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Friday, 24 July 2009

Hell's Gate Springs from Dublin!

comic_athellsgate.jpgThe recession may be bad news for most, but it has its silver lining. Case in point: it's given Dublin-based comic creator Alan Nolan the chance to publish At Hell's Gate, the kind of thing he's always wanted to do but never had the time.

"Thanks to the global recession I'm now in a position to spend some time doing something I have always loved," Alan told downthetubes, "writing and drawing comics.

"This is the first ever published work I have done and it came to life as a short story I put together one lazy afternoon."

Reaction has been positive so far. "I believe that this is the first comic I have ever had in my hands that has been entirely produced by one person," comments ComicRelated reviewer Daniel O'Leary. "That sheer fact alone is very impressive. Dubcity Comics is Alan Nolan and this first title from him is a doozy.

"...This is a well thought out book and Nolan has a great sense in his writing of where to reveal what at exactly the right moment. But as writer he does double duty on pencils and he uses the art to supplement his story effectively."

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"At Hell's Gate is based around the real events at Bobby Mackeys Music World, seemingly America's most haunted site," he reveals. "I've elaborated on the story to involve my own characters and scenarios."

As for the origins of the macabre story, "It's possible I was watching too many paranormal reality shows at the time," Alan confesses, "but this formed the idea for me."

A chilling horror tale, Alan's pleased with this first outing. "All in all, I think it works as a general horror yarn," he enthuses, "not too taxing on the brain, the way comics where when I was a good deal younger."

• Find out more via http://alannolan.wordpress.com

Read the full ComicRelated Review of At Hell's Gate #1

Markosia Dances out The Dark

comic_thedarkw.jpgBritish indie publisher Markosia Enterprises have teamed up with Chris Lynch (Monkeys with Machineguns, Photonic Graffiti) and Rick Lundeen (100 Covers, Epoch) to publish The Dark -- a four-issue, cyberpunk-styled comic series.

With nods toward the novels of authors such as Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, and films such as The Matrix, The Dark is the story of Daniel Abbot, a brilliant young scientist on the fringes of the establishment and the creator of Memetech - a technology that encodes information and memories into a liquid form, allowing anyone to “drink” the information. Terrified that his invention will be used for military purposes he decides to destroy his research, but not before he takes one last trip... with disastrous results.

Two years on, and the Memetech genie is out of the bottle. Abbot, having perfected his own version of the technology, fights a one-man war against the spread of his own invention and the collapse of our information culture in the guise of “The Dark”. Aided by an artificial intelligence nicknamed Howard Hughes, Abbott creates “The Baffler” – a coat made of Memetech that gives his the edge over his enemies. Capable of injecting information directly into this brain and firing Memetech flechettes to hit others with bursts of pure information, The Baffler is both weapon and disguise in Daniel Abbot's war against his own creation.

When The Dark uncovers a plot to set off Memetech bombs across the whole of the city Dante, filling the air with liquid information and creating a new society of his enemy's devising, he's plunged into a desperate race against time. But, not everything is what is seems. Who is the new and mysterious enemy who seems to know The Dark's every move? How did the Memetech, thought destroyed, reappear? Why can't Daniel wake his wife and son? And why is everyone in Dante named after an English poet?

Markosia kindly sent us an advance copy of the first issue and we're pleased to report it's some of Chris Lynch's best work to date, complemented by some suitably moody art from Lundeen. The story is complex but well realized, with plenty to get you thinking and wondering just what will happen next.

"I've been a big fan of Chris Lynch for a while now," says publisher Harry Markos on securing the property for Markosia, "and asked him to pitch a couple of new projects that we could look at for the digital market, with a view to releasing it as a graphic novel later.

"He's come up trumps with The Dark. Coupled with Rick’s fantastically atmospheric art, Chris’s story takes you to a very believable but disturbing world, not unlike the one we are living in at the moment! I am confident that we have a hit in the making."

• The first issue of The Dark will be released in August of this year as a digital comic book, via iTunes, with three more issues in the pipeline. A graphic novel is planned for later in the year. There's a free 8-page preview at www.thedarkcomicbook.com

Bear-Shaped Comics Collection Launched!



Richy K. Chandler, the creative force behind UK indie title Tempo Lush comics, has been wanting to put out a collection of his Tempo Lush Mini Comic range since the first one featuring Lucy the Octopus was released to the world back in 2007. After being kept busy with various other comic and illustration work -- including writing for Titan's much-missed Wallace & Gromit comic, bear- shaped inspiration finally struck and a new collection of 10 A4 mini-comics was the result.

Published in both colour and black & white, the collection comes snuggled up inside a box in the shape of Square McBear, who also stars in the final comic in the set. Other entries include "Govinda the Meditating Rabbit" and "22 Responses to an Insult."

The sets, which Richy put lots of love and effort into making, went on the sale for the first time at the London Underground Comics 176 event at the end of June and were flying off the shelves.

He tells us he was determined to make the sets as fun and tactile as possible, using different paper stocks and a broad range of drawing styles to create a breadth of experience jammed into one little package.

Also new to the Tempo Lush range is Bunch Issue 2, featuring a woman discovering that her toys are not as innocent as she thought, some literally eye popping office antics and more Lucy the Octopus.

Joining Richy is Fabtoons comic artist Francesca Cassavetti, creator of The Most Natural Thing in the World and Striptacular, plus in her comic book debut, animator, illustrator and graphic designer Maria Lee.

• You can read comic samples and buy your own bear at www.myspace.com/tempolush

• Tempolush is also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tempolush

Moon Landing: T Plus 4 Days - Splashdown

Today, the descent stage of Lunar Module remains untouched where it was left in the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon. The ascent stage of the Lunar Module was left in a decaying lunar orbit and eventually crashed into the Moon's surface. The Apollo 11 crew separated the CSM's Command Module from the Service Module, which was left in Earth orbit and eventually burned up on re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere.

Of the 365 feet of Apollo Saturn V that launched on 16 July, only the 11-foot high Command Module, Columbia, returned to Earth where it safely splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean 40 years ago today.


The crew were taken aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet by a US Navy Sea King SH-3D helicopter with the code 66 on her side. "Navy 66" was lost several years later in a crash, but her spirit lives on in the toys and models that were produced of her, probably the single most famous of all the hundreds of Sea King helicopters that were built. Dinky produced a die-cast metal toy complete with plastic Apollo Command Module that could be winched up and down while Airfix were considerably more accurate with their 1/72nd scale plastic kit.

Again, Airfix cover art maestro Roy Cross is on top form with the Sea King shown having just dropped off its divers who have climbed onto the floating Command Module ready to attach the winch cable.

Today that Apollo 11 Command Module, Columbia, is on display in the National Air And Space Museum in Washington DC where she is displayed beside the first aircraft to fly, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier, the first aircraft to fly hypersonic and the first manned American craft in space, amongst many others.

British readers have the opportunity to see a real Apollo Command Module in the Science Museum in London where the Apollo 10 Command Module, which also orbited the Moon and was named after the comic strip character Charlie Brown, is on display.

Yesterday - The Future

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to johnfreeman6-moonlandinganniversaryart@yahoo.co.uk. Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Moon Landing: T Plus 3 Days - The Future

As the Apollo 11 Command Service Module covered the quarter of a million miles back from the Moon back to the Earth, NASA had big plans for the Moon with Apollo only being the first step. However, with the Apollo 11 flight accomplishing President John F Kennedy's pledge to go to the Moon before the decade was out, as well as giving the USA its biggest propaganda victory over the USSR during the Cold War, the political will was no longer there to fund such expensive undertakings whilst the country was still fighting a war in Vietnam.


Airfix remained optimistic however and produced this set of astronauts and their equipment for their HO/OO range of figures. The HO/OO scale of 1/76 was virtually indistinguishable from the 1/72nd scale of the Lunar Lander kit while the set of figures includes extra equipment such as Lunar Rovers and equipment packages. Indeed, the Lunar Rover proved somewhat of a problem for the company, after they got in touch with the real Rover manufacturer Boeing, who had to get permission from their only customer for the Rover before allowing Airfix to produce their version of it.

NASA agreed - on the condition that it was as accurate a representation as possible so that it could be used for educational purposes if required, no doubt oblivious to the fact that in back gardens in Britain the Rover was more likely to be confronted by similarly-sized German soldiers and tanks taking imaginary pot shots at it...

Yesterday - The Return Trip Begins
Tomorrow - Splashdown

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to johnfreeman6-moonlandinganniversaryart@yahoo.co.uk. Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Birmingham Comic Show Wins Lottery Grant

In a major coup for the organisers - perhaps signifying comics are indeed becoming more mainstream once more - the annual British International Comic Show has been awarded a £6,000 Arts Council grant to help further their work in bringing the medium of comics to a wider audience.

"We are very honoured to receive this funding from the Arts Council" commented co-organiser, Shane Chebsey, who is busy preparing for the weekend which runs over the weekend of 3rd-4th October 2009 this year and says it will contribute some 15 per cent of the costs of running the Festival.

"This extra money will help us to enhance the BICS experience for all those attending the show, from fans to guests, and from retailers to publishers," he added. "It's a huge step forward for the show and for the medium of comics in the UK.

"It's yet another sign of further recognition for comics as an art form and entertainment medium," he feels.

It's estimated that over 4000 fans and professionals will be attending this year's show, with guest creators in attendance from all over the world, including Japan, America and Europe.

Major publishers, including Jonathan Cape, will also be launching new books and inviting readers to meet their favourite creators, such as the legendary British Graphic Novelist Bryan Talbot, who was recently awarded the first honorary doctorate for a Comic Artist by the University of Sunderland.

Dr. Talbot will be launching his new Graphic Novel Grandville at the show and also conducting a special presentation for fans.

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

Insomnia Joins "Buskers" Project

comic_buskers.png


Popquiz, hotshots: What do Mos Def, Kevin Spacey, former Blur front man Damon Albarn, musician Ian Brown, comic writer and publisher Sean Michael Wilson and Japanese cartoonist and illustrator Michiru Morikawa have in common with Insomnia Publications?

Answer: the fledgling British publisher has just announced all of the above are involved in some way in with Jeymes Samuel's multimedia Buskers project: some with the comic, some with the music, some with the independent film.


Buskers is an offbeat tale set in contemporary London with an array of odd but realistic characters. The comic book is based closely on a screenplay written by singer and writer Jeymes Samuel (who might be tired of being refered to as the brother of the singer Seal, but just so those not familiar can get an idea) .

It's written by Sean Michael Wilson and is illustrated by Michiru Morikawa, an incredibly talented Japanese artist who won the International Manga and Anime Festival Award a few years back.

Jeymes is currently working on the film version of Buskers and the different versions will complement each other.

"I was a comic geek since I've been able to read," he says, "so it was an absolute necessity for me to have a graphic novel of Buskers, whether I was making a film or not.

"I liaised with Mike Lake [co-founder of Forbidden Planet and now engaged in several top secret comic projects - Ed], who then introduced me to the the cult pen-man Sean Michael Wilson, who in turn brought on the IMAF Award winning Manga artist Michiru Morikawa. Thus began the creation of Buskers: The manga graphic novel."

You can find out more about the film version, and its soundtrack, on the Buskers Movie Blog, but this is how Jeymes summarises the story:

"Timothy Book is considered a big success amongst his peers - a high ranking job in banking, plush city apartment and trophy girlfriend to top it off. He's on top of the world - until he crashes back down to earth with an almighty bang!

"After underhand dealings at work lead to a police escort off the premises and a botched suicide attempt on the Thames, he turns up on the doorstep of ex best friend Cabbage, a streetwise busker who Timothy fell out with many years ago.

"Cabbage inhabits the exciting underbelly of London's colourful busking scene and Timothy is introduced to a side of life that he has never experienced.

"As he tries to claw his way back to his previous self he becomes embroiled in Cabbage's eventful and often dangerous lifestyle and begins to fall for the lovely Variniana - Cabbage's beautiful girlfriend.

"Timothy falls deeper into the busking scene and is forced to re-evaluate his former existence, friendships and relationships while embarking on an eventful journey back to the real Timothy Book."

Buskers the comic will be launched at British International Comic Show 2009 in Birmingham in October, where Insomnia will have a very special edition of the book (signed and limited to 100 copies), including a "Buskers Demo CD", with previews of a number of songs from the incredible soundtrack by The Bullitts.

If you can't get to the show this year there will a number of books set aside for pre-order by Paypal. You will need to email Insomnia at nichola[at]insomniapublications.com for details.

Also, if you want to be sure of getting your hands on one at the show, you can reserve your copy for pick up on the day.

The creators will be on the Insomnia stand at various points throughout the weekend: Sean is a special guest of the show and will also be speaking on a panel showcasing his AX: Alternative Manga work for the godfather of indie publishers, Top Shelf.

• Insomnia Publications Official Web Site: www.insomniapublications.com

• Insomnia Publications Blog: theredeyed.blogspot.com

Meet and Greet Dave Gibbons Competition

Podcast website Geek Syndicate have just launched a competition to offer a Watchmen fan the chance to win an exclusive Meet and Greet with original Watchmen illustrator, Dave Gibbons. The winner will have their favourite character drawn by Dave Gibbons.

You can get all the info you need on the competition by following this link: the competition closes at 23:55 GMT on Thursday 23rd July 2009 so get over there now!

This is a great prize -- don't miss out on your chance to win!

British Dragon Joins Marvel Advisors

Theo PaphitisCypriot-born British businessman Theo Paphitis - one of the judges on BBC TV's Dragons' Den - has joined Marvel Comics International Advisory Board. Comprised of business leaders from key international growth markets, the Advisory Board works with Marvel executives to explore opportunities for expanding the presence of the Marvel brand and key character franchises in international markets.

Paphitis, Chairman of the Ryman Group, is one of the UK's most high profile businessmen with an empire spans retail, property, finance and consumer goods, an entrepreneur who has become a household name thanks to the hugely popular BBC Two series Dragons' Den, entering its seventh season, in which would-be entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to investors.

Simon Philips, President, Worldwide Consumer Products for Marvel Entertainment, who serves as the primary company liaison to the Advisory Board, commented, "We are honoured to have Theo join the International Advisory Board. He is a tremendously distinguished business leader whose depth of experience and insight into the constantly evolving retail landscape in the UK and on a global level will help further our commitment to generate growth from international markets.

"Along with the other esteemed members of the Advisory Board, Theo will be instrumental in helping strengthen our international business focus and enable us to further maximize the potential of the Marvel brand on a global level."

"I've always said that business should be fun and joining the advisory board of Marvel is certainly that," says Theo Paphitis. "I will, however, be contributing my opinions to a seriously successful business. Having loved the comics, films and merchandise, I now find myself sharing them with my children and grandchildren.

Although Marvel is 70 years old, it is in its infancy in most markets outside the USA and UK and I'm looking forward to helping develop positive results in new territories."

Judging from the comments, it doesn't look as though Marvel consider any need for changes or renewed development of their brand in the UK outside their existing relationship with Panini, who publish Marvel titles here.

Mr. Paphitis made his name as a leading entrepreneur by acquiring and reviving notable retail brands - including Ryman the Stationer, Contessa and La Senza lingerie chains in the UK, Partners the Stationers and Stationery Box - turning them into profitable businesses. Theo combined the stationery businesses under the Ryman Group, where he is now Chairman. He sold his interest in La Senza and Contessa in 2006 and now retains a minority shareholding.

Mr. Paphitis also served as Chairman of the Millwall Football Club for eight years, taking the club out of financial administration, and into the Championship and to the FA Cup Final versus Manchester United and into Europe.

In 2005 he acquired Red Letter Days, the UK's leading gift experience company, in partnership with fellow Dragon Peter Jones. Perhaps they'll be able to add "A Day at Marvel Comics" to their offerings?

Earlier this year he was appointed patron for Brtian's Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for Retail, which is committed to driving up skills levels in the industry. His special areas of responsibility are as the Retail Apprentices' Champion and for the new National Skills Academy for Retail.

Marvel's International Advisory Board is chaired by James F. Halpin, a Marvel director since March 1995, and is also comprised of Peter Yip, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the CDC Corporation, and Bollywood film producer, Manmohan Shetty, former chairman of Adlabs Films Limited. Mr. Yip and Mr. Shetty represent China and India, respectively on the Board. Marvel is in the process of filling one additional Advisory Board position.

Theo Paphitis Official web site

Moon Landing: T Plus 2 Days - The Return Trip Begins

It was actually 21 July that the return to Earth began. Armstrong and Aldrin spent less than three hours walking on the Moon and lifted off in the Lunar Module's ascent stage less than 22 hours after they had touched down. The ascent stage docked with the Command Service Module in lunar orbit where the astronauts transferred into the CSM in which Mike Collins had remained. They undocked from the ascent stage in the last moments of 21 July and set the CSM on its return course for Earth just before 5am GMT, 40 years ago today.


The image from the Orbit Book Rockets and Spacecraft Book 1 shows the ascent stage left in lunar orbit as the CSM heads for home. The ascent stage was left in a decaying lunar orbit and eventually crashed into the Moon's surface while the descent stage remains untouched where it was left in the Sea of Tranquility.

Yesterday - First Footsteps
Tomorrow - The Future

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to johnfreeman6-moonlandinganniversaryart@yahoo.co.uk. Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Rainey's Book of Lists Collected At last

Pbrainey's Book of ListsAce British comic creator Paul B Rainey has just been in touch to say that he's finally put together a collection of his critically-acclaimed Book of Lists comic strips in trade paper back form.

Suicidal birds, edible guitars, licky dogs, smelly saddles and selective helloers are just some of the real events from Paul's life, which he has ordered into lists and then drawn up as comic strips.

Now available to buy, Pbrainey's Book of Lists collects over 50 of the popular internet strips in actual reality book form.

The book is 112 pages long, in full colour throughout and available to buy now for £10.95 from Paul's website using Paypal (www.pbrainey.com) . The price includes post and packing to the UK.

Paul also reports that work continues on his latest strip, There’s No Time Like The Present. Expect news on part 10 soon.

View some sample Book of Lists strips here on paul's site

Moon Landing: T Plus 1 Day - First Footsteps

Americans would have us believe that Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon on 20 July 1969 because they saw it happen in their late evening. However British audiences saw it happen in the early hours of 21 July 1969. Since NASA operates on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which to all intensive purposes is Greenwich Mean Time, they also consider that the first footsteps on the Moon took place on 21 July.


After the early design illustration of the Lunar Module shown yesterday, today we are showing the rather more accurate Airfix illustration. As with all the best Airfix box covers this was painted by Roy Cross and shows both astronauts on the Moon's surface in this 1/72nd scale kit. However, it was painted prior to any of the landings taking place and the most obvious inaccuracy in it is the lack of gold foil surrounding the Lunar Module's descent stage.


Rather less accurate, but considerably larger and probably more fun to build, was Lego's Space Module toy which was based on the Lunar Module. This was released in early 1975 and so includes a Lego version of the Lunar Rover vehicle which was carried to the Moon on the final three Apollo lunar missions. The astronauts are based on the large early 1970s Lego figures since this toy predates the style of Lego "mini-fig" people that are so prevalent now and which were used in the science fiction Lego Space sets produced in the late seventies.

The kit may not look as accurate as the company would produce today but that is because they used then existing Lego bricks to design it rather that the more modern concept of producing specialist bricks for specific kits. Indeed, Lego did release a smaller but much more accurate version of the Lunar Module in 2004 complete with mini-fig astronauts.

Yesterday - The Eagle Has Landed
Tomorrow - The Return Trip Begins

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to johnfreeman6-moonlandinganniversaryart@yahoo.co.uk. Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Starblazer from the Command Deck

DC Thomson editor Bill McLoughlin has kindly given downthetubes his account of the rise and fall of DC Thomson's 1980s SF digest title Starblazer, which has recently spawned its own Role Playing Game (see our review).

Revealing the origins of the title - whose contributors included, among many others, a young comics creator called Grant Morrison, who back then was also drawing as well as writing - Bill talks about the origins of the comic and the reasons it finally headed to the Black Hole of cancellation.

The article has been added to several features on downthetubes about Starblazer, which include an article by writer Ray Aspden on wiritng for the title, and a complete checklist of creators over the comic's 281 issue history.

Read Bill McLoughlin's Starblazer feature
Read Ray Aspden's article on writing Starblazer
Read Jeremy Briggs' interview with Bill McLoughlin

Engines of Enchantment at Cartoon Museum

Rowland Emmett's Golf Machine


London's Cartoon Museum is to host an exhibition dedicated to the work of eccentric genius Rowland Emett this summer.

Described in TIME Magazine as "a nostalgic-romantic artist-humorist social commentator-engineer," this exhibition brings together, for the first time in Britain, the eccentric genius of Rowland Emett both as a cartoonist and as a maker of ‘Gothick Kinetic Things!’

The show includes five fantastic whirring, winking machines including three created for the classic children’s film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968 as well as originals of many of his best cartoons, some on show for the first time.

The world created by Emett is uniquely British but with international appeal - his cartoons have been admired by many including Saul Steinberg and Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, who chose ‘The Cartoons of Rowland Emett’ as one of his top 100 things in the world.

In 1939 Emett first submitted a drawing to Punch. It was rejected but with the note: "Not quite... Very ingenious though. Try again." Try again he did and five of his drawings were accepted.

During the war he worked as a draughtsman at the air ministry but continued to supply drawings to Punch increasingly of romantic gothic trains, trams and boats which, together with their crew, appeared to be humorous relics of a bygone era.

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In 1951, someone had the idea of turning Emett’s spidery railway cartoons into reality and he was invited by the Festival of Britain committee to construct three child-sized engines for the working Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway. He did. The railway was a huge success carried millions of visitors in the Festival’s Pleasure gardens and he and his machines never looked back. The exhibition includes the original model train, complete with driver, which he presented to the Festival committee.

The exhibition at the Cartoon Museum also includes the Exploratory Moon-Probe Lunacycle MAUD, (Manually Assisted Universal, Deviator), the Fairway-Birdie Mk. 1 - fully automated airborne self-golfing golf machine. Also on display will be the Little Dragon Carpet Cleaner and Visivision Machine all of which were created for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Emett constructed the machines out of antique doorknobs, umbrellas, lamp shades and any other bits and pieces he found around the house – much to the irritation of his wife! The result were cartoons come to life - working machines which whiz, whirr and whistle.

The cartoons are surreal confections filled with playful details. Amongst them is a drawing of a Rolls Royce fitted with roulette wheels and staircase created for the wedding of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace in 1956 which he actually attended.

Engines of Enchantment: The Machines and Cartoons of Rowland Emett opens on 29 July and runs until 1 November. More info: www.cartoonmuseum.org

Rowland Emmett: Art and Images


More about the Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway

More about the 1951 Festival of Britain

Tube Surfing: Comic Cutbacks, San Diego Schedules, Dinsoaurs and Weird Fishes...

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith


• Filming has started on the new series of Doctor Who that will see Matt Smith will take on the eponymous role. Matt is seen here in costume, side by side with Scottish actress Karen Gillan who plays new companion Amy Pond.

Arriving on set in Cardiff for his first day of filming, Smith commented: "I feel very privileged and proud to be part of this iconic show.

"The scripts are brilliant and working alongside Karen, Steven and the rest of the crew is an inspiration because their work ethic and passion for the show is so admirable."

• Talking of Doctor Who, the new free to download Big Finish podcast is a Bernice Summerfield special, the companion created by Paul Cornell for Virgin's New Adventures novels and who went on to star in Doctor Who comics and get her own audio adventures. David Richardson and Lisa Bowerman discuss all things Benny.

The Guardian newspaper has come under fire for cutting The Comic, its supplement created in partnership largely with the sadly-defunct The DFC comic. The paper's Readers' editor, Siobhain Butterworth, reports today that people have noticed that the newspaper has slimmed down - a response to economic woes affecting all newspapers - and more than 200 print readers have been in touch about the demise of The Comic, reduced radio and TV listings, and the disappearance of environment pages from the weekly Society section. Of these, 80 specifically complained at the loss of The Comic, but this was not the only part of the paper to be hit by cuts. Education and Society have dropped from 10 and eight pages of editorial, respectively, to six, and G2 has also become slighter. Sad times for the paper.

• Talking on the Guardian, artist Eddie Campbell notes that Gemma Arterton has reportedly been cast as title character in movie adaptation of Posy Simmonds's comic strip Tamara Drewe , featured in the paper.
The strip centres on a beautiful columnist who ruffles feathers in a rural writers' retreat.

The director of The Queen and The Grifters is reported to have cast former Bond girl and St Trinian's graduate Gemma Arterton as the title character, a newspaper columnist whose recent nose job transforms her into a seductive flirt, to the chagrin of the quiet village's womenfolk. Tamsin Greig and Roger Allam are also said to be attached to the project.

• Artist and writer Adam Grose reports that the dedicated website for his imprint, Clown Press, has closed down, but all content has shifted to www.adamgrose.com. "This site will be fully up and running from August and will expand over the coming months with the galleries to upload," says Adam. " In the meantime check out the Phoenix: A Warrior's Tale preview on the news page or from the shop. This book is set for release in October."

• Wildstorm have just published the cover of Warren Ellis' Planetary #27, drawn by John Cassaday. The issue is out in October. Warren will be at the San Diego Comic Con and post his schedule here, appearing at the event under the exclusive aegis of Sony, Madhouse and Marvel Anime.

• Talking of Warren, he's just plugged Jamaica Dyer's new graphic novel, Weird Fishes. Pre-order it at this link direct from the publisher and read a bunch of her work here. "The only explanation for Jamaica Dyer is that she was built by aliens and dropped here to show us all how crap we are compared to her," he enthuses.

• ... and talking of San Diego schedules, writer Tony Lee posts his appearances here; Transformers guru and top writer Simon Furman has posted his here; brilliant artist Liam Sharp (Death's Head II, Gears of War etc. etc.) has announced his plans here; and David Lloyd has his schedule here.

comics_2000ad_Comic_con09 special.jpgEven Tharg will be in San Diego: well, a sampler of the comic, anyway! Kudos to Rebellion for flying the flag! (with thanks to Chris Weston)

• Lew Stringer has a great post charting the history of the rise and fall of the British comic Summer Special, complete with gallery. It was prompted by a Guardian feature by David Barnett bemoaning their disappearance. Although the Summer Specials are no more, some publishers have launched the Summer Annual in its place - hardback books in the traditional children's Christmas annual format, albeit thinner. Egmont currently have several out, tied into licensed properties, including, this year, the Power Rangers Super Legends Summer Annual and the Disney Princess Summer Annual.

• Comics artist Neil Cameron has just posted some intriguing drawings from a new project, The Pirates of Pangaea, on his blog. It's the sort of posting that really makes you want to know more but apart from the tidbit that it's being written by Dan Hartwell, Mr Cameron is playing coy...

• Also at San Diego will be artist Colin Wilson, making his first visit in 15 years. He'll be appearing at Dark Horse Comics (Booth #2615) from 3 - 4pm on Friday afternoon, and again on Sunday morning from 11 - 12am, so everyone is welcome to call past and have a chat.
"I will be also handling a limited commissions list while I'm at the Con, so grab us while you can as this will be our first, and only, US appearance for the year."

• And finally... the Sunderland Echo has a report on artist Bryan Talbot's recent promotion to Doctor. Bryan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts at Sunderland University's graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light – the first time a doctorate has been given to a comic book artist.
The paper reports that Bryan was delighted to accept the honour on behalf not only of himself, but his profession.
"This doctorate, a first in the UK for work in the comics medium, is an indication of the growing recognition of the graphic novel as a respectable vehicle for entertainment, education and communication and the medium itself as a legitimate art form," he said.

"There's still a lot of prejudice and preconceived notions of what comics are but we're getting there."

2009 Graphic Short Story Competition Launched

2009 Graphic Short Story competitionUK Sunday newspaper The Observer has just launched this year's Graphic Short Story competition, part of the activities of the ComiICA Festival.

The winner of last year's Graphic Short Story prize, Julian Hanshaw, is about to publish a book, so the competition is definitely one to consider entering - and the £1000 top prize shouldn't be sniffed at, either!

The deadline for submissions is 25th September 2009 and the winning entry - judged by artists Joe Sacco and Simone Lia, Rachel Cooke from The Observer, Dan Franklin (Publisher, Jonathan Cape), Comica Festival Director Paul Gravett and (Random House Creative Director Suzanne Dean - will be published in the Observer Magazine on 1st November and the prize, a cheque for £1,000, will be awarded at the Comica Festival at the ICA on 8th November 2009.

Now in its third year, the competition attracted some 240 entries, and the standard was so incredibly high that the judges decided to award two runners-up, as well as a winner. So perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Julian Hanshaw, the West Sussex-based animator who took the overall prize for his haunting story, Sand Dunes & Sonic Booms, has since sold his first book to Cape, The Art of Pho, will be published next March.

Pho, a kind of noodle soup, is the national dish of Vietnam - tells the story of Little Blue who, abandoned by a mysterious man with a red car in Ho Chi Minh City (“Count to 500,” he is told), finds salvation in his own mobile pho stand: cue much slurping. At last! A graphic novel with recipes.

For full competition information visit the ComiICA web site

Graeme Neil Reid: Walking on the Moon

Graeme Neil Reid: Walking on the Moon
Here's the latest contribution to our marking of the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing: "Walking on the Moon", a stunning piece of art by top Scottish illustrator and comics artist Graeme Neil Reid, whose credits include the Radio Times and is one of the contributors to Scotch Corner, a new combi-blog for Scottish artists.

Graeme is a freelance illustrator based in Edinburgh, Scotland, mostly known for comic work for various publishers including Image Comics and Caliber Comics. He's also worked in the advertising and marketing industry for over 15 years. Working with both traditional tools and computer software such as Photoshop, Painter and Illustrator, Graeme is probably best known for his strong ink line and computer colouring - but he's also happy to get his hands dirty with oil paints when needed!

His illustration will soon join our "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration - which includes art by Martin Baines, Nick Abadzis, Colin Howard, Mike Nicoll and others.

Further contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to johnfreeman6-moonlandinganniversaryart@yahoo.co.uk.

Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

On today, the actual anniversary of the landing, our thanks to everyone who found time to contribute in their busy schedules so far!

• Read the latest news on the work of much-in-demand artist Graeme Neil Reid on his blog at www.gnreid.blogspot.com

Moon Landing: T Minus 0 Days - The Eagle Has Landed

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin boarded the Lunar Module, Eagle, and undocked from the Command Service Module, Columbia. Leaving Mike Collins alone in the CSM in lunar orbit, they descended towards the Moon's surface where Eagle safely touched down in the Sea of Tranquility at 8:17pm GMT.

Wilf Hardy's illustration from Look and Learn issue 907, dated 19 May 1979, shows the Lunar Module flying separately from the CSM as it descends towards the Moon's surface while this illustration from him shows the LM the moment before touchdown.



This is the cover for the LP recording of Journey To The Moon, a factual album from Gerry Anderson's Century 21 organisation which used the cast of Fireball XL5 to tell what was to them the historical event of the first moon landing. Today it makes for an interesting listen as its writer, Alan Fennell, has to put into the past tense events that were still in the future as far as its young listeners in 1965 were concerned. This album is better known from its rerelease in the 7 inch EP format by Century 21 records as the first of their "21 Minutes Of Adventure" mini albums and it has also been remastered recently onto CD by the Gerry Anderson club Fanderson. As such it has shrunk in size as recording technology has changed in the last four decades.



The final illustration is from Rockets and Spacecraft Book 1 and shows an early concept of how the Lander would have looked on the surface. As this book was published early in the Apollo program and as with the record sleeve above, it shows the then current design of a circular hatchway for the astronauts to exit the vehicle through, which was soon changed to a more rectangular design to allow the astronauts to get their backpacks through it more easily. Interestingly, the uncredited artist does not include a ladder for the astronauts to descend to the surface on...



Americans would have us believe that Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon on 20 July 1969 because they saw it happen in their late evening. However British television audiences saw it happen in the early hours of Monday 21 July 1969. Since NASA operates on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which to all intensive purposes is Greenwich Mean Time, they also consider that the first footsteps on the Moon took place on 21 July.

Yesterday – What Could Go Wrong
Tomorrow - First Footsteps

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to johnfreeman6-moonlandinganniversaryart@yahoo.co.uk. Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Moon Landing: T Minus 1 Days - What Could Go Wrong

Forty years ago today, the crew of Apollo 11 were almost at the Moon with their mission progressing smoothly.

The crew of Apollo 13 were not so lucky when, on 14th April 1970, an explosion occurred in their Service Module 55 hours and 55 minutes into their journey to the Moon. Orbital mechanics prevented them just turning around and coming home and they had to use their Lunar Module as a lifeboat to fly around the Moon and back again to the Earth before returning to their damaged CSM and a nervous re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere.


Look and Learn artist Wilf Hardy catches the moment of the explosion on the front cover of the magazine's issue 450, dated 29 August 1970. The Apollo 13 crew did return home safely and intricacies of their mission is now well known due to the Apollo 13 film.

Yesterday - The Command and Service Module
Tomorrow - The Eagle Has Landed

Look and Learn Official Web Site: www.lookandlearn.com

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illusrtrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to johnfreeman6-moonlandinganniversaryart@yahoo.co.uk. Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

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

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