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Friday, 29 May 2009

Going Dutch for Comics

Sandra de Haan, a comic artist from Rotterdam just found downthetubes and writes to let us know that given that the Netherlands is a small country, she's started translating her comics into English to try and reach more comic fans.

There's a collection of about 30 stories on her new blog here. (Click 'lees veder', 'read more' to read the stories).

Sandra, who also teaches comics in schools (there's inevitably a strip about her experiences!) trained at the Willem de Kooning Academy: her credits include work for magazines such as
Viva, Psychology Magazine and others. She also includes book publishers among her clients, providing both carton and illustration work for a variety of clients.

The translated strips are fun, including this wonderful observation on the life of a freelancer, and a commentary on the state of the BBC.

Sandra kindly sent us one of her strips which you can enjoy below...





Manwha 100 Opening Report


Last week David Baillie was our downthetubes roving reporter lucky enough to be invited to a private view of the new Manwha 100 exhibition in London which, if the name hasn’t already given the game away, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Korean comics... Heres how the evening went...

The Manhwa: A Language of Unlimited Imaginations Launch Party was a lavish affair, abundantly attended as it was by Korean officials, journalists, people in spectacular costumes and cartoonists from both the UK and Korea. As Tripwire's Joel Meadows snapped photos, Mark Stafford (of Cherubs fame) quaffed copious amounts of free wine and Leon 'Doc' Hewitt discussed the technological implications of setting up a Manwha webcomics portal with a like-minded Korean tech-savvy businessman, I stuffed my face with an exotic delicacy I had just discovered in the finger buffet.

The Korean ambassador, upon noticing this, crossed the busy floor and politely informed me that they were called tok and apparently are very difficult to source here in London. I tried to thank him for the information, but my mouth was full of gooey rice.

A diplomatic disaster was narrowly averted when Sean 'Necessary Monsters' Azzopardi loudly declared he wasn't eating anything that looked like eyeballs.

Still busy chewing, I took the opportunity to wander around the exhibition and couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the work on show. Anyone who, like me, is addicted to visiting the Cartoon Museum on Little Russell Street will not want to miss Manwha 100. The Art Toon Art gallery area features the work of twelve contemporary Manwha artists, cherry-picked from the annual 'Masterpieces Meet Comics' exhibition which specialises in the cross-over between fine art and comics, and provides an intriguing hint at where the art form might be headed today.

Also on offer was a selection of work from some of the recognised masters of Manhwa – including artists such as Min-Woo Hyung and Kwang-Mook Lim. Meanwhile, in the back, Chul-Ho Park was hectically sketching and signing prints for fans in a room decorated with facsimiles of his comic pages.

The pièce de résistance of this exhibition, however, is the Manwha Bang (‘bang’ being the Korean word for ‘room’) which features a stunning library of Manwha titles in both English and Korean in a relaxing lounge setting. Having returned when the place isn’t flooded with people stuffing their face with Korean cakes and wine, I can thoroughly recommend The Great Catsy and Priest, among dozens of other titles. Interestingly, Manwha reads left to right like English language comics, so if you’re the sort of reader normally turned off by the initial cognitive dissonance of reverse reading Manga, this will be right up your street.

Now – can anyone tell me where I can find more tok?

• Manwha 100 runs until 24h June at the Cultural Korean Centre, 1-2 The Strand, just off Trafalgar Square. (Although the entrance is actually on Northumberland Avenue. You can’t miss it there’s a big Korean flag outside which can be seen as soon as your turn the corner.)

Tel: 020 7004 2600

Web Link: http://london.korean-culture.org

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Anthony Johnston Strips!

Concluding adaptation and inspiration month on his Strip! radio show for London's Resonance FM, Alex Fitch talks to writer and graphic designer Antony Johnston about combining text and image in comics and other media from his illustrated novella Frightening Curves to enriching the computer game he scripted - Dead Space - with a comic book prequel and interactive websites. Alex and Antony also talk about the latter's influences, writing the new Wolverine Manga and adapting the prose work of Alan Moore and Anthony Horowitz into comic book format.

• Strip!: Adapting prose for manga, games and genre comics airs today at 5.00pm (28/05/09), repeated 11.30pm 31/05/09, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com, extended podcast online at www.panelborders.wordpress.com after broadcast…

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Johnston Announces new Comic Comment Site

Lying in the Gutters columnist Rich Johnston has posted his final column for Comic Book Resources this week, but he isn't finished with the industry, because he's about to launch a whole web site devoted to comics comment. The site, Bleeding Cool, will launch on 1st June.

"A good gossipmonger never dies," says Rich over on Warren Ellis' Whitechapel site today. "He just goes from a weekly column to a daily blogsite.

"Bleeding Cool will feature everything you love and hate about Lying In The Gutters, but every day, reacting to topical news and featuring a host of columns, features, interviews, reviews, previews and… let’s go with familiar names. Expect real innovation."

The site is funded by Avatar Press, who have promised a hands-off editorial process, but whom Rich says he'll give an Avatar Plug Of The Week to to keep them happy. It will also feature other contributors, including Warren Ellis.

Cool!

24 Hours of Comics Creation

(with thanks to Selina Lock): It's still ages away but the dates are set for 24 Hour Comics Day in Dublin. This year's event will take place on 17th - 18th October at the Central Hotel.

The event is an international celebration of comics creation. Cartoonists from all over the globe are invited to take the challenge of trying to create a 24 page comic story in 24 straight hours. Many gather at special events in comic book shops, schools, and other locations.

"We're expanding to two function rooms this year and including some smaller comic related activities," says co-organiser Cliodhna Lyons, "but there will be more info on them closer to
the event.

"Right now we're looking for people to spread the word for a comic anthology we're printing in relation to the event."

• All the submission information is up on the event's new website at http://www.irish24hourcomics.com
• There's an FAQ for the event here. It's a rough FAQ, so keep checking back as the organisers improve it over the next couple of months.

RedEye Re-Launched

(via Bugpowder): Artist and designer Barry Renshaw is relaunching his excellent indie comic magazine RedEye.

First published in 2003 by Engine Comics, RedEye was dedicated to the independent British comics press. With the focus on UK creators, it covered comics, news and events that just simply wouldn't show up on other magazines' radar, due to lack of interest, knowledge or distribution.

"RedEye Volume 2 will be a monthly full colour PDF magazine available for download for £1/$1 at enginecomics.co.uk," says Barry.

If you're a publisher and have information for the next issue send your press releases, images, review copies and links to Barry via editor@enginecomics.co.uk.

The new e-edition of RedEye will again cover news on indies from across the world, previews of upcoming books, indepth interviews with legends in the industry and future stars, definitive articles on all aspects of the medium, reviews and feedback from readers.

"We'll also be including, due to popular demand, a monthly Guide to Self Publishing Q&A for those looking for some advice," Barry reveals, "an open submission for a 10 page comic strip each issue, and a rotating guest column from those in the industry."

Download previous issues of RedEye

Matters of Convention: And Then We Bought Some Chairs...

Matthew Badham goes behind the scenes with Oli Smith of London Underground Comics fame about their latest event, LUC 176, which will take place on 27th June 2009.

This is the first of a series of interviews with comic convention organisers over the next few months, which will be cross-posted on downthetubes, the Forbidden Planet International blog, Bugpowder and Fictions. Our aim is to give the conventions themselves some well-deserved publicity and also to, hopefully, spark a wider debate about what’s good and bad about the convention circuit in the UK.

176 co-organiser Oli Smith is a freelance writer and illustrator living in London who has also produced several self-published comics. He founded London Underground Comics in 2007, a group of London-based comic creators dedicated to raising awareness of the indie comics scene to the general public. The collective spent over a year running a stall in Camden Lock Market and Oli went on to organise several one-day festivals attracting hundreds of visitors and dozens of exhibitors each time. The LUC team also teamed up with Paul Gravett to run an event at the ICA during the ComICA festival., then went on to organise an exhibition at the Alphabet Bar in Soho, building to 176, what will hopefully be a massive one day multimedia event featuring live drawing, animation, comics and music at the 176 Project Space in Chalk Farm, London.

In his personal work Oli has self-published many small press comics, his first, Hazy Thursday, being named one of the best comics of 2006 by popular magazine Comics International. He also created the short film Weekend Friends, a documentary covering the events surrounding the second Camden Market festival which was shown at the Roxy Bar and Screen in Christmas 2008. He has also appeared in several episodes of Resonance FM’s Strip!, a weekly show about comics which can be downloaded as a podcast under the name Panel Borders talking about his work.

Professionally, Oli has illustrated articles for Electric Sheep Magazine and various comics anthologies as well as the odd indie album cover. He has written several reviews for Electric Sheep, Total Sci Fi, Sci Fi London and various comic-related websites and is currently working on illustrations for childrens’ books and has written for the 2010 Doctor Who Storybook.

downthetubes: Please tell us about a little about the history of your con and how it's evolved over the years.

Oli Smith: As I'm sure most readers of this article are aware, London Underground Comics (LUC) began life two years ago as a weekly market stall in Camden Lock manned by whichever people I could drag down from their ivory towers to help me stand around for eight hours on a Saturday.

Then we bought some chairs.

Then we sat around selling literally thousands of comics to the general public and realised we had been conned in the past by the small press scene and comics events organisers telling us that the only way to network or sell anything was to give them lots of money for events that didn't cater to our needs. So we decided to do our own conventions, to see how we did without the 'networking opportunities' of 'real' cons.

Then we met Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Eddie Campbell and got Paul Gravett to dance to the Austin Powers theme tune whilst we helped organise an event at the ICA and were interviewed by Radio 4.

We also ran two events in the Market with 50 exhibitors each time, a footfall of a few hundred visitors and for the first time in their life, I think every small presser could afford a round of drinks plus extra from the profits of the day, or at least had 50p spare.

Pretty sweet, I think.

downthetubes: How is your con funded, by ticket sales, the exhibitors, a grant from the council, some other means or a combination of these?

Oli: 176 is funded by GOSH! comics shop and exhibitors. It's amazing what you can get for free if you just ask. I don't think we've ever had to pay over a hundred pounds for a venue, and considering the locations and spaces we get, it's a great deal.

For this special event we wanted to offer exhibitors more for their money than any other con, so we asked Gosh! if they would donate some money so that we could buy every exhibitor their own canvas and provide some sort of materials to decorate them with. They were very generous.

Also, anybody who is an animator gets the opportunity to have their work shown on our massive wall screen for free. We've also managed to subsidise the booze and give out free teas and coffees.

Did I mention ambient DJ's throughout the day and live music in the evening?

As you can see, we make the exhibitor's £5 for a quarter table and £10 for a half go a long way.

downthetubes: What are the overall aims of your con/event?

Oli: God, I don't know. When I started LUC I was very idealistic, but late nights of balancing accounts and replying to a million emails and organising the bloody thing have drained the political spark.

So what I would like to achieve now from 176 is for everybody to have a brilliant day out, try some new things, sell lots of their work to new and interesting people and get to see their mates. And to try and do it in such a way that they go home with a bob or two to spare.

downthetubes: Who is your con aimed at? What sort of punters do you hope to attract? Are you family-friendly?

Oli: 176 is aimed at everyone, I want to see people who have never heard of comics drop by on the day and see what's going on. I want regular con goers to come and try something new. I want to present the small press as a stylish and professional thing to be part of, rather than rickety old vanity press in the corner.

I know that's not to everyone's taste, but I don't mean change the way you make comics. I mean change the way you sell comics. Let’s make those tourists think they're talking to professional artists when they drop by. Let's show the diversity of what the underground scene can really be. For instance, it takes me mailing round everybody to find out that there are some fantastic musicians in the small press world, and some even better animators. How didn't I know that before?

And, yes, we are family friendly. Not only are we going to have a nice little reading area and outside tables for people to sit and read their purchases, but you've also got the animations and coffee to give people a reason to stay past a quick circuit of the room and to want to read their purchases at the event!

downthetubes: How effective have you been in getting those kind of people to attend?

Oli: Very. Next!

Well, up until now we've only had events in tourist hotspots. It's not hard to attract a crowd on a Saturday in Camden if you've got 50 people in an event. The 176 Gallery is well known if you like art, but a little off the beaten track. Maybe I’ll send people out flyering round Chalk Farm tube. I still think we'll pack the place, to be honest.

downthetubes: Can you give a projected (or actual) attendance figure for your event?

Oli: Well, we sold all our table space in two weeks so that’s 45 exhibitors (we decided not to cram as many people in as possible, but to give the people that come a really nice experience and room to breathe). So, if they're sensible they'll invite all their friends and family. Then you've got the regular gallery attendees. We're the last event of a two month long series of arty things so there'll be people attracted by that, and then anyone who picked up one of Jake Harold's sexy fliers surely won't be able to resist.

downthetubes: What lessons have you learned during your time running a con, in terms of marketing and advertising your event?

Oli: Flier. Lots.

The youtube videos are a fun diversion, but they're there more to give a welcoming front to the people that are on the fence, to show we're friendly. But if a couple of people come because of them, then that's great.

What's nice are places like the Forbidden Planet International blog and downthetubes that are very good at picking up our announcements, which pretty much covers the comic circuit, and the Gosh! association should bring down some more London-based fans as well.

downthetubes: Do you use emerging technologies to spread the word about your con? Do you have a website or blog, or use email mailing lists?

Oli: I don't have a mailing list. It would be too long really and I'd have to keep updating the contacts and stuff. It's too fiddly. We have the London Underground Comics website and my website and my twitter and facebook groups and events so it's pretty easy to keep tabs on what's going on if you're linked to me in any way. Facebook and twitter are good because word of mouth can spread pretty quickly once they get informed that such and such a friend has joined the LUC group or whatever.

Then there's the youtube videos, which still seems to be an emerging technology in the comics world.




downthetubes: What about print? Do you use print advertising, have a newsletter, anything like that?

Oli: Haha, God, no. Who would, in this climate? If you print it you lose money, and if you charge for it you don't get readers. No one wants to go out and get anything physical for news any more. Also, it'd be such a pain to distribute when I could just post it all on a website, and hit some randomers along the way.

downthetubes: What's the mix in terms of exhibitors at your con? Do you even have exhibitors?

Oli: Yes, we have exhibitors, although in the future I want to maybe move away from the standard 'market' layout to events. But then, I want to graffiti a building for a day as my next event.

The mix is a hard balance to achieve; I love getting the newbies involved and they're very keen and up for anything. It's the best feeling in the world to know you're a few people's first ever convention. But then again I want all my old friends to come down and to have a catch up with them, so it's striking the balance of being fresh for the new punks and just the right hint of familiarity so you don't scare off the oldies. Like you, Matt.

downthetubes: What are your thoughts on the small press comics scene in this country? How do you try and support it (do you try and support it)?

Oli: I have a lot of thoughts on the UK small press scene, most of them revolving around, what's it for? I've had a few breaks recently in work and commissions, and none of them came from making a small press comic. I've not seen a career ladder that starts in small press and ends in professional work, I mean, it happens, but it could just as easily be a chat with the right person rather than a critically acclaimed masterpiece.

And if a career ladder isn’t your thing and you just want to share your ideas then that’s great and that's why I do it too. But is paying through the nose for a space at a con to sell comics to people you know really sharing your ideas or getting the word out? Or is it vanity press? Is it a club for people to sit around and feel famous because they're in a room with a very specific bunch of people who have all visited their site?

Convention organisers aren't helping break the vanity press mould and neither are the exhibitors who keep paying for these events. With LUC, I took comics to anywhere but where comics fans are found: the Alphabet Bar art gallery off of Oxford Street; Camden Market; The Prince Charles cinema; the Bookart Bookshop; we've given talks at schools and libraries. If we are scouting out a venue and there might be someone there who has heard of LUC then we're not doing our jobs and we move somewhere else.

To me, art is about communicating ideas, and sharing those ideas with as many people as I can. It's not about making a new issue to sell to all your friends at a convention so that you can make slightly less of a loss at the end of the weekend. That's just mutual backslapping. And I love my fellow creators, I really do, but I don't want them and only them to read my work. Because to me that isn't small press.

downthetubes: How much are the tickets for your event? How did you arrive at that price? Please tell us about any concessions.

Oli: Tickets? You want me to charge money for people to come into a room and buy things? That's ridiculous. It's like WH Smith charging you to come in, even if you just want some gum. How do you get people who don’t know anything about comics to come in off the street with an entry fee?

At 176, there's reasons for everyday folk to stay and watch the animations or bands or abuse the coffee. Even if I had a panel of comics professionals, that wouldn't justify an entry fee for a family of four who don't know who any of those people are and only wanted to come in because their son saw Wolverine at the cinema.

downthetubes: How much are exhibitor tables for your event (if you have any)? Again, how did you arrive at that figure? [Editor's note: exhibitor tables at 176 are fully booked and have been for some time]

Oli: We work out what we want to do, how much it will cost and divide it by the number of people. If it's too much we cut back or find another venue. We never charge on the door, and we don't want to price anyone out of the market. It's small press, not private press. You shouldn't pay a member’s fee to take part.

Sadly that means I don’t make any money, but then I wouldn’t be best pleased to go to an event that charged me, lets say, £120 for a table. How many comics would I have to sell to break even on that? And how many more to cover my train fair, hotel bills and printing costs for this completely hypothetical event? A train to Birmingham is expensive.

downthetubes: Do you run workshops/events/panels at your con? Please tell us about those and how they are organised.

Oli: Every exhibitor gets a canvas. They draw/paint a picture on it during the day and we build a wall at the back of the room out of them as they are finished. Every event is accessible to all. The animation, the music, the comics should become this synergy-type entity. I don't want a convention, I want a festival.

downthetubes: As you've been kind enough to answer these questions, please fell free to big your con up a bit. Tell us what you do well, what your event's main attractions are and why our readers should attend the next one.

It's going to be a fantastic day filled with fantastic people. I've already gone into a lot of detail about what we offer above. I would like to say that if there are any more people out there who have animations they'd like to show or some music they might feel appropriate, please just send me an email (chocolatewednesdaycake@yahoo.com) and I'll try and fit you in somewhere.

See you soon!

• 176 will take place on Saturday 27th June from 12 noon until 7.00pm at Project Space 176, Prince of Wales Road, London. For more information visit: http://londonundergroundcomics.com/?page_id=482. Our thanks to Oli for taking time out from revising to do this interview: hope his finals went well!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ellis, Grant in Dundee for Comics Day

Warren Ellis and Alan Grant are to headline Comics Day at this year's Dundee Literary Festival.

The pair will give a talk about their careers at the festival on 28 June, which will also include a session devoted to 2000AD, considered the most successful and influential British science fiction comic still in publication.

"Each year the Comics Day grows in profile," Dr Christopher Murray, the organiser of Comics Day, told The Scotsman, "and it is my intention to make it a staple event, underscoring Dundee's central position as the home of comic culture in the UK."

He added Comics Day gave the festival a dimension most literary celebrations lacked.

• Dundee Literary Festival: www.literarydundee.co.uk

The Dangerous Illustrations of Graeme Neil Reid



When it was published in June 2006, Con Iggulden's The Dangerous Book for BoysThe Dangerous Book for Boys was a surprise hit. Mixing factual historical stories with information on places, things and "how to" articles, the book appealed to young and old alike. From how to skim stones or play conkers, to details of patron saints and royalty, via fishing, dinosaurs, spies and the planets, the range of subjects was enormous and other publishers soon jumped on the bandwagon while Iggulden and his publisher, HarperCollins, stayed one step ahead of the competition with Dangerous pocketbooks and yearbooks. The latest title in this line is The Dangerous Book of HeroesThe Dangerous Book of Heroes which will be published on 28 May 2009.

In this Dangerous Book author Con Iggulden, with his brother David, tell the inspirational stories of British heroes and heroines, from the familiar names of RAF pilot Douglas Bader and nurse Florence Nightingale to the less well known such as archaeologist Gertrude Bell and buccaneer Henry Morgan.

The entire book is illustrated using black and white illustrations by artist Graeme Neil Reid, who has previously worked on such diverse titles as Desperado's Negative Burn anthology comic and the BBC's Radio Times listings magazine. Graeme took the time to talk to Jeremy Briggs about his work on the new book...

downthetubes: How did you come to be involved in the Dangerous Book of Heroes project?

Graeme Neil Reid: I was asked along with two other artists to 'try out' for the book. We were given two sample chapters to look at and asked to produce what we thought would be best. They really left it quite open as to what we could do with the layout and design of the pages and what to choose to illustrate. I submitted my samples and about three weeks later was asked if I wanted the job.

downthetubes: With such a wide variety of subjects in the book, how were the illustrations chosen?

GNR: A lot was left to my discretion but we also had a tone meeting and a few basic guidelines where set about what I could and couldn't show. We had all agreed that even though many of the subjects in the book are about war that we wouldn't show any gratuitous violence in the book. We also worked out a basic plan of what we'd like to see illustrated in the book.

downthetubes: The layout of the book sometimes has the illustrations wrapping around the text as well as others covering two pages. Did you decide on layouts or was this set by the book's designer?

GNR: Part of the open brief was to 'do what we wanted' so that for me included how the illustrations would appear on the page. The interior of the book was 'set' or laid out by myself so I had control over how I could use the images, say as a stand alone image or linked images spread over the pages.

downthetubes: How much input did you have from the authors?

GNR: Once I had produced a pencil version of each chapter it would be submitted to the editor and if approved it would be passed on to the authors for approval. In many respects I was lucky that they liked a lot of the work I produced and most illustrations where either approved to be finished or had minor tweaks. Other than that I didn't have any involvement with the authors, it's very much their book and I was lucky enough to get to be involved.

downthetubes: With some subjects being from the recent past and others centuries old, how did you manage to get enough reference material?

GNR: With a lot of hard work to be honest! There are 43 chapters in the book, so it's very much like trying to illustrate 43 books, as the subjects all required their own referencing.

I'm very interested in history myself so I found that for maybe a quarter of the book. I had already a basic knowledge in the subject and could confidently make a start on. On some chapters, I was assisted by friends who I knew had a good understanding of the subject and they lent me books and answered my questions patiently. I was also given the assistance of an image researcher by the publishers and she trailed through the internet and libraries searching for images.

We tried our best with each chapter to get things technically right and I hope that shows in the book. However, the schedule we had to stick to meant that quite often I would have around a day to two days to do the reference hunting I needed and sort it into an order I could use before I had to start working. That might sound a lot of time but in the cases where you where approaching the subject with no knowledge yourself and then had to figure out uniforms, weaponry, ships, buildings and many other things and make sure that it was accurate, then it really was hard going.

downthetubes: Finally, with such a wide range of subjects to cover did you have a favourite to illustrate?

GNR: I'm very much a child who was brought up on war comics and so I instantly lent towards the chapters that involved those subjects. But as I said, I have a liking for history anyway so much of the book was of interest. I got to draw a lot of planes which I enjoyed but sadly only one tank, which is my favourite piece of military hardware!

I've also become pretty proficient at drawing horses and quite a few naval ships. Overall, it was an enjoyable project and I hope people pick it up and give it a go.

All illustrations courtesy of Harper Collins, with thanks to Graeme Neil Reid

Web Links

Buy The Dangerous Book of Heroes from amazon.co.uk

Buy The Dangerous Book for Boys from amazon.co.uk

Graeme Neil Reid's website

Graeme Neil Reid's blog

Con Iggulden's website

In Review: Giant Clam Comics

Back in the 1980s, there was a short-lived British comics fanzine called SCAN, edited by me and designed by Matthew Bingham, who went on to work on proper magazines like FHM, but I've lost track of him these days. Its subscribers included Alan Moore and many others, and the chaps at Marvel UK were incredibly supportive of our modest efforts: Mike Collins drew stuff for it, Richard Starkings lettered several of the strips, including our Captain Babylon strip, a Captain Britain spoof... but it also gave a platform to artists such as Dave Jones, who went on to become a mainstay of Viz, and Ralph Kidson who...

-- Well, actually, what did happen to Ralph Kidson?

After 20 years plus, I recently made contact and discover he's still self publishing the kind of bizarre funny stuff that I enjoyed way back then, which included his own superhero spoof, Captain Dolphin. Lately, he's been publishing Giant Clam Comics - collections of his intense, bonkers stories featuring the likes of an envelope that's a hitman with Delta Force, Daleks and Cybermen discussing the merits of different Doctors and their companions; and plenty of what you can describe as "observed humour" with his own unique take on observation that skews the world in a totally mental way.

Over on TRs2, Andrew Luke offered this opinion of Ralph's work, just in case you think I may simply be bigging up an old mate:
Giant Clam is very keen observational comix, it gives form to some deeply trivial rants needing attention and provides relief to the reader by their minimalisation in a brief form. Ralph employs the trick of making it look like very little work has gone into his comix which suits perfectly the subject matter. When one of his characters casts a mobile phone away it serves as a powerful emoticon, rendered in non-power it creates an ease that fits the context of the subject and narrative.

Ralph has a knack for involving the everyday, the natural world and providing transition in memory of grating past. He is also very fucking funny indeed, and if you're going to be checking out one of his comics for the first time, has got some really good stuff for future.
Still not convinced? Then how about this enthused review from Cartoonist, illustrator and Panic Coordinator to Breakfast television PB Rainey for Giant Clam #3?
The third edition of the funniest object in any medium, Giant Clam, is... funnier than Harry Hill's TV Burp, funnier than Count Arthur Strong, funnier than Curb Your Enthusiasm even. In the latest issue; The Matrix Guy, more domestic adventures with Envelope and Stick, the best moral at the end of a story ever -- and Daleks.
Suffice to say, Ralph Kidson delivers something unusual in a neat little pocket-sized package - a title for adults who are not easily offended (because he likes a challenge and it is nice to see if he can offend the not-easily-offended as well).

• You can buy a single issue of Giant Clam Comics (we enjoyed #3) for just £1, including P+P from Ralph Kidson, RalphieComics, 3 Langridges Rd, Newick, Near Lewes, BN8 4LZ. Cheques, postal orders payable to Ralph Kidson, Enquiries to ralphiek@btinternet.com

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Furman Talks Revenge!

There's still a month to go in the UK before Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opens in cinemas here (19th June), but the first part of US publisher IDW's comic adaptation, written by Transformers supremo Simon Furman, is on sale now in all good comic shops.

"This was my first stab at turning a movie script into a comic book, so I’m eager to hear what people think," Simon notes on his official blog. "It was actually more of a challenge than I thought it would be, as so much has to be condensed, refined, shuffled or realigned to make it work as a cohesive, coherent panel-to-panel comic book.

"All the key plot points need to be front and centre and some stuff, inevitably, has to be almost sidelined or skipped over...But it was fun too. And I was pleased with the end product, especially as artist Jon Davis-Hunt made it all look so damn good!"

Read Simon's full comments here on his blog

• Revenge of the Fallen: The Official Movie Adaptation
#1 is on sale now, with #2-4 following in quick succession thereafter. For more details of all IDW Transformers releases, check out their website here.

CancerTown Signings Announced

Cy Dethan, writer of Insomnia Publications new graphic novel Cancertown, has revealed several signings are planned for the book, which features art by Stephen Downey, colours by Melanie Cook and letters by Nic Wilkinson.

The first to be announced are:

• Forbidden Planet, Belfast 2 - 4.00pm Saturday 30th May
Signing by artist Stephen Downey who will be offering a free, unique sketch to anyone who buys a copy. Official Forbidden Planet announcement here

• Whatever Comics, Canterbury 11.00am - 4.00pm Saturday 6th June
"Whatever Comics is unquestionably my all-time favourite comic shop," says Cy, "and its owners have been among my strongest supporters throughout my adventures in the comics business, so this one's a lot like coming home for me. Nic Wilkinson, Insomnia's Creative Director, will also be at the signing.

• Waterstones, Chelmsford Saturday 27th June

More details and dates to follow, including signings in Dublin and Newport on the Isle of Wight.

Cancertown centres on Vince Morley, a man with big problems and a brain tumour like a baby's fist, living with one foot in a monstrous alternate world he calls Cancertown.

When the lost and dispossessed of London start tripping over the same cracks in reality he spends his life avoiding, Morley realises he must confront the residents of Cancertown - and risk finding his place among them.

Order Cancertown from Amazon

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