• downthetubes regrets to report the passing of illustrator and comic colourist Ian Mckie last Monday, aged 58. Bryan Talbot reports his heart stopped during what's been described as a "horrific" asthma attack. The twin brother of Angus McKie, Ian was colourist on comics such as Neil Gaiman's Phage: Shadow Death (right), Al Davison's Teknophage, sometimes art assistant to Angus, and Mac mentor to people like Bryan, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland and Viz Comics. Our condolences to his family.
• Also mourned this week will be Australian actor Ray Barrett. Perhaps best known for playing hard-nosed oilman Peter Thornton in the BBC drama The Troubleshooters, his roles also included voicing Stingray's gruff Commander Shore, and John Tracy, The Hood and many of the extra characters in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Thunderbirds. He also appeared as a murderer in the early Doctor Who story The Rescue in 1965. The Guardian carried an exceellent obituary here
• Talking of The Guardian, if you haven't already seen the news elsewhere (I've been on holiday), this British national newspaper is giving away facsimile copies of some famous British comics this week: a Valentine's issue of Jackie kicked off the promotion on Saturday, complete with a strip featuring Donny Osmond dressing up as a hippy to avoid screaming fans; The Beano is being given away free in today's Observer (the Guardian's ailing sister Sunday). Monday's Guardian has Roy of the Rovers (the one where Roy Race is shot from 1981), followed by the Bunty 1972 Summer Special on Tuesday, The Dandy with the last Korky the Cat cover from 1984 on Wednesday, the first Tammy from 1971 on Thursday and an issue of Whizzer and Chips, two comics in one on Friday. To celebrate the promotion, Jon Ronson travelled to the Beano office to try his luck at their ideas meeting last week.
Among other features, the paper has also ran a round up of celebrities identifying their favourite comics and, perhaps of most interest, carried a feature where kids were asked for their views on the giveaways. Most telling are girls preferred reading in the absence of comics for them today, including Grazia and Vogue; and a damning indictment on some modern comic giveaways.
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