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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Creating WebComics: A Brief Guide

After some online discussion on creating WebComics over the past few days on a couple of comic creator forums, I've done a bit of digging around and compiled a brief article for downthetubes about Creating WebComics which is now posted on the main site.

It includes some other links I found along the way which may be of interest to would be or indeed existing webcomic creators.

If you've got any thoughts on the subject yourself, please feel free to leave your comments here.

And talking of webcomics, what better moment than to mention Ian Stacey's arrival on comics-on-mobile service ROK Comics, a much-praised cartoonist we've plugged here before.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Shoot Shot Down

IPC Media has announced the closure of Shoot! after 40 years, a victim of stiff competition from rivals.

The Guardian reports the cancellation of the IPC Media title, which once rubbed shoulders with sports-dominated comics such as Roy of the Rovers and Tiger, has been unable to compete with rivals such as market leader Match, BBC Magazines' Match of the Day (which launched in March and features a popular comic strip drawn by Martin Baines) and new challenger Kick!.

The closure comes four months after Shoot! relaunched it as a weekly, a status it had enjoyed from its launch in 1969 and was a weekly until 2000.

In addition to stiff competition in the sector, Shoot!'s higher cover price (£1.80 compared to 95p for top rival Match) also appear not to have done the title any favours.

"It is with great regret that we have had to make this decision," said Paul Williams, the managing director of IPC Inspire, the Guardian reports. IPC are now in exclusive negotiations to sell the Shoot! trademark to Pedigree Books, which publishes the Shoot! Christmas annual and other books.

Shoot! sales figures were around 35,000 an issue, still much higher than those of the last football comic, Striker, which sold some 29,000 copies on launch but whose sales declined slowly over 87 issues -- still an impressive run for an independent title (as Striker owner Pete Nash recounts here on the official site).

Ironically given the cancellation of Shoot!, potential investors advised Pete to make his title more of a magazine to raise its profile and opportunities for investment. (Striker now runs in The Sun where it began back in 1985).

Knight Rider Car Sold on eBay

A rare version of KITT, the iconic talking black car from the American 80s TV show Knight Rider has just been sold on the internet auction site eBay.

The KITT model, built from a Pontiac Trans Ams -- and most recently used in the third and fourth series of Knight Rider as well as the TV film and also used in 2006 film The Benchwarmers which starred Rob Schneider -- eventually sold for $53,000.

Picture below the cusyom built car is one of the rare 300-mph "Super Pursuit Mode" T/As with additional aero devices, was described as one of the original vehicles from the series. It was initially used in the third season and then re-converted to simulate the 'Super Pursuit Mode' that debuted in the fourth season.

The car, pictured below, was also used in the 1984 Knight Rider made for television movie and, later, for exhibition and promotional purposes.

• KITT stands for Knight Industries Three Thousand. There have been a couple of Knight Rider spin-offs

Knight Rider has recently been revived in the US to huge ratings on its initial airing back in February on NBC. The Hollywood Reporter recently noted Paul Campbell is set to join the ensemble cast fronted by Justin Bruening. Campbell will play the head research tech at Knight Industries. (More news about the new show can also be found on KittSite).

• The pilot for the new show will be released on Region 1 DVD in September.

• The new KITT dropped the Pontiac design in favour of a Shelby GT500KR.

Web Links

Knight Rider Online
The oldest Knight Rider fan site

Knight Rider NBC Official Site

KittSite
Devoted to the new Knight Rider show


US Comic, Graphic Novel Sales Down

Comics trade site ICV2 reports sales of periodical comics in the US declined in May - the fourth month sales have dropped in a row, posting a 6% drop compared with sales in May of 2007 when, led by the Death of Captain America, some 15 titles sold over 100,000 copies (versus just 7 in May 2008).

Marvel's Secret Invasion series topped the sales charts, although orders were down on #1 by 27%.

Although this may sound like bad news, periodical comics have still posted a 7% gain from April, though it was no
t enough to compete with May 2007.

ICV2 also reports that for the second month in a row graphic novel sales declined and actually dropped more precipitously than periodical comics, dropping 17% when compared with May 2007, which was a very strong month for graphic novel releases led by Y: The Last Man Vol. 9, Walking Dead Vol. 6, five various Civil War-related trades plus DC’s 52 Vol. 1, Archaia Studios’ Mouseguard and Dynamite Entertainment’s The Boys.

Top Ten US Comics
Thesw figures are based on ICv2's estimates of the sales by Diamond Comic Distributors to comic stores on the top 25 comic titles in May

182,443 Secret Invasion #2 (of 8)

144,826 Final Crisis #1 (of 7)

109,185 New Avengers #41

108,136 Avengers/Invaders #1 (of 12)

105,864 Invincible Iron Man #1

105,508 Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1

105,039 Batman #676 RIP

96,890 Mighty Avengers #13

96,116 Batman #677 RIP

95,281 Mighty Avengers #14



Read the full IVC2 report
For the top 300 comics in May, see ICVc2's Top 300 Comics Actual--May 2008 • For the top 100 graphics novels in May, see ICVc2's Top 100 Graphic Novels Actual--April 2008."
• For an overview and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in May, see
ICVc2's feature
'Secret Invasion' on Top Again

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Comic Hero Season at BFI London

Batman: Dark KnightLondon's BFI Southbank and BFI Max have just announced they will be teaming up this July and August for a big-screen extravaganza of films adapted from comics presenting the breadth and depth of the genre.

The season is a strong reminder that films based on comics should never be dismissed as mindless entertainment, with screenings of Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated next instalment of Batman The Dark Knight (2008) which opens at BFI IMAX on 25 July, Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City (2005) and the Oscar-nominated Persepolis (2007).

From cape-wearing superheroes to leather-clad mutants the comic book movie comes in all shapes, sizes, and (intergalactic) species. Highlights include All-Nighter screenings of the X-Men trilogy introduced by Sir Ian McKellen and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, both at BFI IMAX – Britain’s biggest screen. The new The Incredible Hulk (2008), Richard Donner’s Director’s Cut of Superman the Movie (1978), Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy (2004) and the gloriously irreverent superhero parody Mystery Men (1999) are amongst the films screening at BFI Southbank. Mystery Men will also screen at BFI IMAX.

The comic book movie doesn’t always have to mean superheroes, spandex and mass destruction, of course. Smaller, more independent-minded writers and artists have also found their work adapted for the big screen. Ghost World (2001), American Splendor (2003), Road To Perdition (2002) and A History of Violence (2005) all began life as hand-drawn comics published outside the mainstream.

This jam-packed season has something for everyone. Joseph Losey’s extravagant slice of 60s Eurocamp, Modesty Blaise (1966) and a rare outing in the UK for Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1967) offer psychedelic adaptations of European comic strips.

Out at the Pictures – the BFI's dedicated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender strand – contemplates the gay sub-text of X2 (2003) and considers the role of the superheroine in the masculine world of comics with a screening of Tank Girl (1995).

The RocketeerFor younger audiences, June’s Film Funday sees Flash Gordon (1980) making a spectacular return to the big screen plus comic-book based kids’ workshops.

Other screenings during the school holidays also include the much underrated gem The Rocketeer (1991).

Full details and times at: www.bfi.org.uk/whatson

Monday, 16 June 2008

In Memoriam: "Hot Shot Hamish" writer Fred Baker

Comics writer and editor Barrie Tomlinson has been in touch with sad news that prolific British comic script writer Fred Baker died earlier this month.

He had been ill for some time with Alzheimer's and died of pneumonia on 4 June.

"He was one of the most prolific writers we had on the comics," Barrie recalls. "No matter how many scripts he was writing, the standard was always top class. "

Hot Shot Hamish's first appearance, in the 25th August 1973 issue of ScorcherHe wrote some of the great classic stories that appeared in Tiger and Roy of the Rovers: Billy's Boots, Hot-Shot Hamish (which has recently been appearing in Scotland's The Sunday Mail), Mighty Mouse, Skid Solo and more.

"He really was one of the giants of boys' scriptwriters, says Barrie.

As Steve Holland noted just a few days ago on Bear Alley, Hot-Shot Hamish remains one of British comics' hidden gems, written by Fred and drawn by Julio Schiaffino for Scorcher & Score, and subsequently for Tiger, back in the early 1970s; Hot-Shot then teamed up with Mighty Mouse from Roy of the Rovers (wiki entry here), in which title the pair's adventures continued until 1991.

Read Barrie's full tribute to Fred on the main downthetubes web site

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Hulk Goes Mobile

Marvel and Hands-On Mobile, producers of Guitar Hero and Iron Man for mobile phones, have released a new mobile game and personalization content around the latest big-screen adaptation of The Incredible Hulk, which has been getting positive reviews as a straight forward action movie on its release.

The game and content are currently available on select carriers worldwide.

“The Hulk is a character who is beloved by many, and we worked closely with Marvel to develop a mobile game that was true to his legacy,” said David White, Chief Executive Officer of Hands-On Mobile. “Just as we’ve seen consumers embrace Iron Man, we expect The Incredible Hulk to gain a similar following with an exciting mobile game to complement its film release.”

In this explosive and action-packed mobile game, players become the Hulk to smash through walls, hurl cars at enemies, scale cityscapes, dodge precision missiles, and battle The Abomination as they seek out a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned the Hulk's alter ego Bruce Banner's cells and transformed him into the green-skinned behemoth.

”This summer is an exciting time for Marvel, and we're excited to be working with Hands-On Mobile to create mobile games that complement our latest big screen releases including Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk,” said Simon Philips, President of Marvel International. “As we’ve already seen with the success of Iron Man, fans are eager to continue to interact with these beloved characters after they leave the movie theaters, and mobile games are a great way to do this.”

HandsOn say The Incredible Hulk game features unique gameplay that distinguishes it from other tile-based, action-adventure games in the mobile market. The game re-creates movie scenes as players smash from the hidden factories of Brazil to the city that never sleeps.

• For information and other exciting Marvel Mobile content, visit www.MarvelMobile.com. The Incredible Hulk mobile game can be downloaded in the US by text messaging HULK to 46966.

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