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Saturday, 9 May 2009

Tube Surfing: Saturday 9 May

• During a short interview for an upcoming issue of Star Trek Magazine about his new IDW comic, Alien Spotlight – Romulans, Ian Edginton also gave me a quick run down on his other current projects. As usual, the acclaimed writer of series such as Scarlet Traces is as busy as ever. "I’m part way through new series of Stickleback, Red Seas and Ampney Crucis Investigates for 2000AD, and I’ve also just finished a four-part Judge Dredd that’s been drawn by Dave Taylor and it looks just astonishing!" he reveals.
"I’m also writing Stormwatch for Wildstorm and I’m partway through adapting the Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet for Self Made Hero. Artist Ian Culbard and I have already done The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s part of a rolling program to adapt all the Holmes canon, starting with the novels first."
I took the opportunity to ask him: if he has one piece of advice he gives would-be comic writers, what is it?
"To write, plain and simple. Work at it," he replies. "I started out trying to emulate the authors I respected and there’s nothing wrong with that because you have to start somewhere, and it gives you a toe hold, something to work with. It sounds prosaic I know, but you then have to go off and find your own voice. It’s an on-going process."

• Talking of comics writing, Richard Starkings, former Marvel UK editor and now First Tiger at US lettering company Comicraft as well as writer of hit US comic series Elephantmen, reports he is working on Doctor Who comic strip once again. Richard, who edited (and wrote some of) the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip in the 1980s, is scripting a
story entitled Cold-Blooded War plotted by former DWM editor Gary Russell and illustrated by Adrian Salmon.
Funnily enough, it has the Ice Warriors in it - the very same monsters that starred in the first strip Richard edited for DWM, A Cold Day in Hell, just published in a collection by Panini UK.
Buy A Cold Day in Hell from amazon.co.uk
Buy A Cold Day in Hell from amazon.com

• All three parts of Pádraig Ó Méalóid's major interview with Alan Moore are now availabel to read via the Forbidden Planet International blog: Part One is here, Part Two here, and Part Three - well, you know how this going to go, don't you... The final part includes questions from fans.

• If, like me, you're not in Bristol for the Comic Expo, Geek Syndicate (www.geeksyndicate.co.uk) tell us they plan is to have live audio blogs and mini podcasts going out from the event... "if we can get it all to work!" Follow them on audioboo, a social networking site that allows you to record up to 5m of audio and upload it. "It’s fantastic because literally a minute after you’ve recorded its on line," say the team. And, of course, just like others at the event such as Tony Lee, Simon Gurr, Cheryl Morgan, Paul Cornell, they'll also be twittering all weekend – http://twitter.com/GeekSyndicate. There's even a robot Re-Tweeting all messages people post about the Bristol Comic Convention on Twitter - http://twitter.com/BristolConBot. (You can also use this search string if you are a Twitter member). Hmm, if you do follow all this you could really give the impression you were there, except judging by many of the posts, the lack of a four day long hangover would give you away...

Thunderbirds, Project SWORD and More on eBay

I'm having another spate of clearing boxes at downthetubes, and the following items are currently being offered on ebay... Sales help keep us going, especially at present. Pictures of all offered items can be found here on Flickr

1967 Lady Penelope Annual
Featuring comic strips as follows: Lady Penelope ("Adventure in Bereznik" - the fictional Iron Curtain country that was the nemesis of heroes in both TV21 and Lady Penelope comics - "The Million Pound Lipstick" and "Lady Penelope versus The Fox"); The Girl from U.N.C.L.E ("Academy of Thrush Agents"); Marina ("Menace in the Weed"); The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("Caribbean Caper"); Perils of Parker; Creighton-Ward ("Night of Suspense"); Daktari; and What Did That Dog Say?. Plus some text stories
Features: Biographies of Lady Penelope Creightion-Ward and 'Nosey' Parker; the secrets of Creighton-Ward Mansion; Graphology feature interpreting the personalities of the Thunderbirds team (you didn't know puppets could hold a pen, did you?); fashion and horoscope pages; pin ups of Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith (from the Monkees)

1968 Lady Penelope Annual
Featuring comic strips as follows: Lady Penelope in "Symphony of Death", "Duel in the Jungle" and "Sabotage Session"; Captain Scarlet's Angels in "Apres Ski"; The Monkees ("Once Upon A Time"); Perils of Parker"; Bewitched; What Did That Dog Say; The Spectrum, the band that sand the Captain Scarlet outro song;) and some text stories, including an Angels story with Captain Scarlet pictures, "Deadly Decoy"
Features: "Changing Gear", featuring photos of various models of the time charting fashion across the years; an interview with The Tremeloes; a Beatles diary, charting highlights of the band's success from 1964 to 1968; "Odd Jobs" reporting on women such as Janet Rice, racing driver, Jean Lincoln, pop star manager and stunt girl Connie Tilton; "Pop Goes the Alphabet", noting top acts of the year; "Behind the Scenes" reporting on music recording in London's famous music mecca, Denmark Street;
plus pin up pages of the Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch; plus recipe, fashion tip and quiz pages ("How Do You Rate as a Friend?")

1968 Project SWORD Annual
Based on a Century 21 merchandise range that spawned its own comic strip material in TV Century 21, it's my understanding this annual is considered something of a rarity among Gerry Anderson fans. The setting of the story is 3031, at a point in Earth's history when major natural disaster had ravaged the planet. Whether there was ever any intention to bring make this toy range the basis for a TV show by Gerry Anderson, creator of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, remains a matter of speculation. It has some echoes with his later projects such as Space:1999, for example.
The annual comprises a mix of comic strip and text stories plus background features on the origin of Project S.W.O.R.D., utlising stills from 2001: A Space Odyssey and blueprints of S.W.O.R.D. vehicles - The Scramble Bug, the Booster Rocket, Moon Prospector, Moon Bus, Hovertank and Survey Vehicle.
There are also mini features on contemporary space travel including an item on the Apollo rocket. One feature of note is a "bio" section of the SWORD team featuring photographs of the characters - presumably members of Century 21's editorial staff and friends since there was never a show based on the toy range?

1966 Thunderbirds Television Story Book
Comprising largely of text stories and some comic strips, plus one fab feature - make a working model of Thunderbird Four. Something of an oddity but the art is competent throughout in a style on a par with the quality of strips in the comic TV21.

Thunderbirds Annual 1966
Cover by Frank Bellamy comprising comic strip, text stories, puzzlesand "real world" emergency features. Plenty of Thunderbirds pictures. Features include profiles of the Tracy brothers and father Jeff, Kyrano, Tin Tin, Lady Penelope, Parker and The Hood; cutaways of Thunderbird 1, 3 and 5, an item on the Thunderbird launch sequences (some scribbling on these)

Thunderbirds Annual 1968
Comprising comic strip, text stories, games and "real world" emergency features. Strips feature art by Ron Turner and other TV21 regulars. One feature recaps the TV adventures of Thunderbirds as well as comic strip stories from Century 21's weekly titles such as one featuring an abominable snowman. There's plenty of Thunderbirds photographs throughout the book.

Stingray Annual 1966
featuring a cover by Ron Embleton and a variety of comic strips (including "The Collector", drawn by Ron Turner) and text stories. The annual also features a number of background features on the technology featured in the show including items on Marineville's "Hydromic Missiles" (made of new alloy, Prexfreos - try saying that three times quickly), Marineville (sadly one page of this feature is missing), sea prison Aquatraz, Titan's Terror Fish but not, strangely, Stingray itself. This particular annual is not the best from my small collection, having suffered at the hads of its original owner with all puzzle pages completed and scribbling on some pages. Pages 33-34 (part of a Marineville feature) are missing.

British War Comics (War and Battle Picture Library and More
A selection British "pocket digest" war comics from various publishers. Commando was first published in the early 1960s and continues to this day, but the other titles are long gone, their lurid covers, some great pieces of art in themselves no longer part of Britain's newsagent stands. Many of the issues in the lot are first publication but some are reprints of earlier titles.
Commando comics published by DC Thomson comprising Issues 1015 ("Forgotten Sergeant", reprint of issue first published in 1968), 1024 ("Battle-Squad", published in 1976), 1049 ("Pacific Pirates, cover by Ian Kennedy), 1052 ("No Way But Down", published in 1976), 1536 ("Defend to the Last", published in 1981) and 1538 ("Devil Fish", published in 1981). The stories cover all three British forces in a mix of conflicts from World War Two.
Combat Picture Library (Issue 770, "Total Death", pubished by Micron in 1970)
Pocket War Library (Issue 123, "Terrible Task"), published by Top Sellers
Battle Picture Library published by IPC Magazines in the 1970s and early 1980s: Issue 997 ("Clipped Wings"); 1008 ("Wolf Patrol"); 1018 ("Zone of Conflict"); 1027 ("These Men Are Dangerous"); 1028 ("Blockade Runner"); 1031 ("Stand Up and Fight"); 1209 ("Dead Heat"); 1212 ("Total War"); 1389 ("The Stronghold"); 1412 ("Men Without Mercy"); 1418 ("War of Nerves"); 1438 ("Battle Call"); 1508 ("Relic of the Sands").
War Picture Library Titles published by IPC Magazines in the 1970s and early 1980s: 1195 ("Certain Death"); 1202 ("Second Sight"); 1206 ("No Hiding Place"); 1245 ("Commandos Die Hard"); 1247 ("Desert Patrol"); 1249 ("The Hero"); 1255 ("Fire Trap", published 1976); 1254 ("Run For Your Life"); 1258 ("Battle Drop"), Issue 1264 ("The Dark Jungle"); 1275 ("Ground Support")

Signed "Commander Ivanova" Babyon 5 CCG Game Card and more
Over 100 individual Babylon 5 Customisable Card Game Cards including an "Ivanova" card signed by actress Claudia Christian (given away with the game's "Deluxe Edition"). Plus some 40 or so duplicates.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Titan Launches Star Trek Comic

Marking significant faith in the success of the new Star Trek film, which has already secured over $7 million in box office takings in the US, Titan Magazines has launched an ongoing Star Trek Comic, initially reprinting the Star Trek: Countdown strip published by IDW in the US and previously available only in specialist comic shops in the UK, and as an iPhone and iTouch mobile comic edition via iTunes.

The strip, which will feature in the first four issues, is based on a story by the Star Trek movie writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and is a prequel to events in the film, set in the 24th Century and featuring appearances by a range of Star Trek: The Next Generation characters such as Picard, Data and Worf, but set at a time much later than the last Star Trek film, Nemesis.

Clearly modelled on Titan's successful Star Wars Comic, the title includes features about the new film, two movie posters and the chance to try your hand at making your very own phaser! The first issue also has several great competitions, puzzles and over 60 free movie stickers as a covermounted giveaway.

Also out now is the latest official Star Trek Magazine (Issue 145), offering an exhaustive movie special brimming with the kind of in-depth, authoritative and all-access cast interviews and behind-the-scenes features. The actual content of the issue was a closely-guarded secret right up to publication date, but editor Paul Simpson has pulled out al the stops to deliver a definitive guide to the new film that no self-respecting Star Trek fan will want to miss buying.

Star Trek Comic #1 is on sale now in all good newsagents, as well as some run by Klingons.

Expo "Live Blogging" and More Moore

(with thanks to Joe Gordon at FPI): SF fan and 2009 Hugo Nominee Cheryl Morgan who is really active at the science fiction and fantasy conventions but is braving more comics culture to go to Bristol, has set her blog up to do some liveblogging over the weekend from the show. Paul Cornell, Simon Gurr and Tony Lee should be supplying guest Tweets (from Twitter, in case you didn't know what that was) to it as well.

The 'live' bit should start at around 10.00am on Saturday but at the moment you can have fun dipping into it pre-Expo, as Tony has already confessed that he's managed to spill Jack Daniels over the trouser press in his room...

"Cheryls’s coming from more of an SF&F background, so if you’re going there and see her be nice," says Joe Gordon, "and if, like me, you can’t be there then it should be a way of checking in through Saturday and Sunday to see what’s happening."

Joe also tells us the third and final part of their mega interview with Alan Moore is up, where Alan took some questions from readers, including some cheeky young jackanapes called Jon Reppion. If you’ve not had time to read the first parts yet (and it is huge so it may be more weekend reading when you have time!) there are links to parts one and two included in the part three posting: http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/?p=12846

Steve Bell in Liverpool

Steve Bell, probably Britain's most recognisable political cartoonist, joins Writing on the Wall festival in Liverpool next week, to explore this year’s theme: The Outsider.

Steve’s original strip Maggie’s Farm appeared in Time Out and City Limits magazines from 1979 through to 1987. Since 1981. he's written and drawn the If… strip in The Guardian, for whom he has produced cartoons with high penguin content ever since the Falklands crisis of 1982.

It was Bell who created the memorable ‘underpants’ image of John Major, of Tony Blair with Margaret Thatcher’s rogue eyeball, and depicted George W Bush as a malevolent chimp. Mixing surreal visuals with hilarious dialogue, Bell's cartoons have won him wide acclaim and a host of awards.

• Steve Bell: The Outsider is at 7.30pm on Friday 15th May at The Rodewald Suite, Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, L1 9BP. Tickets £8.00/£5.00 available form the Philharmonic Hall Box office Tel: 0151 709 378. for on line booking visit www.liverpoolphil.com

(With thanks to Chris Williams for spotting this)

Eagle Awards Announced After All!

There has been a lot of Internet buzz about the 2009 Eagle Awards, following new Eagle Awards organiser Cassandra Conroy announcing that there wouldn't be an award ceremony at the 2009 Bristol Comic Expo this coming weekend. Many were of the opinion that the Eagles were either on hiatus or even gone forever, and Internet rumours were strife.

But today, it is announced that there will indeed be an Eagle Awards for 2009 and nominations are now being solicited - just not in the style that people are used to.

"When I took over the Eagles last year from my father, Mike Conroy, people said that I had an uphill battle to keep the Eagles at the top of the UK awards scene," Cassandra explained. "And when circumstances meant that the main hall of the Bristol Comic Con, our traditional place of ceremony over the years would not be able to be used in the evening, we realised that there was no way that the Eagles could be run as they usually are, for 2009 at least.

"But I didn't want my first year as organiser to be a no-show, and so after a lot of discussions and opinions, we're still going to be running the awards.'

Since inheriting the Eagle Awards Cassandra has taken advice from some of the biggest names in comics, and she feels that the Eagles really do have a place in UK comics’ history.

"Over the years we have had some of the fiercest competitions out there," she continued. "When you have an award ceremony that has categories nominated by creators and fans and then voted for by creators and fans, the pressure for a creator to gain such a prestigious award is immense. We've had some of the biggest names in comics step up onto that stage to accept their awards, and although this year we cannot achieve that vision, in future years we will be back, bigger and better than ever."

Cassandra explained that as far as the nominations process and voting goes, the Eagle Awards will be following their well known format. The nominations process began today, Friday 8th May 2009 on the official website, eagleawards.co.uk.

"Just nominate your 2008 choice in each category and click return," says Cassandra.

"Nominations close on Friday 22nd May 2009, and then we'll take the top five nominations in each section and place them up for voting to begin Monday 1st June 2009."

"The winners of the Eagle Awards might not have a stage to stand on or an opportunity to give a speech this year, but they will receive an Eagle Award, whether in person or by other means. And the full list of Award Winners will be released to the world on Monday 15th June 2009."

"We might not have a meal this year, but we will have awards. We will have winners. And the best of the UK and US comic scene will still fight for the right to be showcased on one of the longest and most prestigious awards out there."

• Web Link: www.eagleawards.co.uk

Thursday, 7 May 2009

New British Comics Gets UK Distribution

UK Indie distributor Smallzone is now selling 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.

Reviewed by us here last month, the book has been self-published in Poland in both a Polish and English edition by Karol Wisniewski, the contents and strips are the same in both editions but the only difference is language.

New British Comics is now available through SmallZone's online shop - smallzone-shop.co.uk, and Karol tells us that other UK
shops should soon be distributing the book, too.

The book will be sold at Bristol Comics Expo at the SmallZone stand.

• There's now a new web site about the project at: newbritishcomics.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Muppets, Giant Cuboid Chickens and Other Weird Creatures

Starting an "adaptation and inspiration" month on the Strip! radio show on ResonanceFM, Alex Fitch and Robin Warren talk to two humour cartoonists - Roger Langridge and Hugh Raine (a.k.a. Shug) - about their work.

As we've previously reported, Roger has just started drawing the new The Muppet Show comic for Boom Studios! (Just a quick reminder, this title is not on sale in the UK for licensing reasons).

Born in New Zealand in 1967, Roger, who lives in London, says he decided to become a cartoonist when he was six years old; for some reason it stuck (perhaps because it was more attainable than his previous career goal of "mad scientist"). Roger drew a lot of comics with his brother Andrew when he was growing up. Eventually one of these evolved into Art Dekko (later "Art d'Ecco"), which was his first minicomic, in 1988. And things sort of rolled on from there...

He moved to the UK in 1990 to try and go professional, and has worked for most major comic publishers since then, including drawing strips for Doctor Who Magazine, DC Comics, Marvel Comics and Dark Horse.

Hugh, who hails from Dewsbury, has just completed the 37th and final issue of his comic REET!. By day, he's an illustrator and designer at UK Greetings and makes comics in his spare time.

As well as meaning 'arse' in Dutch, REET! was a free monthly comic distributed around Leeds and Hull until August 2008. Hugh drew most of the strips but the title gained a growing number of contributors, who offered a mix of styles, from 'slice of life' to the absurd. The REET! name continues through various comic projects. All 37 issues of REET! are available to read here for free.

Alex and Robin talk to Roger about his career so far and bringing Jim Henson's beloved creations to the page, while Alex talks to Hugh about Northern humour, self-publishing and his influences...

Strip!: Muppets, Giant Cuboid Chickens and Other Weird Creatures is broadcast at 5.00pm on Thursday 7th May and 11.30pm Sunday 10th May on Resonance 104.4 FM (London), streamed at www.resonancefm.com, podcast soon after transmission at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

REET! is a good ol'-fashioned Yorkshire word, the meaning of which can be found here!

TOXIC Goes Star Trek

The latest issue of Egmont's TOXIC - out today - comes with free Green Alien Ears and an Outer-space Water Blaster, capitalising on the hype for the new Star Trek film. (We remember Spock having green blood, but not green ears, unless Kirk slapped him on the noggin in a cut scene...)

The magazine, one of the few kids titles on the UK news stand with at least some regular comic strip - in this issue, there's an all-new Team TOXIC adventure - The Return of Frankendrac - also includes a Star Trek preview, a Richard Hammond Blast Lab experiment, rates the top five dinosaurs in ITV's Primeval and challenges readers to a Monsters vs Aliens - Which Monster Are You? quiz.

We have heard on the grape vine that along with the arrival of Jamie Smart's Count von Poo strip, other changes are planned for the comic-magazine: more news when we get it...

• TOXIC web site: www.toxicmag.co.uk

In Review: Western

Reviewed by David Hailwood

Well, what can I say? The contributors to Accent UK’s latest anthology must’ve played some very bizarre games of Cowboys and Indians when they were children. In fact, I’m willing to bet their games had almost no Indians in them at all. More likely they’d have had zombies, werewolves, Cthulu-esque aliens, demons, mad professors, mutated donkeys, and elves (yes, you heard me…elves!)

Not that the cross-genre approach many of the contributors have taken is a bad thing of course. For starters, it means that even if you absolutely hate westerns, there’s still plenty for you here. From Dwight L. MacPherson (of the brilliant Edgar Allan Poo series published by Image) and Kirk Manley (who also provides a glorious wrap around cover for the anthology) there’s a hellish tale about a cursed man who deserted from Custer’s army, only to discover there’s no escaping retribution from Custer’s 7th Cavalry in the afterlife.

Kate Brown’s Coyote and The Giant looks at first a little out of place in a Western anthology, but fortunately comes with a brief explanation that it’s based on a Native American folk tale, which made me a little more accepting of all the pesky elves and giants, and the distinct lack of six-shooters. The fact that it’s brilliantly written and illustrated also helped (and who wouldn’t want to see elves eating their way out of a giants stomach, eh?).

Indio treats us to A Fistful Of Corpse Meat; a story that’s madder than a bag full o’ hamsters that have been permanently deprived of cheese. This particular offering, as you may have cunningly deduced, is one of the strips that has zombies in it. Not only that, but it’s also got a twenty-two fingered banjo player, an evil maggot eaten villain called Black Frank The Hat, and a brainless knife-wielding demonic saviour named Johnny Slash. Insane story, insane art, and definitely one of my favourites. It’s welcoming news that Accent UK are harnessing Indio’s artistic talent for their upcoming Stephenson’s Robot bi-monthly series, which will certainly be one to watch out for.

"But wait one moment!" I hear you cry, "What if I love westerns, but hate zombies, elves and all of the above?’’ Well, there’s plenty in this anthology for the hardcore Western fanatic as well; tales of love, vengeance, betrayal and honour, which incorporate authentic wild west phrases such as ‘Hands up, you varmint!’, ‘Saddle Up!’ and ‘Damn you and the horse you rode in on!’

For instance, Leah Moore, John Reppion and Dave Hitchcock team up once again to tell the emotional tale of Mrs Henry, a woman who’s cheated on by her husband, and decides to settle the matter in a traditional western fashion – with a gun (none of that messy ‘divorce’ business. Things were so much simpler in those days). The story’s nicely juxtaposed against a marvellously grizzled looking musician belting out ‘oh bury me not on the lone prairie’ on the piano.
Steve Bissette’s Tenderfoot displays a terrific piece of scripting, with excellent character descriptions such as "he looked like the hind quarters of bad luck" and "if his brains had been dynamite there warn’t ever enough to blow his nose".

The Men Who Built The West by Kieron Gillen and Andy Bloor rounds off the anthology perfectly (and also this review) by treating us to the best punchline the Wild West’s ever witnessed, and probably had all 54 of the anthologies other contributors muttering "Damn! Why the heck didn’t I think of that?"

Anyway, to sum up: Western is another solidly put together package from Dave West and Colin Mathieson. Out of the 37 strips contained in the anthology, most are good, none are bad and very few are ugly.

Western is black and white with a colour cover, costs £7.99, has 190 pages, and is available from www.accentukcomics.com. Or you can pick up a copy from their stall for a "convention special price" of just £7 at the upcoming Bristol Comics Convention.

Well, what are ya waitin’ for, pardner? G’wan! Git!

Major Alan Moore Interview Published

Alan Moore and interviewer Pádraig Ó Méalóid. Picture via Forbidden Planet International

The Forbidden Planet International blog - earlier this week announced as one of the Top 50 blogs in the UK and the only comics blog in the list - have been hinting at it for a while but the first part of Pádraig Ó Méalóid's new and "smegging huge" interview with top award-winning writer Alan Moore has just been published, with the following two parts due to appear in the next few days.

As you’d expect from Alan the subjects and references are many, from Threepenny Opera to Monty Python and the Clangers (and the especially nice thing is you just know he’ll attach as much importance to a Clangers reference as he would to a classical literary reference). This part also includes more background on Alan and Kevin O'Neill's latest book, Century: 1910, and some of his past music work. Will he perform again? Read the interview to find out.

When we say huge, we mean it by the way. "The interview ran to two hours long, all of which I then had to type up, with the exception of a very small personal piece that got left out," says Padraig. "The whole thing was 27 pages and nearly 15,000 words long." Not quite as long as one of Mr Moore's famous comic scripts, then.

Read Part One of the Alan Moore Interview Here
Find out more about FPI's Top 50 Ranking in the UK's Top Blogs

Monday, 4 May 2009

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie...

-- Out, Out, Out! What's that? She turned into a man and re-named herself Tony Blair? The cunning minx...

30 years ago today (4th May) Margaret Thatcher walked through the doors of 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister, quoting St. Francis of Assisi. As far as I'm concerned, she totally failed to bring harmony where there was discord, and any hope where there was despair was ruthlessly crushed for anyone who was not a Fat Cat business tycoons or bank manager. But of course, opinions differ about Maggie, scourge of miners, students, pensioners... oh, all right, I'll come quietly, officer...

Noting the divisions she fostered, London's Cartoon Museum has asked two veterans of the ideological battles of the Thatcher years – Kenneth Baker, who served in her cabinet from 1985 until 1990 and is vice-chairman of Museum and Steve Bell, the Guardian’s chief cartoonist – to select some of their favourite cartoons of Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, her colleagues, her critics and her adversaries. (The opposing views she generarated are perfectly captured in the featured cartoon above caricatured by Charles Griffin, via Bloghorn)

The London-based Museum's latest exhibition shows how she has been both loved and loathed by politicians, the press and the public, featuring a selection of nearly 100 cartoons by 35 cartoonists from across the political spectrum. Steve Bell, Michael Cummings, Stanley Franklin, Nicholas Garland, Les Gibbard, Charles Griffin, Jak, Peter Kennard, Gerald Scarfe, Posy Simmonds and Ralph Steadman all feature in an exhibition that chronicles her rise to power, the Falklands war, the miners’ strike, privatisation, the poll tax, Europe, her eventual downfall and her long term impact on both the Conservative and Labour parties.

While Thatcher ws the butt of many a cartoon (although, off the tope of our heads, she was never drawn to look like one), the British Journalism Review noted back in 2007 that she did not care how she was depicted – she rarely looked at cartoons and never bothered to watch Spitting Image. "She appeared to be a gift for cartoonists, but the more the left-wing artists attacked her, it seemed, the stronger she became," the site states. Indeed.

The exhibition is accompanied by a gorgeous, fully illustrated 100-page catalogue, including contributions by Kenneth Baker, Steve Bell, Lord Carrington, Michael Foot, Les Gibbard, Charles Griffin, Geoffrey Howe, Ken Loach, David Owen, David Steel, Norman Tebbit and Admiral Sir John ‘Sandy’ Woodward.

Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Margaret Thatcher – Mother of the Nation or Monster from the Blue Lagoon opnes on 6 may and runs until 26th July. The Cartoon Museum is at 35 Little Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London and open: Tuesday – Saturday, 10.30 – 17.30 and Sun 12 – 17.30. Web: www.cartoonmuseum.org

BBC News: Maggie's Cartoon Legacy Item

Tube Surfing: 4 May 2009

The Most Natural Thing in the World by Francesca Cassavetti• Over on Comic Book Resources, Brian Cronin has just completed a month of posting reviews of a different self-published comic book each day. Check out the archive of reviews here

• Meanwhile, Matthew Badham has perhaps taken a leaf from Brian and has started his own recommendation challenge for self-published work etc., entitled 100 Days, 100 Cartoonists, so far plugging the likes of British talents such as Francesca Cassavetti, Steve Larder, Eleanor Davis, John Allison and others. Follow Matt's blog here

• Talking of self publishing, over on Bear Alley, Steve Holland has announced he's risking his bank balance with his first Bear Alley book, reprinting an as-yet un-named collection of an old British comic. We have no idea what the comic is, but we're rooting for a collection of Come on Steve by Roland Davies, which we know one of Britain's top comic experts has a fondness for, as do we.

Steve Goes to London by Roland DaviesSeriously - given the work Steve has done bringing the work of talents such as Don Lawrence to the attention of today's modern comic fans, he deserves support. "The artwork is scanned, the introduction written in rough, a cover is being prepared and I have some quotes in from printers," Steve says.

"At the moment it looks like it will be a 300-copy limited edition hardcover which means the unit cost is huge so the eventual selling price will be £15. Which isn't unreasonable for a hardcover...

"The title... well, I'll be announcing that shortly. I'm still trying to figure out how the hell I'm going to sell 300 copies and what I'm going to be living on while all my savings are tied up in piles of books. Roast book... fried book... raw book..." Check Bear Alley for updates


• Web site 2000AD Review has posted a round table feature with creators Alan Grant, Al Ewing and Rob Williams, talking about writing the comic's most famous strip. "Mega-City One is one of the most prescient SF worlds ever created," argues Ewing along the way. "After all, we're more than halfway there - MPs, making full use of the 'Big Lie' technique and our own increasing hysteria, are now legislating everything they can imagine and a few things nobody else dared to. Did you know that there's an upcoming law that could technically make owning a copy of Watchmen a sexual offence? And if you don't agree that that's necessary, you support paedophilia. Maybe the Judges will be knocking on your door one of these nights..."

• Talking of writing comics, Jim Medway offers some thoughts on that process - in particular, speech and thought - on his blog, part of his ongoing publication of his work as a Comic Workshop tutor. Well worth checking out if you're interested in writing comics.

• And since we seem to be plugging writers in this round up, Alan Moore has just been interviewed over on Newsarama about the just release League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume, Century: 1910. Moore expresses high regard for publishers Top Shelf in the piece and a shift in his way of working for this project as a result. "It’s been something of a revelation. Not because I’m surprised at the production job Top Shelf is doing, or how pleasant they are to work for, because those are things I decided when they published Lost Girls by me and Melinda. But what has been a bit of a revelation is the effect working at Top Shelf has had on me, and I think Kevin [O'Neill] as well.
"I think we both decided that because we were not working for anything we recognized as a mainstream comics publisher, we have changed the way we think about the work. It’s a subtle thing, but if you’re working in mainstream comics, as both of us have been doing for getting on 25 years or more, then really, it’s a thing that you kind of take in by osmosis. You absorb the values of the field in which you’re working." Read the full interview here

• Hunt Emerson has a new strip in the Beano, a revamp of the classic Fred’s Bed which many of you reading this may be suddenly remembering very fondly right now. "Reprints of the Tom Paterson Beezer strip Fred's Bed had been running for a couple of years," notes fellow Beano artist Lew Stringer, "but now the strip has been given a makeover with an all new series illustrated by Hunt Emerson. The reprint had always proven popular with Beano readers but the source was finite, so commissioning new strips was always likely... The new version of Fred's Bed has a few changes to the original; Fred himself has been redesigned and he now sets his alarm clock to control where he travels in time instead of the random occurrence in the original strip."

• (via Forbidden Planet International): Paul B Rainey has just published the ninth part of his There’s No Time Like Present series (available from his web site). Paul says he’s been pondering endings and now thinks that the whole TNTLP series will wrap up with part twelve - although he adds that “I have been warned by people more intelligent than me that endings can often take longer than anticipated"...

• Quick Surfs: Declan Shalvey has just posted preview covers for Boom! Studios 28 Days Later book, which he's drawing; to celebrate The Specials reforming (yay!), Brendan Mccarthy has published some vintage artwork of the band from 1979, and some Johnny Rotten artwork done around the same time; and Dave Morris pays tribute to the legendary comic store Dark They Were and Golden Eyed here.

• Compiled with thanks to Matthew Badham

Sunday, 3 May 2009

In Memoriam: Adrian Kermode

Artist Terry Wiley and the late Adrian Kermode and partner. Photo courtesy of Terry.
"I'm sorry this picture is a bit gormless," says Terry. "It's just that he was the sort of chap who would always
pull a funny face in pictures; believe me, this is the least gormless one I could find..."

downthetubes regrets to report the death of British journalist and comics writer Adrian Kermode who was found dead at his home on Saturday morning, cause of death at present unknown. He was 45.

As a journalist, Adrian contributed to independent titles Vicious and Borderline Magazine and was co-creator with Terry Wiley on the much-loved Petra Etcetera, which won the National Comics Award for Best Independent British Comic in 2001, and was nominated again in 2002, and Deadman & Hyde (the latter reviewed here on comics bulletin) and writer of Doctor Sorrow, drawn by Mike Juniper.

He also contributed a number of strips to The Girly Comic such as Doctor Lovemonkey.

"We've lost someone great," notes Andrew Luke, previously saying of an issue of Petra Etcetra, drawn by Terry Wiley, "Adrian Kermode’s script captures the minute, commonly visible social and accompanying appliances with links galore. It’s quite physically facilitating, Any sweetly-sickly personal turmoil is coated with an edge from a laughter production manufacturing, which has a dual smart infection option... delicious."

"Sadly, in the last few years the demands of Ady's civil service career effectively put an end to his writing," notes 'Israeli in his tribute. "He'll be sorely missed by his many friends."

"It's going to take a long time to figure out what we're going to do without him is all I can say," says Terry Wiley.

Comic Expo Countdown...

There’s just one week to go until the 2009 Bristol International Comic Expo (featuring the Small Press Expo) at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on 9th and 10th May 2009 (and Mercure Holland House Hotel (Sat 9th only) and whilst the full allocation of two-day tickets are long gone, a very limited number of other tickets: SPExpo-only tickets for Saturday 9th, and ComicExpo-only tickets for Sunday 10th can be obtained from the relevant websites.

The organisers stress these extra tickets are strictly limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis – it's possible that a few will be available on the door at one or other event, but it’s recommended to reserve your ticket online to be safe and avoid disappointment on the day.

The websites listed below also contain full panel, signing and exhibitor details, but here’s an update on the very latest news from a number of attendees:

Factor Fiction will be selling the 10th Anniversary issue of Violent!, which was originally launched by Mike Sivier at the Bristol Comics Festival in 1999. They will also have the latest issue of The Girly Comic, featuring not one, but two Terry Wiley strips, including his new series Verity. The issue also includes regular strip Space Girl and brand new Lee Kennedy strips.

If you haven't already picked one up then don't miss out on your chance to pick up a copy of The Girly Book Volume 1, which collects strips from the first nine issues. It's a lovely hardback edition and a "very reasonable price of £15" according to the review on the Forbidden Planet International blog. For newcomers to The Girly Comic, the publishers will have bargain packs featuring early issues of the comic.

Classics Illustrated (www.classicsillustrated.co.uk) will bring their latest pair of titles – Jungle Book and Goldilocks – to the show, as well as having great show-only offers on all of their books – check their website out for full details of all titles available in the series so far.

Self Made Hero will be bringing Emma Vieceli and Ilya to Bristol for signings of special advance copies of their latest Manga Shakespeare books (Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear respectively). Rob Deas will also be in attendance on Saturday to sign copies of his Macbeth book. They will also be bringing Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard along for a special Sherlock Holmes panel and signing.

Insomnia Publications will be bringing the third volume of their anthology series, Layer Zero (cover by
Scott James, colours by Jason Millet, above). Choices features work from an incredible range of new talent alondside experienced professionals from the world of comics (with work under their belts for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Calibre, Heavy Metal, 2000AD, to name a few) and some bold individuals experimenting with crossing over from other creative fields such as journalism, animation, screenwriting, sculpture, fine art and graphic design.

(Talking of Insomnia, the creators of their new book CancerTown, just reviewed by
Geek Syndicate, have just been interviewed by JazmaOnline, so you can read more about what on earth they thought they were doing in creating this monster: Cy Dethan Interview here,
artist Stephen Downey interview here, while another of their creators, Simon MILK Wyatt is interviewed by Jazma here).

Finally, May 2009 and the Bristol Expo sees the release of Fetishman issue 9 'Space!', a rude rollicking romp across the final frontier and beyond decency!

• For SP Expo Tickets and Info see:
www.spexpo.co.uk • For ComicExpo Sunday tickets only and info see: www.fantasyevents.org

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• 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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