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Friday, 19 December 2008

Simon Mackie's Christmas Credit Crunch!

Tis the season for Christmas e-cards, and this one from cartoonist and illustrator Simon Mackie, creator of the Flick and Jube web comic, is one of my favourites so far... not only funny but summing up the mood of the season at present! (Presents?)

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Sock Puppets at Christmas...

The Sock Puppet Theatre, scourge* of many a British comics event is counting down the Christmas with The Socks' Advent Calendar, a wee musical treat! Eat your heart out Aled & Terry. And Bing and David...

Comic creator tells us you can see the Socks performing/murdering songs such as Rolf Harris' Two Little Boys live every night in Edinburgh; they're currently performing every night in the Spiegeltent in Princes St Gardens. Book tickets now at: www.gildedballoon.co.uk/wwonderland/shows.php



* Oh OK, they're not really a scourge. You can see more of their videos at myspace.com/scottishfalsetto

Tube Surfing: 18 December 2008

• Latest details on the subscription-only weekly comic The DFC are among the updates to our British Comics On Sale Now list on the main downthetubes site. The page has gotten quite lengthy thanks to all the information some publishers are now kindly supplying, so we've split our information on new comics over two pages!

• Talking of The DFC, Mo-Bot High artist Neill Cameron is spreading festive cheer via his blog at, posting a Santa a Day from now 'till Christmas! Our favourite so far? Probably Kung Fu Santa...

• E-Cards aren't everyone's cup of tea but they are a good way to reach a huge number of contacts especially as postal prices rise. Wizards Keep creator Tim Perkins has uploaded his to his blog: entitled “The Last Drop” it's also available as a limited edition A5 card set, which you can purchase from Wizards Keep.

• Continuing our Christmas theme, over on Bear Alley, Steve Holland has published a special treat. Franco Giacomini has very kindly sent over scans of a sequence from an early strip drawn by Tony Weare, shortly before he began the strip on which his fame rests, Matt Marriott. City Under the Sea was published in 1954 in the Daily Herald. Enjoy!

• Talking of Christmas treats, cartoonist Lew Stringer has almost completed his round up of Christmas comic covers, with a post devoted to current covers yet to be published. Read part 9 over on Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics!

Rod McKie has written an interesting article for the Forbidden Planet International blog, talking about cartooning today, the fewer spots open to cartoonists in newspapers and journals. Rod says it is a bit of a downer but he has a second related part coming which will be more positive.

• It's not British comics-related, but since I work on the site, a quick plug for Nicholas Yanes interview with Brahm Revel on scifipulse, who's written and drawn Guerillas is a nine part series published by Image Comics. "Guerillas takes place during the Vietnam Conflict and follows a new recruit who accidentally falls in with a platoon of experimentally trained chimpanzee soldiers," explains Revel. "The story centres on the relationships and bonds that form within a platoon during the hardships of war despite race, creed, or in this case, species."

• An appeal for help now. Over on ComicBitsOnline Terry Hooper is asking if anyone can help with scans of some British small press comics from the 1960s and 70s, including some with some fantastic titles such as Owl Jumpers and The Toad Papers.

The Twelve artist Chris Weston is back from abraod and back in the saddle on his blog, with some samples of his The Little Guy strip for Time Out, which he says he's hoping to get polished off over christmas. No rest for The Weston.

• Someone never lost for words when it comes to Internet posting is Warren Ellis... until that is, he read this strip by Dharbin entitled Warren Ellis: King of the Internet. "I am not entirely sure what to say," Ellis responded.

• Mark Wallinger's transparent TARDIS will be part of an exhibition at London's Hayward Gallery in February before touring to Leeds and Swansea. Wallinger's work is a full-size re-creation of a traditional police box in mirrored steel. Placed in the corner of a room, the mirrored surface gives the impression that the sculpture is transparent. "In the early days of Doctor Who the Tardis always faded away and disappeared," he tells The Guardian. "I wanted to make an object that was trying not to be there," said Wallinger who is perhaps best known for his work State Britain, a recreation at Tate Britain of Brian Haw's protest display outside parliament. He won the Turner Prize in 2007.

• Talking of Doctor Who, Tony Lee has published a sneek peak of a double page spread from #6 his Doctor Who: The Forgotten story for IDW featuring all ten Doctors. Just a shame the thing isn't officially on sale in the Uk when it comes out in the New Year, eh?

• And finally for this round up, with all the doom and gloom about despite the Christmas season, is there anything to look forward to in 2009? Well, look out for some baragins in the sales and early months from retailers. UpMyStreet.com reckons that in January and beyond prices are set to get even lower as they still clamour for our money. "This could mean the less successful follow in the footsteps of Woolworths, but we might as well enjoy the bargains while we can." Not all prices are low of course, Diamond having implemented an immediate price hike on many US comics on sale in the specialist stores recently...

• (For some genuine Christmas Cheer, try here! Courtesy of the ever wonderful Etherington Brothers).

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Drawn to be Wild!

Broadcaster and comedienne Jenny Eclair explores the world of outrageous animated ladies in Drawn to be Wild, a show for BBC Radio 4 broadcast last week, and available for now via iplayer until 12:02pm Thursday 18th December, and considers why certain creations have upset censors and infuriated moralists over the years.

Popular characters such as Betty Boop, Minnie the Minx and Wonder Woman have frequently challenged stereotypes of how 'good girls' should look and behave. Examining today's female comic book heroes, Jenny discovers how far we have come from being offended by Betty Boop's garter.

The show includes contributions from comic strip enthusiasts Paul Gravett and Mel Gibson.

Direct Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00ft64f

Merry Fringemas

Gene the Cow from ABC's Fringe, showing on Sky in the UK, is working overtime this month to provide milk for Santa Claus, but she still found some time to wish you all a Happy Fringemas.

Stick-Man's Christmas Adventure

Courtesy of Scottish cartoonist Malcolm Kirk, whose hilarious Stick Man discovers Santa has gone a bit, well, strange this year...



Check out www.myspace.com/mal_comix for more of Mal's work, and there are more of his Stick Man cartoons here on ROK Comics.

No Heroics Gets ITV1 Airing

ITV2's superhero sitcom No Heroics will be repeated on ITV1 from 6 January, screening at 11.35pm on the terrestrial channel, after a successful debut run on ITV2 over the autumn.

The six-part series features a group of British off-duty superheroes living their day to day life, which for supposed saviours of the world is actually rather normal – as they just can’t be bothered. Instead this group of b-listers would rather get drunk in their local superheroes-only pub, The Fortress, and commiserate at their lack of superiority.

Visit the official No Heroics web site (featuring spoof trading cards created by Sam Gibley)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Connecting Conversations in London

Two masters of their craft, award-winning children’s author David Almond and author and illustrator Quentin Blake, will talk about the drive to write and the visual expression of emotion with experts from the field of psychoanalysis at two forthcoming Connecting Conversations events in London the new year.

On 11 January David Almond, whose award winning novel Skellig has been made into an opera and will be released as a film adaptation in 2009, will talk to child and adult psychotherapist Viviane Green at Swiss Cottage Library, NW3.

"Like all writers, I'm driven to write, and that's because something inside me is demanding to be written, to be given form," says Almond, whose latest book, Jackdaw Summer, was released last month. "I think I've begun to understand what this 'something' is, and I see how it has shaped so much of my work. But a lot remains mysterious, and I continue to be surprised by what emerges. Maybe this is why writing can often seem like dreaming, and why imagining can seem like remembering.’

"Psychotherapists are naturally interested in people’s interior lives and how their hopes, fears and wishes shape the world they see," Green says. "David Almond’s fiction explores these themes in a haunting way. He has an uncanny ability to write in spare and poetic prose how gritty physical reality is transformed by the power of the child’s imagination.’

On 8 February Quentin Blake, one of the UK’s best-known artists and authors, illustrator of books such as Clement Freud's Grimble at Christmas and Daniel Pennac's The Rights of the Reader, discusses his work with psychoanalyst Avi Shmueli at the Anna Freud Centre, NW3.

"I have illustrated picture-books and stories for young people, and also invented them; more recently I have produced sequences of pictures for hospitals for patients both young and old," says Blake. "What I think might be interesting to discuss in this context – and about which I would be interested to hear a comment from another point of view – is the search for the suitable fable or metaphor, the ways in which feeling and energy can be expressed in a visual form, and what the benefits of any of that might be, in varying circumstances, beyond immediate distraction. Perhaps this also relates to the nature of humour.’

"This is an exciting opportunity to talk to a master of his art about his creative process and the use of metaphor," feels Shmueli. "Quentin Blake has a profound ability to capture the multiple layers of his characters and integrate these in a way that enables readers of all ages to find meaning and insight in his stories and illustrations."

Both events are part of the Connecting Conversations children's books series of events bringing together psychoanalysis and other fields. Forthcoming events include authors Elisabeth Russell Taylor, Gillian Slovo and David Grossman. For more details visit www.connectingconversations.org

David Almond's Official Web Site
Quentin Blake's Official Web Site

Monday, 15 December 2008

2009 Book & Book Cover Illustration Awards

The closing date for the 2009 Book & Book Cover Illustration Awards, sponsored by the Enid Linder Foundation and organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, is fast approaching.

Entry into the Awards is free, with winners will be chosen from the following categories:
  • Book Illustration
  • Book Cover and Jacket Illustration

The winner of each category will receive £2,000. An overall winner will be receive an additional £2,000.

Entrants so far include comics creators such as I.N.J Culbard ("The Picture of Dorian Gray", above), Adam Grose ("The Prison"), Jason Lutes ("Jar of Fools"), Dave McKean, Mio Matsumoto ("My Diary"), Mungo McCosh, Chantal Montellier ("The Trail of Franz Kafka"), Ryuta Osada, Harriet Russell ("Envelopes"), Danusia Schejbal, Posy Simmonds ("Tamara Drewe"), Adrian Tomine and others.

• Entry into the V&A Illustration Awards is via the online entry form. Entrants may submit up to three images of their work. See conditions of entry here. The closing date is 31 December 2008. For further information about the Awards please contact villa@vam.ac.uk.

Comic Christmas Covers

Over on his ever-wonderful Blimey! It's Another Blog About Comics!, Lew Stringer has been running a series of features on British Christmas Comic Covers, offerings samples from a wide range of titles, from Film Fun and TV Express to the Beano, Eagle and Buster - including this fab cover from Sparky, back in 1970.

It's a positive joy to see these smashing snow-covered covers of comics yesteryear -- it make you realize just how much we've lost. Still, nostalgia is a powerful antidote!

Lew also offers a number of European and Scandinavian Christmas covers, including one from Nemi.

Here are the links to all Lew's well-received posts so far:
By sheer coincidence, Jon K's ace Random Acts of Geekiness blog started running Christmas comic covers the same day Lew did, except Jon's blog features American comic covers, which he's updating every day. It's a great selection of varied titles from over the decades.

Full Colour Crikey!

As reported here last month, Issue 8 is a milestone edition for British comics fan magazine Crikey! with this 52-page issue published in full colour throughout.

"So far, the response has been tremendous and the issue has only been on sale for a few days," editor Glenn B Fleming told downthetubes, who also revealed more of the title's latest contents.

"As usual Crikey! has a varying choice of articles: Tony Ingram's always sensational Nutty Notions leads the way, then there is a fantastic review of the 'zine Spaceship Away featuring all things Dan Dare.

"Charley's War
brings the attention back to superb comic writing and even better artwork, as we present an overview of Pat Mills' and Joe Colquhoun's amazing adaptation of the Great War.

"If that's not enough for you how about this: Crikey! enjoys a remarkable relationship with comics giants DC Thomson and they kindly gave us the go-ahead to publish (for the first time in almost half a century) some stunning Avengers artwork by Spanish artist Emilio Fejo Abegon. Not to be outdone, British artist Mike (The Cloak) Higgs gave up his time to draw a four page, full colour 'Comicy Saturday' for us - it's hilarious and a 'must see'!"

There are other articles and amongst them is the British 'Mickey Mouse' invasion and Peter Hansen's 'The Best of British' covering almost a hundred years of comics artists and their work. Issue 8 even brings an American hero into the realm of British Comics: The Phantom in the UK!

"We don't know at this point if the next issue of Crikey! will be in colour," says Glenn, "but we do know that Issue 9 brings exclusive chats with Modesty Blaise artist Romero and David 'V for Vendetta' Lloyd - watch out for that then!"

• More info at: www.crikeyuk.co.uk

Tube Surfing: 15 December 2008

Warren Ellis has announced he will be writing a column for Conde Nast's upcoming Wired UK magazine, edited by David Rowan, which launches next spring. "This attempt involves the services of Ben Hammersley, whose CV is twice as long as mine or yours and eighteen times as mad. And Ben Hammersley has engaged me as a monthly columnist for Wired UK, with an editorial mandate of, well, writing about anything I feel like writing about... This will be massive amounts of fun."

• Hot on the heels of the launch of a web site promoting Mirabilis: The Year of Wonders, a new strip for The DFC, comes another trailing Frontier, described as a 'weird wild west' strip by Jason Cobley and Andrew Wildman.

• Talking of Mirabilis, which we plugged last week, there's now a trailer for the strip on YouTube. Just in case you can't see it below...



Blueberry artist Colin Wilson reveals a limited selection of his earlier art for 2000AD, Blueberry, Point Blank and The Losers etc (but, as yet, no Star Wars art) is now available to buy online. "Royd Burgoyne has kindly agreed to look after this for me," he notes on his blog, "and the first selection of my work to be made available can now be seen at his online Comic Art Shop.

"I've spent a lot of time over the last few weeks sorting and cataloging my artwork from the 80's and 90's," he notes. "There's a lot of it, and I've been discovering things that I can't even remember producing.... things like this."

Cy Dethan has just posted an early version of Scott James' cover for The Case Files of Harlan Falk #3, to be published next year by Markosia. Read more about this here

• Jennifer Contino of The Pulse has just interviewed Tony Lee on the upcoming MILF Magnet from Moonstone, with five or six teasers from the comic itself.

• (With thanks to Matthew Badham): Top US writer Mark Waid has begun blogging about comics wrting on the Kung Fu Monkey blog, which also features contributions from John Rogers and Michael Alan Nelson. "His first post is f****** gold," enthuses Matt Badham.

• And finally, in my only acknowledgement so far for the season, Paul Cornell has posted a number of Christmas recipes from comic creators. These include suggestions from the likes of Frazer Irving, Andy Diggle and Joe Quesada. My all-time favourite comic creator recipe was that of Martin Skidmore, once editor of Fantasy Advertiser, for a BAPA mailing. "Go to the fish and chip shop. Buy some fish and chips. Eat them..."

In Review: Dick Turpin And The Restless Dead

Dick Turpin: The Restless DeadA break from the keyboard and other projects have jointly conspired in my attempts to write this review of TimeBomb Comics' Dick Turpin And The Restless Dead, written by Steve Tanner and drawn Andrew Dodd.

Notorious highwayman Dick Turpin stumbles across a deserted village following his latest highway robbery, and it seems the ideal place to hide out. But the village is not as empty as it first appears – and Turpin soon finds himself surrounded by hordes of rotting, hungry zombies!

This straightforward action-horror yarn is a change of pace from the intricacies of Timebomb's first title, Ragamuffins:
Stitches in Time
, but zombies and the darker, grislier setting rather suit Andy Dodd's 'scratchy' art style (and I don't mean for that description to sound derogatory). Turpin himself is an interesting choice of anti-hero, and there's no doubt he's a villain at heart from the get-go, as the book opens with his hold up of a stagecoach.

The script is fun with a serious edge although I'm sure the closing line is a homage to a film, but I can't think which one. While there are some odd choices of panel -- Andrew favours mid shots with few close ups which I think is to the detriment of some pages -- this is fun one shot worth checking out from either the publisher's web site or the company's other distributors.

You can read the first five pages of Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead on TimeBomb Comics' ComicSpace gallery.
Visit the official TimeBomb Comics web site

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