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, 28 June 2008
New dad Richard, one of the dtb team, tells us, “it's a baby girl, so I’m off to collect Girl comics now which will complement my collection of original Eagle comics well. I imagine I'll become lead reporter on nursery comics, pre-school comics etc. in approximately 2-3 years time.”
In the meantime no one tell him what happened at the end of tonight’s episode of Doctor Who…
Friday, 27 June 2008
Comics Britannia, BBC4's 2007 three part documentary on British comics will receive its first UK terrestrial broadcast beginning on Saturday 19 July 2008 on BBC2.
Bill talks candidly about working for DCT, reveals the identity of "Sir" from Sparky - one of those great mysteries of Britain's humour comics - and revels in the idea that someone will one day collect Starblazer in the same way Carlton has made a success of the Scottish publishers Commando books.
Thursday, 26 June 2008
"To see it polished and finished up on the big screen was mad," says Mark of the film, which stars James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. "You were looking sideways and looking at the actors from the film which was kind of weird."
The article notes Millar, like one of the superheroes he writes seems to live a curious double life. In one guise, he's the doting father taking his 10-year-old daughter Emily to the flicks or walking the family's spaniel. The next he's chatting comic books with Jonathan Ross, enjoying nights out with Simon Pegg and Ben Affleck or being invited to dinner parties at the home of Mr Claudia Schiffer, film director Matthew Vaughn. Read the Interview
• The Phantom writer and former 2000AD editor David Bishop will be in Cheltenham next Tuesday (1 July 2008), one of the guest speakers at the Screenwriters' Festival there, talking about the similarities and differences between creating comics and screenwriting. Afterwards local comic shop Proud Lion is hosting a signing from 2.00pm. "It's part of an outreach programme by the festival organisers," says David, "though a mid-week signing is unusual for any comic shop, unless you've got a big name guest like Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman."
• Over on Bear Alley, Steve Holland reports the Don Lawrence Collection's boxed set of Karl the Viking is approaching the finishing line. "The project dates back quite a few years," Steve explains. "I think Rob [van Bavel] - publisher and king-pin of DLC -first discussed it back in 2006... but it took a long time to bring the scans of the original artwork up to scratch and Rob had the idea of reproducing the original lettering as it had appeared in Lion when the strip ran in the 1960s. Not the easiest task as all the balloons that were missing from the artwork had to be painstakingly scanned, cleaned up and reinserted into the artwork."
Karl the Viking, many stories drawn by Don Lawrence, originally ran in Lion in 1960-64 and six stories were reprinted in Smash! as 'Erik the Viking' in 1969-71. This will be the first time in over forty years that the whole series has been made available.
• The leats issue of Fortean Times Magazine (#238) features an extract from John Reppion's forthcoming book 800 Years of Haunted Liverpool. The article is all about the elusive Spring-heeled Jack and his reported appearances in Everton.
The magazine costs £3.99 and is available in all good newsagents.
• Bugpowder has just plugged Last Bus, a new self published ongoing comic book from Irish creator Patrick Lynch. The first issue contains three separate stories: “Last Bus”, “What Became Apparent...” and “These Things I Know” engaging such diverse themes as public transport, street violence, absent friends and dream logic. Read more about it here
"The Ten Doctors is a geeky little thing I’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time," says Richard, aka "Captain Shipsinker", who hails from Nova Scotia and describes himself as "a director, gamer, and medievalist".
Since its initial publication on Richard's blog, The Ten Doctors has gathered a well deserved, dedicated following. Richard's pencil art -- he does not appear to work in inks on some of his strips, although inked and coloured versions of some pages of The Ten Doctors have been provided by eclecticmuse, aka Stephanie Jackson -- are well drafted, displaying considerable comic storytelling skills, especially considering the number of characters involved.
The story opens with the tenth (and current) Doctor visiting The Eye of Orion (last seen in The Five Doctors) to reflect after the events of The Runaway Bride.
He meets up with his previous incarnations, and an epic adventure, packed with uneasy alliances, acerbic exchanges between Rose and Ace, and all the kind of nastiness you'd expect from Cybermen, Daleks... and the Master.
Richard's studied his Who chronology carefully and skilfully plots a tale spanning many of the show's favourite eras. Well worth checking out - if you haven't already.
Once you've enjoyed The Ten Doctors, I also recommend checking out some of his other strips: 24fps, a delightful jab in the eye at the world of animators, animation and the general public who doesn't understand them; Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic - which recently reached its 700th episode -- and The House of Paulus, a strip set in Roman times (no Gauls in sight!).
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
ComICA will be hosting the first ever in-depth discussion between two quintessentially British pioneers of graphic novels: Raymond Briggs, author of titles such as Fungus the Bogeyman, When The Wind Blows and Ethel & Ernest, and Bryan Talbot, author of Luther Arkwright and Alice in Sunderland, covering over three decades of their comics creativity and marking new editions of Gentleman Jim and The Tale of One Bad Rat.
The event -- not yet bookable but will be soon - will be chaired by Rachel Cooke of The Observer and will be followed by book signings. More at: www.ica.org.uk
Between The Panels 3: Raymond Briggs and Bryan Talbot
Where: Nash Room, ICA, Mall, London
When: August 2, 2008, between 3.30pm and 4.30pm
Not bookable yet but will be soon.
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
On board are Nick Abadzis, Rian Hughes, Ilya, Paul Gravett, Garen Ewing, Kate Brown, Sarah McIntyre and Neill Cameron. (All guests appear subject to work commitments).
More information about Caption past and present can be found at www.caption.org.
The Caption team are also still after contributions of illustrations, comic strips and articles for the Caption Souvenir Programme, on the theme of Timewarp, which will need to reach editor Selina Lock by the middle of July at the latest. Contact details on the Caption web site
Eleventh Hour Volume 1, the anthology title created by Orang Utan Comics Studio and published by AAM/Markosia hits retail stores worldwide this week. Featuring twelve stories by the creative minds at Orang Utan Comics Studio with art by artists from four continents, the title includes something for everyone; sci-fi, horror, superheroes, fantasy, manga and beyond.
Nominated for a prestigious Eagle Award this year, the Eleventh Hour series has received plaudits from across the comics industry. “As my British friends might say, Eleventh Hour is ‘bloody brilliant.’" says Dwight L. MacPherson (The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allen Poo). "Superheroes, science-fiction, horror – this extraordinary anthology has something for everyone. Do not miss it!” –
"Eleventh Hour is a thought provoking collection of UK talent," argues David Bircham (Brodie's Law - Pulp Theatre), "showing without question that the rise of outspoken comic creators within the UK is producing outstanding quality."
Eleventh Hour Vol 1 is available from comic shops everywhere, but some comics fans may have trouble finding it.
“We’ve been hearing from a lot of people that their local comic shop has told them that they can’t or won’t order Eleventh Hour for them," says Orang Utan Comics Studio Managing Editor, Ian Shaman. "We’ve had a great response and received a lot of support from some retailers, but it seems a shame that many retailers, particularly in the UK, aren’t getting behind the UK comics industry and promoting it to their customers. That said, we want to make sure that people know they can buy Eleventh Hour direct from the publisher, AAM/Markosia and can also order it online from Amazon.”
Orang Utan Comics Studio also attend many conventions across the UK, where you can pick up all of their titles, including Eleventh Hour Vol 1, the Eleventh Hour Collector’s Edition and Baby Boomers #1 (which are both also now available to order from the OUCS online store: http://orangutancomics.co.
Don’t miss the Orang Utan crew at the London Film and Comic Con (19th-20th July, Earls Court) and the Birmingham International Comics Show (4th-5th October, Thinktank).
• For more information on Orang Utan Comics visit them online at www.orangutancomics.co.uk
The new company has an ambitious publishing program, with half a dozen more titles to be announced very soon. For the latest news, check their official blog.
Trains are... Mint by Oliver East (ISBN 9781906653002) has received high praise from several quarters in recent months. It's a diary of walks tracing the train tracks between Manchester and Blackpool in the northwest of England, the comic dispensing with word balloons in favour of text and speech written in longhand superimposed upon the images.
"Oliver East has produced one of the most unique works to come out of the UK small press scene," says Kenny Penman, "and one that I believe has a chance of crossing over to a much wider audience.
"The story is told in deceptively simple watercolours that many will see as childlike (somewhat like the work of a young John Porcellino) although in fact they convey not only the narrative but also the spontaneity of sketches - which seems highly appropriate to a diary."
The graphical diary does not present the glowing picture of, say, Bill Bryson's book Notes from a Small Island or BBC TV's Coast documenntaries. "It also serves as eyewitness to what modern Britain is like behind the tourist posters," feels Kenny, "showing the everyday lives of small towns and people, and the often deep drabness at their centre, it reminds me in feel of the films of Shane Meadows."
“On the Road becomes On the Track as Oliver tramps, traipses, strolls and slogs from station to station, says Paul Gravett of the book, organiser of the ICA Comics Festival and author of numerous books including Great British Comics. "It's a unique use of comics, almost a time capsule of the unrecorded, everyday provinces.”
Personally, Trains Are Mint is a good read but I felt slightly bemused by the lack of trains in the book (one!) which makes for a strange chpice of title (but perhaps that was the point?). That said, for all the warts and all approach to documenting the walks, which include several train stations I'd rather not ever see again (Preston many look grand, but it's never appealed to me having been stuck on it once too often), there's a undefinable joy to the storytelling and a strong sense of observation that I think will develop over time.
We can Still be Friends by Mawil (ISBN 9781906653019) has a much more definable quality, centring on a young man's tried and failed approach to win the heart of various girls.
You sit next to her in Sunday School, meet her at Summer camp, spend the first year away from home with her as a flatmate. You're intoxicated, excited, obsessional - you're in love. Then come the dreaded words "we can still be friends"...
In four very funny, bittersweet episodes Mawil explores that crushing moment we've all experienced when our hopes and dreams are dashed, our stomachs turned inside out and we want the ground to swallow us up.
Widely held to be Germany's favourite Graphic Novel/Comics creator Mawil's works have won numerous awards over the last six years and have been translated into French, Spanish and Polish. This is his first book to be published in the UK in English and marks a terrific debut for one of Europe's best cartoonists.
For me, this was the more enjoyable release of Blank Slate's first two books, evoking memories of the non-Spirit stories by Will Eisner and others. The art is accomplished, the storytelling detailed but beautifully relaized and there's a genuine feeling of identification with the principal character as he careers from one almost entirely disastrous encounter with the opposte encounter to the next, much to the amusement of his drinking buddies as he recounts the experiences.
These two Blank Slate titles offer two very different graphic storytelling styles and are a good start for the fledgling company. I'm looking forward to seeing what else they have up their collective sleeves.
• Visit the Blank Slate web site
• The Blank Slate titles are available from several good graphic novel stockists including Forbidden Planet International, Gosh, Nostalgia and Comics, Page 45 and Smallzone
Monday, 23 June 2008
Peer Lawther, E-Marketing Executive at the Museum, has kindly been in touch to say this problem has now been rectified.
The Dan Dare and Mekon shirts come in 100% cotton and are available in black or white in children and adult sizes.
• Buy the Dan Dare shirt from the Science Museum Store
• Buy the
Reuters reported today that the Japanese love of mobile comics - which is already huge - could grow further with the arrival of Apple's iphone next month. Analysts claim the device's touch-screen will make it easier and more appealing to read comics on handsets.
With the number of mobile phone subscribers close to 108 million, or 85 percent of Japan's population, carriers there are already finding e-mail, music downloads and web surfing hugely popular, and are looking for new opportunities to make money in a highly competitive market - and that includes comics.
Mobile Comics led the size of the Japanese mobile publication market to double in the last business year to 22 billion yen ($204 million), according to Internet and media research firm Impress R&D, almost three times bigger than the e-publication market for PCs.
"Until now, users had been extensively using mobile phones for email," Shinko Securities analyst Tomohiko Okugawa told Reuters. "Now that's shifting to games and comics ... This is the area that's going to be very interesting."
"The importance of content has been growing," agreed Toshitake Amamiya, general manager of telecom KDDI's content and media division. "It's crucial to pursue what we can do in this market where each adult always carries around a mobile phone and uses it as a life tool."
But mobile comics on mobile aren’t just proving popular in Japan. Putting on my hat as Managing Editor of comics-on-mobile service ROK Comics, we've found that translations of strips first published on ROK Comics for China have proven very popular in recent months.
While selling comics on mobile to traditional comics readers is, surprisingly, a hard sell - it's hard to beat the beauty and versatility of the printed comic page either online or on mobile - we are finding that mobile comics are a new, wider audience. Comics fans who have always read newspaper cartoons but never set foot in a comic shop may prove the key to making mobile comics a success.
Webcomics creators argue a hardcore fan set of a couple of thousand readers is enough to turn a profit online (largely through sales of strip-related merchandise such as collections, t-shirts etc.) so the potential revenues are strong. What we’re finding is that mobile comics are popular even in countries where there is no traditional print-based or web comic industry, and mobile reaches far more people than even web comic creators reach via PC delivery.
ROK Comics provides both a platform for licensed comic content including Andy Capp, Roy of the Rovers and Garth, and the tools for independent comic creators to upload their own comics, promoting their characters on mobile using a comic creator tool which also enable web blog and web site publication. The sale of downloads and WAP page views are credited to creators' accounts, with profits on sales shared equally between ROK and the creator.
Delivering comics on mobile in the West is achievable - we’ve been doing that for over a year - but creators and publishers do need to take on board the creative challenges imposed by small screen delivery and be aware it's still early days for the form outside countries like Japan where mobile comics have been around for quite some time.
David will be talking about his latest work Kickback, and the experience of being a graphic novelist.
Highgate Library is at 1 Shepherd Hill, London N6 5QJ
Admission is free and refreshments will be available.
That's the message from government adviser Chris Brown, reported in several newspapers including The Times, a retired head teacher and author of Primary Boys into Books, a new reading report commissioned by the Government that's part of a £5 million government scheme to get more boys reading sooner and trying new books.
Jeff Smith's Bone: The Great Cow Race, Kazu Kibuishi's Flight, Michael Carroll's Sakkara (New Heroes), David Petersen's Mouse Guard title Fall 1152 and Art Spiegelman's It Was A Dark and Silly Night are just some of the comic or comic related titles in the extensive reading list, along with Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes collection, Scientific Progress Goes Boink.
The report, part of the "Riveting Reads" series published under the auspices of the School Library Association, includes many comic-style or graphic books in a list of the Top 200 new works he has drawn up for 5 to 11-year-old boys, along with novels about espionage, ghosts and aliens -- but not ‘The Famous Five’, ‘Just William’ or even the ever-popular Roald Dahl books.
Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Mirrormask and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish are among the selected novels, as
Brown argues such books had great appeal for many boys and could be of enormous educational benefit because they stimulated visual responses to the pictures as well as intellectual responses to the words, he said. He regretted that schools and parents dismissed them too often as not being "proper books".
Statistics show that boys are ten percentage points behind girls in English at Key Stage 2. Ministers hope that better reading habits among boys will help close the gender gap. A recent evaluation of Every Child a Reader (ECaR), a programme of intensive literacy support for children who are struggling, shows that it is possible to close the reading gap between young boys and girls.
• The booklist is available exclusively online on the SLA website as a searchable database and also as a downloadable PDF version.
• More on Boys into Books can be found at: http://www.sla.org.uk/boys-into-books-overview.php
• Government research on early reading can be found at: http://www.aft.org/pubsreports/american_educator/spring2003/catastrophe.html
• Waterstones is celebrating 25 years of Terry Partchett's Discworld in many ways, one of which is an interview with the celebrated author by Neil Gaiman. Terry talks candidly about his career, how he is now an honorary Brownie (for writing a proper girl in a book, The Wee Free Men. "I've got a woggle and everything..."), his battle with early onset Alzheimer's, and his approach to writing. "planning. 'Planning, planning, planning," he reveals. "It's more like those guys in the desert who pick up a handful of loam, or sand, and taste it, and they know whether there's any oil nearby.
"It's the same thing with writing: you can tell where the legs are in an idea but don't know where the idea comes from. I think it's some kind of alchemical thing, made up of lots of other things. Your apprehension of the world around you. Your knowledge that you are one of the few people that use the word "apprehension" in that last sentence in exactly the right way. Which doesn't mean to be fearful about something. I hope you noticed this."
• If you're wondering just how important the online comics group you've just joined is, digital communications expert Pete Ashton is on a mssion to convince people that digital forms of communication are as important as what we might call traditional ones. "That communities and relationships that are formed online are as important as those formed in the real world," he argues. "In fact I’d go further and say terms like 'real world' are redundant as the online environment is just as capable of creating results of lasting real value as face to face interactions are, especially when the two work together."
Pete is one of Birmingham’s experts on the social internet and the city’s first professional blogger. Since setting up and running the Created in Birmingham weblog (”Linking up Birmingham’s artistic and creative communities”) in January 2007 he has been in great demand from businesses and organisations who feel they need to use the internet more effectively but don’t really understand how.
Compiled with the much thanks to Matthew Badham