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Saturday, 20 June 2009

Standby For Stingray Music

StingrayFanderson, the official Gerry Anderson Appreciation Society, have released the soundtrack for the puppet series Stingray on CD for the first time. The double CD has a total of 54 tracks consisting of over two and a half hours of Barry Gray's original music for the series.

Remarkably the soundtrack for Stingray, which was first broadcast on television in 1965, has never been released before on CD, or even vinyl, with only the theme music and Aqua Marina, the end credits song, being readily available so this double album marks a major coup for the fan club.

Over the years Fanderson have released many soundtrack albums of Barry Gray's music from the various Anderson series. Their licensing agreement with copyright holder ITV Global Entertainment means that only 1000 copies can be pressed and that they can only be sold to Fanderson members. This means that once the albums sell out, as most previous releases have done, they become highly collectible and often sell for over £100 on internet auction sites.

Stngray CD Sleeve

Indeed at least one copy of the new Stingray album has already appeared on eBay with the seller obviously hoping that some gullible buyer would not realise that it would be cheaper to join Fanderson for one year and buy the album directly from them than it would to be to pay his seriously inflated starting price. The album was removed from sale after Fanderson contacted the seller directly while the club have already noticed an increase in new membership applications since they started advertising the new album for sale.

Due to the limited nature of the release the cost, £29.99, is high but this is not some knocked up fan CDR but a fully realised double album with a full colour glossy 28 page booklet included, making it a better product than many soundtrack albums you would buy on the high street.

Century 21 DiaryA one year membership of Fanderson costs £25 in the UK, £28 in Europe and £31 for the rest of the world for which, in addition to the access to their impressive sales list, members get three copies of their A5 glossy full colour fanzine FAB and a membership premium of an exclusive perpetual Century 21 Diary. The diary which is formatted as one week to one page is a tribute to the TV21 diary that Letts produced during the 1960s and is filled with colour photos from the various Gerry Anderson TV series. For the comics fan, the diary includes the cover of one Anderson related comic per week, from the obvious TV Century 21 and Lady Penelope to the less well known New Captain Scarlet and Space Precinct titles.

• More details about the Stingray soundtrack album are available on the Fanderson website which also includes details of how to join the club.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Comics Events At the Edinburgh Book Festival

Edinburgh International Book FestivalIt is almost that time of the year again when the chaos of Festival hits Edinburgh. International, Film, Fringe, Television and the Tattoo as well as many other smaller festivals invade the city, but the one of most interest to comics readers is the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Last year the BookFest put on more comics related events than ever before which downthetubes reviewed here. These proved to be so successful that the Festival in 2009 has a similarly diverse selection of comic and graphic novel related events.

They begin on Saturday 15th August when former Dandy editor, DC Thomson archivist and author of The History Of The Beano, Morris Heggie, former Beano editor and current BeanoMAX editor Euan Kerr and Minnie The Minx artist Jim Petrie will take over the Studio Theatre to create a new Beano inspired character with the help of the children in the audience. Later that day My Diary writer and artist Mio Matsumoto will talk about her autobiographical graphic novel which charts her fight against cancer. Following her talk she will take a comics workshop aimed at at teenage audience.

Wednesday 19th August brings political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe to the RBS Main Theatre to talk about his his life and work. This is followed by Neil Gaiman who will talk about his books and his graphic novels.

Edinburgh International Book FestivalThe following day, academic Dr Mel Gibson will discuss the theme of Visual Literacy, Learning and Graphic Novels before Neil Gaiman returns in the evening this time with Scottish crime author Ian Rankine to discuss their work on graphic novels.

On Monday 24th August Dan Dare artist Gary Erskine returns to the Festival for a second year to give a workshop aimed at teenagers on creating comics, while the next day brings a Writing Workshop on Graphic Novels. The writer due to take this event remains to be announced but it is worth pointing out that Tony Lee will be talking about his new Robin Hood graphic novel later the same afternoon.

Wednesday 26th August brings Metaphrog duo, Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, to the workshop tent for a workshop on creating a comic strip aimed at teenagers. Metaphrog have done many of these workshops in Scotland this year and last, but this is the first time that they have lead a workshop at the Book Festival.

Saturday 29th August bring Scottish writer Mark Millar to the RBS Corner Theatre to discuss his graphic novels which include Wanted and Kick-Ass, while the comics events conclude rather more sedately on Sunday 30 August with Manga Shakespeare artist Chie Kutsuwada (also known as Chi-Tan) taking a manga inspired workshop once again aimed at teenagers.

As with last year the Book Festival is once again providing a comics programme for a wide variety of tastes.

• Details of the Edinburgh Internal Book Festival as well as details of how to order tickets are available on their website. The Festival runs in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square Gardens from 15th to 31st August 2009.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

In Review: Doctor Who - The Time Machination

Doctor Who - The Time MachinationWriter Tony Lee knows his Doctor Who - inside out, back to front, old and new, spin-offs and original.

It is ten years since Queen Victoria banished Sir Doctor Of Tardis and the Lady Rose from the Empire and the Torchwood Institute is now on the track of the Doctor. With the help of not-so-aspiring author Herbert George Wells, our time travelling hero attempts to save London as well as avoiding Torchwood and one of his earlier selves.

Indeed the sheer amount of continuity in this 22-page one-shot is dizzying. This is a Tenth Doctor story which is a sequel to a Fourth Doctor story, except it is set chronologically before it so it is really a prequel, but just to confuse matters further it is takes place after a Sixth Doctor story. Still with me? If you are a fan and I told you which Fourth Doctor story it was set after it would spoil the ending: if you aren't enough of a fan to get the clues dropped in as the plot develops then there is no point telling you which story it is anyway.

And yet the plot is only half the fun, the rest comes with Paul Grist's artwork. Be it the familiar -the Fourth Doctor, Sixth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, the TARDIS, Sonic Screwdriver and an old series companion - or the new such as Torchwood operatives armed with the Victorian equivalent of tasers complete with twin prongs, the artwork is just a delight to behold. Of course it isn't the first time that Grist has visited Torchwood, having both written and illustrated a Torchwood magazine comic strip that included a Victorian as well as the modern Torchwood team, but here he gets to add in David Tennant, Colin Baker and Tom Baker as well.

IDW Doctor Who comics are contractually only available in the USA and Canada, but they are readily available to the UK over the internet and it's common knowldege that most UK comic shops carry them as "grey imports". Even if you are not that interested in the on-going IDW series, this one off special is well worth the effort of hunting down.

• More Paul Grist artwork can be found at Paul Grist's Big Cosmic Comic. More details of the comic are on Tony Lee's website.

Latest Jeff Hawke's Cosmos Available

Jeff Hawke's Cosmos Volume 5 Number 2The latest issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Volume 5 Number 2, is now available. Bill Rudling's mammoth 88-page B&W A4 fanzine with colour covers continues to provide full length reprinted Jeff Hawke stories from the Daily Express newspaper.

The cover features the spaceships from 'Out Of Touch' written by Harry Harrison with art, of course, by Sydney Jordan. This 30 page story was originally published in 1957 & 1958 and features an introduction by Sydney as well as a post story commentary by Duncan Lunan. The other two stories featured in this issue are 'Made In Birmingham', written by Willie Patterson, which dates from 1965 and takes Jeff Hawke and his friends to the Middle East and 'The Changeling', also by Willie Patterson, which was originally published in 1963 and features aliens attempting to kidnap human babies.

The magazine also includes Duncan Lunan's regular factual astronomy column The Sky Above You, plus comics articles Who Rules Britain? (In The Comics That Is) by Ralph Morton and Part 13 of the regular Space Heroes articles. In this part, Andrew Darlington focuses on the American SF comic strip character, Brick Bradford.

• Cosmos is only available by subscription from The Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD or by e-mailing jeffhawkeATbillybee.plus.com. UK rates are £18.50 for three issues, overseas rates are £28.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Sock Puppets Go To Hollywood

Further to our Tube Surf about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival we now have more details about the shows of The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.

They will be appearing at the Gilded Balloon in Bristo Square each night at 10.15pm from 5 to 30 August 2009. This is the third year that the Theatre will be taking part in the Fringe in an extravaganza entitled The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Goes To Hollywood.


During their residency in the Scottish capitol they will be ably assisted by their right (and left) hand man, artist Kev F Sutherland. Indeed Kev is such a close personal friend of the company that it can be truly said that they don’t make a move without him.

• More details are on the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre website. Tickets are available from the Gilded Balloon website.

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