downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...
The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013, but we're glad you're here, because that's currently undergoing some under the bonnet refurb! So we've brought this blog back from the dead to tide us over.
We expect to be back up and running next week, just before the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival - see you there?
Hop over to www.downthetubes.net for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!
Saturday, 7 June 2008
The issue is available from WH Smiths and Easons, or from the B&MC website.
The Cartoon Museum in central London will be holding an exhibition to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Beano. Entitled the Beano And Dandy Birthday Bash, it will run from 30 July until 2 November.
More details are available at the Cartoon Museum website.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, DC Thomson have published a Beano Special Collector's Edition. This 68 page square bound magazine is a lovely publication which includes pictures of DC Thomson file copies of early Beanos, photos of original artwork of Minnie The Minx and The Bash Street Kids, and a preview from the new Dennis and Gnasher animated series for the BBC.
The Beano Special Collector's Edition costs £4.99 and seems to be selling fast at those main newsagents that have copies. Lew Stringer has more illustrations of it over on Blimey!
To celebrate these landmark anniversaries, on 10 June the Royal Mail are releasing a scrumptious set of stamps featuring poster art from Carry On Sergeant (which featured Doctor Who actor William Hartnell), Carry On Cleo and Carry On Screaming (which both included Jon Pertwee in the cast), The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy.
These three Hammer films all starred another Doctor Who in the form of Peter Cushing. The presentation pack includes notes from sci-fi/movie expert Kim Newman.
• See the stamps and order them at www.royalmail.com
For many years his Film Fantasy Scrapbook was the best reference book on his work, eventually being published in four different editions, but in recent years he has collaborated on two sumptuous reference books with co-author Tony Dalton, Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life and The Art Of Ray Harryhausen. He has also recently licensed his films to Bluewater Comics in America who have been publishing various limited series titles under the Ray Harryhausen Presents banner.
To date the best of these has been Wrath Of The Titans, a sequel to the 1981 film Clash of the Titans, and the current Bluewater title is Flying Saucers Vs The Earth based on the 1956 film Earth Vs The Flying Saucers.
Now in his late eighties, Ray will be appearing twice at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival, at a signing session after a screening of Jason and The Argonauts at the Dominion Cinema on 24 June and as the subject of one of the In Person interviews at Cineworld. The In Person event will take place on 25 June when he will be interviewed by Tony Dalton. Both men will sign copies of their books afterwards.http://beta.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
• More details of the Jason and the Argonauts screening and Ray Harryhausen: In Person can be found at the Edinburgh International Film Festival website.
Friday, 6 June 2008
British creators David Hailwood and Tony Suleri (artist on Cosmogenesis) have a a new webcomic online via Bulletproof Comics (www.bulletproofcomics.co.uk).
"The strip is exclusive to Bulletproof and will be updated every weekend," says David. "If you get the chance, pop along and have a look and tell us what you think!"
• Comment on Highway Robbery on the downthetubes forum (membership required)
The works, which include cartoons from New Yorker (such as the one pictured right, by Peter Arno, published in 1927), illustrations from pupl magazines and more are on display in the gallery until 6th June and the entire catalogue can be viewed at www.illustrationhouse.com.
From Advertising, Science Fiction to Comics, Westerns, Pulp and Pin Ups, the art spans a wide range of traditional American Illustration. Works by Joseph C. Leyendecker, Herbert Morton Stoops, Haddon Sundblom, Coby Whitmore, Barbara Shermund, James Montgomery Flagg, Harrison Cady, Charles Livingston Bull, Charles M. Schulz, W.T. Benda, Harold Von Schmidt, Alice Barber Stephens, Al Hirschfeld, Frederick Blakeslee, Peter Arno, James Bama, Howard Chandler Christy, Jack Davis, Steven Dohanos, Will Foster, Charles Dana Gibson, John Held Jr., Walt Kelly and many others are included.
Web Link: www.illustrationhouse.com
The gallery is located at 110 West 25th Street, New York, NY. Tel: 212-966-9444 Absentee bidding available.
Gareth David-Lloyd, best known to a legion of Who-iniverse fans for his portrayal of the super-efficient Ianto Jones in Torchwood, will be making not one but two personal appearances on Saturday 28th of June. The first will be at Nostalgia & Comics store in Birmingham from 11.00am to 1.00pm, followed later in the day with a highly appropriate visit to Torchwood’s home turf in Cardiff from 4.00pm to 6.00pm.
Thursday, 5 June 2008
Instead he will pose questions about Judge Dredd, Batman, The Terminator, and Robocop, all figures who have been animated by the extraordinary imagination of Alan Grant.
Nurtured at Dundee's DC Thomson, Scotland's capital of comics, Alan went on to write Judge Dredd and co-edit 2000AD, and in 2007 and 2008 wrote graphic adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Alan's vivid fantasies have all too often become realities, and on the evening of Sunday 22 June he will talk to Ian about how he imagined tomorrow's society yesterday. This session is being recorded by BBC Radio Scotland's The Radio Cafe.
• Tickets are £12, £10 (Concessions) More details here
Another genre guests at the Festival this year is Charlie Higson, who wil be talking about Young James Bond and his new book Hurricane Gold.
Berry talks at length about her work (although she prefers to keep an air of mystery about herself), revealing she has always had an interest in comics long before she started creating them. "I grew up reading Calvin & Hobbes and Asterix and Fungus the Bogeyman," she says, "and I think I really latched on to those during those formative years. Eventually I progressed on to the clever graphic novels by Chris Ware and Alan Moore and all those types whose books work so bloody well they bring a tear to my eye."
After some wilderness years, discovering bande dessines ion a French bookshop led to a rekindling of interest in the "Ninth Art", and she began working on her own comics, such as Maureen's Odyssey - what she describes as her first and last attempt at self publishing.
Her hand painted novel, she reveals, took just over two and a half years to complete. "I wanted the artwork to be as complex as the story was, and to leave little visual clues in the images that people would only pick up on in a second reading. That’s an advantage of working with comics: the format, more than other literature and definitely more than films, makes it possible to skip back and re-check a detail in a new light. However, hiding details in the images meant that the illustrations had to be fleshed out around them, and so the ante was upped accordingly."
Hannah is even now working on a new graphic novel project. " Britten & Brülightly was quite steep learning curve, but I still don’t feel like I fully understand what comics are capable of yet," she comments. "I have an idea in the pipeline for the next one (sadly no more Britten or Brülightly, at least for the present), and I have plans for a different genre altogether. I’ve always had a love of horror, and I think a ghost story as a graphic novel could work well. I’ll see how it goes."
• Read the interview with Hannah in full on the FPI Blog
• Read our review of Britten & Brüightly
• Buy Britten & Brülightly from amazon.co.uk
• Buy Britten & Brülightly from Forbidden Planet International
• Read an article by Hannah Berry about writing the novel on Dazed Digital
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
If you want to get away with murder, buy a car. That could easily be the "message" of Woodrow Phoenix' latest graphic novel, Rumble Strip - except that of course, the reality is never that simple. The truth is far more complex and, as Woodrow outlines our increasingly dangerous relationship with cars, deeply disturbing.
Perhaps best known for his work in the 1980s on magazines such as Escape, Blaaam and Blast - and strips such as Sumo Family and Liberty Cat - Woodrow makes no secret of the fact that he himself is a car driver. But neither does he hide his anger at the reckless way people use our roads, endangering not just other car drivers but cyclists and pedestrians... and, the world over, those who cause accidents invariably get away with murder.
Using stark, haunting and attention-grabbing imagery to illustrate the complex mania that road use and road building engenders, Woodrow reveals the terrible effect our "love affair" with cars and speed has had on so many people who have suffered at the hands of incompetent drivers. His powerful polemic is backed up by a huge amount of statistical data -- for example, that over 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic accidents around the world each year. By 2020, road traffic accidents could outstrip stroke and HIV as one of the main causes of preventable deaths.
Want more? In the UK, although cars are regarded as safer, the number of child deaths in road accidents has increased in recent years. (Perhaps because more children are now driven to school rather than walk there, because it's 'safer' -- when it seems it clearly isn't).
Whether you're a pedestrian or a car driver, Rumble Strip does more to illustrate the dangers of the conflicts and accidents of poor road use than any dry statistics: it holds up a mirror to the way cars are used, the way pedestrians are regarded, and the reflection is distinctly ugly,. It's also getting uglier as demands increase for more bypasses, more flyovers, more freedom to use cars - anything that will maintain car drivers pretence of "freedom of the open road". After reading Rumble Strip, I'd say that freedom that is a illusion to the point of delusion, and a general failure to recognise that has comes at a terrible price society as a whole seems incapable of recognising.
This is a timely, well researched and fascinating novel and one which Jeremy Clarkson would probably hate. Surely yet another reason for getting out there and buying a copy...
• Buy Rumble Strip from amazon.co.uk
• Broken Frontier Review
"This is not a book for car lovers, or maybe it is. It would be too easy to say that this is a manifesto against cars. It is not. What it is, is a strong statement about the dangers of the road." Read the Full Review...
• See below for detail of a special launch event for Rumble Strip in Brighton on 12 June 2008
Crumb, created by top cartoonist David Fletcher whose cartoons are published in over 30 newspapers worldwide including New Zealand’s top-selling TV Guide (which has some 800,000 readers a week), the New Zealand Herald and the Australian Daily. The strip is now available in Chinese and through the whole ROK Comics mobile and online distribution network.
As previously mentioned here, David has developed his new strip, Crumb especially for mobile, which centres on the antics of an ever-hungry blackbird.
“Comics for mobiles seems to me to be the future for cartoon strips and comics,” David says of ROK Comics. “Readers can now choose which comics they want to read and not be told by an editor which comics they can read.
“I love the fact that the mobile cartoon strip is no longer restricted to the usual number of three or four panel, which allows the cartoonist far more freedom to express his idea. Comics for mobiles has come as a breath of fresh air for the comics industry.”
“Several comics artists have started to create comics for mobile format and David’s at the forefront of a whole new way of reaching his audience,” says John Freeman, Managing Editor of ROK Comics. “We think mobile comics have huge potential to reach a worldwide audience who may never see the print editions of some of the comics we’re publishing, which offers creators huge potential in promoting their work.
David’s commitment to Crumb, updated regularly, meant the title was an ideal choice for translation and re-publication in China and initial reaction has been excellent.
Other strips ROK Comics are offering to partners in China include Michael Colbert's Crazy Mary, Look and Learn's Robin Hood, Anomaly by Kennedy Rose and Team Sputnik's Fret for the Day.
As trailed yesterday, Blink Twice artist Lawrence Etherington appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning, as part of the BBC's coverage of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's role in Marvel's new Captain Britain and MI13 comic, written by Paul Cornell. (Brown is not, by the way, a superhero in the comic, but we thought our headline would grab your attention and is less long winded and boring than "Gordon Brown features in new Marvel Comic").
Not to be outdone, Robin was asked to turn the BBC Breakfast presenters into a comic strip during the show, which he did with his usual panache.
News that Gordon Brown appears in the top selling new Captain Britain comic has been picked up by both UK and overseas papers, from Newcastle's Journal (which notes the huge sales of the first issue) to the Daily Telegraph, the Mirror, the Mail, (helpfully pointing out Brown is not the charater in skin tight lycra in the comic), Variety and others.
The newspapers generally report Paul Cornell is "quite a fan" of Gordon Brown who, as far as we know, is not thought to be one of the hideous gree-skinned shape-shifting Skrull invaders Captain Britain is fighting in the comics.
"I'm pleased we've given him a PR boost on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world," says Paul adding that he wanted to se him portrayed as an effective leader.
"He's marshaling the troops, showing leadership and acting heroically," he said of the alien-busting Brown. "I feel quite sorry for him, so I'm glad I've contributed a bit."
Whether such appearances inprove their standing in the polss with younger voters is unclear. Appearing in a Marvel Comic didn't save Nixon...
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Word reaches us from the Blink Twice studio (creators of Monkey Nuts! for the new DFC comic) that Lawrence Etherington ("Lorenzo" to some) will be appearing on BBC Breakfast tomorrow (Wednesday 4 June) drawing a comic strip, live from 7.00 am (ish).
"There will be no preparation," his brother Robin told downthetubes, "Just him, a pencil, a biro, and a lot of sweat!
"If you wish to giggle at his funny face - and, fingers crossed, get a look at some of our artwork for our new series Monkey Nuts! - turn on, tune in and hopefully be amazed!"
Monday, 2 June 2008
The latest issue of Omnivistascope, Paul Scott's stunning-looking SF anthology comic, was released at the Bristol Comics Expo last month but what with one thing and another -- among other things, scripting Ex Astris, writing a story for an upcoming Misty anthology and the day job at ROK Comics -- I have only now had chance to post a review.
Such laxity is a disservice to the OVS team, because each issue of this indie just gets better and better. While I do at times find some of the scripting in need of some stronger editorial rein, the art throughout this 80-page extravaganza is awesome, so much so that it makes you weep that there are so few fully professional outlets in British comics for these talents to be financially rewarded for their great work.
While my favourite story of the issue is probably the spooky Holy Island written by Ben Clark, with art from Chris Geary - a cheery tale of a relentless zombie attack on a northern isle! - it's the cover art and interior strips drawn by Paul McCaffrey that proves, for me, the icing on the cake of this excellent title.
Editor and main writer Paul Scott consistently delivered a brilliant comic in the form of the award-winning humour title Solar Wind in the past but now he's turned his attention to, for the most part, more serious fare on OVS, he's producing an even higher quality comic. Mixing a range of strips, with art from the likes of Chris Geary, Ian Stacey, Beyan Coyle, Mike Donaldson and others, with features from authors such as the ever reliable Ed Berridge (an enjoyable Jeff Hawke retrospective) and Ben Clark (who provides a splendid feature on the TV series Dark Shadows, currently screening on digital TV in the UK), OVS is a delight, pretty much from cover to cover.
As I said, given the sheer number of scripts Paul himself has written this issue, I do have some concerns as regards plotting and pacing, but tales like The Bodyclock Murders and Juggerman -- surely a character ready to become standout -- are a great read as well as pleasing on the eye, and the continued appearance of Space Lord more than makes up for any inconsistency - a funny strip where the spirit of Solar Wind lives on.
Overall, Ominivistascope is an excellent indie title, well worth tracking down, or, if you're a comic shop, stocking. It's always a pleasure to read and the team consistently raise the bar on this title with every new issue. Recommended!
• You can buy Omnivistascope from the OVS shop online. The price is £3 plus £1 postage in the UK (please enquire for Europe and the rest of the World) and you can pay by PayPal or cheque, visit the OVS Shop for e-mail and real world addresses.
They've very kindly sent downthetubes copies of the comics and I'm delighted to report that all three are a great read, encompassing three different genres with panache.
Fans of Active Images brilliant Elephantmen might see some similarities between that and c2D4's Last of the Chickenheads, a 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. I'd argue this is much lighter fare, with a tip of the hat to films such as Tremors as mutant conckroach attack rather than Richard Starkings highly charged four colour epic.
Tony Wicks delivers what could easily be a one-off story of a warrior chicken, blending some complex storytelling with an enjoyable art style. There's plenty here to enjoy and enough threads left hanging for new stories.
Jack in the Box is the story of two children taken from the their families as babies and brought up in radically different worlds. I have to confess I found this the weakest of the three titles, with a script that left too many questions than necessary, although again, the art is accomplished and atmospheric, refeclting the disturbing nature of this unsettling horror tale.
For me, I think that while less "bang for the buck" than Last of the Chickenheads, Crowman is my favourite of these new titles, set in a sleepy mid-western town at, I'm guessing, the turn of the century. The title's hero, Crowman, is both clever and intirguing, with a mystery enemy that is equally tantalising without being too frustratingtinly enigmatic. There are also the kind of story threads worthy of an episode of Twin Peaks to complement the main plotline and I particularly liked Tony's stark yet vibrant art on this title.
If I had to make a guess, I'd say Last of the Chickenheads may prove C2D4's best selling title but for my money Crowman is the title that will ultimately attract the attention of a wider audience. There's a strong, inventive team working on these books and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
• For the lastest information on C2D4, visit the official web site: www.c2d4.com
Titan Books have announced the acquisition of the rights to a series of books celebrating the life and work of US Golden Age creator Joe Simon and his collaborations with comics legend Jack Kirby.
The first volume in the set, scheduled for Spring 2009 release, is an illustrated autobiography, Joe Simon, The Man Behind the Comics, followed by The Best of Simon & Kirby, a deluxe hardcover collecting Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s work in a variety of genres including superhero, crime, detective, and western comics as well as the first romance comic books.
These will be followed by The Simon and Kirby Superheroes, which will feature such costumed heroes as Blue Bolt, Fighting American, Stuntman, and the Fly. These volumes will be compiled with unprecedented access to rare archival material plus exclusive contributions from Joe Simon - and most importantly, these will be the only editions authorized by both Joe Simon and the estate of Jack Kirby.
The magazine (exclusive Sydney Jordan painted cover artwork shown left) has bulked up for this issue, pushing the page count up to 80 A4 pages and going perfect bound.
The issue contains the following three complete Jeff Hawke stories:
• 'Here be Tygers' (Daily Express 08/10/71-01/02/72 but incomplete, completed in Staburst and others in 1978)
• 'SOS' (Daily Express 09/12/69-10/03/70)
• 'Rescue Party' (Daily Express 11/3/70-01/07/70)
All strips are accompanied by Duncan Lunan's comprehensive notes placing strips in historical and literary context. In addition, Andrew Darlington continues his look at 1950's space heores by considering Ron Turner's 'Space Ace'.
The editor can be contacted at:
The Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds, LS17 7RD
Please enclose an sae for a reply, or you can email him at: email@example.com
Subscription rates are as follows:
£18.50 for 3 issue (UK)
Overseas members: £28 air mail, or 38 euro's, IBAN payment £28, paypal payment £30
and there's always http://www.jeffhawke.com/
• James Hodgkins reports he's a working on a new 80 page crime graphic novel, Civilians Nil, to be published in association with UK indie Scar Comics next year.
• Beano artist and writer Kev Sutherland is publishing a new comic, Sinnerhound, which should be available soon. "I'm doing a short run of 50, as much to test the water and use as samples as anything else," he says. "I'm still sussing out the best way to sell it online, and aiming to launch it properly, hopefully with a sister title, in Birmingham [at the Birmingham International Comics Festival] in October." Kev is also on tour soon with the Sock Puppet theatre -- more details on his web site.
• Talking of new comics, Tim Perkins long-gestating Wizard's Keep project is now at ashcan stage. "It's getting some rave reviews," Tim reports, "and hopefully bodes well for the release of the graphic novel next year for me. So I'm very happy with how things are moving along at the moment." Check a page of it out here, sans lettering: and the Ashcan cover art with inks by Joe Rubinstein here
• Talking of events, Bryan Talbot reports he'll be with Paul Gravett and Hannah Berry at the Ipswich Literary Festival 6.30pm Tuesday 1st July, and with Alan Grant and Hannah Berry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Friday 22nd August (which we've already mentioned a couple of times). There's also the whole "comic day" of the Dundee Literary Festival on Sunday 22 June, where Bryan will also be present, along with Paul Gravett, Ilya, Metaphrog and others.
• And finally, if anyone thinks the life of a comic creator is all convention stardom and kudos, remember everyone has to start somewhere. Over on Dez Skinn's Quality Comms Yahoo Group Bryan Talbot reveals one of writing super star Alan Moore's first jobs was cleaning toilets...
Sunday, 1 June 2008
Jim Hanley’s Universe has provided these incredible prizes:
Grand Prize (1) - The Superman No. 14 statue, Superman: Birthright trade paperback signed by writer Mark Waid, and Superman #676 signed by Vito Delsante, who wrote the issue!
Second Prize (1) - Justice League Animated Superman mini maquette and a signed copy of Superman #676.
Third Prize (1) - Superman #676 signed by Vito
Along with the usual P:R Staff roundtable reviews, fan-favourite writer and DC Universe expert, Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Superman: Birthright), will be joining in to guest judge the finalists! The winners will be announced on Pulp Secret the following day with commentary from the P.S. crew.
Send in your Superman redesigns to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line, “Superman: Man of Style!” Please include your full name, age, website, and mailing address for prize shipment. All the usual P:R Guidelines apply…except for #7, of course.
• All entries must be received by June 15th, 2008!
An Iron Man cover donated by top British comics artist Jon Haward to raise money to help veteran comics artist Gene Colan who is very ill and has no medical insurance has raised $290 for the cause.
"I wish it was more, but I guess every penny counts," says Jon, who cites Gene Colan as one of his all time favourite artists, who asked downthetubes to help plug the auction item.
The pencils were drawn for the cover of Panini UK's Marvel Pocket Book Invincible Iron Man Volume 1: The Tragedy and the Triumph. The title has just been published in the UK.
Auction organiser Clifford Meth also has several other piece of art on offer to help raise money for Gene, which currently include an unpublished page of Gene Colan art inked by Neal Adams and more.
• Click here to see all the current auction items on ebay
• For more information on this auction and Gene Colan visit thecliffordmethod.blogspot.com
My thanks to all the dtb team mebers and our readers for enabling our acceptance -- John Freeman