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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Andrew Skilleter Narnia Artwork Exhibition

Today saw the opening of The Wonder Of Illustration art exhibition at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

The exhibition features original Alice's Adventures In Wonderland artwork by Spanish artist Angel Dominguez and original Chronicles Of Narnia artwork by Britain's Andrew Skilleter.

Skilleter's artwork was originally created for the BBC Radio Collection's releases of the BBC Radio 4 adaptations of the seven Narnia books by CS Lewis. The exhibition runs until 4 July 2009 and all pieces of art on display are for sale. The exhibition is included in the museum admission charge.

To coincide with the opening of the exhibition, Andrew Skilleter has revamped his website at andrewskilleter.com. The site now features galleries of the many book covers that he has produced over the years. While Skilleter may still be best known for his Doctor Who covers, the site also features galleries of his Ruth Rendell covers and his fantasy art as well as showing that his science-fiction art was not just limited to the Doctor and his enemies.

The SF gallery features subjects as diverse as Journey Into Space, Dan Dare, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Star Wars saga.

Details of The Wonder Of Illustration exhibition are here.

Andrew Skilleter's new website is here.

Friday, 3 April 2009

TOXIC Comics Special Out Now

TOXIC Issue 137 with the Comic Supplement featuring work from a host of great creators is on sale now in all good newsagents. So go and buy a copy and support British Comics!

If sales are strong it will encourage Egmont to develop its comics brands further, perhaps not just in TOXIC but other projects.

Readers can vote for their favourite strip online and the winner will potentially get a full-time slot in the magazine.

TOXIC Comic Supplement - Free with Issue 137So far, Jamie Smart's Count von Poo is well ahead in the online poll, followed by Zombie Nation by Luke Paton and Laura Howell.

• TOXIC Issue 137 is on sale for the next three weeks.

The Strip Line Up

• Count Von Poo
By Jamie Smart (writer/artist)

One boy and his poo! Jamie is of course, perhaps best known for his 10-issue comic Bear and My Own Genie in The Dandy.

• Zombie Nation
By Luke Paton (writer) and Laura Howell (artist)

Zombies aren't all bad... the ones in this strip just want to be your friend.

Luke is the creator of the web comic, The Adventures of Kez and Luke, while Laura is of course a firm favourite with TOXIC readers as the artist on Robin Hoodie for the title, and also draws Ratz for The Beano and strips for The DFC.

Spooks In Space
By Paul H Birch (writer) and Steve Harrison (artist)

Silly spooks board a spae rocket and head into cosmic capers.

Paul's the brains behind the Birmingham Mail's Speech Balloons blog, delivering the latest word on comics in the Midlands

Bovver Baby
By John Freeman (writer) and Paul J Palmer (artist)

This baby is sweetness and light -- until you turn your back!

John Freeman is the creator of downthetubes and has written for Marvel, Judge Dredd: The Magezaine, The Real Ghostbusters and more.

As well as drawing strips for TOXIC and other comics, Paul also drew The Underversity, a six part story featuring characters from The Really Heavy Greatcoat.

HoaXers
By David Hailwood (writer) and Paul Harrison-Davies (artist)

A gang of sleuthers tries to avert disaster with cunning plans that end up proving even more disastrous!

David Hailwood has been championing the British small press through the Temple APA for years. Having enjoyed reading from an early age, Paul Harrison-Davies says he’s never forgotten the impact children's books and comics had on him, so much so that he started making his own. From early days self publishing comics using a photocopier he eventually got short comics accepted in small publisher titles such as Zombie Tales, and Best New Manga. Paul works in a bookshop and it's his dream to have a child come to the counter holding one his children's books.

WereWilf
By Paul H Birch & Shane Oakley (writers) and John Erasmus (artist)

WereWilf first appeared March 1976, one of three strips introduced to Whoopee! to mark the comic's second birthday. (The others were Smiler and Gook the TV Spook). This updating introduces a modern day WereWilf.

Shane has worked on and off in the comics industry, writing and drawing for some of the big guys, and some of the microscopic. John Erasmus credits include Desperate Dan, Accident Man (for the original Toxic comic), Dervish Ropey in the Amazon, and much, much more.

Clump
By Lew Stringer (writer/artist)

Manic monster on the loose!

Lew should need no introduction to any British comics fan -- his credits include Combat Colin, Brickman and more.

Bad Robots
By John Freeman (writer) and Paul Harrison-Davies (artist)

Accident-prone and very stupid Robots on the run -- even cow pats!

Simon Spectacular
By Luke Paton (writer) and Stuart Arrowsmith (artist)

Stuart is a full-time Designer and Illustrator, producing work ranging from panel cartoons to natural history pieces for commercial use.

Buy TOXIC In the shops then vote for your favourite strip online

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Bristol Expo Tickets - High Demand for PreOrders

Focusing this year mostly on the Best of British Comics around, the Bristol International Comic Expo returns at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on 9th - 10th May 2009, with a special one day extra event on Saturday – the Small Press Expo 2009 at the nearby Mercure Holland House Hotel (full details of both locations at www.fantasyevents.org).

Pre-orders for tickets (which covers both events) are now available via the website, and organisers say these are running so high only limited tickets will be available on the Saturday at least, so booking is highly advised (this also reserves Expo Exclusives book).

Confirmed guests now include: Kevin O’Neil, Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons, Dave Gibbons, Mark Buckingham, John Charles, Mike Collins, Rob Williams, John Higgins, Gary Frank, Ian Gibson, David Hine, Lee Garbett, John M Burns, Lee Bradley, John Watson, Ian Culbard, Phil Winslade, Hunt Emerson, Gilbert Shelton, Simon Bisley, Mike Ploog, Charlie Adlard, Sean Phillips, James A. Hodgkins, Duncan Fegredo, Neil Edwards, Gary Spencer Millidge, Dylan Teague, Tim Pilcher, Joel Meadows, Shaky Kane, Boo Cook, Al Davison, Laurence Campbell, John McCrea, Dave Shelton, Martin Hayes, Jock, Asia Alfasi, Ian Sharman, Tony Lee, Ferg Handley, Peter Hogan, Steve Cook, Robert Deas, Kris Justice, Kat Nicholson, Liam Sharp, Dan Boultwood, Andie Tong, Emma Vieceli, Ian Edginton, Paul Grist, Graham Bleathman, Henry Flint, Lew Stringer, Lee Townsend, Andy Diggle, Siku, Roger Langridge, Jim Boswell, Gary Erskine, Bambos!, Jon Davis-Hunt, Cy Dethan, David Baillie, Kirsty Swan, Paul Gravett, Ilya, Stephen Baskerville, Jason Cardy, Emily Hare and Mike Carey.

SP Expo Comics Guests are Steve Tanner (Time Bomb), Howard Hardiman (Cute But Sad), David Goodman (Zip Gun), John Anderson (Soaring Penguin), Paul Rainey (There’s No Time Like The Present), Tom McNally (Semiotic Cohesion), Willie Lengers (Itch Publishing), Tom Meddings (Unedible), Will Morris-Julien (Butternut), Michael Burness (Unico Comics), Stephen Paul Coffey (Best of What’s Left), Luke Paton (The Adventures Of Kez And Luke), Andrew Cheverton (Angry Candy), Dan Barritt (Ragadabah), Nic Wilkinson (Insomnia Publications), Isaac E C Lenkiewicz (Duh Brain Comics), Amsel Von Speckelsen (Underfire Comics), Chris Denton (Massacre For Boys), Chin-Hsuen Lee (Tpcat Comic), Steve Tillotson (Banal Pig), Geoffrey Banyard (Fetishman), Richard Scott Butler (Cherubs Comics), Sally Jane Thompson (IndieManga), Mathew J Pallett (Stir Fried), Samantha Borras (Inspired) and Chris Lynch (Monkeys With Machineguns)

Panels will run throughout both days, with EXpo EXclusives available at various times (the signed ashcan of the new DC Vertigo comic from Mike Carey and Peter Gross available only at the Vertigo Panel, for example), and a host of signings, sketchings and comics to check out.

Web Link: www.fantasyevents.org

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Furman's New Projects

Top British comics creator Simon Furman may have been quiet of late, but this doesn't mean he isn't busy. In fact, when he called downthetubes last week it was clear the writer, whose credits range from Transformers to Doctor Who, and who cut his teeth on titles such as Fleetway's Scream! 25 years ago, has plenty to keep him occupied.

Top on his agenda is probably Starcraft (a new ongoing monthly comic for US publisher Wildstorm, based on the hit computer game from Blizzard Entertainment, which kicks off in May, co-written with artist Keith Giffen with art by). The book centres on the WarPigs, a disbanded team of outlaws reunited by their former captain for one last job: assassination...

Also in the works is an Ironhide/Optimus Prime story in an upcoming issue of All Hail Megatron: Coda, two (currently) top secret Transformers Spotlights for IDW. Via his blog, Simon also reveals he's also working several books: Rad Robots for Kyle Cathie, Transformers: The Art of the Movies for Titan and Transformers: The Movie Universe for Dorling Kindersley and Volume 2 of Titan’s Transformers UK.

The big news though is a movie script, "something that’s been kicking around for a while but now has an actual option attached," Simon reveals. "That last one may well have to remain under wraps for a while yet, but more on that when I can."

Starcraft #1 is on sale from Wildstorm via comic shops on 27 May: more infon on the Wildstorm site

"New British Comics" Anthology Published

The first issue of New British Comics, an 80-page comics anthology featuring, 13 stories and 17 artists including Dave Thomson, Malcy Duff, Paul O’Connell and Rob Miller has just been published.

The book has been self-published in Poland in two editions by Karol Wisniewski, in English and Polish. "The contents and strips are the same in both editions,," says Karol. "The only difference is language.

"The project sounds a little crazy, but it worked out just fine," he adds. "The Polish edition was a huge success and raised more interest in UK Comics. Now, it's time to present the English edition.

"It doesn't have a theme, Karol continues. "I've gathered great comics from British artists who have trusted me on this crazy idea - and that's the book's real theme. They worked hard on their stories and most of them have even made Polish title pages or handmade Polish lettering.

"The idea was simple: why not publish our stories in more than one language?" he explains of the book. "I can speak only Polish and (so-so) English, but I guess that was enough to make this project work, especially with so many friendly hands that helped me."

He's been greatly encouraged by how the title has come together. "If I can do this, then anyone can," he enthuses. "Even if you know only one language you can always ask your friends to help translate your stuff or make new friends. Either way will work. And it's definitely worth the trouble."

In addition to the book a Polish website dedicated to comics - www.komiks.nast.pl - has started publishing online British comics (click here for these). The first is Paul O'Connell's marvellous short "She's Leaving Home", recently seen in the UK via ROK Comics, and Karol says more are on the way. "Things are getting quite British here," Karol laughs.

• More information and sample pages visit: www.polygobooks.com/newbritishcomics

Monday, 30 March 2009

It Crept Up on Us!

downthetubes reader John Owens reminds us that last week was the 25th anniversary of the first publication of the short-lived but long-remembered Scream!, published by Fleetway. The date crept up on us and almost passed us by!

First published on 24th March 1984, Scream!'s credits included writers Alan Moore, Gerry Finley-Day, Simon Furman and Tom Tully and artsists such as Eric Bradbury (perhaps better known for his work on New Eagle's Doomlord), Jerry Ortiz, Redondo and Cam Kennedy.

Yet, after just 15 issues, Scream! mysteriously ended, a victim of dark forces beyond its control, as editor Barrie Tomlinson recalled the title back in 2005 for the fanzine, Eagle Flies Again...

"As Group Editor of the Boys' Sport and Adventure Department at Fleetway, I had always been responsible for 'Family' comics," he noted. "My titles were always a strong parent buy and I'm sure those parents felt they could trust us to produce safe publications such as Tiger, Roy of the Rovers and Eagle. Titles they would have no problems allowing their children to read.

"All that changed when the management asked me to produce a horror comic! Scream! was the title we came up with and I thought the logo was very effective!

"I was aware that we had to tread carefully with the contents," he recalled. "Coming from a mainstream publisher, they were certain boundaries we could not cross." Barrie would also have been well aware of the controversy from the previous decade when Action! over stepped the mark as far as the nation's 'moral majority' were concerned, resulting in it being taken off the shelves, then re-launched as a pale shadow of its former self.

"The build-up to producing issue one went well," Barrie reveals of the title's origins. "I was able to call upon a top team of contributors who were already working for me, on other titles. I appointed 'Ghastly McNasty' as the Editor of Scream!. I think this hooded figure came across really well and provided a good character to host the title. (In real life, I asked Ian Rimmer to be the Editor – he later went on to work at Marvel UK to edit Captain Britain. He had already worked in my group and I was impressed with his editorial skills).

"Of course, there is always great interest in a new title and I knew this one would be looked at more closely than usual," Barrie remembers. "I would usually show a new title to the Editorial Director but on this occasion, I was pointed in the direction of another editorial executive. Managing Editor Gil Page and myself took the first issue to the office of this executive, feeling confident we had a good publication.

"But it was ripped to pieces and after about an hour we left with tails between our legs, to meet with Ian Rimmer and tell him the vast amount of alterations that had been asked for."

Management censorship was just the start of the title's woes, it seems.

"It was unique for me to send a first issue to the printers behind schedule, but it happened this time, due to the many amendments," Barrie recalls. "Alas, this situation was repeated with every issue. We had to make constant changes to artwork and storylines. If it started as a Horror comic with a capital 'H', it very soon became a horror comic with a very small 'h'!

"The publication got later and later. My titles had always had the reputation of being good timekeepers, but with Scream! that reputation was in shatters. At one time, Gil Page and myself were told to get our act together, stop competing with each other and concentrate on the publication. That was really annoying, as we had worked together on Scream! and produced pages we thought were up to our usual high standard. But senior management did not agree!"

Despite the fears of management, there was little negative response to the new title from the public. "We had a few complaints from readers and their parents but nothing much at all," Barrie said.

"I think the publication was popular and would have gone on to be a success, despite the falling circulations of most comics at that time, as we reached the end of the glorious comic era, with youngsters looking towards television and computer games for their entertainment... it could have gone on for years. The stories and artwork, such as Thirteenth Floor, Dracula, Monster, Library of Death etc were well written and well drawn."

With the title late to the printers with every issue and management censorship, it was a strike that finally put paid to the short-lived title, which was cancelled and absorbed into the New Eagle. "NUJ industrial action caused problems for many Fleetway titles," Barrie noted. "Was it totally because of the strike that the decision was made to kill Scream! and merge it into Eagle? It may have been. Or it may have been that the content was too strong. Or maybe, even, that Mr Page, Mr Tomlinson and Mr Rimmer had failed to produce a winner. I don't know the answer. There were only a few issues. It was a very brief excursion into the world of horror!

"But how nice it is that people still remember the title... That makes all the effort, work, sweat and tears well worthwhile!"

For more about Scream!, visit the fan site Back from the Depths

Gerry Anderson at Forbidden Planet

(Date Updated): Gerry Anderson, who is 80 on 14th April, will be making a public appearance at the Forbidden Planet flagship store in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, on Saturday 18th April, from 1.00pm.

He'll be there to sign copies of Reynolds and Hearn's two Century 21: Classic Comics books, which will have just been published (see news story).

(Thanks to FP for corrected date info)

Razorjack On Sale This Week

John Higgins collection of Razorjack, which includes a new four-page strip, goes on sale in the UK in all good comic shops this Thursday (2nd April).

The collection has been published by revived indie Com.x, headed up by publisher Eddie Deighton (see news story).
Their first new collection, Cla$$war Series One is already instore in the UK and sellling fast.

In Razorjack, a sequence of bizarre events create an unstable nexus that enables the death-bitch, Razorjack, and her twisted handmaidens the opportunity to finally break through into our world the most important dimension of them all The Core Dimension. Three college kids inadvertently create the opening from the alternate universe of The Twist Dimension and become a focus for the evil that is Razorjack.

Maverick cops, Frame and Ross, are assigned a disturbingly horrific multiple-murder case which draws them into what is potentially the final battle between good and evil...

"All I had wanted to do with Razorjack was to create my own world outside of what I had been commissioned to do all my professional life," says John, whose past credits include strips for 2000AD, The Hills Have Eyes and Thunderbolt Jaxon. "It kept me entertained writing, drawing and colouring it on and off for around ten years.

[Razorjack] is not profound, it won’t make you look at the world around you in a different way and it will never win the Nobel Prize for literature. (Although it would be nice to be nominated). But anyway, it is just a horror story populated by weird creatures, with colourful art and nice designs!"


Buy Razorjack from amazon.com

• John will be doing a Razorjack signing at Orbital Comics in London on Saturday 18th April 2009

GhostNet Comment

Roy of the Rovers in Newsagents again This Week

A quick reminder that this week sees the release of the first of four collections of classic British comic strip in newsagents, starting with Roy of the Rovers.

As we previously reported, Egmont UK and WH Smith have teamed up to publish four "Classic Collections" -- special titles featuring archive material from Roy of the Rovers, Battle, girls comic Misty and Buster, bringing adventures from these classic comics back to the newsstand.

Compiled by former 2000AD editor Steve McManus, the Specials are bound to bring back many fond memories for today’s grown-ups who can relive the time when they waited eagerly for each new issue of these comics to go on sale.

The Roy of the Rovers special is published this week (Wednesday 1 April), with specials dedicated to the war comic Battle, humour title Buster and girls comic Misty currently planned for release on 24th June, 16th September and 9th December respectively.

• Priced at £3.99 each, the 52 page Classic Collections featuring all the best-loved characters and stories, will only be available from WHSmith. Note that later publication dates may change.

Contact downthetubes

• Got a British Comics News Story? E-mail downthetubes!

• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials: editor@downthetubes.net

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