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Friday, 3 July 2009

Birmingham Con Helps Realize Creators Dreams

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This year's British International Comic Show in Birmingham has announced the publication of the first winner of the BICS Got Talent Writing contest.

The lucky winner, John Howson, has had his Future Shock story “9 to 5” illustrated by the talented artist Ben Willsher in the latest issue of the world famous science fiction anthology magazine 2000AD, which is available now in all good newsagents.

Last year, two artists where also picked up by DC Comics when Editor Mark Chairello visited the show, and this year the organisers plan to keep helping to establish that career path from creator to publisher by working with artists, universities and publishers very closely.

This year - once again – artists will have the chance to show their work to DC Comics editor Michael Wright and other editors who will be attending the show.

As always, the UK’s largest event devoted to the medium of comics will also play host to a weekend long schedule of great events including an exclusive interview with visionary comics creator Howard Chaykin who will be flying over to take part in many other events over the weekend.

Visitors will also get the chance to meet artists from as far a field as Japan, Spain, and America including fan favourite artist Pasqual Ferry, who will be helping to celebrate 70 years of Marvel Comics along with other creators such as Alan Davis, Paul Cornell and Doug Braithwaite.

Along with the huge comics fair featuring the UK’s most reputable dealers and publishers and an eclectic and vibrant presence from the thriving UK indy scene this year’s BICS is sure to be the premiere event for all comics fans in 2009.

• To find out more about BICS visit: www.thecomicsshow.co.uk

• To find out more about 2000ad visit: http://www.2000adonline.com


All artwork © Rebellion BICS logo © International Comic Shows

'Nana Rocket launched by Forbidden Planet!

toy_fp_rocket_hughes.jpgThis is just a bit of Friday fun! In 1988, Forbidden Planet commissioned the young Rian Hughes to create the world famous rocket logo and typeface still used today.

Now you can own a piece of history with this vinyl replica, brought to 3D life by Matt ‘Lunartik’ Jones based on the acclaimed artist, designer and typographer Rian Hughes original logo design. This variant version comes complete with Lunartik Banana design!

More pics and info here on the FP web site

BVC's Shades Enters Spirit World

comic_shades12prw.jpgBritish Web comic publisher Broken Voice Comics has just released Chapter 12 of its flagship title, the online graphic novel Shades online, plus some of the first pages of Chapter 13 have just been launched at its website. For the first time, the new chapters allow readers a glimpse of the story's mysterious spirit world.

Written by David A J Berner (whose adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Oval Portrait” was included in the Self Made Hero anthology Nevermore in 2007) and illustrated in full colour by E.C. Nickel, Shades is both a timely examination of the characteristics and traits that have come to define the British national character and an appreciation of the super hero genre, from a particularly UK perspective.

Until now, most of the action in Shades has taken place in a very real-world version of the UK, but the spirit world has always been hugely important to the story.

"We learn very early on that the Shaman (a prehistoric mystic) relies on the spirits for his knowledge, and that the energies of that world are the source of many of the characters’ unique abilities," reveals Berner. "From this point in the story, however, events in the physical world and the spirit world start becoming increasingly intertwined."

In Chapter 12 a demon spirit known as Thrawn manifests itself in the physical world. Able to twist and manipulate a person’s self-doubts and insecurities, the demon finds plenty of material to prey upon in the troubled minds of the British heroes who people Shades.

In Chapter 13, readers are finally given their first glimpse of what the spirit world is actually like.

"Technically," Berner elaborates, "we only make it as far as the Fringes – a kind of buffer zone between the physical and spirit worlds. But then, it’s not the most inviting of places so perhaps that’s as close as we want to get!"

comic_shades12iiprw.jpg"The art team has done a fantastic job of rendering the nightmare landscape of the Fringes," David enthuses. "E.C. Nickel has really been able to demonstrate his love of surreal detail in these sequences, and the sombre, brooding colours by Muamal Khairi add a dimension that wouldn’t be out of place in an H.P. Lovecraft novel!”

Formerly the Senior Editor of webcomics studio Midnite Comics, David formed Broken Voice Comics in February 2006. Since its launch, Broken Voice Comics has been home to Berner’s own comic projects including Shades and his two four-part fantasy mini-series, The Spires and Hunted along with Guest Titles such as recent arrival G.A.A.K. by Darryl Hughes and Monique McNaughton.

Behind the scenes on the project, Berner informs us that work on this graphic novel is now nearing completion. "The script for Shades was written back in 2003,” he says, “so it’s been a long haul, but the end is finally in sight. The art team is already working on the last two full-length chapters (15 and 16) and then we just have a short epilogue to do, before we have to start looking at the options for putting together a collected print edition!”

• For more on Broken Voice Comics and its titles visit: www.brokenvoice.co.uk

Pasties Are Better Than Comics

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Oh all right, that's not really true, but you'd be hard pressed to find more enthusiasm for the pastry-based food, created by the Cornish and whose reputation is frequently ruined by bakeries across the UK who simply have no idea how to make one*, than in Rob Jackson's fun new comic anthology devoted to them.

Celebrating this lunch time staple of Cornish miners, students and many others, indie British creator Rob Jackson has just launched the 28-page The Pasty Anthology, which features contributions from downthetubes contributor and new Dad Matt Badham, Jim Medway,
Steve Butler, Francesca Cassavetti, Dave Hughes, Ant Mercer and of course, Rob himself.

The Pasty Anthology available from Rob's web site, priced only £2.50 (PayPal accepted), free postage in the UK.

"I mentioned a random idea on my blog for a Pasty based story ('The Story of Greggs' – which was a Viz-style story, thinking of those pages in Viz every so often that are called things like ‘The Story of Honey’ or ‘How We Get Milk’)," explains Rob of the anthology's origins. "Dave Hughes was very keen and started drawing pages for it so I thought I’d better actually make it."

Rob admits it's a pretty off-the-wall theme for a comic, "but everyone likes pasties. I was happily surprised at how all the artists have gone for very different takes on the vague theme.

Rob tells us he hopes his fans and newcomers to his work and the other creators will enjoy the title, which he's been working on since February. "It's very funny," he enthuses, "and has lots of very diverse stories."

Despite creating a Pasty Anthology, Rob admits he's never made one of his own. "Cheese and onion is my favourite, or Greggs Vegetable pasty," he admits, "but Dave Hughes did masses of research for his two stories (which are very funny). He's like a method actor in his diligent research!"

• Buy The Pasty Anthology via www.robjacksoncomics.com

• Sample Pages and more info on Rob's blog:
www.robjacksoncomics.blogspot.com


* (I once gave a proper Cornish pasty recipe to the now defunct bakery chain Birketts, which had a shop on the Lancaster University campus, but it did no good, they never produced a decent one).

Comics International Back for San Diego

magazine_ci_stspecial09.jpgPrompted by fans questions over on the downthetubes forum, Comics International's Barry Renshaw has sent us a short but hopeful message on the future of the much-missed comics news magazine, which has been consigned to scheduling hell for several months.

"We appreciate people have been waiting on info on Comic International's future," he says, "and [editor] Mike [Conroy] and I are working on a press release for the relaunch with 208 which will address all the queries of the forum.

"#208 will be out to coincide with the San Diego Comic Con and re-establish the monthly frequency we've been having problems with."

magazine_ci_horrorspecial09.jpgBarry adds that the CI Star Trek Special and the Horror Special should be in shops next week: having seen the interiors of the Trek Special it should prove a definite collector's item. It's beautifully designed and encompasses the entire history of Trek in comics with plenty of accompanying visuals. Fingers crossed, its publication will finally bring an end to CI's publication woes.

• More about Comics International at: www.comics-international.co.uk

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Strip!: There’s no time like the present

Starting Sci-Fi comics month on the Strip! radio show for London-based arts channel Resonance FM, Alex Fitch talks to small press creator Paul Rainey about his serialised graphic novel There’s no time like the present, which he has been self publishing as individual comic books over the past five years.

TNTLTP tells the story of a group of friends from Milton Keynes who suffer from the usual concerns of our generation – niche interests, unfulfilling jobs, difficulties with dating etc. – but in a world where time travel exists and the UK in the present day is a holiday vacation for patronising visitors from the future.

Alex and Paul talk about the latter’s influences from Alan Bleasdale to Doctor Who, Kurt Vonnegut to Coronation Street, how the opening of a new memorial in Milton Keynes is best attended by a Dalek and the process of telling a long form narrative with an unusual structure.

Strip!: There’s no time like the present airs at 5.00pm today, Thursday 2nd July, repeated 11.30pm 05/07/09, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) and streamed at www.resonancefm.com and podcast soon after transmission at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

Ex Astris Artist Celebrates Moon Landings

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Mike Nicoll, the creator of CGI comic Ex Astris featured in Spaceship Away, has sent us this fab piece of art to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first human moon landing, which forms part of a gallery of art marking the event over on thedownthetubes forum.

Several artists have contributed images so far for our celebration, including Doctor Who illustrator Colin Howard, Space Age Magazine editor Bob Bello and the Etherington Brothers.

More contributions are welcome. More details on how to contribute here

Pride Illustrated at Foyles

Illustrators, cartoonists and artists gathered in London yesterday to discuss graphic literature and queer culture as part of Pride London, for an event chaired by comics expert Paul Gravett.

The line up at the event, held at Foyles book shop, included Kate Charlesworth, David Shenton, whose work is currently on show at the Glasgow Musesum of Modern Art as part of sh(OUT), Sina (The Book of Boy Trouble) Shamsavari, Rachael House, whose work features in the forthcoming US anthology Spilling Over, and Howard Hardiman . Unfortunately, Jeremy Dennis, who is producing comics with the Whores of Mensa, and was scheduled to at the event, didn't make it.

• For more on Pride London visit: www.pridelondon.org

Combat Colin: The New Brickman

new_brickman.jpgBrickman is dead and there's a new Brickman patrolling Guffon City - ex-Marvel UK hero of the 1980s, Combat Colin!

The bobble-hatted bucaneer ditches the bobble hat for a black cowl and cape in US publisher Active Images Elephantmen #20 on sale now in all good comic shops.

Brickman, a wonderful Batman parody, is the creation of top British cartoonist Lew Stringer. Originally created as a character for Marvel UK and featuring in titles such as Action Force, ownership of Combat Colin was assigned to Lew by Paul Neary, back when he was Editorial Director in the 1990s. This was part of a wider move by Neary to make good on promises that certain strips and characters - particularly those that featured in Marvel UK's Strip! comic - would be creator owned.

Let's hope this is just the start of a long overdue Combat Colin revival.

Talking of Lew Stringer, however, folk here may know he has been publishing a superb blog about British comics for many years, but, unfortunately, he's had to scale back on that.

"My apologies for a lack of blogs of late," he commented earlier this week. "I'm currently undergoing hospital eye tests for a potentially serious problem so it's quite a worrying time and probably best to keep away from the computer except for work.

"Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly."

We wish Lew all the very best at this time.

More info from the the official Elephantmen website!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

In Review: Timeframes Dundee

Now in its third year, Dundee University's comics conference has become established as a regular part of the British comics year and both the number and the recognition factor of the comics creators who attend has increased year on year. Under the auspices of the Dundee Literary Festival, this year's Sunday conference had the theme of how comics both deal with, and subvert, the passage of time within their stories.

Prefaced by a morning workshop on writing for graphic novels by ex-2000AD editor David Bishop, the main conference began after lunch with an introduction by organiser Dr Chris Murray of the university's English department. After the pink Hawaiian shirt that he sported at the Beano celebration last year, Chris' shirt this time was a more ecological themed lime green. It is worth reiterating that Timeframes was set in a university and billed as a conference rather than a convention and so the first two speakers were academics with what was, to many in the audience, an over analysis of how time passes between the panels of a comic strip and how Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean used time in both the real and fictional worlds in the graphic novel of Signal To Noise.

The dryness of the initial two topics was brought into sharp perspective with the first talk by a comics creator. Manga Shakespeare artist Emma Vieceli bounded to the front of the lecture theatre in an explosion of enthusiasm that lifted the mood of the room considerably. Looking for all the world like a Manga character herself, with her long hair and black and white outfit, she took the audience through her adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing showing the real Italian locations that she had used as well as her more unusual graphical trickery to illustrate parts of the narrative. Borders, who were running the bookstall in the reception area, definitely missed out here as they did not have any copies of Much Ado About Nothing of sale on their stall which would have sold well for them based on the first enthusiastic applause of the day from the audience. The final speaker of the first section was Dr Mel Gibson, who regularly gives talks to non-academic audiences, covered how Bryan Talbot dealt with different time periods and the story-within-a-story concepts of Alice In Sunderland. While the earlier talk didn't inspire me to read Signal To Noise this did make me want to return to Talbot's book and the number of people looking at it on the bookstall afterwards suggested that I was not alone.

The break after this allowed for free refreshments before the audience moved upstairs to the Lamb Gallery where the exhibition of artwork from DC Thomson's Starblazer digest was formally opened. Starblazer editor Bill McLoughlin gave the attendees a gallery talk as he walked around the exhibits pointing out details and relating tales of his time on the title. Also at the gallery talk were artists Ian Kennedy, Keith Robson and Colin MacNeil with cover artists Kennedy and Robson each getting a wall of the gallery devoted to their work while one of MacNeil's covers had been blown up into an enormous poster sized print. This free exhibition is now open to the public until 22 August 2009.

The second selection of talks began with editor Bill McLoughlin and artist Keith Robson talking about their work at DC Thomsons in general and on the Starblazer title in particular with some good natured needling of each other over the differences between editorial and artistic concepts of the same idea. As much as they did overrun their time slot, I could have listened to much more of this. Next up was academic Peter Hughes Jachimiack with a presentation given the less than riveting title of "Days Of Future Passed: A 1970s Britain, Economic Downturn An Utopian Futures In Children's Science Fiction Comics". This actually turned out to be an interesting overview of Starlord comic with an emphasis on Ro-busters and in particular the Lep-R rocket/Midpoint Tower collision story, as illustrated by Ian Kennedy, with its 9/11 overtones. Next up was ex-Tharg David Bishop, a university lecturer himself nowadays, with an entertaining look at how Alan Moore dealt with the concept of time in two different 2000AD Future Shocks and the final Halo Jones story. Artist Gary Erskine came next with a heavily illustrated talk on his work on the Virgin Dan Dare series from concept to completion emphasising writer Garth Ennis' attention to visual detail on his designs. A short presentation from Insomnia's Cameron Coutts on the Edinburgh company's current and forthcoming range of graphic novels completed the session.

After more refreshments and a popular signing session from all the professionals still in attendance, the conference moved into its final section with its two keynote speakers. Writer Alan Grant had originally been intending to talk about his career in comics but had been inspired by the academic nature of the event to instead change his theme to his thoughts on the current state of comics aimed at primary school age children. Emphasising the general lack of stories in the titles and the blandness of those that were included, he ranged from Barbie to biblical Armageddon making the point that children just are not interested in bland stories. The conference concluded with a short talk from writer Warren Ellis which had been, if his blog is to be believed, written earlier that day and fuelled by Red Bull and cigarettes. With Ellis seated comfortably at the theatre's microphone he concluded with a long Q&A session allowing the audience more of an interactive opportunity with him than with any of the other guests.

With other literary and book festivals regularly charging upwards of £9 per guest talk, at £10 for the entire day, plus refreshments during each break, Timeframes was an absolute bargain. The university theatre was well equipped and spacious, if a little warm at times, and the reception area outside, with its good selection of graphic novels and comics related books for sale, allowed for socialising between sessions. In addition, with most guests taking the opportunity to chat in the reception area during the breaks, the day had a friendly feel which is what organiser Chris Murray was aiming for.

That said, the extant dichotomy between the erudition quest emanating from the divergent knowledge levels of the independent researchers present and the referential requirements of academic study may always prove to be a cause of concern prior to each Dundee event, treading as it does the fine line in its temporal ratio of conference vs convention, so the event chairs should remain aware that the interest length of the non-academics present will show an inverse ratio to the sentence density of dictionary level words used during the presentation of academic papers.

In other words, as long as the academic presenters remember that they are not presenting to a university level peer review but to a general albeit attentive and knowledgeable audience and that an illustrated conversational style is therefore preferable to reading from sheets of A4 with too many long words and too few full stops, then Dundee will remain as it was this year, an interesting as well as an unique part of the comics events diary.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Blink Twice Battle to Save Mankind!

comic_transformers16_titan.jpgAll right, all right -- we admit we did a bit of a double take when we got this piece of hyperbole in our mailbox -- surely even for those plucky Etherington Brothers, the creators of Monkey Nuts, Moon and other comic gems (such as this cover, right, by Lorenzo for Titan's Transformers #16, last year), this was a slightly over ambitious title for an announcement - but then, you've got to have goals in life!

As it turns out, the boys were just keen to let us know that they're involved in Titan Magazines ongoing bumper monthly Terminator Salvation Comic, inspired by the film starring Christian Bale.

Robin has been charged with unearthing a series of data files from the Skynet archives covering all manner of scientific and military wonders, from Time Travel to Nuclear war and beyond. The first article appears in Issue 2, which is on sale now. Click here to order a subscription to this superb comic, or visit your nearest Newsagent!

Oh, and keep an eye on the studioblinktwice blog as Lorenzo will be posting a very special piece of Terminator artwork soon!

In addition to their work for Titan, the Etheringtons are also teasing their many fans with hints of some new projects. "Contractually we aren't allowed to share any specifics at the moment," they tease. "All we can say is that there are two major Etherington publications confirmed for release, with a third under review and looking incredibly positive.

"Until we are given the go ahead to post real details with you all, this teaser will have to suffice. But trust us - we're working on some wonderful projects and the wait for an official announcement is not far off."

Meanwhile, you could head over to our new "Moon Landing Anniversary" album on the downthtetubes forum, where the boys were one of the first creators to give us something for our Apollo celebrations!

• For all the latest from Bob and the Blink Twice Boys, visit www.studioblinktwice.com

Ex Astris: Homecoming on myebook

Myebook - Ex Astris: Homecoming - click here to open my ebookIn addition to publication of Ex Astris on ROK Comics and Clickwheel.net, a web version Ex: Astris Homecoming, a 10-page strip which first appeared in the British comic in Bulletproof Comics #2, is now available via myebook. Click on the image on the right to view the comic or follow this link.

This standalone story, written by John Freeman and drawn by Mike Nicoll, links with the strips published on ROK Comics and Clickwheel.net.

Included in this myebook is a one page article with some background on the origins of the strip, recently commissioned for an ongoing run in Spaceship Away for 2010.

myebook aims to revolutionise the way you can create, publish and share ebook content online. Built on a feature-rich social platform, complete with free-to-use powerful, browser-based, builder software, and a slick reader environment, it's an easy way for anyone and everyone to 'get it out there', and several independent publishers are using the platform to promote their projects. You'll find books such as new Garth by Huw-J, The Fat Man by Thomas Cochrane, previews of Marksoia titles, and comics from Orang Utan Comics, Insomnia Publications, Unico Comics and many others.

If you want to read Ex Astris: Homecoming in print, then head over to the Bulletproof web site and order a copy of #2, an 80-page anthology which also features strips such as Slumbertown by Rik Hoskin & Thomas Crielly, Simba Khan by Paul Birch & Jon Haward, Love Hurts by David Hailwood & Stuart Giddings, Sideburns by Jim Alexander & Jon Haward and Redstitch by Lee Langford & Klaus Belarski.

• Bulletproof Comics: www.bulletproofcomics.co.uk

Read Ex Astris: Homecoming on myebook.com

Cartoon Festival Planners Gather in London

event_LCFlogo.jpgLondon-based comic creators will be gathering again next week (Tuesday 7th July) to discuss ideas for next year's planned London International Cartoon Festival.

This is the first of what are now bi-monthly Festival meetings at the Cartoonist Pub and, as well as discussing the Cartoon Festival, the meetings are social gatherings with business networking opportunities. A regular group of attendees is developing now, giving the meeting a real 'club' feel about it.

Plans for the Festival itself are gathering pace, says organiser Simon Ellinas.

"A lot has been discussed, a lot of plans have been made and a lot of people have been seen. There's a groundswell of support building up from cartoonists all the way through to official organisations such as Visit London, Visit Britain and The Cartoon Museum.

All of these venerable institutions are lending the power of their publicity departments to ensure that no corner of the universe will be unaware of the London International Cartoon Festival," he continues. "Camden Council are keen to get involved in any charitable angle we can incorporate and we can just about hear doors squeaking open in the office of Boris Johnson whose assistants have promised us access - we just have to be patient!"

The actual content of the Festival is still being devised and revised all the time and a website is developing into a nice place to visit for updates and various bits and pieces of cartoon-related news.

• The next London International Cartoon Festival meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 7th July at The Cartoonist Pub, Little New Street, off Shoe Lane, London EC4A 3JB. Web: www.londoncartoonfestival.com Blog: londoncartoonfestival.com/blog

2009 Harvey Award Nominees Announced

28.jpgThe 2009 Harvey Awards Nominees have been announced with the release of the final ballot, presented by the Executive Committees of the Harvey Awards and the Baltimore Comic-Con, with British creators Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely among the honoured nomimees.

DC Comics online comics service, Zuda Comics, has helped bring several new talents to light, an indication of the surely now undisputed importance of the web comic format.

Named in honour of the late Harvey Kurtzman, one of the US comic industry's most innovative talents, the Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art. They will be presented 10th October 2009 in Baltimore, in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con.

Nominations for the Harvey Awards are selected exclusively by creators - those who write, draw, ink, letter, color, design, edit or are otherwise involved in a creative capacity in the comics field. They are the only industry awards both nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. Professionals who participate will be joining nearly 2,000 other comics professionals in honoring the outstanding comics achievements of 2008.

Final ballots are due to the Harvey Awards by Friday, 28th August, 2009. Full details for submission of completed ballots can be found on the final ballot. Voting is open to anyone professionally involved in a creative capacity within the comics field. Final ballots are available for download at www.harveyawards.org. Those without Internet access may request that paper ballots be sent to them via mail or fax by calling the Baltimore Comic-Con (410-526-7410) or e-mailing baltimorecomicccon@yahoo.com.

This will be the fourth year for the Harvey Awards at the Baltimore Comic-Con, which will be held 10-11th October, with top web comic creator will be Scott Kurtz (www.pvponline.com) on hand as master of Ceremonies at the award ceremony and banquet.

The 2008 Harvey Award Nominees:



BEST WRITER

• Kyle Baker for Nat TurnerNat Turner, Abrams Books

• Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Marvel Comics

• John Gallagher, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics

• Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy KidDiary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books

• Grant Morrison, All Star Superman, DC Comics


BEST ARTIST

• Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella AcademyUmbrellla Academy, Dark Horse Comics

• Kyle Baker, Nat Turner, Abrams Books

• Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules!, Renaissance Press

• Jason Kruse, The World of Quest, Yen Press

• Frank Quitely, All Star Superman, DC Comics


BEST CARTOONIST

• Lar deSouza, Least I Could Do: www.leasticoulddo.com

• John Gallagher, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics

• Al Jaffee, Tall Tales, Abrams Books

• Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy KidDiary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books

• Thom Zahler, Love and Capes, Maerkle Press


BEST LETTERER

• Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules!, Renaissance Press

• Rob Leigh, The Spirit, DC Comics

• Doug Sherwood, Local, Oni Press

• John Workman, Marvel 1985, Marvel Comics

• Thom Zahler, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics


BEST INKER

• Rich Faber,Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics

• Jamie Grant, All Star Superman, DC Comics


• Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy KidDiary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books

• Mark Morales, Thor, Marvel Comics

• Ryan Winn, The Darkness, Image Comics


BEST COLOURIST

• Frank Cammuso, Otto's Orange Day, Raw Junior, LLC

• Jamie Grant, All Star Superman, DC Comics

• Laura Martin, Thor, Marvel Comics

• Wil Quintana, The Mice Templar, Image Comics

• Dave Stewart, The Umbrella AcademyUmbrellla Academy, Dark Horse Comics


BEST COVER ARTIST

• Frank Cho, Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rule! #3, Sky Dog Press

• James Jean, Fables, Vertigo Comics

• Jay Lynch, Mindshaft #23, Mindshaft Publishing

• Ken Rocafort, Pilot Season: Core #1, Top Cow

• Alex Ross, Justice Society of America, DC Comics


BEST NEW SERIES

The Dreamer, IDW

Echo, Abstract Studios

High Moon, www.zudacomics.com/high_moon

Night Owls, www.zudacomics.com/the_night_owls

Supertron, www.zudacomics.com/supertron


BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES

All Star Superman, DC Comics

Captain America, Marvel Comics

Diary of a Wimpy KidDiary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books

Mice Templar, Image Comics

The Umbrella AcademyUmbrellla Academy, Dark Horse Comics


BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION

Draw!, edited by Mike Manley, Twomorrows Publishing

How To Make WebComics by Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Straub, Image Comics

Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier, Abrams Books

Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles edited by Dean Mullaney, IDW

Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels edited by David A. Berona, Abrams Books


BEST SYNDICATED STRIP OR PANEL

Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! by Tim Rickard, Tribune Media Services

Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley, United Features Syndicate

Mutts by Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate

The Norm by Michael Jantze, Uclick Gocomics

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis, United Features Syndicate


BEST ANTHOLOGY

Comic Book Tattoo edited by Rantz Hoseley, Image Comics

Flight Volume 5, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Villard

Mome Volume 10, edited by Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics Books

Piku #1, edited by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, Self-Published

Poggun Volume 2, edited by Joe Keatinge and Mark Andrew Smith, Image Comics


BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM - ORIGINAL

Bottomless Belly Button, Fantagraphics Books

Rodrick Rules: Diary of a Wimpy KidRodrick Rules: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books

Essex County: The Country Nurse, Top Shelf

Skim, Groundwood Books

Too Cool To Be Forgotten, Top Shelf

World of Quest Volume 2, Yen Press


BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM - PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED

Amelia Rules!: Funny Stories, Renaissance Press

M, Abrams Books

Nat Turner, Abrams Books

The Mice Templar Volume 1, Image Comics

Queen and Country Volume 3, Oni Press

• em>Skyscrapers of the MidWest, Adhouse Books


BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY

ACME Novelty Library #19, Self-Published

First Born: Aftermath #1, Top Cow

Love and Rockets Volume 3 #1, Fantagraphics Books

M, Abrams Books

Nascar Heroes #5, NASCAR Comics

Nat Turner, Abrams Books

The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard, First Second

Y: The Last Man #60, Vertigo Comics


BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT

Astounding Space Thills by Steve Conley, IDW

Complete Peanuts, Fantagraphics Books

Complete Terry and the Pirates, IDW

Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles, IDW

Wacky Packages, Abrams Books


BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL

Gus and His Gang, First Second

Pocket Full of Rain, Fantagraphics Books

Red Coloured Elegy, Drawn and Quarterly

Solanin, Viz

Witchblade Takeru Manga #'s 11 & 12, Top Cow


BEST ON-LINE COMICS WORK

Black Cherry Bombshells, Tony Trovarello and John Zito, www.zudacomics.com

High Moon, www.zudacomics.com/high_moon

Least I Could Do, Lar deSouza and Ryan Sohmer, www.leasticoulddo.com

Night Owls, Bobby and Peter Timony www.zudacomics.com/the_night_owls

PVP, Scott Kurtz, www.pvponline.com


SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOUR IN COMICS

• Lar deSouza, Least I Could Do, www.leasticoulddo.com

• John Gallagher, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics

• Al Jaffee, Tall Tales, Abrams Books

• Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books

• David Malki, Wondermark, www.wondermark.com


SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION

Complete Local: Hardcover Edition, Ryan Kelly and Brian Wood, Oni Press

Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier, Abrams Books

Queen and Country Volume 3, Greg Rucka, Mike Norton, Steve Rolston, and Chris Samnee, Oni Press

Tall Tales, Al Jaffee, Abrams Books

• Wondermark Volume One: Beard of our Forefathers, David Malki, Dark Horse Comics


BEST NEW TALENT

• Matt Cassan, Nascar: Heroes, Nascar Comics

• Bryan J.L. Glass, The Mice Templar, Image Books

• Laura Innes, The Dreamer, IDW

• Tim Sievert, That Salty Air, Top Shelf

• Bobby Timony, Night Owls, www.zudacomics.com


Congratulations to all the nominees!


• For additional information about the Harvey Kurtzman and the Harvey Awards, visit www.harveyawards.org.


• For additional information about the Baltimore Comic-Con, visit www.comicon.com/baltimore.

Tube Surfing, 30 June 2008: Baxendale, Bernice Summerfield and Graveyards

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Above: The Bash Street Kids, drawn by Leo Baxendale, start a circus in a story from Beano Issue 1063, published in 1963. Bash Street Kids © DC Thomson


• (via FPI): Leo Baxendale features in The Times today, recalling the early 1950s and his first approaches to DC Thomson, them taking on Little Plum, Minnie the Minx then the immortal Bash Street Kids. More details and links over on Forbidden Planet International's blog, or jump straight over to The Times. Talking of Leo, his next volume of memoirs, Hobgoblin Wars, is due fairly soon.

• Big Finish have announced that Simon Guerrier's book, Bernice Summerfield - The Inside Story, will be out in August. The book is a warts-and-all guide to the character first created for Virgin's Doctor Who New Adventures by Paul Cornell, but who quickly grew to feature in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip and get brought to life by Big Finish in several audio adventures, voiced by actress Lisa Bowerman. More info here on the Big Finish web site.

• (via Bear Alley): The latest Eagle Times (Volume 22 Issue 2, Summer 2009) continues a run of excellent issues with more of the same. The cover story is a look at the nature artwork of Tom Adams, nowadays best known for his covers for Agatha Christie novels but who has had quite a diverse career over the past sixty years. Other features include looks at the Dan Dare stories Operation Saturn and The Man from Nowhere, Eagle Autographs, Rex Keene (the first in a new series of 'Rivals of Jeff Arnold'), the third part of a look at Heros the Spartan, a P.C. 49 text story, pop music in 1965 and a look at Eagle Holidays.
Subscriptions are £22 (overseas £34 in UK pounds) for four issues a year from Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2UA. More info at: eagle-times.blogspot.com

• Congratulations to Neil Gaiman, who has picked up yet another award for his novel, The Graveyard Book, this time the 2009 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book.

• A new web portal, Talenthouse launches today, aggregating the works of artists from multiple disciplines including music, fashion, fine art, graphic design, film and photography.
Based in California, the site is the brainchild of British recording artists Amos Pizzey and run by CEO Roman Scharf. It allows artists to build their own profiles for free to display their work in full screen mode, gather followers and alert friends when new work is posted.
Cynopsis Digital reports the site's business model includes selling subscriptions to its database to TV and film studios and talent agencies (like the Amazon-owned IMDBPro), as well as launching brand-triggered creative competitions to source the community for new designs (sort of a multidisciplinary Filmaka)

• Bloggers and other writers may be interested to know Google-owned YouTube has launched its own portal to help instruct citizen journalists about how to practice better reporting. YouTube's Reporter's Center features house-made videos, clips from seasoned Pros from Dover including Katie Couric and Bob Woodward and practical shooting tips from sources such as Howcast. Check it out at www.youtube.com/reporterscenter





Monday, 29 June 2009

More Who Comics Mythos Leaps to Audio Adventures

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Stockbridge - an English village created for the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip - will feature in a new trilogy of audio adventures from Big Finish.

To date, Stockbridge has featured in the strips The Tides of Time, The Stockbridge Horror, and Stars Fell on Stockbridge in the 1980s, and, more recently, The Stockbridge Child.

"The three stories in our 'Stockbridge trilogy' are set in the past, present and future of the village," reveals Script Editor Alan Barnes in the latest issue of DWM of the new audio adventures. "They're all very different.

"October's Castle of Fear, set in the Middle Ages, is a galumphing historical adventure," he revealed, "with, hopefully, a very surprising twist.

"Jonny Morris's The Eternal Summer, released in November, is a weird Sapphire and Steel-y sort of affair featuring mad UFO spotter Max Edison, and Mark Morris's Village of the Damned, released in December, is a full blooded horror-ish sort of thing, with sinister ravens and zombie cricketers!"

All three adventures star Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor and companion Nyssa, played by Sarah Sutton.

"I loved the idea that the Fifth Doctor would make his home from home in a pretty English village, and that weird stuff would keep on happening there," says Barnes.

The idea of the Doctor having a home, or homes, beyond the TARDIS has been used several times in comics: the Third Doctor had his own cottage in the Countdown stories, while Andrew Cartmel gave the Seventh Doctor at least one spooky house in stories he penned for the comic in the 1990s, initially realized by artist Arthur Ranson.

• More info: www.bigfinish.com

Hard Lessons in Self Publishing

How many people publishing their own comics have posed themselves the question "If only I knew when I started my web comic what I know now"?

Well, Andrew John Standish, creator of the web comic Psychodialetical, certainly has. But if he thought producing a web comic was hard, then getting his first print collection
A Chronicle of the Psychodialetical Universe, now available through bookshops and online stores, was also a bit of an eye-opener.

Andrew has started blogging about the experience on the downthetubes forum and with his permission, we're re-publishing an edited version of his first posts on his experience here...


Talk about a learning curve! Getting my first collection of Psychodialetical has certainly been one, but on the plus side, I'm having a blast telling the story, which far outweigh the problems encountered. The project wasn't helped by some basic errors on my part when it came to preparing the comics for print...

My first mistake was deleting all my original finished files to save computer memory. Wrong! I should have kept those higher resolution files as that's what you need to create print quality work. Then, I worked at low resolution for display on the web. Wrong! When you're working on any comic, always work in the highest resolution your system is comfortable with (no less than 300dpi), then save those high res files. Then re-save a copy of your work at web resolution (72dpi) for any web comic edition. (There's more about the differences here on Suite 101)

My third mistake, compounding the first two, was believing that the on screen display shows accurate image of printed page. Wrong!

If I was to publish a print edition of my comic, I needed to find some workarounds. First, I had to collect and save all the finished pages posted online, and increase dpi to 300 and resize. Anyone who's tried this will tell you it's no easy task: re-sizing doesn't replace vital information that's no longer there, the added detail vital for print. I had to carefully re-touch every single image, ensuring lettering was within "safe area" for IndyPlanet's Print on Demand requirements; and add "bleed" to the edge of the pages.

As you can imagine, I pretty much ended up re-drawing and re-lettering the whole thing. Did I say never delete your original scans? Never delete your original scans!

Finally, I had to print out the finished pages and examine for tonal inconsistency and clarity, etc. (There was also the matter of overcoming the limitaion of working in Photoshop Elements (it only saves as RGB, most printers rightly recommend CMYK) and, because I don't have a design tablet to draw on, everything had to be done via the mouse. My solution to the first limitation was to find a printer that would accept RGB files (although it may have been simpler to find a free program to convert to the more acceptable format, but since all interior pages are black and white it didn't seem worth it).

The solution to the second limitation - the lack of a tablet - was simply a case of gritting my teeth and getting on with it: a very time consuming process.

So that's the way not to prepare your first printed work. Better preparation (more thought before action) and cash outlay (on software/hardware) may have speeded up and simplified the process. But, in spite of this, I'm quite pleased with the results.

Getting the Book "Out There"

Having finally navigated through the technical aspects of printing and distribution I've now managed to make Volume 1 of A Chronicle of the Psychodialetical Universe available through bookshops and online stores. But even here, there have been a few hitches along the way, in their own way as frustrating as the problems I experienced preparing to make the leap from web version to print edition.

The biggest problem was getting an accurate listing on Pub Web, the basic industry tool to provide information to booksellers. It's free if you have an ISBN allocation (the coding that gives every published book its unique identity) but only allows the cover art, title, price, genre, ISBN, distributor and author name to be shown. If you want an author biography and synopsis, you have to pay to join the enhanced listing service.

My problem was that it wasn't allowing me to edit the listing to show the revised price and publication date, so WH Smith and various other stores are showing a higher retail price and later publication date than is accurate. Also the cover art, which I had to add later (the ISBN authority Nielson lists your first publication for you and you have to amend their listing when your Pub Web membership details come through), was missing.

Luckily, Pub Web sends out their data base to the book trade monthly, so these inaccuracies will be amended when the stores load in the new database next month. I'll not get caught out next time though because from now on I have the facility to load new title information myself.

I guess it's a blessing that the shelf life of a book is longer than the single month of a traditional comic-book, or these errors would have been fatal.

Promoting the Book

The next step is to get the message out to folks that the book is ready and available. It's still early days but I've done a few ads with Google and a couple on Facebook, one ad links to the books Facebook fan page, one to its Amazon sales page and one focused on the American market, to the IndyPlanet print on demand edition's page. The ads were relatively inexpensive and even if they don't result in direct sales at least publicises the work.

I'm also working on a competition for the Facebook fan page with prizes of merchandise from the Psychodialetical shop and eventually I'll get around to focusing on the traditional comic-book fan market... that'll be phase two!

I'm seeing this property as a long term commitment and the more I write about the Psychodialetical Universe the more it reveals to me it's wonders and mysteries, there are lots of stories to tell and I'm having a blast telling them!

Follow Andrew's experiences as a budding publisher on his downthetubes forum page

• There's a growing list of Comic Review Sites here on the downthetubes site for comic publishers

• downthetubes recommends How to Make WebComics which, besides offering great advice about making web comics (it's by Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub) also has plenty of info on what size to save images etc for print. It's available from amazon.co.uk

Summer Edition 2009 in Dublin This Weekend

edition_poster_front.jpg(via poopsheet and BugPowder); Summer Edition 2009, the first event of its kind in Dublin, is a free, day long fair where over 30 exhibitors from across the spectrum of artist's books, comics and zines will get together to showcase their work.

With selections ranging from minicomic artists and burgeoning cartoonists to established artists' book practitioners, from poets to printmakers, and from lowbrow artists to zine scribblers, there's something for everyone. Prices range from €1 to €100.

Peruse the stalls, take part in a workshop, pick up some handcrafted goodies and let the books blow your mind.

Summer Edition 2009 is the first Edition event, a new endeavour celebrating the craft of the book and independent publishing via artists' books, comics and zines and all stops in between.

• Summer Edition 2009: An Artist's book, Comic and Zine Fair: Saturday 4th July, 11am - 5pm, Filmbase, Temple Bar, Dublin. Free Entry!

• For more information go to www.editionbookarts.com

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Adventure Come To... Kirkcaldy

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In these downbeat times, it's rare to have something to celebrate - especially the opening of a new comic shop. But that's exactly what's just happened north of the border.

Kingdom of Adventure, which opened complete with a visit from Darth Vader and Stormtroopers on 20th June, intends to offer comic and games fans across Fife the chance not just to buy comics and games -- but play the games on show as well. And not in any small way: while game areas are nothing new in specialist stores, KOA is spread over two storeys and is fully kitted out to deal with up to 40 players at any one time.

The store will also be running classes including sessions on how to play the games on sale and others on how to paint the miniatures used to play them.

"Up until now Fife comics and games fans have had to travel to Edinburgh and Dundee or further to get the latest range of products, services and knowledge that Kingdom of Adventure will offer," says Dave. "Now they will have one of the best stocked shops of its kind in Scotland on their doorstep."

Despite the economic downturn and the closure of comic shops elsewhere in the UK, Dave believes that Fife is the ideal location for Kingdom of Adventure this nee store.

"Fife has a thriving comics and games community and Kirkcaldy feels like the ideal location for this new kind of shop. Plus, we’re a first in Scotland – offering the comics and games with plenty of space to play them in.

shop_kingdomofadventure1.jpg“I’m really hoping that the shop can play a big role in the Fife community," he continues. "I've ran games clubs in Edinburgh so I know that the facilities that we offer are in demand.

"I’ve already had a phenomenal response in talking to people about the shop, so I’m hopeful that people will come along and see what we have," he reveals enthusiastically. "There’s a huge demand out there."

Expect various events to be part of the store's schedule in coming months. "As well as the day to day running of Kingdom of Adventure, I'm also in talks with various comic and gaming industry celebrities about having signings and other special events," says Dave. "We've already had a special guest for the launch with Dungeons & Dragons writer Keith Baker in the shop running games and chatting with fans."

For Dave, the new venture is more than just a commercial venture he's been planning for years.

“I live and breathe comics and games," he says, "and I can’t wait to get started turning my hobby into my business.”

Kingdom of Adventure is located at 21-23 Whytescauseway in Kirkcaldy. Tel: 01592 328121 or e-mail shop@kingdomofadventure.co.uk. Web: www.kingdomofadventure.co.uk

Razorjack Special Editions Released

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Limited edition book publisher Foruli Publications has just published two very special box sets of John Higgins' graphic novel Razorjack, recently released in paperback by revived publisher Com.X.

In Razorjack, a trio of college kids inadvertently create an unstable nexus which enables the Death-Bitch, Razorjack, to break into our world from the Twist Dimension. Two 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. The book collects all of John Higgins's Razorjack stories into one complete graphic novel and includes new story and art by John, created exclusively for this book.

John's story has received critical acclaim from several sources, including fellow comic creators Garth Ennis ("If there's any justice, this new collection should find the audience the story has always deserved." and Jimmy Palmiotti ("Razorjack delivers something rare: a solid story and artistic brilliance by John Higgins. It must be nice to be getting better with age.").

Published in association with Loco Motive Studios and Com.x the standard limited edition can be ordered from all good bookshops and online from amazon.co.uk and www.foruli.co.uk.

The Deluxe Edition, available exclusively from www.foruli.co.uk, is a hand bound 96-page book contained in a handmade solander case, accompanied by an original painting by John Higgins and a hand pulled eight-colour screenprint with 24 carat gold leaf. Each book, painting and print signed by John Higgins. The signed and lettered limited edition of 15 costs £250.

The Standard Edition, also hand bound and slipcased, is accompanied by a hand pulled eight-colour screenprint, both signed by John Higgins and limited to just 45 copies, priced £150.

• John, whose credits include Judge Dredd, Star Wars and, of course, his colouring for Watchmen, recently announced several signing events in upcoming weeks, starting with an appearance at the San Diego Comic Con, 24th - 28th July, signing at the Splash Page Comic Art booth, row 4400. Then, on Saturday 1st August, he'll be signing at Heroes For Sale, 277 Karangahape Rd, Auckland, New Zealand, from 10.00am. He's then on to Australia the following week, with a signing at Ace Comics & Games, Level 2, 121 Queen Street, Brisbane, on Sunday 9th August starting at 12.00 noon.


Tripwire Annual 2009 UK Only

magazine_tripwire_annual200.jpgBad news for the publishers of ace comics and cult magazine Tripwire, whose 2009 Annual has been hit by distribution that mean the issue is not being carried by Diamond US.

"We got hit by the benchmark," says editor-in-chief Joel Meadows, referring to recently-introduced minimum order levels from retailers set by the distributor that are hitting small publishers hard. It's all the more frustrating for Joel as he tells downthetubes the issue is the "nicest one we've ever done." Judging by the superb cover by Jeff Carlisle, he's not kidding.

The good news for British fans of the magazines is that the Annual will be available from Diamond UK so, since they are currently in their ordering period for the new set of orders, so if you want to order a copy via your local specialist comic shop you need to let them know now.

As we previously reported, the Annual includes a cover-featured in-depth at Marvel Comics and its 70th anniversary; an exclusive interview with award-winning genre master Guillermo Del Toro discussing his new novel The Strain as well as a few tidbits on Hellboy 3 and upcoming movie projects; a first look at Moon, the eagerly-awaited low budget British sci-fi movie starring Sam Rockwell and directed by Duncan Jones; a Bongo Comics interview with Bill Morrison and an exclusive Joe Kubert interview, and much more.

US fans will still be able to buy the Annual direct from the publisher at Comic Con and will also be available in Late July / Early August from Barnes & Noble in the US, Chapters in Canada and Borders UK in the UK.

• For more info and ordering information visit: www.tripwire-magazine.com
• Tripwire on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/31004024@N04

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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