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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Grant Morrison: The Early Years Re-Released

Publisher Sequart.org has announced that a second edition of its first book, Grant Morrison: The Early Years, is now available exclusively through specialist comic shops via Diamond Previews (order code JUL084473).

If you missed out last year, now is the perfect time to buy The Early Years, because this second edition is revised and includes a newly-added essay about Morrison's very first story for 2000AD.

Grant Morrison redefined comics in the late 1980s and early 1990s from his trail blazing creation of Zenith, through his metatextual innovations on DC Comics Animal Man, to his Dadaist super-heroics in Doom Patrol. Along the way, he explored the Batman mythos with his multilayered masterpiece Arkham Asylum and the literary Gothic storyline.

Written by Timothy Callahan, Grant Morrison: The Early Years examines these five Morrison works in detail, aiming to expand the reader's appreciation of their significance and, say Sequart "creating a study accessible to both Grant Morrison aficionados and those new to his work."

An extended exclusive interview with Morrison on his early career rounds out the volume.

According to the book's author, Timothy Callahan, "the book explores the unifying themes of Morrison's early work, providing a close analysis of stylistic and structural techniques."

"In its limited release, the book has sold well online and at comic book conventions," says Publisher Julian Darius. "Callahan [also a ComicBookResources.com reviewer] has been repeatedly praised in reviews of the book, and cover artist Kevin Colden has been in the news for receiving – and declining – a Xeric grant. We're very excited about having this book in Previews and comic book stores for the first time."

The book is the first in a line of critical books from Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, a non-profit devoted to the study and promotion of comic books as a legitimate art.

Britain is Broken...

British indie comics publisher Moonface Press has launched a website to support the release of its forthcoming graphic novel, Septic Isle.

The site - www.britainisbroken.com - features a free PDF download of the book's first 10 pages, plus information about the characters and plot.

Septic Isle – solicited in August's issue of Dimaond Previews and shipping in October – is written by award-winning creator Andy Winter (Hero Killers, Blood Psi), drawn by Mick Trimble (MC², The Many Worlds Of Jonas Moore) and boasts a wraparound cover by Declan Shalvey (Hero Killers, Freak Show).

Andy and Declan were the creative team on Hero Killers, which won last year's Eagle Award for Best Black and White Comicbook – British.

Septic Isle, a tale of spies and skullduggery, comes perfect-bound with a full-colour cover and black and white interior art. The 52-page title has a 42-page main story and a sketchbook section. It retails for $5.95 (£3.95).

More from Blank Slate

New UK publisher Blank Slate has announced a further four graphic collections, following hot on the heels of their release of Oliver East's Trains Are Mint and Mawli's We Can Still be Friends.

All four stick to the publishers hoped for model of a mixture of new, young, UK talent and translated cartoonists.

Proper go well highProper Go Well High is a new project from Oliver East, a mammoth undertaking of some 100-plus pages, scheduled for October release.

October also sees the release of a second collection from Mawil, and if it's as good as We Can Still Be Friends, you should pre-order now. In Germany it was called Meister Lampe but in the UK it will be titled Sparky O'Hare - Master Electrician. Publisher Kenny Penman reveals a number of the translated strips will be appearing on the Forbidden Planet International blog and website in advance of publication.

"There are about 80 cartoons in total and essentially they are mostly one page gag cartoons about an electrician Bunny and the chaos that swirls around his every move," he says. "We hope they will build an online following on the FPI sites as we think they are charming, super-cute and very funny.

Also in the pipeline is an English translation of the award winning book Slaapkoppen by Belgian artist Randall C, described as a highly original and funny juggling comix game of clouds and words, dream and reality, poetry and humour, philosophy and absurdity. The book title means Sleepy Heads and it's a multilayered exploration of dreams and reality.

"It's an amazingly beautifully drawn book and has won two major awards on the continent in the last 12 months," says Kenny. "Most recently it won the best debut comic award at the highly prestigious Stripdagen Haarlem comix festival.
Check out Randall's website and you can see a good number of the original pages, of course still in their native Flemish. Randall will be entirely re-lettering the book for its English debut, probably in 2009.

Finally, for now, comes an as-yet untitled book from Stuart Kolakovic, described by Paul Gravett as "the future of British comics".
"Stuart is not only a remarkably talented artist but he's also a scholar of comics," says Kenny, "and after spending a day with him last week talking comics and looking through his work I think people are going to be totally blown away when they see his first books."

Stuart's book will be based on Eastern European folk tales and fairy stories. "I think the outline for the book is a story which will touch people deeply," feels Kenny. "If you have a romantic soul this is going to be a book for you."

There's no set publication date for the title as yet. "We are allowing it to develop at its own pace," Kenny explains.

The Surgeon Recut

Scottish publishers Rough Cut Comics, publishers of Rose Black, the Freedom Collective and more, are releasing a trade paperback compiling the original two-issue mini-series The Surgeon, featuring the early artwork of Jaeson Finn.

The Surgeon, which ran ran for five years from its 2000 release and has been translated into German and Italian, introduced the gruesome time-travelling serial killer whose vehicle is constructed from living human bodies.

The new collection features an introduction by acclaimed British horror writer Ramsey Campbell – noted as a fan of the original series – and is expected to be a collector’s edition in its limited 3000 print-run.

Redesigned by Eagle Award nominee Thomas Mauer the 62-page edition also features the early artwork of Jaeson Finn, the storyboard artist on the recently-released $30million British science-fiction opus Doomsday, soon to be released on DVD and BluRay.

“Jaeson’s style had true cinematic dynamics, even at this early stage in his career," says Ppublisher Ed Murphy. "His first pages in the book highlight his love of Manga, but as the action moves on, we get a glimpse of some beautifully constructed frame set-pieces.

“Jaeson’s first love was always movies, and I think – though the likes of Doomsday – we’ll see him develop into a fabulous production designer. But here, I’m pleased to be able to acknowledge his early ideas.”

In his introduction, author Ramsey Campbell celebrates its success as a comic-book series and its unfortunate mis-step as a British film project itself – “Maybe it proved too strong for the moneymen’s sensibilities,” he comments on the story, which came to comics after collapsing as a feature film due to star Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi.

“I think it’s made something of an impact," feels Murphy. "The film was in development since 1997 and it’s been a comic since 2000. If you look at things which have come since, it’s just too coincidental to imagine they haven’t been inspired by the series.”

The Surgeon trade paperback is due to ship through Diamond Comic Distributors in October 2008.

Jack Kirby Quarterly Returns

We knew Dez Skinn, former editor of Comics International, Warrior and many more Brtitish comics titles couldn't keep away from good old print journalism forever. His next project is the 15th anniversary special of the world's first-ever magazine devoted to the work of the King of Comics: Jack Kirby.

The new Jack Kirby Quarterly #15 is the brainchild of Chrissie Harper, a regular contributor to CI over the years: a special 68-page full-sized magazine, overviewing the entire 60 plus year career of the master of US comicbooks, with contributions and insight from top comics creators and specialist journalists including Kevin Eastman, Mark Evanier, Paul Gambaccini, Paul Gravett, Nigel Kitching, Peter Laird, Bob McLeod, John Morrow, Dez Skinn, William Stout, Greg Theakston and Marv Wolfman.

"When I stumbled across a stash of back issues of Chrissie's Jack Kirby Quarterly magazine, I was very impressed by them," Dez told downthetubes. They're very different to John Morrow's excellent Jack Kirby Collector, they put a greater focus on analysis than art, providing in-depth features, albeit still well-illustrated.

"Half-jokingly, I suggested she might wish to produce it once more, but through my own Quality Communications imprint this time. I was delighted to discover this year would mark the magazine's 15th anniversary and she was keen to produce a special issue to celebrate. (OK, the maths don't work for a 15th anniversary of a magazine with Quarterly in the title only now achieving its 15th issue, but this isn't the real world, this is funny books!)

"With the intention of continuing, should sales justify such, the magazine will sensibly be retitled Jack Kirby Annual from next year."

Could this new magazine mark the start of more Dez Skinn-helmed magazines? Once that printer's ink gets under your fingernails, we know there's know escaping it!

Tube Surfing: 12 July 2008

• Artist Rufus Dayglo has posted a message on the official 2000AD Forum revealing the new Tank Girl: Skidmarks series will begin will be making its debut in Judge Dredd Megazine #275.
Meanwhile, Tank Girl - Visions of Booga #3 will be out soon from US publisher IDW Comics. "Go get it!" he demands. "It's definitely the one I'm happiest with!"

The Daily Telegraph reports that whether alien activity or natural phenomena, reports of UFOs have flooded in this summer from across the UK. Plotted on a map of Britain, the sightings can be seen to stretch from Liverpool to Dover and from Llanelli to Derby. (This is what happens when too many people are allowed to watch Doctor Who).

• Cartoonist Lew Stringer is celebrating 25 years of professional comics work this week. His first work published in a professional comic was in Marvel UK's Eagle Award-winning The Daredevils and the job was a pocket cartoon entitled What If Iron Man Really Lived up to his Name? He recalls he was paid the princely sum of £5 for the cartoon.
"Looking at it now, the style is crude and the gag very lame, but seeing it in print back in 1983 gave me a huge boost to my self esteem. At the time I was on the dole, having quit a dead-end office job, and had been trying to break into comics for a couple of years with no luck."

• As part of British comic magazine Crikey's continuing contributions to the Forbidden Planet International blog, there's a new post on some of the first appearances of Marvel Comics characters in British comics such as Pow!, noting the different layouts of the strips compared with their original US publication and more.

• UK national newspaper The Guardian continues its impressive support for the comics medium with the arrival of cartoonist Laura Howell today, with her new strip The Mighty M, part of the comic section delivered by the team behind The DFC. Most of The Guardian's strips also feature online, available as downloadable PDFs, but unlike the newspaper, your really have to search hard to find the comics page. I suggest you bookmark this link!

• Over on Bear Alley, Steve Holland reports Panini UK have a handful of interesting books coming up. September sees the release of Marvel Masters: The British Invasion Volume 2 celebrates the nation's greatest comics artists, including stories illustrated by such renowned artists as Dave Gibbons, Alan Davis, Bryan Hitch, Steve Dillon, Barry Windsor-Smith, Paul Neary, Frank Quitely and Mark Buckingham. (Marvel Masters: The British Invasion Volume 1, released late last year, focused on the best of the UK's writers to have worked for the House of Ideas and included the work of Neil Gaiman, Alan Davis, Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Alan Grant, Paul Jenkins, Peter Milligan and Warren Ellis.
Also of note are releases for a collection of Dragon's Claws, Marvel UK's first foray into US comic format and a further volume of early Captain Britain adventures.

2000AD Online Makeover Nears Completion

The 2000AD Online web site seems to have almost completed its month-long makeover, with a cleaner layout that integrates more obvious links to some of Rebellion's other services such as ipod comic site Clickwheel.

"About a year ago, we had a sit down and a discussion with regards to the future of the website," explains Julian Hall, one of the 2000AD web team in a post about about the changes on the site's forum, "and decided that we loved the content, but we wanted to make changes to the structure and the design. The main problem was time."

Time indeed -- the site has been in transition for a while, but the results speak for themselves, with the final version set to offer the latest news on 2000AD, Judge Dredd: The Megazine and the Rebellion graphic novels, an expanded community forum and an online history to the comic.

Not yet live at time of posting are updated versions of the familiar character and creator sections, which are still in progress, as are more news and community watch features.

Julian says there's still time for registered users of the 2000AD Online Forum to offer suggestions for new features.

"I stress that nothing can be too big or too small a request to ask for. While we can’t guarantee that ever single request will get added, we’ll be working on the basis of doing the most important or the most asked for requests to be added first and work from there."

He also urges fans concerned by the transition to be patient. "While change can be dramatic, we’re hoping that you’ll all want to contribute to shaping the site the way you all want it!"

Happy Birthday Beano Event

As previously mentioned here, Happy Birthday Beano, the official 70th anniversary exhibition will be running in the Tower Building of the University of Dundee from from 18th July to 20th September 2008. The display will include original artwork from the Beano archives with work on show from Dudley D.Watkins, David Law, Leo Baxendale and David Sutherland.

To tie in with the exhibition and act as its official launch Dr Chris Murray, organiser of the successful Dundee Literary Festival Comics Day at the University, has organised an early evening event on Wednesday 30 July.

Beginning at 5:30pm in the university's D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre, there will be short talks by the exhibition's curator, Matthew Jarron, on The Prehistory of Dundee comics, by Chris himself on The Birth of The Beano and then by comics historian Paul Gravett on The Golden Age of DC Thomson. These will be followed by talks by current Beano artists Laura Howell and Gary Northfield and Beano legend David Sutherland.

The event will then move upstairs to the Lamb Gallery for a wine reception and conclude with a Gallery Talk by Alan Digby, current editor of the Beano, and Morris Heggie, former editor and now DC Thomson archivist.

Entry to all talks is free, but prospective attendees should get in touch with Dr Chris Murray, c.murrayATdundee.ac.uk, to reserve a place. More details are available on his Bebo page.

Friday, 11 July 2008

2000AD Extreme Edition: R.I.P.

It has been with us for a mere 30 issues, first quarterly and more recently bi-monthly, but 2000AD Extreme Edition is no more.

The final issue, X30, is now available. It is an all Ian Gibson art issue containing the ending of Sam Slade's Last Case, the Robo-hunter story that finished in 2000AD Prog 334, plus the complete run of Robo-hunter's Farewell My Billions from 100 Progs later and is rounded off with a selection of Gibson illustrated shorts including Psi-Judge Anderson and Walter the Wobot.

As the latest title in a line of 2000AD reprint magazines, Extreme was never going to sell big numbers and no doubt its sales were very dependent on what was being reprinted in a given issue. It was relatively easy to tell if it was an interesting reprint in an issue if the local comics shop sold out of it fast. Extreme relived the original Volgan invasion of Britain and re-chronicled the Harlem Heroes hard won aeroball season, both original 2000AD stories from 1977. In effect, for £2.99, it was a regular graphic novel for those stories that may never have received a book publication. Some were great to reread, Belardinelli's Meltdown Man springs to mind, while others were a chore, three issues of The Mean Arena was two too many.

It was also never the easiest title to get. Readers in Northern Ireland and Eire had no problems since Eason's carried it, but for the rest of the British Isles it was a challenge to find as WH Smith's did not stock it. Comics shops and Borders Books seemed to be the only regular stockists on the mainland while Rebellion, its publishers, weren't overly helpful as they did not sell a separate subscription to it.

And now its gone replaced by a "free" graphic novel with about half Extreme's page count bagged in issues of the price increased Judge Dredd Megazine beginning in Meg 275 on sale on 20 August 2008.

The final Extreme concludes with a Tharg The Mighty story entitled The Day They Banned 2000AD. This is a tongue-in-cheek story of Tharg's bumbling enemies, the Dictators of Zrag, who make the villains of the printed stories come to life with the Volgans invading Russia, dinosaurs climbing the Eiffel Tower and a small bulbous headed Venusian on a flying chair invading the 2000AD Command Module. In a magazine that proclaims itself to be "Complete and Uncut!" on its front cover, the M*kon's face is obscured in each panel he appears in with the note "Identity Concealed By Nervous Publisher" in the margin. It would seem that The Mighty One is concerned about the invasion of that new virulent strain of Thrill-Sucker - DDC Lawyerous.

R.I.P. Extreme - you were a challenge to find, but worth the effort.

Indiana Interview On Geek Syndicate

The latest episode of the fab podcast Geek Syndicate features an interview with Rob Williams, the writer of the new Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods) comic from Dark Horse.

Direct Link: http://comicspodcastsuk.wordpress.com/2008/07/11/geek-syndicate-episode-88/

Crime Writer in the making

Our congratulations to downthetubes contributor and former editor of the critically-acclaimed fanzine Eagle Flies Again Ian Wheeler, who has just been announced as the winner of this year's Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival competition, which takes place in his home town of Harrogate.

The short crime story competition challenged writers to come up with a 300-word thriller, with all the entries tales following on from this sentence:

“Next to the body lay a bottle of Theakstons Old Peculier and an upturned book; it was a crime novel and the already lurid jacket was spattered with real blood.”

The festival gets under way next Thursday (17 July) with a range of events with top authors including Jeffrey Deaver and Val McFermind, held in Harrogate's Crown Hotel.

Click here to read all the entries to the competition, including Ian's story
• For tickets for the Festival go to www.harrogate-festival.org.uk/crime or telephone 0845 1308840.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Commando Shop - Summer Offer

DC Thomson's official Commando shop is currently offering free postage on all its orders.

The Commando Gear shop offers T-shirts and mugs in a variety of different colours and designs with the Commando logo and the familiar F-S fighting knife silhouette.

This offer lasts until 17 July 2008 and more details about it and what merchandise is available from the shop can be found on the Commando website.

Stealing Dilbert

When the G8 governments met in Japan this week, one of the items on the agenda that has been discussed in secret for months was signing an agreement that could enable customs officers and others to search your laptop or MP3 player for illegal material as you pass through a country's borders.

The Guardian reports on government plans to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in an article weighing up the pros and cons of the 'free' internet and attempts by various copyright owners to keep a hold on their material and their right to do what they want with it, Such efforts, says Saul Klein, a venture capitalist with Index Ventures who has invested in the free database company MySQL, exhibit a "finger in the dyke" mentality.

"In a world of abundance - which the internet is quintessentially - that drives the price of everything towards 'free'," he argues. "People don't pay for any content online. Not for music, not for video. They get it, either legally or illegally."

The battle between content creators and content users wanting it for 'nothing' is growing, encompassing the comics as well as the music and film industries. The Guardian reports that Scott Adams, the cartoonist best-known for his Dilbert strips, stood up for his work in a blog post in April last year, where he reasserted his ownership of his products.

"When you violate a copyright, you take something valuable from the copyright owner that he can't get back," he noted "... After I published The Dilbert Principle, within days it had been illegally scanned and was widely available on the internet for free. Technically speaking, it wasn't theft. But I still lost something. I (and my publisher) lost the ability to decide if, when, and how to publish as an e-book."

Unmentioned in the Guardian article is the fact that all this action by governments to combat what they see as widespread copyright theft is the apparent lack of any opportunity for the public to comment on the plans.

The Act would of course lend more weight to US government search and seizure of laptops and other eletronic equipment, highlighted by the Los Angeles Times recently, as we previously reported.

IP Justice, which is campaigning against ACTA, notes on its web site that as of 25 March 2008, no draft text had been published to provide the public with substance of the proposed international treaty. A “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” was reportedly provided to select lobbyists in the intellectual property industry, but not to public interest organizations concerned with the subject matter of the proposed treaty. Indeed, it wasn't until Wikileaks posted the leaked ACTA discussion paper on 22 May 2008 that such groups got any idea of what is being planned.

The leaked document
revealed "a proposal for a multilateral trade agreement of strict enforcement of intellectual property rights related to internet activity and trade in information-based goods, hiding behind the issue of false trademarks" and some of the wording suggested the potential for widespread "stop and search" to combat copyright theft.

Read The Guardian article: "The right to peer inside your Ipod"
IP Justice Campaign against ACTA
Wikileaks version of the leaked ACTA discussion paper
MIT engineer Erik J. Heels on copyright issues relating to Dilbert

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Tube Surfing: 9 July 2008

Smuggling Vacation• Jas Wilson has sent me a copy of Smuggling Vacation, now available in all good bookshops. I'll post a longer review later in the week as I've only had chance to flick through it today, but I love the art and the story I've read so far. There's a very French bande dessine style and panache to the book, evocative of the work of Hunt Emerson, Lew Stringer and others... and it's damm funny, too.
Soon to be available from Smallzone, anyone outside the Midlands wanting a copy right now can get one from the Smuggling Vacation website at www.smugglingvacation.co.uk or order through any bookshop (ISBN:9780955917004) priced £6.99.

• As previously reported and hotly debated here, rumours of a remake of The Prisoner have been circulating for many years, all of which proved to be unfounded. However, as Lew Stringer reports, the new series is now definitely on, co-produced between ITV Productions, Granada International and AMC, the US cable network behind the critically acclaimed Mad Men. Starring Jim Caviziel (Passion of the Christ) as Number Six and Sir Ian McKellen (X-Men) as Number Two, the six part mini-series begins filming in August in Africa and is expected to premiere worldwide early in 2009. (More info at AMC's official blog: blogs.amctv.com/the-prisoner).
Lew has drawn an exclusive Prisoner-inspired cartoon, exclusively for the upcoming Prisoner convention PM2008 at Portmeirion, North Wales (the original location for the 1960s series), which will be auctioned off on the day.

• Former 2000AD and Megazine editor David Bishop is posting a series of articles on writing for TV, the first titled "How One Doctor Led Me Toward Doctors". He charts the right and wrong ways of submitting scripts in the UK and as usual has plenty of useful advice to offer would be writers.

• Like others, Warren Ellis has posited a different future for the web, away from the "curator" style of sites such as BoingBoing (while recognising a continued need for such a terrific site) to something more formative and creative, citing services such as Tumblir as an example of what he's thinking of

The Guardian has interviewed Russell T. Davies on "Life After Doctor Who", dismissing a small enclave of Doctor Who fans who have railed against his popular interpretation of the character. "They are not real fandom," he argues. "They are a core of mostly men who like to complain. Fandom is bigger and richer than that, and they are only about 1,000 people who give everyone else a bad name and build their life around a show."
The award-winning producer, who is soon to collect his OBE and will be delivering a masterclass on Saturday 23 August at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, says says if he had his time again there is "nothing" he would do differently on Doctor Who. However, he admits that the year-round schedule on the show has been "exhausting". He always planned to work on the show for four or five years, the longest he has pursued any one project.

• We're sorry to belatedly report the death of SF writer Thomas M. Disch, author of titles such as Camp Concentration, who committed suicide on 4 July. He had become, we're told, increasingly depressed over time. His EndZone LiveJournal is still "live", unlike him: one tribute simply and succinctly reads "Good night, Tom. Sorry the darkness was bigger than you could handle." Steve Holland offers a concise bibliography on Bear Alley.

(TubeSurfs courtesy of Jas Wilson, Matthew Badham and others)

Science in Education -- or is it...

New Scientist has published a worrying feature focusing on the news that on 28th June, The Science Education Act was passed as law in the State of Louisiana in the US. This piece of legislature now allows teachers in this US state to present non-scientific alternatives to evolution, global warming and cloning -- including ideas related to Intelligent Design, the proposition that life is too complicated to have arisen without the help of a supernatural agent.

Opponents fear that Louisiana teachers are now free to present evolution and other targeted topics as matters of debate rather than broadly accepted science, and could have national implications.

The act is designed to slip ID in "through the back door", says Barbara Forrest, who is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and an expert in the history of creationism, and who has previously argue against pro-ID legislation. She adds that the bill's language, which names evolution along with global warming, the origins of life and human cloning as worthy of "open and objective discussion", is an attempt to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial.

Read the full story on the New Scientist web site

NetFinds: SF in Six Words

A nice little find this evening... back in November 2006, Wired Magazine published the results of an appeal for some very short SF stories - six word stories to be precise.

The challenge to sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games was inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn."). He is said to have called it his best work.

Dozens of writers put their words to paper and while Arthur C. Clarke refused to trim his ("God said, 'Cancel Program GENESIS.' The universe ceased to exist."), the the rest obliged with some concise masterpieces, including Alan Moore ("Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time"), William Shatner ("Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket."), Frank Miller ("With bloody hands, I say good-bye."), Charles Stross ("Osama’s time machine: President Gore concerned.") and Orson Scott Card ("The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.").

(Netfind courtesy of Michael Norwitz: ""Human infertility? Gengineering! Results tasty, too.")

Read all the six word stories here on the Wired site.. and perhaps post your own here...

Beano Birthday Publicity Ramps Up

DC Thomson is pulling no punches when it comes to promoting the Beano's upcoming 70th issue, running a two page feature in this week's Sunday Post to promote Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park's upcoming guest editorship of the birthday edition.

Also interviewed was GMTV presenter Lorraine Kelly, on hand as Dennis splatted Beano editor Alan Digby to help promote the Gnashional Menace Day on 2nd August. The day has been dedicated to practical but harmless jokery which Kelly is looking forward to, and to raise money for CLIC Sargent, the charity caring for children with cancer.

“I love the idea of a Gnashional Menace Day,” Lorraine told Post reporter Mike Stirling. “As soon as I heard about it I was keen to get involved. It’s a brilliant, fun way to raise money for an excellent charity — I think CLIC Sargent do such amazing work helping children with cancer and their families too.

"It’s a great cause to support and playing jokes on each other to raise money has got to be one of the best ideas ever!”

Lorraine’s was also happy to reassure anyone worried that they’ll need to lock themselves away from unruly pranksters on the day.

“This is a great idea which takes us back to more innocent times. Gnashional Menace Day is good family fun — a giggle. It’s encouraging kids to play fun pranks on each other and is so different from the happy slapping type of mischief you hear about nowadays."

While Nick Park has rubbed shoulders with Hollywood greats and enjoyed worldwide success thanks to his many animated creations, he reveals one of his dreams has always been the opportunity to edit his favourite comic.

“It’s such an honour for me to be guest editor for The Beano’s 70th birthday issue," he said. "It’s shown me just how much thought goes into every detail of the comic. I’m an ideas person and I like the fact that there are no limits to the imagination in The Beano."

Acknowledging the many distractions kids now have that might prevent the kind of cover to cover (and back again) reading of the Beano Park engaged in as a child, he remains a firm fan of the title, finding the world of the Beano world both familiar and comforting when he was off school when ill.

“It’s a cosy type of world — it’s difficult to pin down exactly why," he acknowldges. "Even though crazy stuff happens it still seems safe — it’s a place you can trust. It’s the same world that Wallace & Gromit live in."

• The Beano 70th birthday issue goes on sale from 30 July in all good newsagents. The Gnashional Menace Day Kit contains four fun practical jokes, a sponsorship form and loads of top secret tips and tricks to help participants raise funds by FUN-raising!
• For more details on Gnashional Menace Day check out www.beanotown.com
• For information on CLIC Sargent go to www.clicsargent.org.uk

Sunday Post © DC Thomson

Eagle Times' Summer Release

The latest issue of the Eagle Society's magazine Eagle Times (Vol 21 No 2, Summer 2008) is now available by mail order.

The magazine includes features on the artists who worked on the Riders of the range strip, a look at the second 'dummy' issue of Eagle - used to help sell the title before it launched - a tribute to Sir Arthur C. Clarke, a review of the 2008 Eagle Society Weekend and more. Full content details can be found on the Eagle Society blog.

Membership of THE EAGLE SOCIETY is via Annual Subscription to EAGLE TIMES magazine, which is published four times annually.

Current Subscription rates are:
UK £22
Overseas £26
(in £s Sterling, please)

Please apply by snail mail to:
Keith Howard
25A Station Road
Harrow Middlesex
HA1 2UA
United Kingdom

Enquiries: eagle-times@hotmail.com

Forbidden Planet Polls its Punters

In 1978, Forbidden Planet opened its first store in London’s Denmark Street (better known to some as "Tin Pan Alley") and has been at the forefront of all things science fiction, Fantasy, Cult TV and Film, including books, comics, DVDs and toys ever since. The chain's London Megastore is the biggest shop of its kind in the world and now has eight other stores around the country run by the London-based Titan Entertainment Group*.

To mark this auspicious occasion, FP has decided to find out what have been the most outstanding moments in Sci/Fi, fantasy and cult entertainment over the last 30 years.

All people have to do is enter their suggestion in each category in their online poll. They'll then tot up the results and come up with the definitive lists by the people who know best!

The outstanding moment can only be something that has been released from 1978 onwards, which means you can't cite the intial release of Star Wars way back in 1977 but anything goes from pretty much then on - be it your favourite book, film or TV show.

Who in the Sci-Fi world has made you hot under the collar? And what's been the least scary monster ever?

It's easy to take part and they could be in with a chance of wining £300 worth of Forbidden Planet vouchers. All you have to do is go to www.forbiddenplanet.com and vote,

The poll closes on Friday 15th August 2008 and The Top Ten in each category will be announced shortly afterwards.

* "Eight shops?" someon sqauwked from the back... "there's more than that!" For those of you wondering, there are two Forbidden Planet chains, the result of all sorts of company changes and splits over the years. One is based in Scotland and known as Forbidden Planet International and the other is run by Titan, who also run Titan Books, Titan Magazines and the Forbidden Planet web site etc. There. that was simple to understand really, wasn't it? (There's more on this on Wikipedia or read an interview with the London FP's owners Nick Landau and Vivian Cheung)

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The DFC - Single Issues Now Available

Much has been said over the last few months on the subject of the new British children's comic, The DFC, and a lot of it has to do with its distribution method. The only way to get hold of it was to subscribe.

If you were one of those who were not convinced by the pre-publicity about the weekly 36 page, no adverts, comic to shell out £30 for a three month subscription or £50 for six months, you can now buy individual issues to see what you have been missing.

The single issues are priced at £3 each including postage to the UK or £4 to the rest of the world and are available from The DFC's website.


Sunday, 6 July 2008

Music From The 21st Century

The Royal Festival Hall on London's Southbank near the London Eye will host a concert of music composed by the late Barry Gray for the TV series and films of Gerry Anderson entitled Thunderbirds Are Go! The Barry Gray Centenary Concert in November.

The Thunderbirds March may be the most familiar and famous piece of Gray's music but he wrote the themes and incidental music for many Anderson TV series from The Adventures Of Twizzle right up to Space:1999, as well as the two Thunderbirds puppet movies, the barely known Gerry Anderson directed B movie Crossroads To Crime and the live action film Doppleganger, which is due to be released on DVD in the UK in September 2008 under its American title of Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun. While best known as a composer Gray also came up with the original idea for the Anderson puppet series Four Feather Falls.

Gerry Anderson will be the special guest for the evening of music performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Francois Evans, and the event will be compared by actor Brian Blessed, no stranger himself to Gerry Anderson productions having appeared in Space:1999 and Into Infinity.

A charity event in aid of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, the concert will take place in London's Royal Festival Hall at 7:30pm on Saturday 8 November 2008 and tickets are now available via the Barry Gray website.

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