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Saturday, 30 August 2008

Abnett, Swallow To Appear at October GamesFest

Top British comic writer and author Dan Abnett and Star Trek author James Swallow are among several writers, including Stan Nicholls and James Barclay, who will be appearing as part of an impressive line up of creative talent, game demonstrations and more at the next GamesFest (www.gamesfest.co.uk), a one day convention in Tring, Hertfordshire on 4 October.

The event aims to showcase the best of role playing, wargaming, boardgaming and science fiction and fantasy literature.

"We want to pull all the strands of fantasy and science fiction together and create a unique experience for the fan/enthusiast in one convention," say the organisers. "Ours is a unique vision and we want to focus on customer satisfaction and a totally enjoyable day dedicated to players and fans alike."

The hope is that GamesFest will enable people to play games in an informal, friendly environment, let fans sample the best the gaming industry has to offer through Trade Stands and demo games, let fans meet the creators/designers of the games and give fans an opportunity to meet the writers/artists of their favourite comics and books. On the guest list are:

Stan Nicholls who has been a full-time writer since 1981. He is the author of many novels and short stories but is best known for the internationally acclaimed Orcs First Blood series. (Orcs will be released in a paperback edition in September). In 2007, he was awarded the Le'Fantastique Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Literature at the Trolls & Legendes Festival in Belgium.

Dan Abnett is well known for his comic work: he has written everything from the Mr Men to the X-Men. His prolific work for the Games Workshops Black Library includes the popular strips Lone Wolves, Titan and Darkblade, the best-selling Gaunt's Ghosts novels (Only in Death is released in October), and the acclaimed Inquisitor Eisenhorn trilogy.

Star Trek author James Swallow has also written many stories set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe include Faith & Fire, the Blood Angel books Deus Encarmine and Deus Sanguinius, as well as short fiction for Inferno! and What Price Victory. His Black Flame books include Jade Dragon, the Judge Dredd novels Eclipse and Whiteout, Rogue Trooper: Blood Relative, and the novelisation of The Butterfly Effect. James is, to date, the only British writer to have written for any of the Star Trek TV series and has written many scripts for video games and audio dramas.

Graham McNeil is a noted Games Workshop games developer and author of numerous novels set Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy universes, including Fulgrim, part of the best-selling Horus Heresy series. His latest 40K novel, The Killing Ground, was released earlier in the year.

Mark Chadbourn is a British fantasy, science fiction and horror author with eleven novels (and one non-fiction book) published around the world. Six of his novels have been short listed for the British Fantasy Society's August Derleth Award for Best Novel, and he has won the British Fantasy Award twice, for his novella The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke(2005), and for his short story Whisper Lane (2007). His most recent novel, The Burning Man, was released by Gollancz back in April.

David J Rodger's first novel God Seed' is a cyber thriller that follows the journey of a documentary filmmaker, Adam Kyle as he covers a group of Corporate Mercenaries. Kyle is propelled into a web of lies, treachery and murder involving fascist extremists, Islamic Terrorists, corrupt government officials an a religion as old as Mankind. David has taken influences from writers such as William Gibson, Robert Ludlumand H.P Lovecraft. He has also created a role-playing game on his fictional world entitled Yellow Dawn.

Juliet E. McKenna is a professional writer of fantasy novels and short stories, with the occasional foray into science-fiction and dark fantasy. Her first novel, published in 1999, first of The Tales of Einarinn. Her second series, The Aldabreshin Compass, concluded with Eastern Tide in 2006 and she's now working on a new trilogy charting the course of The Lescari Revolution. The first volume, Straws in the Wind (working title, so that may change.), will be published in the UK and the US by Solaris in the spring of 2009.

Deborah Miller (a.k.a. Miller Lau) has been writing fiction all her life, mainly fantasy but also some science fiction and horror. In 1993 she was short listed for the Ian St James award, reaching the top fifty from a record entry of 8,000 for her short story 'Dinosaur.' Since then, she has worked on novel length fiction although also working full-time as a Technical Editor. In 1999, after reaching agreement with Simon and Schuster's Earthlight for the sale of her first novel Talisker she decided to dedicate herself to her writing full-time.

Stephen Hunt is a British fantasy author living in Spain. He is the author of The Court of the Air, a fantasy adventure set in a Victorian alternate world with the addition of magic in various forms. The nation in which the plot is largely set is recognizably based on Victorian Britain and the main neighbouring country is presumably inspired by the Paris Commune (and communist revolutions in general). His second novel, set in the same fantasy world, is The Kingdom Beyond the Waves. Stephen owns and runs the Internet's second most popular sci-fi web site, www.SFcrowsnest.com which gets about 40 million hits a month.

Joseph D'Lacey first short story Getaway Car was published in 2001 by Cadenza. Since then his work has appeared in anthologies, magazines and online. Meat, his first published novel, was released earlier this year.

James Barclay is a British fantasy author who has been publishing novels since 1999. He is best known for his action fantasy thrillers concerning the mercenaries-turned-world-savers The Raven. The six novels in this series are to be joined by a seventh in November 2008. The genesis of The Raven was on the percentile dice RPG tables of James’s youth and unsurprisingly, he has a big following from the ranks of the gaming community. The Raven novels have been translated into eight languages across Europe. Latterly, James has published an epic fantasy duology called ‘The Ascendants of Estorea’ and is currently working on a trilogy concerning the elves of The Raven’s world. Elsewhere, he is working as an actor on a British crime thriller, writes screenplays and is developing young adult fiction.

Bill Hussey has a Masters Degree in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University. His first novel, Through A Glass, Darkly, was inspired by the lonely Fen villages of Lincolnshire and by a lifetime devoted to the horror story. Bill lives in Skegness and writes stories about things that go bump in the night.

Peter Mark May was born in Walton on Thames, Surrey in 1968. Married with two young sons, he has been writing as a hobby since he left school. After the sudden death of this brother in 2004, he decided to take voluntary redundancy from an eighteen year Civil Service career and completely changed his life emphasis. He has just taken two years off work to enjoy life with his family and working on getting his latest horror novel finished (Demon) and is now writing a new personal horror novel entitled Kumiho, set during the Korean War.

Frazer Lee is the award-winning writer/director of short horror films On Edge and Red Lines, both starring Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser). He also directed the commercial campaign for True Horror with Anthony Head (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) for the Discovery Channel. Frazer's new projects include the feature length horror movie Urbane from his screenplay with co-writer Max Kinnings, also in development as a graphic novel with art by Shane Oakley. Frazer is also working on more feature-length, short and literary fiction projects. His first book, Urbane and Other Horror Tales is out now, available from www.frazerlee.com along with the DVD of On Edge and Red Lines.

David Michael Wright was born in 1979, and lives in Royston an old ex-mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. Working as a Freelance Illustrator specialising in fantasy, Sci-fi & RPG art, he has among numerous private commissions, produced images for Wargames Foundry, Alderac Entertainment Group, and Redbrick. View his online portfolio at www.davidmichaelwright.com.

Garry Charles has been working as an author for four years. He has three novels already published by HadesGate Publications: Heaven’s Falling Volumes One and Two, which span the genres of Dark Fantasy, Horror and action packed adventure, and Hammerhead which is an out and out Horror novel. Slavis and Stone Cold Snake Eyes (both co-written with US author Erik Enck) will be released later this year by US publisher Blu Phi’er. Also slated for release is Tranquillity, a novella from Screaming Dreams Publications. His short stories can be found online and in print in such publications as Estronomicon, Sien Und Werden, The Horror Express, Whispers of Wickedness and NVH, to name a few.
Garry is currently working on a third Heaven’s Falling novel,and two other Dark Fantasy tales entitled Bookend and Hotel Hollywood. Whilst juggling these three projects he is also developing a sci-fi project for TV.

Steve Dean was born and still lives in Nottingham with his wife and three children. He has been writing for many years, mainly Science Fiction and Fantasy. To date, he has had more than a dozen short stories published in various independent press magazines. He also has three novels in the shops, published by Hadesgate Publications; Soulkeepers, a fantasy novella for the whole family, The Servicing and Maintenance of Wayland Snowball, an adult SF comedy, and Mage Reborn, an adult Fantasy. On the RPG side, Steve worked with ForeverpeopleRPG where he released three books and ideas collections; Wilderness Encounters 2 - Into The Mountains, Wilderness Encounters 3 - Desert Encounters and Wilderness encounters 6 - Into The Mountains. These were joined by three complete scenarios in the Opus Operandi series; Chains in the Dark, A Pool of Clear Water and Tower Down. He was also one of the contributing editors for the short lived but very popular Wyvern roleplay magazine.
In January, Steve made the leap to Talisman Studios, and Adventure Zone: Barbary, a pirates and cannibals expansion for the Suzerain system quickly hit the shelves. Adventure Zone: Wolfpaw, a horror western expansion, will join it by the time you read this, followed quickly by Adventure Zone: Sanxesta, this time a land-based swashbuckling extravaganza. An as yet untitled illustrated pirate story is also in the pipeline. If that wasn't enough, Steve also writes book reviews for the British Fantasy Society. Currently Steve is writing novels four and five, and continues to create for the ever-expanding Suzerain multiverse.

Derek Gunn, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, is the author of the Vampire Apocalypse series, the first book, Vampire Apocalypse: A World Torn Asunder released towards the end of 2006 Derek's debut novel. The film rights are under option and a movie is in development with producer/screenwriter Richard Finney (Miaximum Risk, 100 Girls, Carver, Ye Older Times) and producer Robert Lawrence (Die Hard with a Vengence, Clueless, The Last Castle). The second book in the series, Vampire Apocalypse: Descent into Chaos, is due to be released in the US this autumn and the third, Vampire Apocalypse: Fallout is due out in 2009. Derek has also had short fiction published in anthologies from Black Death Books and Permuted Press.

Gav Thorpe works for Games Workshop in his capacity as Warhammer Loremaster (whatever that is), something to do with making stuff up and designing games, apparently. He has written an armful of short stories for Inferno magazine, and people constantly nag him for more Last Chancers stuff. You may be worried to known that when he is thinking really hard he has a tendency to talk to the mechanical hamster with whom he shares a flat.

Richard Williams was born in Nottingham, UK and was first published in 2000. He has written fiction for a range of publications on such diverse topics as gang initiation, medieval highwaymen and arcane religions. In his spare time, he is a theatre director and actor. He has written two books, including the novel Relentless published by the Black Library, and had his work printed in Inferno! and in the anthology Status: Deadzone. Visit his official website at www.richard-williams.com

Isabel Joely Black is the author of the fantasy fiction series Amnar, available as a podcast at www.joelyblack.net and via subscription at iTunes. She doesn't have a fantasy fiction author hat yet, but has been promised one in the very near future.

Along with the authors, companies attending GamesFest 3 will be Games Workshop, maker of Warhammer, Esdevium Games, Pinnacle Entertainment, makers of Deadlands and the Savage World RPG system, Wizards of the Coast, who will be attending the Fest for the first time this year and are looking to run demos of Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering, Project Hydra, a gaming store located in the town centre of Northampton, Calamity Comics, House Atreides, who supply single cards for every CCG imaginable, Games Bazaar, Cubicle 7publishers of games such as the new Starblazer adventures based on the 1980s DC Thomson comic, Qin and Doctor Who, Leisure Games, Simple Miniature Games, the independent miniatures company Otherworld Miniatures, The Black Library, the imprint of the British publishing house BL Publishing, the new international horror fiction imprint Bloody Books:, published by Beautiful Books of London, mass market publisher Hadesgate and CCD traders Cardbreakers.

Along with demo games, this looks to be a truly impressive day's entertainment for gamers.

• GamesFest 3 will be held on Saturday 4th October 2008 at the Victoria Hall, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire. Doors open 10.00am until 7.00pm. More info at www.gamesfest.co.uk

Tube Surfing: 30 August 2008

• A quick reminder about Jonathan Cape,, The Observer and Comica's Graphic Short Story Competition of which the winner will receive a tasty grand and their story across two pages of The Observer. Follow this link for more info and to download an entry form. Manchester Comic Collective artist suggest that to inspire you here are some of the MCC's entries for last year's Prize, which MCCer Stuart Kolakovic won runner up.

• A couple of weeks ago Garen Ewing promised he'd get some high resolution prints featuring his wonderful A-Z of favourite characters, and they can now be found as thumbnails on his web site's A-Z page. "Please feel free to download them for your own private use," he says. They are not for re-publishing, and definitely not for commercial usage.
Meanhile, Jonathon Dalton's A-Z is going great guns... he's currently up to T; and now there's 'Mitz's inevitable A-Z of comic and cartoon Villains', which is currently up to G... a bit harder to think of villains, so go over and help them out there too... Other artists are also doing their own A-Zs including Clive Jennings and others.

• The next episode from the fan film series Star Trek Phase II, of "Blood and Fire, Part 1", an AIDS allegory by David Gerrold that was considered two controversial 20 years ago, should hit the net by the end of October. To give you a taste, the Phase II team just released the action-packed opening teaser with some truly stunning SFX (including the new opening credits). Check out the video on the trekmovie web site.
The story opens with the Enterprise pursued and damaged by repeated Klingon attacks. The crew must then respond to the distress call from a Federation research ship. In a matter of hours the ship and crew will be consumed by a nearby star -- but before that, the crew of the Enterprise will be consumed by a mysterious horror that threatens both ships as the Klingons watch and wait..
Producer and star James Cawley says that following release of Part 1 of "Blood and Fire" by October 31st, Part 2 will follow a few months after. That will be followed later in 2009 by "Enemy: Starfleet" which will feature original series actress Barbara Luna and the just-revealed refitted Enterprise.

• (via SF in the News): Talking of space battles, the idea of space marines, fighters who are able to deploy from space onto the earth in mere hours, has been around since 1939, when Robert Heinlein coined the term. But now, SF in the News reports the idea is moving slowly forward. According to an article in Wired, the Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion (SUSTAIN) idea is the subject of a National Security Space Office conference.

• (via Forbidden Planet International): The BBC reports the sad news that famous comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins has been killed after being involved in a traffic accident. Perkins, aged only 55, was involved in a vast number of British TV and radio comedies, including some of my personal favourites such as I’m Sorry I Haven’t Got a Clue, Father Ted, Spitting Image and also the radio version of Douglas Adams classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

• (also via FPI): As a TinTin film edges closer to realization, it would seem the protectors of Herge's estate, Moulinsart has found a new enemy: the fan. A decade after Paramount tried (and failed) to remove any and all Star Trek material from unlicensed websites, and Fox’s Monty Burns-like lawyers tried the same with fan sites celebrating The X-Files and Simpsons, succeeding only in alienating their own hardcore audience, Moulinsart has decided that, with all their copyrights and trademarks, their investments still aren’t protected well enough and so sent a cease and desist letter to French laungauge site Objectif Tintin, arguably the best informed and most enjoyable source of Tintin-related information on the web. Needless to say, the site owner is fighting back against an action which has been described as amounting to nothing more than censorship.

• (via Daily Cartoonist and Gizmodo): And finally for this brief round up which admittedly has again included some non cpmic news but hey, live with it, some fun at the expense of Apple's Steve Jobs, as realized in this affectionate homage to Bill Waterson's Calvin and Hobbes. I don't know if Bill Watterson would like this version by MAD's Jacob Lambert (writer) and Gary Hallgren (artist)., in which Hobbes morphs from philosophical tiger to killer CEO, but I like it. More via Gizmodo.

Mission:Impossible Mobile Comic in Development

Mobile comic creator and Singapore-based marketing and brand development company Omnitoons has announced that they are co-developing “Manga-styled” mobile comics that will be based on Paramount Pictures’ films, in partnership with Paramount Digital Entertainment.

The new mobile comics will be the first time that Paramount Digital Entertainment will release a series of mobile comics based on movies from its library. The first series to launch is a mobile comic based on the recently-released Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging – the teen romance film based on the best-selling series of books by British author Louise Rennison which follows the eccentric and irresistible Georgia Nicolson as she overcomes the trauma of being a teenager.

Comics are also being developed based on the Paramount Pictures’ films Eagle Eye and Mission: Impossible.

Omnitoons say the he comics will be available in three different formats including single-panel comics, four screens per comic strips and short stories with more than 20 screens in each episode.

Currently, these comics are made available through MMS and J2ME formats in the United States, Australia, Europe and India. The mobile comics will be made available by download through key carriers and major content distributors worldwide.

“Omnitoons, is a specialized mobile comic developer with talented artists based in Singapore and we are thrilled to partner with them to translate these movies into mobile comics,” says Pradeep Mittur, Vice President, Mobile Entertainment, Asia Pacific.

“Being able to collaborate with Paramount Digital Entertainment, is a great testament to our vision of providing quality and addictive pop culture content," said said Karen New, CEO of Omnitoons.

"By adapting movies to the mobile comics format, we believe fans will be able to extend their entertainment experience at their own pace, with the privacy of their phone,”

“Omnitoons aims to continue our pursuit of bridging the mobile and movie industries by creating even more comics based on popular film titles through innovative and cost-efficient techniques.”

With Marvel's stated interest in the form, the recent launch of iverse comics, ROK Comics continuing development and the growing interest in mobile comics beyond Japan and China, where the form is already hugely popular, it seems mobile comics are beginning to build up steam and will be yet another form of "comics evolution" reflecting the Ninth Art's continued ability to adapt to find new audiences beyond print.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Wrong Door Reviews...

-- which are pretty mixed so far, reflecting comment here and elsewhere on the net.

Broadcast reports that The Wrong Door attracted 546,000 (3.5%) at 10.30pm last night, the highest ever audience for the launch of a comedy on the channel. Reviews have been mixed, though:

"The show is hit and miss – Superhero Tryouts, an X Factor for wannabe superheroes, was laboured and directionless – but the writers Ben Wheatley and Jack Cheshire (who also direct and produce) have at least originated a novel and bizarre show."
- The Times (http://tinyurl.com/672jvd)

"Congratulations to BBC3 for bagging Non-Terrestrial Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh Festival TV Awards. I was going to say it was hard to begrudge the spiritual home of Gavin & Stacey the odd gong but that was before I had to sit through The Wrong Door, the latest in a rapidly growing list of BBC3 comedy turkeys... fancy monsters and floaty fairies can't carry a show where eating dogs and peeing on people are substitutes for punchlines. Or am I missing something?"
- Metro (http://tinyurl.com/63vzpr)

"Dismayed screaming is also the sentient adult's only possible reaction to The Wrong Door, a new BBC3 comedy series whose USP is CGI, OK? Eh? ... The Wrong Door: show us the right one so we can all get outta here."
- The Herald "Please Close the Door behind You" (http://tinyurl.com/5o7mb9)

"This ambitious new sketch show mixes CGI with live action but scores more misses than hits. Witness running gag The Most Annoying Creature On Earth, which itself is rather irritating."
- The Mirror (http://tinyurl.com/6c4xcc)

"This inventive, exhilarating, rude and sometimes astonishing sketch show combines sharp writing and performing with sci-fi standard special effects to create a whole new breed of futuristic comedy... Funny and clever."
- Daily Record (http://tinyurl.com/5pcw4x)

As I said earlier, I think I'll give it a couple of episodes...

Check out reaction from the Blogoshper via this Google search link

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Birmingham Gets Watchmen Fever

The Birmingham International Comics Show returns to Millennium Point in Britain’s second city for second year running in October and has a distinct Watchmen flavour to proceedings with the inclusion of co-creator Dave Gibbons to the growing guest list and a range of panels and other events.

One of the most anticipated movie adaptations of all time will be the 2009 release of Watchmen, the best selling graphic novel which made the Sunday Times bestseller list and was named as one of Time magazine's top 100 most influential books since 1923. Along the way, the book has gathered a whole plethora of awards for both its creators, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and despite it being 22 years since the series finished, DC Comics have printed one million copies of the collected edition in 2008. Such is the demand before the Watchmen movie is even released, the trailer for the movie is already one of the most downloaded and viewed on the internet ever.

Dave will be appearing at the show this year to discuss the book and answer questions.

Also on the guest list are Paul Cornell, writer top Marvel Comics title Captain Britain, who will be signing at the show for both days; V For Vendetta co creator David Lloyd; comics legend Michael Golden and fan favourite John Cassaday, who will be flying over from the USA for an exclusive weekend appearance at the show.

“BICS – as the show has become known among regular visitors – is much more than just a giant comic mart”, explains co-organiser and independent publisher Shane Chebsey. “The show acts as a gateway for both seasoned fans and those just developing an interest in the medium of comics, and enables fans to find out more about the creators behind all the big characters like Batman, Spiderman and Hellboy.

"Visitors can find bargains amongst the collectors items and discover the next big thing amongst the varied selection of publishers and artists exhibiting.”

As well as an exciting event schedule running all weekend long at the show, there will be competitions, portfolio reviews with top editors, signings, and exclusive book launches from some of the UK’s most respected publishers.

The winner of the ROK Comics-BICS co-organised competition, ROK And a Hard Place, will also be announced at the event with a Nokia 9500 mobile phone worth almost £500 up for grabs.

So whether you love Manga, web comics, superheroes, or you just want to find out more about the unique and powerful storytelling medium that is comics, the Birmingham International Comics Show 2008 is one event not to miss!

The show offers great value, with special weekend family tickets, which allow up to 2 adults and 3 children costing only £35 including all events and signings, and under 5’s go free. There are also the options of a single weekend ticket or a one-day ticket for only £16 and £10 respectively.

• Visit the official web site: www.thecomicsshow.co.uk
Show Times are: 10.30am – 5.30pm both days.
• For exhibiting enquiries email: shaneATthecomicsshow.co.uk or telephone: 01952 770013

Andersonic Hits Six with new Gerry Anderson Interview

The sixth 'episode' of Richard Farell and Vincent Law’s Gerry Anderson fanzine Andersonic is now on sale via the Andersonic web site

Another 40 page issue, it features a new interview with Gerry Anderson who discusses, amongst other things, UFO, the fate of New Captain Scarlet, Lancaster bombers, lemmings and, of course, Thunderbirds. Other features include:-

• The Art of Ron Embleton - the work of TV Century 21's Captain Scarlet and Stingray artist.
• Lord Parker's 'Oliday - Bingo! A classic episode reviewed.
• Alpha Incident Log - Strange goings on with glowing rocks and Irish Cowboys...
• Faith in Science - The contributions of Barry Morse and Johnny Byrne to Space:1999.
• Identified Retrospective - Seven different writers share their thoughts on UFO's opener.
• SHADO Test Paper - Ed and Alec's Fun Page.
• Writing the Tracys - exploring Thunderbirds' popularity with writers.
• Winged Assassins - what makes Captain Scarlet the odd one out?
• Mission of the Darians - Mutant! Classic Space:1999 episode reviewed.
• The Fall of Troy - Stingray's Forbidden Shakespearian roots.
• Watching the Watchers - the arrival of the 21st Century in our living rooms.
• Trap for a Rhino - New Captain Scarlet episode appraised.

• The new issue is available via the website www.andersonic.co.uk, price £1.95 including UK postage and also from eBay.

Wrong Door Day



It's Wrong Door day -- the launch of BBC3's new comedy show written by Ben Wheatley whose credits also include work for web, TV such as Time Trumpet and advrtising such as Pot Noodle Crumlin and more.

Anyone who likes comics will, we think, enjoy the show which debuts on BBC3 at 10.30pm tonight.

The Wrong Door Official web site
Watch The Wrong Door on the BBC3 web site
• Read an interview with Mr Wheatley here on b3ta

More Comics on iphone



Owners of Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices have been downloading millions of games, utilities, books, and tools from Apple's recently launched iTunes App Store. Now, starting later this year millions of iPhone/iPod Touch owners will have the opportunity to download digital comics from established industry professionals and studios, as well as new and rising comic book stars through iVerse Media.

Comics are of course already available on mobile phones via servcies such as ROK Comics, but this is the first service delivering specifically to iphone. While the sales of iphones are still miniscule compared with other handsets, the hype for the Apple device has been enormous and the Apps Store has been a huge success both for Apple and software creators alike.

"We have developed an extremely simple iPhone Application that allows us to display comics that have been specifically formatted for the iPhone/iPod Touch." said iVerse Media owner Michael Murphey. "What we're doing is creating new comics, and adapting existing comics into a format that makes reading comic books an enjoyable and eas experience on these devices. There's no "zooming" or "pinching" required. All you have to do is flick your finger."

Comics adapted using the iVerse Media software will be available in the iTunes App Store for as little as $.99. Some titles will be released free of charge.

"Creators and Studios will be able to set the final prices on their titles, but we're expecting most standard length titles to be around $.99, and we're encouraging creators to give away the first issues of their titles to allow new readers who may not be familiar with comics, but are iPhone/iPod Touch owners, to give comics on the devices a try."

"With Digital Comics on the iPhone/iPod Touch we have access to a world wide audience, no printing costs or print run minimums, and it doesn't take 3 months to get the title from in the catalog to on sale in a store. Each title will be featured as its own application in the App Store, and will be backed up onto the readers desktop or notebook computer each time they sync their device."

iVerse Media says it is currently discussing comic adaptions and new creations from a variety of industry professionals and studios, and is accepting submissions from new creators. Details on submission requirements can be found at: www.iversecomics.com/submissions/

Earlier this month, PJ Holden and Al Ewing announced the launch of their own iphone-friendly comic, Murderdrome, also intended to be released via the Apps Store, but in his latest Lying in the Gutters column Rich Johnston reports the project's violent content has run foul of "community standards", even though equally violent movies are also available from the service.

The pair are not alone in suffering problems over e-comics censorship: creator Brian Kirsten has reported having similar problems with PDF Comic publisher Wowio, now owned by Platinum Studios.

The iVerse submission guidelines make no mention of restrictions on content and indicate all rights will remain with the creators.

• Established creators and Studios wishing to contact iVerse about adapting existing comics, or creating new titles can do so at www.iversecomics.com/contact-us/

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Virgin Comics closes New York office, projects cancelled?

Updated 24/9/08: Publishers Weekly reports that Virgin Comics, the two year-old joint venture between the Virgin Group and India's comic book publisher Gotham Entertainment and publishers of the recent Dan Dare mini series by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine, has closed its US offices in New York.

Among the apparent casualties of the cancelled comic line are a second, already-scripted Dan Dare, Grant Morrison's MBX web animation and, according to comics journalist Rich Johnston, Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits II, who also reports their have been redundancies at the company's Indian offices.

Hollywood Reporter notes that the closure is due "the current macro-economic downturn" in its report and CEO Sharad Devarajan and president Suresh Seetharaman, says Virgin hopes to restructure the business and consolidate its operations at a Los Angeles base.

Eight people have been laid off from the company, founded in 2006 to create superhero and adventure print comics based on Indian mythology, which could also be licensed for film and merchandising and financed by Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Author/speaker Deepak Chopra is Chairman of the company and his son Gotham Chopra is CCO and Editor-in-Chief of Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation respectively.

It has published 18 trade paperback collections and three hardcover titles and produced more than a dozen different comics series, with contirbuitors including Guy Ritchie, John Woo, Nicolas Cage, Ed Burns and musician Dave Stewart. Ritchie's The Game Keeper found a home at Warner Bros. but the status of the film is unclear this time and at this stage, it is also unclear what will happen to the rights to these properties.

Variety reports on the low sales for many titles and opines that the publishing label ddi not succeed with comicbook readers, mainly because the company focused much of its efforts on books with stories involving Indian mythology.

Hollywood, though, has grown increasingly interested in Virgin Comics because of its deals with filmmakers and talent.

In a statement but the company said it would not remain idle.

"We remain excited about the business and partnerships we have built through Virgin Comics and are working towards a restructuring that properly takes the business forward," said Devarajan.

Dan Dare Gary Erskine told downthetubes he remains hopeful the second series featuring the character may yet appear. "There are still discussions going on between Virgin and Gotham," he said in a brief statement.

Heidi MacDonald offers a thorough analysis of Virgin Comics demise on The Beat: Requiem for a Virgin... "... Starting a comic book company just to get movie options as a business plan... that does not work..."

September 24th 2008: Virgin Turns to Liquid: See follow up News Story

Temple APA Seeks Contributors

The Temple APA, one of Britain's longest-running amateur comics communities (which has several professional-standard creators in its midst!) is looking for writers and artists to contribute to the new digital version of the Temple.

The new version will be a free downloadable PDF, which showcases comic writers and artists and the deadline for Issue 1 is October 1st 2008.

Contributions can be anything from one to five pages in length, including a front cover containing contact details etc (see the Temple Issue 0 PDF for examples - links below).

All material must be comics related - whether it's strips, scripts, work in progress, pencils, sketches, inks, colours etc, the content is completely up to you. Although mature content is acceptable, it will be removed from the 'Child Friendly' version of the Temple Showcase that will be released around the same time.

The PDF will be freely available over the internet, so it's probably not a good idea to use copyrighted characters, or strips which you intend to sell (unless they've already appeared on the internet in the form of webcomics etc).

Pages should preferrably be A4 in size at 300 dpi (in case the Temple decide to do a print version in the future). JPG's are also preferred.

• If you’re interested, visit the Temple website templeapa.ning.com or email: templeapa [AT] googlemail.com. Please email the pages you intend to contribute to the same address.

• If you want to see what the finished PDF will contain you can now download ‘Issue Zero’ from the following links:
• Temple APA - Issue Zero hi-res (40.0mbs) or download it from Rapidshare
• Temple APA - Issue Zero lo-res (11.6mbs) or download it from Rapidshare

• If you're interested in joining the Temple (we swear they're not a religeous cul!) then visit our website at templeapa.ning.com and click the 'Join' button (no need to wait for an invite). Anyone from the rawest amateur to the most seasoned professional is welcome!


Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Tube Surfing: 26 August 2008

Bulletproof Comics #2, an anthology title of top comics talent, is now at the printers and will be available soon from the Bulletproof web site (www.bulletproofcomics.co.uk). It’s another 80-page beast of an issue, but this time around the title has 33 pages of full colour! Here’s a breakdown of the stories and their respective creators:

Marren Kane - Dave Hailwood & Tony Suleri
Sideburns - Jim Alexander & Jon Haward
Bunk Mates - Dave Hailwood & Paul Harrison-Davies
Game Over - Bulent Yusef & Dave Thomson
Funguys - Alan Grant & Alan Burrows
Last Orders - Dave Hailwood & Stuart Giddings
Redstitch - Lee Langford & Klaus Belarski
Ex Astris - John Freeman & Mike Nicoll
Love Hurts - Dave Hailwood & Stuart Giddings
Slumbertown - Rik Hoskin, Thomas Crielly & John Doran

Check the Bulletproof web site for more details, web comics and more.

• Over on Brendan McCarthy’s official fansite, The Strangeness of Brendan McCarthy, the top comic creator reports he has been commissioned by Marvel Comics to write and draw a new Dr Strange and Spider-Man three issue mini series.
"I’m just getting into it and I expect it to be finished early next year," he reveals. "It’s quite a thrill to finally get to draw the Doctor, my favourite Marvel character - and Spidey too."
Brendan McCarthy is one of Britain's most talented comic book creators and designers, whose unique and distictive style has influenced a generation of artists and writers. He has produced some classic UK graphic novels, written and designed some ground-breaking TV series and worked on many successful Hollywood movies.
"To harmonise myself with the sublime 'Ditko Dimension', I have been digitally remixing some of his original 60's pages," he says, "trying to get a feel for them from another 'fresh' visual angle... And in doing so, realizing just what a total genius he is."
Check out the site now
, which includes some revamped Zyboria designs, with a digital 'wash 'n brush-up' by 2000AD's Boo Cook.

Short Fuses, the Official Time Bomb Comics Blog for the Leicester-based indie, publishers of Ragamuffins and the upcoming The Sisterhood is now up and running, featuring news, views, profiles and all sorts of Time Bomb Comics related malarkey! It's updated by publisher Steve Tanner "whenever I have the time and the inclination", he tells us.

Broken Voice Comics have announced that their longest-running omline strip, Shades, will return soon. The British indie is currently planning to launch Chapter 9 of Shades early in September or, if things go really smoothly, maybe even before the end of this August. To give you a taste of what's to come, we've a special treat over in the Previews and extras area at Broken Voice Comics, featuring a sample pic, taken from a page of inks by the new artist, E.C. Nickel.

• DC Thomson artist Keith Page reports that Some of his favourite Commando characters including the infamous "Ferret McGlone" are returning some time next year. Check out his blog for the latest news.

Markosia has added a bunch of new books on wowio which can be viewed for free. Two new series have been posted, including the super-successful Breathe by John Sheridan and Kit Wallis, and the critically acclaimed Hope Falls by the famous Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood. To read the entire four-issue series of 'Breathe' Click Here

• A quick reminder that the Manchester Zine Fest takes place this coming Saturday (30 August), with stall, exhibitions and more devoted to local comics.

• ... and talking of events, British comics fans Fiona Jerome and Hass Yusuf are joining forces to bring you Comics Friends Reunited, hopefully the first of many annual events where old friends from the wonderful world of comics can meet up. Since the UK Comic Art Convention (UKCAC) ended ten years ago, there's been no regular outlet for creators or fans in London to meet up. (Think of it as UKCAC without the bother of going to events, where you can eat, drink and chat all day long!)
The first CFR event will take place on Saturday 11 October 2008 from noon til 11pm at The Phoenix Pub, 14 Palace Street, Victoria London SW1E 5JA. Food will be available all day. Full Menu from 12.00pm-4.00pm and 7.00pm-10.00pm, with a limited menu of bar snacks between 4.00pm-7.00pm. There are good veggie options and decent gastropub standards as well as tapas style bar snacks.
Don't be put off by reviews you read online, as the pub was recently completely revamped, and now has a decent range of beers and a good wine list as well as a bright and comfy interior!
Wonder if there will be origanised tours up to that temple of comicdom in the 1980s, the Westminster Hall?

Marvel Heroes Turning Japanese

US publisher Marvel Comics is partnering with top Japanese animation studio Madhouse to create brand new characters inspired by the Marvel Universe for the Japanese market.

Working closely with Marvel, Madhouse will produce cutting edge Japanese anime series based on Marvel's world-renowned character library for the Japanese market. The characters will be adapted visually, using the unique style of Japanese anime, and their back stories and histories will interweave the local culture and history of Japan, with an eye toward making their mythology more relevant to the Japanese audience.

Marvel says this collaboration will result in a completely new character base, which will eventually cross-over into the current Marvel Universe.

Marvel has continuously looked to push the boundaries with the Marvel Universe and seek new mediums for our characters," explains Simon Philips, President, International & Worldwide Head of Animation, Wireless & Gaming for Marvel Entertainment.

"Madhouse is helping us expand the Marvel brand with a truly global vision tailored to themes and artistic styles popular in Japan, creating a uniquely localized and cross-cultural adaptation of the Marvel Universe.

With over 35 years of experience developing and producing worldwide entertainment hits, we are confident Madhouse will be able to translate the vision of the Marvel Universe through the unique anime style, to create captivating new entertainment that will thrill both new and old fans alike.

Madhouse is currently in production on the first of four new series (12 x 30 minutes), which are scheduled to launch in spring 2010. The initial series will feature characters including Iron Man and Wolverine, among others, and Madhouse will ultimately look to adapt the entire Marvel Universe, creating in essence a whole new character base for Marvel.

We are incredibly excited to have this full collaboration with Marvel to create a completely new world that has never been done before in the Marvel Universe. This will be the first time there will be a full Japanese anime style for Marvel, and the Madhouse creative team is fully engaged to bring this to a worldwide audience, said Jungo Maruta, president and CEO of Madhouse Inc. which was established in 1972 and has produced many well-known titles such as worldwide hits Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D and Death Note.

Its 2007 film, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (pictured left) won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Animated Film.

The Marvel anime series will debut on ANIMAX, the first and largest 24-hour network dedicated to anime.

Additionally, Marvel and Madhouse will be exploring related merchandising initiatives to support the new series.

• Pictured above: A manga-ish treatment of Iron Man by William Min, with colouring and effects were done by colourist Kwinz. Found via this post by freelance illustrator and Iron Man fan Michael Cho.

Baker's Brief Encounter!

By John Freeman








Colin Baker on Carnforth Railway Station
Pictured: Sixth Doctor Colin Baker regales an enthusiastic crowd of fans on Carnforth Railway Station at a Bank Holiday event, aided by Big Finish director John Ainsworth, wearing one of Colin's original coats from the show. Colin revealed he had once been offered £10,000 for his famous multi-coloured coat from Doctor Who, which he kept in his house for the entire run of the show in case it was 'liberated' from BBC stores during filming. "They stole a Dalek from a studio once," he recalled.
200 science fiction fans of all ages enjoyed a "Brief Encounter" with Doctor Who star Colin Baker this weekend on Carnforth railway station, Lancashire.

When the event sold out - surprising even the organisers, Carnforth's new TARDIS Shop - Colin's question and answer session had to take place on the platform of the famous station itself, interrupted occasionally by passing trains packed with bemused passengers wondering what on earth was happening on the platform.

Carnforth station is of course famous for being the location for the filming of the 1940s romantic drama Brief Encounter, prompting the name of the event.

Responding to a huge range of questions from the audience the popular actor, who will soon be touring in Michael Frayn's Noises Off around the UK, regaled a crowd of all ages with both memories from his time on the show to his current work, which includes reprising his role as the Doctor for the Big Finish audio adventures, also broadcast on the BBC7 digital radio station.

Colin answered questions for an hour and a half, recalling a scary encounter with a Dalek on the studio floor of the BBC late at night ("It started to move, and for one moment I was really scared... one of the operators was inside fixing a squeaky joint!"), sharing filming memories and answering all manner of questions about his character. ("Did you ever meet K9?" asked one youngster. "No, not on the show, though we have shared a couple of drinks socially," Colin replied fondly).

He spoke highly of the new show but felt it highly unlikely he would appear on it as the Doctor. He also suggested that there might come a time when the Time Lords would return, dismissing the ocassionally mentioned "time lock" blocking the Doctor from returning to the Time War. "If they decide to being the Time Lords back, they'll soon find a way around that!" he declared confidently.

Colin also told fans he would like to write more, still pleased by his 1980s comic strip for Doctor Who Magazine, a copy of which was offered as a raffle prize.

Colin's fascinating and humour-filled talk was followed by an autograph session and other events through the day.

The organisers were pleased by the turn out and Colin was delighted by so much enthusiasm for the original Doctor Who series.

More Doctor Who events are now at the planning stage.

The TARDIS Shop web site
• Visit the Big Finish web site
More about Colin Baker on his official web site

Monday, 25 August 2008

Photo Review: Edinburgh BookFest

by Jeremy Briggs


The tent village of the Edinburgh International Book Festival springs up in the private Charlotte Square Gardens in the city centre each August. Over half a dozen theatre tents, a box office, two bookshops, a café and a bar squeeze in between the trees and the rather large central statue as well as the behind the scenes areas. This year even architecture professor and TV presenter Dan Cruickshank commented on the Festival's remarkable ability to fit so much into the space between the trees.



Previous experience of the summer weather means that the walkways are well covered and plastic matting covers the favourite short cuts across the central grassy area. While this year the torrential rain may have put paid to eating an ice cream or sipping a drink in the outside areas, it wasn't quite as a bad as the modern art installation by Ric Warren of two apparently partially submerged bins and a shed might have lead some attendees to believe.


With the success of the One Book - One Edinburgh reading campaign in February 2007, which spawned Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy's graphic novel of Kidnapped, last summer the Book Festival ran several comics related talks and these obviously proved popular enough for the selection to be increased this year.

They began on Thursday 14 August with Manga Shakespeare which was the first ever event at the Book Festival to feature Manga. Paul Gravett gave an overview of Shakespeare in comics, introduced Manga to the audience and talked about the differences between the Western and Manga styles. Self Made Hero publisher Emma Hayley talked about the background of her company and of the ideas behind the creation of the Manga Shakespeare books. Manga Macbeth artist Robert Deas talked about moving Macbeth from medieval Scotland to modern day Japan and how he created his computer based artwork. With his drawing tablet attached to the main screen he drew a scene whilst the audience asked questions of the three participants. Paul describes his visit to the Book Festival on his site.





Friday was a Masterclass from Dan Dare artist Gary Erskine to a small but sold-out group, ranging from children to pensioners, on designing a superhero character and how to draw a comics page, whilst at the same time answering questions about his work. The character began life as Saltire (the name of the Scottish flag) before finishing, after some discussion on what colour his hair should be, as Captain Irn Bru - "made in Scotland from radioactive girders".



Illustrator, comic artist, writer, photographer, film maker; Dave McKean seems to be able to do whatever he turns his hand to and he still comes over as a really nice person with a dry sense of humour. Officially a sold-out talk on the Saturday night, there were quite a few empty seats probably due to heavy rain. Dave talked solidly for his hour while showing a wide cross-section of his worth on the screen behind him leaving time for only a single audience question at the end of the session. Joe Gordon waxes lyrical about this talk on the FPI Blog.



Friday the 22nd brought a double dose of Bryan Talbot. With only 20 spaces, his lunchtime Masterclass on the subject of creating graphic novels was one of the first of the comics events to be sold out. Bryan then returned later in the evening for a general discussion lead by Scotland On Sunday literary editor Stuart Kelly on the subject of graphic novels with writer Alan Grant and writer/artist Hannah Berry. Bryan's enthusiasm for his subject complemented Alan's typically laid back and humorous approach to the talk and questions while Hannah Berry, with only a single book to her name to talk about, spoke very eloquently about Britten and Brulightly. Surprisingly the medium sized tent was barely half full for this talk.





Sunday was different however when BookFest experienced the Invasion Of The Guardian Readers as artist/writer Posy Simmonds filled the majority of the biggest tent which seats 600. Talking with the help of an overhead camera which relayed pictures onto the main screen, she entertained the audience the mini comics she had created as a child, took us through the various stages she uses to create her characters by showing a lot of her roughs for Gemma Bovery and Tamara Drewe, and drew some character faces to illustrate the various points that she was making whilst mimicking the characters voices, to the amusement of the crowd.



The comics events and the Festival itself drew to a close on Monday 25th with a talk with Beano artist Barrie Appleby. Most of the BookFest subjects have a book to promote and initially having a weekly comic artist seemed like an atypical choice but there are Beano novels aimed at the younger reader, mainly Dennis The Menace but with a few Minnie The Minx and Bash Street Kids titles as well and the illustrator for all these books is Barrie Appleby who also works on the weekly title. Along with “Beano editor” Lucy and special guest Dennis himself, Barrie trod the thin line between entertaining the children in the sold out venue while keeping the adults interested as well by showing how to draw Dennis and Gnasher and a few other characters before taking requests from the audience who got him to draw Dennis squirting Walter with a water pistol.


The high turnouts for the majority of the comics events, and the number that were officially sold out, should bode well for more events in a similar vein at next year's festival.

War of Words: Comic Writing Tips

In December 2007 Matt Badham was fortunate enough to interview DC Thomson editor Calum Laird, currently editing Commando, as research for an article about writing. The interview includes tips on pitching to various DC Thomson titles such as The Dandy, Beano and general advice on pitching to comics editors and is now part of our Writing Comics Guide on the main downthetubes site. Read the interview...

Trripwire Returns!

Top comics magazine Tripwire returned to comic shop shelves this week with its eagerly-awaited second annual issue, an extravagant 144-page smorgasbord of pop culture content kicked off by an original Doctor Who cover painted by Tommy Lee Edwards.

The magazine is, as usual, packed with informative articles assembeled by Joel Meadows, including exclusive interviews and useful reviews covering some of the best creators in genre fiction and their fantastic works.

Book-ending this amazing thing the Stripwire section returns containing all-new strips from creators like Roger Langridge (Fred The Clown), Jamie McKelvie (Surbuban Glamour, Phonogram) and Declan Shalvey (Frankenstein). From cover to cover, this issue is jammed with quality graphic novel, television and movie material.

One top feature is an exploration of the renaissance of British genre television: the annual includes a comprehensive primer summarising the whole of the Doctor Who series from the debut episode right up to the present-day hit series and an interview with Primeval creator Tim Haines, discussing what it takes to bring dinosaurs into the real world for ITV. There's also an interview with Life on Mars co-creator Matthew Graham.

But the issue doesn't stop there. Tripwie includes exclusive discussions with Futurama geniuses Matt Groening, David X Cohen and Bill Morrison, 19 questions with Pushing Daisies helmer Bryan Fuller, a one-on-two chat with Heroes creator Tim Kring and producer-writer Jeph Loeb and, finally, a lengthy conversation with fantasy legend Michael Moorcock discussing everything from his long career to the upcoming Elric movie.

Rounding out the magazine you'll find extensive looks behind the scenes at Industrial Light and Magic and Pinewood Studios, an exploration of the work of James Bond storyboard artist Martin Asbury, 15 graphic novel reviews for people who don't read graphic novels, a profile of British anime giant Manga UK, and much, much more.

• Tripwire Annual 2008 is available to order from Diamond Comic Distributors, item # MAY08 4264 or specialist comic and SF shops everywhere.

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