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Friday, 14 November 2008

Thought Bubble This Saturday

The Thought Bubble One Day Comic Convention is tomorrow (Saturday 15th November) in Leeds. If you didn't buy a ticket yet don't worry, there will be plenty on the door. Price will be £6/£4.50 concession. Cosplayers get in free!

Guest include Mark Millar, Adi Granov, Alex Maleev, Jock, Andy Diggle, C.B. Cebulski, Sean Phillips, Doug Braithwaite, Barry Kitson, Staz Johnson, Antony Johnston and loads more!

Guests will be signing and sketching throughout the day, check the schedule for more details.

The show runs from 10.00am to 5.00pm at Saviles Hall, just opposite the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. There is plenty of parking on site, and it's about a 12 minute walk from the train station.

• Thought Bubble website: thoughtbubblefestival.com
• Guest signing times: thoughtbubblefestival.com/08convention%20guest%20times
• How to get to Saviles Hall: www.raievents.co.uk

Dayglo joins Mutated Britain!

Mutate Britain(with thanks to Matthew Badham): Comics artist Rufus Dayglo (whose credits include 2000AD, the new Tank Girl comics from IDW) is taking part in the Mutoid Waste Exhibition in London from 21st November.

"I've been asked by the good people at Mutoid Waste Company to take part in an art show," Rufus announced via his blog, "painting a piece of old aeroplane like a bomber pinup!

"I'm so excited! A lifetime of building Airfix kits finally pays off!"

He quickly followed up the news with his Tank Girl sketch for the exhibit (below).

(Ex of) 2000AD and Skreemer artist Brett Ewins is also involved in the event.

Using all types of industrial scrap as their raw materials, the Mutoid Waste Company is a mobile group of artists who have created a new generation of sculptural/musical performance, a unique blend of mechanical circus, theatre, art and music.

With an extensive collection of bizzare show and transport vehicles and a staggering range of cyber-tech props and costumes, they guarantee to shock and surprise...

The Company was started in 1984 in London by Joe Rush and Robin Cook, who, inspired by the imagery of 2000AD and Mad Max, specialised in organising illegal parties in London throughout the 1980s, driven at first by eclectic assortments of fringe music such as psychedelic rock and dub reggae, but then embracing the acid house music movement. Their use of discarded scrap metal and plastic to create unusual, mutated sculptures quickly attracted a small group of like-minded individuals who each added their own particular talents to the common creative force.

Very rapidly developing into an underground sub-culture, they would find unused, abandoned warehouses, which were then lived in and decorated over a period of weeks (sometimes months) and finally transformed into incredible party venues, plastered with their sculptural and mechanical creations. Bands and DJ's were called in, lights and PA systems set up, and the party would begin...

They performed at Glastonbury, building a car-henge and drumming in the solstice, and at many other locations throughout Britain, until the forces that be and the attitude of the Tory government forced them to leave the UK in search of a more appreciative society. Within a short time the group had prepared themselves for a mass exodus to mainland Europe and are now based in Italy.

"The sculptures at these parties were generally made from old bus, car and bike parts, the most famous being 'The Skull Bus'," notes photographer Alan Lodge, who has documented their work, "A giant vehicle made from an old bus, which was completely stripped down and reconstructed into something that looked like a shark's skeleton with a mutant human skull for a head.

"They're probably best known for a giant skeleton puppet (15-20 feet high) made from chrome exhaust pipes and stuff. "It had wires tied to the arms, legs and head which went down to the puppeteirs' who would then dance to the music. Watching this monster doing giant raving gestures in time with the music, etched in folks' minds forever."

Mutate Button: Behind the Shutters takes place at Cordy House 87-95 Curtain Rd London EC2A 3BS

More information about the Mutate Britain Exhibition on MySpace

Mutate Britain Imagery

More about the Mutoid Waste Company on the Continental Drifts web site

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Win Tickets To New Wallace And Gromit Film Preview

Leonard Cheshire Disability and Aardman Animations are offering one lucky winner two tickets to preview the new Wallace and Gromit film, A Matter of Loaf and Death, at the Aardman studios in Bristol on 22 December.

The competition is part of the charity’s Creature Discomforts campaign to change attitudes to disability and marks the launch of the fourth and final online game - called Fishing Fiasco and features Sonny the Shrimp. Play it today at www.CreatureDiscomforts.org/games.

To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is log on and play any of the four interactive games, which are proving very popular with more than 100,000 people playing so far.

The top five high scorers for each game will receive a signed and framed print of the Creature Discomforts character from that game and will be entered into a prize draw to win this fantastic opportunity to preview the 30 minute film. The lucky winners will also have a tour of the Aardman studios and take part in an animation workshop.

The Creature Discomforts campaign, which features Aardman’s hallmark plasticine animations and characters based on the unscripted voices of disabled people, challenges people to change the way they see disability.

The Creature Discomforts campaign also features seven other characters including a stick insect who uses a walking stick, a shrimp who uses a wheelchair, a tortoise who uses crutches and a hearing impaired Cheshire cat.

The campaign is already making an impact with more than a third of people admitting that they have more to learn about disability and one in ten saying that they now know that they need to behave differently to disabled people.

A Matter of Loaf and Death is a mock murder mystery, with Wallace and Gromit starting a new bakery business called "Top Bun". Gromit learns that bakers have been mysteriously disappearing, and tries to solve the case before Wallace ends up a victim himself.

Macbeth wins Book Award

This week's ceremony for the British Book Design and Production Awards 2008 was a great success for Classical Comics.

Macbeth: Original Text, drawn by Jon Haward, was the winner of the Secondary Education category and was also Highly Commended (2nd place) in Literature; while Henry V Quick Text achieved the shortlist for the Secondary Education category.

Classical Comics say the award for Macbeth, presented by Gyles Brandreth, marked a significant achievement - not only for the book itself, but also for the company as both gain recognition from the mainstream book industry.

Macbeth: Original Text presents the full and unabridged Shakespeare play in comic book form. It's 11th century Scotland. Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, is one of King Duncan's greatest war captains. Upon returning from a battle with the rebellious Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth and Banquo encounter three witches, who prophecy that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and then King. They also prophecy that Banquo will become the father of kings.

When Lady Macbeth hears this, she is determined to push her husband to take fate into his own hands and make himself king by murdering Duncan. Macbeth is reluctant to harm Duncan. But, when the King makes arrangements to visit Macbeth's castle, the opportunity presents itself. Pressed on by his wife, Macbeth kills Duncan and blames the King's drunken attendants, who he also kills. However, Macbeth is racked with guilt and begins to see apparitions.

When the body is discovered, Malcolm and Donalbain, the King's sons, are suspicious of Macbeth and flee for their lives. To everyone else, it looks as if the sons have been the chief conspirators and Macbeth is crowned King of Scotland.

Banquo's suspicions grow, based on his encounter with the witches and Macbeth is wary of the second prophecy concerning Banquoa's offspring. Macbeth hires assassins to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance. Banquo is murdered that night, but Fleance escapes. The bloody ghost of Banquo appears to Macbeth at a feast, tormenting his already guilty conscience. In addition, Macduff, once a comrade of Macbeth, has fled after the King's sons to England, as he also suspects Macbeth. In revenge, Macbeth butchers Macduff's entire household.

Macduff and the King's sons raise an army in England and march against Macbeth, who is given another prophecy by the witches, as he prepares for the assault. They tell him his throne is safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane and he will not die by the hand of any man born of a woman.

Macbeth now feels invincible. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, has been slowly driven mad by her dreams, in the wake of Duncan's murder. She sleepwalks and eventually kills herself.

Macbeth learns that many of his lords are deserting and joining Malcolm's army, which approaches Dunsinane under cover of boughs, which they've cut from the trees of Birnam Wood, and Macbeth and Macduff eventually meet on the bloody battlefield. Macbeth laughs derisively, relating the witches' prophecy. But Macduff retorts that he was from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd and not (technically) of woman born.

The play ends with the death of Macbeth and Malcolm is crowned King of Scotland.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

In Review: The Leather Nun and Other Incredibly Strange Comics

It's not just leather nuns that provide the strange fare that makes up this fun title from Paul Gravett & Peter Stanbury (released as Holy Sh*t! by St. Martins Press in the US): for just under ten quid you can also find out about comics featuring lesbian unicorns, cavemen fighting giant tabby cats, a peasant girl fervently worships the swastika and killer roosters.

When the publishers say Gravett and Stanbury have scoured the world to bring together a non-PC carnival of comic-book curiosities, they're not kidding. Who else would reveal the origins of Russia's busty bombshell Octobriana, a comics myth later given greater life by the likes of Bryan Talbot and others? What other book for the Christmas market is going to offer you flesh-eating farm animals in The Barn of Fear, Fatman the Human Flying Saucer, Binky Brown meets the Holy Virgin Mary, Chaplains at War or Amputee Love?

Then there's other delights such as Nembo Kid, a re-working of Superman for the Italian market, his name changed in 1954, perhaps to avoid criticism that the publishers were advocating the failed philosophy of the ubermensch so close to the end of World War Two. It's nuggets like this that make Leather Nun such a fun read.

While not presenting the full comics -- that would probably be too much for some sensibilities and anyway, many of them are probably not as good as the titles or synopses, presented as 61 glorious double page spreads of covers and background articles -- this is a smashing title for both comics connisseur and casual comics fan alike, the text both intelligent and irreverent.

Of course, there is the danger that a book such as this will merely confirm many prejudices non-comics fans have about those who do enjoy the medium, but I'd say it's well worth the risk. Gravett and Stanbury have again come up with the goods without being in any way po-faced about the comics they regularly champion.

Buy The Leather Nun from amazon.co.uk
Buy The Leather Nun from amazon.com

• There's a free exhibition of Incredibly Strange Comics at the ICA as part of ComICA from 14 until 26 November. More information here

• Paul Gravett is also giving a talk on ISC at Thought Bubble this Saturday. More information here


Marvel Reveals some Digital Costs

The Paid Content website recently reported that Marvel Comics plans on investing upwards of $10 million in the digital media aspect of their company, including digital comics.

Despite the initial investment’s affect on their current profit loss, Marvel forecasts a profit as a result of this investment beginning in 2011.
Last month, the company announced that Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited features over 5000 digital versions of its back catalogue, as well as new material created for the web.

Peter Cuneo, vice chairman of the board, told analysts in today’s Q3 earnings call that the company is making a substantial investment in it's digital publishing effort. "We’ve noted in our press release today (PDF Format) that the out-of-pocket in 2009 we anticipate will be around $6 million for that effort," he commented, according to the transcript (via Seeking Alpha). "So when you look at the publishing segment as a whole, you will see a decline in the profitability.”

The company has invested $2.5 million to $3 million so far this year and plans to finish at $4 million. That would bring the total digital media investment for 2008-09 to about $10 million.

Asked to flesh out the digital initiatives, CFO Kenneth West added: “I would imagine that probably in the year 2011, we are going to see the first real positive contribution associated with digital media. That would be a combination of ad revenues, digital subscribers picking up on the subscription of comic books but not until that period, because we’ll continue to invest in that and it’s going to take some time and the dollars that we’ve built into our forecast.” He wouldn’t project the 2010 level of investment but said “we would anticipate the continuation of the digital investment for our future.”

Tube Surfing: 12 Novmber 2008

• Over on Bear Alley, Steve Holland reports that Tim Pilcher's Erotic Comics: A Graphic History, Volume 1: From Birth to the 1970s book, published by Ilex in the UK, has been banned by Australian customs from entering the country. Customs have demanded that a special large sticker with an "M" on it must be placed on the cover — indicating that the book is for “Mature Readers” — otherwise the books will be prevented from being sold in Australia. Tim Pilcher said, “I find it ludicrous and risible that the Australian authorities need a big sticker to point out the book is for ‘adults only’. Surely the word ‘Erotic’ in the title gives it away? Perhaps they got confused with the word ‘Comics’ and couldn’t believe that adults read sequential literature!”
• As if you really needed reminding, the Thought Bubble Leeds Comic Festival takes place this weekend. Er, in Leeds... Comica 2008 in London runs from the 14th - 30th November 2008. More details on both the ICA and Paul Gravett's web site.
• Rebellion's digital comics arm Clickwheel has announced that it is publishing the vampires-versus-commandos comic series Sword of Dracula for iPhone. The military horror series, called “creepy cool” by Entertainment Weekly and “the coolest interpretation of Dracula in years” by Cinescape, is available in seven individual chapters or as a collected graphic novel.
Sword of Dracula tells the story of Veronica “Ronnie” Van Helsing, a commando who leads a vast spy organization against Dracula, here seen as a powerful, globe-trotting terrorist who controls blood in order to create weapons and materials.
A followup mini-series, Sword of Dracula: The Dracula War, from publisher Digital Webbing, will be released beginning in December on both the iPhone and retail racks.
Clickwheel is home to hundreds of comics including the UK’s premiere comic publication, 2000AD.

• Meanwhile, new digital comics publisher iVerse Media has announced its first wave of titles are now available in the iTunes App Store. The company has titles from Ardden Entertainment, Antarctic Press, Bluewater Productions, and Image Comics Creators with more books from other publishers on their way. Sign up for our iVerse Updates to keep up with the latest digital comics offerings from the company.
Launch titles include: Proof, ShadowHawk, Flash Gordon, Oz: The Manga, Wrath of the Titans, and Gold Digger: Peebo Tales. For a full list of our titles plus covers and solicitation info take a look at www.iversecomics.com/titles

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Erotic Comics, Round Two

Picking up from where the international best-selling Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1) left off, Ilex press have just announced Volume 2 will reveal how European, American and Asian artists have explored the possibility of the form in the years since the explosion of the Sixties’ underground comix.

Written by Tim Pilcher with a witty foreword from Alan Moore, Erotic Comics: A Graphic History - Volume 2, due for release in January 2009, examines how the form has become an international publishing phenomenon by showcasing artwork that has inflamed desires, incensed censors, and caused controversy.

This provocative title covers everything: the erotic comics explosion in America in the mid-’80s; the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender comics scene; UK and European erotic comic creators since the ’70s; and the Japanese hentai phenomenon. The future of erotic comics online is also explored in this fascinating and surprising volume.

In the first survey of its kind in over 20 years, this second volume completes this fascinating two-part chronicle with previously unpublished, rare and out-of-print material, featuring insights from key artists, editors, and publishers.

The book comes fully illustrated with stunning, rare, and seldom-seen art by Howard Cruse, Gengoroh Tagame, Melinda Gebbie, Hunt Emerson, Howard Chaykin, Giovanna Casotto (whose work graces the cover, above), Tom of Finland, Milo Manara, Junko Mizuno, and many other top erotic cartoonists. The informative text provides a sexy, intriguing, and entertaining tour through the origins of an often-overlooked art form and comic book genre.

• Tim will be hosting a talk about Erotic Comics at an event at this year's ComICA in London on Sunday 23 November. Guests are Erich Von Gotha, Lynn Paul Meadows, Garry Leach and Wicked Wanda writer Frederic Mullaly.

• Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 2) by Tim Pilcher, with additional research by Gene Kannenberg, Jr, and a witty and insightful foreword by Alan Moore will be published by Ilex Press in the UK on 8 January 2009 and by Abrams ComicArts in the USA, on 1 March 2009

• Erotic Comics: A Graphic History (Volume 1) is published by Ilex Press in the UK, and Abrams in the USA, and is available now.

In Review: Charley's War Volume 5 - Return to the Front

In the week of Armistice 90, the arrival of the latest collection of Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun's brilliant First World War series Charley's War, first published in Battle Picture Weekly in 1981, seems more than apt.

Return to the Front finds World War One soldier Charley Bourne returning to the western front after home leave - an aspect of the war Mills notes he would like to have written more about in his notes on the stories. Reunited with old comrades Weeper and Old Bill - and, unfortunately, enemies like the bully, Grogan and the vile Lieutenant Snell - it's not long before he's back in the thick of the sickening devastation of the Western Front.

He and his friends are soon at the mercy of both inept leadership and enemy bullets alike, as Mills and Colquhoun once again deliver a powerful anti war drama that was, incredibly, first published in a war comic.

Colquhoun's art throughout is a delight, his use of contemporary photographs and other source material to portray the horror (and the occasional humour) of the trenches truly remarkable. While some of the reproduction of some pages -- particularly a few of the covers -- is in places a little disappointing, overall the work done to repackage this excellent story is a real treat. Of particular note are the supporting features, including Jane Colquhoun's memories of her father, Mill's notes on the story and Steve White's well-researched essay on the life in the trenches.

Mills script, written for a weekly title, sometimes sits uneasily in a longform collection, but has lost none of its bite for that: even a forced march down the Menin Road toward Hellfire Corner becomes a genuinely harrowing episode in the story, as Snell ignores the complaints and suffering of his thirsty men while revelling in the pomp and circumstance of warfare only he is able to enjoy, leading them confortably on the back of a horse.

While freely admitting to embellishing and inventing some aspects of the story, much of the tale is inspired from Mills' meticulous research of the war years, much in evidence throughout. The cricket match played as the Germans attack is a particularly savage observation of class.

There's been a lot of talk in this Armistice Week that younger people don't understand the meaning of the occasion: the BBC even took two teenagers to France to show them their great grandfather's grave, a both sobering and illuminating experience for the pair. To me, though, making Charley's War required reading in all British schools would be another way to keep the memories and the experiences of the First World War soldiers alive in many minds.

Charley's War is another excellent collection series from Titan Books and deserves as wide a readership as possible.

• Buy Charley's War: Return to the FrontCharley's War: Return to the Front on amazon.co.uk from amazon.co.uk
• Buy Charley's War: Return to the FrontCharley's War: Return to the Front on amazon.com from amazon.com

• Pat Mills also praises the work of British artist Steven Beeny in his notes for this book, for his graphic novel Rebellion 1920, a fictional work based on the history of British Royal Air Force during its control of early Iraq in the 1920s.

The story focuses on the experiences of a young airman who has been posted to Iraq, as he comes to terms with the complications and morality surrounding the British occupation. Eleswhere Mills describes Rebellion 1920 as "The only genuine successor to Charley's War and what that series stood for that I am aware of... It's an awesomely researched story, enthrallingly written which totally held my attention. Steven Beeny shows remarkable courage in telling this story. It dramatises in fair, balanced and non-political way our shameful imperial past and and is tragically relevant to today.

"There are readers of Persepolis, Maus and Joe Sacco's work who will be interested in stories about Britain, too. This is the only one I know of that is out there." For more information visit Steve's web site at www.nazcastudios.com. The first chapter is available digitally and in print from lulu.com

Moore's 'Beat Poem' Finally Published

US publisher Avatar Press has announced publication of Light of Thy Countenance, an adaptation of Alan Moore’s damning poem/essay on television, fully painted by Felipe Massafera, five years after the script was written.

Moore wrote might best be described as a freestyle beat poem for the anthology Forbidden Acts in 1995, which was adapted five years ago by Antony Johnson, who describes it as a damning essay and historical treatise all in one, "condemning both the bland, commercial and hypocritical disgrace that has usurped the medium's potential, and the sheep who accept such dross without criticism.

"I wasn’t sure would ever see the light of day (no pun intended)," he comments on his web site, after Avatar Creative Director Mark Seifert announced the book would be published in January 2009 in a thread on Whitechapel, Warren Ellis’ message board.

"[It's] a piece which is both enlightening and disturbing," says Antony, whose numerous credits include Wasteland, Dead Space and other adaptations of Moore's work such as The Hypothetical Lizard and The Courtyard. "I actually finished the script for this book more than five years ago but finding someone capable of illustrating it has been tough -- it’s a very demanding script that requires a fanatical attention to detail, enormous amounts of visual research, and a somewhat surrealist imagination. I’m glad to see it’s finally on the way."

Artist Felipe Massafera also painted the cover to The Hypothetical Lizard: he's a hugely talented painter whose work includes covers of Doktor Sleepless, Lady Death and more. He recently donated a painting of Bizarro to the Siegel & Shuster Society, to save the house in which Superman was created for more access to the site, which sold for $255 on eBay. More information on that campaign on the OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld web site.

More information on Antony Johnson's web site
Flickr gallery for Light of the Countenance

Cosmos Fireworks

The latest issue of the Jeff Hawke magazine Cosmos is now available from the Jeff Hawke Fan Club (www.jeffhawkeclub.com)

Issue One of the fifth volume of the magazine edited by William Rudling features several stories, including Uncanny Deep, plus features on the strips and more.

• A subscription to Volume 5 costs £18.50 in the UK, £28 overseas. Overseas members £28. Please send your cheques made payable to Jeff Hawke Club with a stamped addressed envelope to: The Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD United Kingdom

• Also available are slipcases to contain your back issues of the Magazine. Stylish and durable, they'll protect your club magazines for light years. Price £8.50p, including postage and packing. Overseas members; Europe £9.80, World £11.80.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Tube Surfing: 9 November 2008

Forbidden Planet International has posted up a new competition to win one of five copies of the new Vertigo Encyclopedia. "It's pretty good," feels FPI's Joe Gordon, "obviously no in depth on each series, but it’s a good a-z reference guide and the usual Dorling Kindersley style with lots of illustrations.The competition runs until Sunday 16th November. More details, link and potted review on the blog now: http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog.

• Comics artist Jon Haward, currently busy adapting Shakesepare's The Tempest into a graphic novel for Classical Comics, tells us their Macbeth original text graphic novel is getting a second printing. "This is great news," Jon told downthetubes. "I'm very pleased it seems to be a commercial as well as critical success." American versions of the Plain and Quick Text editions of Macbeth are now also available.

• (via Doctor Who fan site Kasteroberous): The Mail on Sunday has run a feature on classic Doctor Who toys, ranging back to the Dalek explosion of the 1960s, and covering props and costumes. East Ham's The Who Shop takes centre stage in the feature, with co-owner (and Who convention regular) Alexandra Looseley-Saul revealing that Doctor Who merchandise isn't affected by market forces in troubled times. "The economy is suffering and markets are falling, but Time Lord values still grow. Though Doctor Who is the driving force of the show, it is the Daleks that excite most interest."

• Talking of Doctor Who, Grant Morrison has been talking to MTV about his work on the comic strip for Doctor Who Magazine (just reprinted in the US by IDW) and says he'd love to write more Who, but probably for TV if given chance -- although he's yet to be approached. “I love the character,” Morrison he said. “Jon Pertwee [the Third Doctor], was my favourite, I was really fond of Colin Baker [Sixth Doctor], he was a great actor, a great Doctor, but he had a terrible storyline, which kind of killed that one. I like Christopher Eccleston [Ninth Doctor] as well. He didn’t get enough of a shot at it. But I’ve kinda grown fond of David Tennant [Tenth Doctor] now."

• London's Orbital Comics at 148 Charing Cross Road have been in touch to say that Daredevil artist Alex Maleev will be signing copies of the various trades and comics on Tuesday November 18th between 5pm and 7.00pm. Maleev will also be making an appearance at this year's Comica Festival running from 14th - 26th of November, which starts with an all day symposium at the V&A and continues for the next 12 days at the ICA.

• Maleev will also be at the upcoming Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival in Leeds, which takes place from 13th - 16th November and includes a one day comic convention on Saturday 15th November. Other guests include Mark Millar, Mike Carey, Cy Dethan, Nigel Dobbyn, Paul Gravett, Staz Johnson, Leah Moore and John Reppion, Declan Shalvey and many more.

Bryan Talbot will be taking part in the Hertfordshire Library Graphic Novel Festival, appearing in the Cheshunt Library on Monday 10th November at 8pm. He'll also be at the Infinity & Beyond comic shop in Shrewsbury on 29 November from 1.30 to 5.00pm, signing many of his books old and new, with special prices available on titles like Naked Artist.

• (via Matthew Badham): Comics writer Dan Abnett has just been interviewed (in English) at the SubRosa Polish Warhammer fansite and talks about his influences and what he does when not wrting comics and novels (which he appears to do some 26 hours a day judging by his impressive and dedicated output...). The questions are worth the entry price alone.

• Bugpowder has just published an interview with comics creator Marc Ellerby, who mostly produces auto-bio, slice of life comics, but is also working on a fantasy series. He tells Bugpowder about balancing paid and unpaid art gigs, making his own mini comics and why the worst thing that can possibly happen to a monster hunter is that she misses the bus!

• In a list of a "Dozen Comics I'm Reading On-Line", Comic Reporter's Tom Spurgeon cites Super-Sam and John Of The Night by Darryl Cunningham at Number 6, which "runs on the Forbidden Planet International blog, but I also catch up with it at times on Cunningham's own journal. I like looking at it, and I also like that I have no idea how Cunningham is going to end it." Other web comic recomendations include mysery comic Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart and Cul De Sac by Richard Thompson.

The Independent's Ian Birrell has interviewed Jamie Hewlett, the artist who went from Gorillaz to Monkey. As the hit Chinese opera opens in London, Hewlett reveals unpublished images from his work – and discusses the many faces of his anti-hero.

• (via Bad Librarianship): Comics artist Kev O'Neill is the focus of two video interviews on the GOSH! Comics' blog. Part one is titled The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen; part two, Nemesis The Warlock. Check out the League one for some preview art from Volume 3: Century. And there's another two of these to come, too.

Compiled with thanks to Matthew Badham.

Andy Capp, Jane and More Now Available Online


Newspaper strips from a range of British daily newspaper strips are now available to view online as part of the newly launched UK Press Online web site, a vast subscription-based PDF archive.

The archive features PDF versions of the Daily Mirror from 1903 to the present day, and issues of the Daily and Sunday Express and the Daily and Sunday Star but for these papers only from 2000 onwards (details here).

While resolution is not high quality, the archive offers a pay per view opportunity to read some of Britain's best newspaper strips such as Jane, which began in 1932. by Norman Pett and whose artists during its run include John M Burns; the recently revived science fiction and fantasy adventurer Garth, which began in 1943 and was drawn by the likes of Frank Bellamy and Martin Asbury; and humour strips such as Andy Capp by Reg Smythe, The Fosdyke Saga by Bill Tidy and the ever wonderful The Perishers by Maurice Dodd.

Further back in time are strips such as the 1920s strip Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, written by Bertram J. Lamb and drawn by Austin B. Payne, which was one of the first British comics to gain a huge fan following, the Wilfredian League of Gugnuncs; Ruggles, written by Frank Dowling and Ian Gammidge, drawn by Steve Dowling, which lasted from March 1935 until August 1957; and Humours of History by Arthur Moreland, one of the first strips published by the Daily Mirror.

Comics creator Lew Stringer has given the archive a guarded thumbs up in a review for his Blimey! It's a A Blog About Comics, although he notes that the search function doesn't seem to allow you to run through issue by issue, which means reading consecutive strips is difficult. (I found the basic search facility offered to those who don't register is pretty uelsess).

"I found one way of doing it, by advancing the date in the URL, but it's a laborious process and doesn't always work," he comments. "(Some issues seem to be missing, or perhaps there's a technical glitch.)

"Clearly the site is aimed more at people searching for specific reference keywords in articles rather than following daily strips," he notes. "However, it is fascinating to find old Mirror strips by putting in a search for The Flutters or [private investigator] Buck Ryan for example within certain time periods. Some pages are more pixelated than others, and the linework of strips isn't as smooth as should be, but they're still legible."

UK Press Online explains that the “pre-computer” pages in UKPressOnline – from 1900 to 2001 – are scanned from the original paper editions and have been ‘OCR’d’ (Optical Character Recognition) to make the text available, so images are dependent on the quality of the original. It also means the originals have probably not been scanned at a very high resolution since they are intended only for online viewing.

UKPressOnline subscriptions are designed primarily for Education and Library institutions on annual contract, but Personal access is also available by short-term, monthly and annual contract. While many newspapers have now made their archive free to view, 48 hour personal access to the site costs £5.

• The full Daily Mirror archive 1903-current is presently restricted to Education and Library institution users. The Daily Express 20th Century archive is now under construction (180,000+ pages increasing daily) and is being offered free with Express Group 21st Century access (May2000 - current) until complete.

Dave Stevens Bio Gets Publication Date

After the untimely death of iconic US comics artist Dave Stevens earlier this year (see news story), there was some doubt his planned collection of his work, tentatively titled Dave Stevens: A Creative Life, would see publication.

There was no need to worry: the team at Undrewood Books have now scheduled release of Brush with Passion: The Life and Art of Dave Stevens for February 2009, described as an introduction to the first retrospective popular comic film illustrator David Stevens.

Brush with Passion charts Stevens' career, encouraged by legendary creators like Jack Kirby, Milton Caniff, and Burne Hogarth. Stevens talks about his work as a storyboard artist for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video and Raiders of the Lost Ark, his days drawing comics, and the trials and tribulations of bringing The Rocketeer to the big screen.

Renowned for his wink-and-flirt pin-up art, Stevens is credited with revitalizing interest in, championing the rights of, and befriending the reclusive 1950s model Bettie Page and he recounts their first meeting and subsequent adventures together - including a trip to the Playboy Mansion.

Featuring a wealth of iconic paintings and previously unpublished art, Brush with Passion also features commentary by comic book greats Todd Schorr, Richard Hescox, Michael William Kaluta and William Stout.

The book is edited by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner, recipients of the Locus Award and World Fantasy Award for Spectrum as Best Art Book.

Daleks: Invasion Leicester 2008AD

(Report originally filed by Jeremy Briggs): The National Space Centre in Leicester will be opening a new exhibition next Friday, 14 November 2008, running until 11 January 2009 entitled Invasion: The Fact Of Fiction, which will look at the science behind science fiction movies and include props and costumes from various films.

On the weekend of 15 and 16 November they will be holding their Movie Mania Weekend with appearances from Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Ian Whyte (Predator) Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Warwick Davis (Star Wars and Harry Potter) and Rusty Goffe (Star Wars and Willy Wonka), as well as Star Wars author Karen Traviss and armourer Terry English.

Also in attendance will be the UK Garrison with outfits from Star Wars, Predator, Stargate, Aliens, Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones, amongst others.

If that isn't enough, on Saturday 29 November they will be presenting Exterminate 45, a celebration of all things Dalek. With Davros actor Terry Malloy and BBC special effects man Matt Irvine the museum will have exhibitions of Doctor Who and Dalek memorabilia.

Project Dalek, an online information resource aimed at anyone interested in building a Dalek, and the Dalek Builders Guild will both take part in an attempt to create the largest gathering of Daleks ever seen. Attendees are being encouraged to take part by creating their own Dalek outfits.

The National Space Centre is an interactive museum recording the history of space travel and includes the impressive Rocket Tower in which a real British Blue Streak and an American Thor Able rocket are mounted in a vertical launch position.

The Centre's cafe is situated under the two rockets allowing visitors a unique view with the two rockets hanging above them as they eat their food.

• More details are available at the National Space Centre website.

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