wanted to make each book an individual.

"I can do this by making them by hand. I'm no longer restricted to set content for a start. If someone wants a particular strip, they can have it, if they want a different cover design, they can have that too… I can customise it as a gift, I can draw and write in it, in much the same way that I make my original strips.

"It just seems to fit the ethos of my comic, the whole hand-drawn ideal translated reasonably well on the web, but in the process I lost something when turning it back into a book. Now, I've corrected that.

"The price of the book is important too," Adam acknowledges, "and you'd think that by hand-making books you are going to negate all of the savings gained from mass production. But in my experience that isn't the case. The unit costs of POD books is quite high. First there are the material costs, then there is the POD company's cut, followed by delivery costs… and since they can't always be trusted to send decent copies, you may even have to pay twice for those delivery costs – once in having them delivered to you, and then again when you send them out to stores… just so that you can check the quality. Believe me, there's little worse you can do than sending defective copies to a store that has agreed to stock your book.

"So, by my calculations, the hand-made version shouldn't be too much more expensive. The bulk discounts you may get offered for buy from POD in bulk are easily compensated for by buying your own materials in bulk.

"And speaking to a few store owners, the majority of their self-published comics are now coming through POD channels. There was a time that my book stood out due to that same fact, and now it would be just adequately camouflaged.

"I'm not trying to say that I think all comics should be made by hand," Adam expands. "I've seen some excellent work with POD, but whilst those books looked mint, I always felt that Flowfield Unity looked a bit like a tramp in an expensive-looking suit… albeit one that would occasionally fall to bits.

"So there you go, control, cost, quality and personalisation… these things that I consider to be important in a self-published book, I can now achieve."

We wish Adam good luck with his project. Flowfield Unity is now available in The Flowfield Unity shop.

• Does Adam's experience with POD reflect your own? Leave a comment!

C2D4 Launches new titles

Last of the ChickenheadsNewly launched self-publishers C2D4 (an aliteration of Comics To Die For) enjoyed a successful launch at the Bristol International Comic Expo earlier this month, with Essex-based duo artist and writer Tony Wicks, and writer Martin Buxton unveiling three titles: Last of the Chickenhads, Jack in the Box, and Crowman.

Martin met Tony four years ago and they quickly found they both loved comics and eventually agreed they felt the same way about what they wanted from comics and decided to work together on their ideas. Tony began drawing at the age of six, when he discovered The Ecology & Evolution of the Dinosaurs in his parents' book shelf, copying every dinosaur faithfully in pencil! After an attempt at a self penned quadrilogy, Dimo his first completed project in years came about: Last of the Chickenheads.

The comic tells the tale of Samurai chicken Frank and his adventures in a world full of animal/human hybrids in the wake of a plague that has devastated the planet. On his travels, he finds himself up against dinosaurs, hordes of nanites and a grudge-baring lion called Bruno.

Jack in the BoxJack in the Box is the story of two children taken from the their families as babies and brought up in radically different worlds. Jack abducted by aliens is deprived of all physical contact, with his only reference to the outside world a book full of symbols, which has a strange affect on the way he sees the world. Amelia on the other hand is rescued from a car crash, which kills both her parents, and is brought up by friendly pink apes, which has just as strange affect on the way she sees the world.

CrowmanCrowman is the tale of a sleepy mid-western town called Havenville. Under the grip of a corrupt mayor, the inhabitants have gotten pretty used to the fact their lives are expendable. However, the arrival of a masked man calling himself Crowman threatens to bring about an end to the Mayor’s reign...

Tony and Martin are working on several other joint projects, including The Hack and Alameda.

• For the lastest information on C2D4, visit the official web site: www.c2d4.com

In Review: Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody

Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody
By Mike Dawson

US Release (Paperback, Bloomsbury): 27 May 2008
UK Release (Hardcover, Jonathan Cape): 5 June 2008

The Plot: High Fidelity meets Wayne’s World in this graphic memoir about a young man’s life-long obsession with the rock band Queen. Told alternately from Mike Dawson's childhood, teenage and adult perspectives, Freddie & Me explores the way in which music changes and shapes our lives, and the way in which random memories can both prop up and undermine the stories we tell ourselves. The counterpoint to Mike's obsession is his younger sister's love of George Michael and Wham - including several deliciously funny imagined scenes featuring a post-break-up Andrew Ridgeley - which, like the book as a whole, is written and drawn with a brilliant combination of exuberance and subtlety.

The Review: You don’t, I think, have to be a fan of Queen or Wham to enjoy British-born artist Mike Dawson’s candid autobiography, tied though Freddie & Me is to the life of rock legend Freddie Mercury as much as it is to the life of the cartoonist. As others have pointed out, most of us have had one band with which we identify, the band that was always there for us during good times and bad. That theme in this graphic novel is something we can probably all empathize with. For Mike Dawson, it's always been Queen and Freddie Mercury.

Telling his life story from early youth, emigrating to America, mourning – and celebrating – the loss of loved ones, all against a backdrop of Queen’s both real and imagined history, Dawson delivers a wonderful story of his road to adulthood. The art is very personal but accomplished, the storytelling terrific throughout as Mike navigates the perils of moving to New Jersey – where Queen, like many British rock bands were relatively unknown and his obsession with them was regarded as more than a little odd – dealing with relationships, family and, eventually job hunting and "grown up living" (as if there is ever such a thing...).

Freddie & Me is a no-holds-barred blend of great humour and touching moments, particularly as Mike comes to terms with the death of his grandmother and, indeed, the death of his childhood idol. The imagined appearances by Freddie Mercury, Brian May, George Michael, and Andrew Ridgeley (among others) are an added and entertaining bonus.

If you’ve ever followed one band to the exclusion of all others, you’ll empathize with Mike Dawson’s narrative: and if you’re a Queen fan, you’ll find much to identify with in this comic tribute to Freddie Mercury. Freddie & Me is a great, original and rewarding read and I enjoyed it immensely.

• Mike returns to Britain next month to promote his book with an appearance at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London on 11 June, alongside Mio Matsumoto (author of My Diary), Woodrow Phoenix (Rumblestrip) and Warren Pleece (Life Sucks).

Read a 10 Page preview on Mike Dawson's official web site

Buy Freddie & me from amazon.co.uk

Buy Freddie & me from amazon.com

Mike Dawson’s Official web site: www.mikedawsoncomics.com

Other Reviews

• Carl Hays, Booklist
“Graphic novels rarely come more deeply personal than Dawson’s autobiographical chronicle. Departing from the dot-com slacker humour of his comic book Gabagool!, he explores his lifelong obsession with the UK rock band Queen. His Proustlike moment of remembrance arrived after seeing a performance by a Queen tribute band and realizing that “When I think of Queen, I can remember my whole life.. Anyone who has ever obsessed over a music icon, be it rock group or charismatic crooner, should identify with Dawson in this poignant, charming memoir.”

The Daily Cross Hatch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
“I suppose it's said that the best autobiographical works are those in which the reader can find a bit of themselves therein; that's certainly the case with me as I read Freddie & Me. I'm several years older than Mike, but I can strongly relate to his attraction to the music and image of Queen, similar to what I felt when it came to the Beatles, Nilsson or Bolan to name a few.”

Entertainment Weekly
“Dawson anoints Freddie Mercury, frontman of Queen, "a messenger from the gods" and the spandexed muse stands at the heart of this memoir. In his paean to adolescent angst, Dawson breaks into song in the school cafeteria, rethinks his social life after Mercury's death, and feuds with his George Michael-loving sister. For Fans of... Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. Bottom Line: Though undeniably contagious, Dawson's rawkin' enthusiasm begins to slow-jam into sentimentality.”

Monday, 19 May 2008

Vampire Chiller joins ROK Comics

There's a new vampire story on comics to mobile service ROK Comics. You may have already seen the free sample (right), but now comics artist and writer Rodrigo Diaz Ricci has begun his fantastic looking horror tale Liegia in earnest.

Rodrigo was born in Valparaíso, Chile, in 1971 but later adopted Italian nationality. A graphic designer, after working in cartoons, publishing fanzines and comics he moved to Europe where he published covers for the Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia in Athens and for the horror and forbidden archaeology magazines produced by the publishing house Mondo Ignoto, owned by Dario Argento and Luigi Cozzi.

This year, he has published two stories (which he has both written and drawn) in the Italian comic book El Italiano (The Italian), based on the horror film Currículum by Patricio Valladares. It is currently being published by Nicola Pesce Editore.

He's working on several other projects and one of these is Liegia, now appearing on British comics to mobile service ROK Comics.

"Ligeia is about a Vampire and her cat, Edgar," Rodrigo explains. "They're evil beings who use human beings to satisfy their purposes. The first series is centred in Transylvania and is set during World War II when the Nazis' Paranormal Office sends some men after Ligeia the vampire and a faboulous treasure."

Free Tozzer!

Everyone likes free stuff, right? So to cater for all the cheapskates (I mean, you sophisticated members of the cultural elite), the the creators of the hilarious comic strip Tozzer, Rob Dunlop and Peter Lumby, launched a brand new Tozzer webcomic, now available via Drunk Duck.

"The strip is no longer just a vicious rumour," say Rob and Pete (they talk in unison*). "It' s now a living, breathing testament to our total lack of talent.

"Right now, we're hosting the comic on Drunk Duck, but you can also read the latest episode on tozzer.com."

The strips will be updated weekly, but if you want to make sure that you never miss your fix, then pop over to tozzer.com and sign up to the webcomic updates.

*A lie, sorry. But just imagine what it would be like...

Indy Magazine and Comic Released!

Titan Magazines launches two official tie-ins with the new Indiana Jones film this week - and one of them is a UK-only comic title.

The first issue of the Official Indiana Jones Magazine features exclusive interviews with the cast and crew, including Executive Producer George Lucas, Director Steven Spielberg and Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford.

Find out who insisted Indiana should return for another big screen adventure; who Cate Blanchett wanted to be when she was growing up; and which scene made tough guy Ray Winstone cry!

Newcomers to the world of Indiana Jones can also brush up on his adventures past in an exclusive guide, as well as take a sneak peek at the detailed concept art for what is almost certain to be on of this year’s biggest summer blockbusters, with huge press coverage for the new Indiana Jones film after its Cannes screening.

The Official Indiana Jones Comic also launches on 22 May in the UK only.

The comic features a reprint of the official Dark Horse Indiana Jones IV comic creditted to George Lucas, David Koepp and John Jackson Miller with pencils by Luke Ross and inks from Fabio Laguna.

"The official comic is crammed with more adventure and excitement than you can crack a bullwhip at!" a Titan spokesperson enthused.

"Catch up with Indy in the all-new movie comic strip, which follows his latest mission to Peru on the trail of the illusive crystal skull. There are also some fearsome features, and in Issue 1 we enter the Creepy Crawly Corner to take a look at Indiana’s biggest fear: snakes!"

The comic also includes puzzles, all the best Indiana Jones news, competitions, two free posters and a free gift with every issue.

The Indiana Jones franchise has spawned a large number of comics, beginning with Marvel Comics but more recently, Dark Horse Comics who initially took up the license in 1990. Marvel published adaptations of the films Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade, and The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones in the 1980s.

Dark Horse has adapted the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis video game, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series, and the latest film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with more new adventures to follow which Titan's comic is sure to feature.

• More info from www.titanmagazines.co.uk/indiana

DFC Launches

By Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine

Taking over the BFI South Bank café in Waterloo in London, David Fickling Books launched The DFC, their new weekly comic for kids to some fanfare last week. Top names like Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass) and Children’s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson, were in attendance as were many familiar comic creator faces such as Nick Abadzis, Ed Hillyer and Dave Windett and lesser known names like Jon Maggs, James Peaty and Jim Medway.

David Fickling had also invited a selection of young children to celebrate the launch of the subscription-only weekly comic, which features strips by the likes of Pullman, Kate Brown and James Turner.

When I spoke to Pullman (pictured left) to get his thoughts on The DFC, he seemed ebullient about it. “The DFC is going to be just great," he feels. "It's a forum for wonderful stories told in this extraordinary form, the comics form which has all the pleasure of the cinema and all the advantages of the book.”

Pullman’s strip, the Adventures of John Blake, is being drawn by young comics artist John Aggs but no other details have been released, although in an interview for the Today programme for BBC Radio 4 he likened the concept to the seafaring Eagle adventure strip Storm Nelson, which he enjoyed as a young comics reader in the 1950s, which was drawn by Richard Jennings.

Alex Fitch from Resonance FM, who has become well-known for interviewing many of the world’s top comic industry movers and shakers in their weekly podcasts, seemed to echo what Pullman said.

“I think it's brilliant. The world, and Britain in particular, needs a new kids comics because there's absolutely nothing on the market like it. The fact that David Fickling's got a big name like Philip Pullman writing for it means the parents think that this has got some kind of cultural kudos and hopefully once kids start reading it, it'll be a whole new avenue of reading for them.”

For the creators, working on The DFC offers them something they can’t get anywhere else as artist Dave Windett, experienced kids’ comic artist, who is drawing Lazarus Lemming for the title, told us. “The fact that it's new characters and not licensed material is very exciting," he said. "I'm really having a ball because for once in my life I'm drawing a character I co-created.”

For its editor David Fickling, The DFC reflects his long love of comics. “I still remember the heart-pounding excitement of receiving my very own comic on the doormat every week and now the DFC can bring that to every child in the land,” he says enthusiastically.

• As well as being subscription-only, the magazine will be advertising-free too. The DFC will launch on 30 May. To subscribe, visit www.thedfc.co.uk

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Parody Ad: Gremlins

The critters from the 1980s film Gremlins do their best to scupper a late night in the office for Dragons' Den and American Inventor star Peter Jones in this BT ad, created by Swarm.



Swarm have published a "Making of" Video on YouTube.

Woolworths' Darth Vader Spot

Long-running Wooolworths promotional characters Wooly and Worth (who even have their own ine of merchandise!) prepare for lunch Darth Vader in their flat. The Sith lord is making beans on toast but alas! No toaster. Wooly is sent out to buy one however it all goes terribly wrong...



This 60-second ad, now screening on UK TV, was used in cinemas last summer in the UK -- the first time Woolworths has used such a marketing device in its history.

The ad was created by award-winning British ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, whose past campaigns include commercials such as Levi’s ‘Laundrette’, and ‘Flatbeat’ featuring another puppet, Flat Eric.

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