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Friday, 2 October 2009

Commando Webbing: New Interview With Editor Calum Laird

Mike Eriksson of the war digest site Where Eagles Dare has put up a new interview with Commando editor Calum Laird in which Calum updates readers on his first two years as Commanding Officer of Britain's last traditional war comic.



When asked about sales figures for the title, Calum says, "Commando doesn't sell as well as it did, that's for sure, but we are still viable. No one in publishing is feeling too secure at the moment, but Commando hasn't lost any sales in the recent downturn and we hope to grow our sales on the far side of the recession."



He goes on to offer readers a say in their reprint strategy, "Commando will be 50 years old in 2011. Amongst other things we plan to re-issue some stories from the very early days and I'd invite any readers to email me with titles or numbers at editor@commandomag.com they have any that they'd really like to see again. We don't have time to look for 'a story that came out in the late 70s which had a safecracker turned Commando who saved Tobruk with a banana sandwich...' so names or numbers only please."



Of course if anyone knows of a Commando where a former safecracker saves Tobruk with a banana sandwich then please tell us the issue number as we would like to read it!



The full interview is available on the Where Eagles Dare website along with an impressive list of other Commando related interviews.



The downthetubes interview with Calum Laird is here.



The official Commando website is here.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cinebook Hits 100

book_blakeandmortimer6_sos.jpgBritish publishers of some top class European graphic albums Cinebook have just been celebrating the publication of their 100th book - and not just any book, since it's the newest instalment of adventure series Blake and Mortimer, published in English for the first time in this year of its 50th anniversary.

Even more symbolic, this story of weather disruption is coming out just as United Nations representatives are gathered to combat the climate changes currently threatening our planet–another sign of Jacobs’ visionary genius.

In S.O.S. Meteors, extreme weather threatens the whole of continental Europe, turning the lives of its citizens inside out. The French government calls Professor Mortimer to help solve this enigma, who visits his friend, Professor Labrousse, the chief French meteorologist, to further his investigation. But when the taxi driver Labrousse sent to meet Mortimer at the station disappears, our friend becomes the prime suspect in a missing persons case.

Mortimer gets in touch with his old friend Blake, also in France, to help him out of this tricky situation - but Blake disappears as well, leaving Mortimer and Labrousse to deal with not one but two missing-person cases.

They soon discover that the two disappearances are not only linked to each other, but also to the climatic catastrophes...

It's been a busy year for Cinebook and the releases keep on coming, offering a fine mix of adventure, science fiction and humour that should appeal to all ages. Also available now is Thorgal Volume 6: City of the Lost God, in which Thorgal and Aaricia are making their way towards Mayaxatl along with Kriss of Valnor, intent on stealing the magical headpiece of the bloodthirsty god Ogotai.

Meanwhile, Jolan is back with the Xinjin people, who have made him their own god. Difficult times for all, and, of course, not everything is as it seems...

book_chimapnzee_complex.jpgIn Chimpanzee Complex, The Volume 1: Paradox, set in the year 2035, a space capsule from the 20th century returns to Earth… with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard! The investigation of this mystery will take astronaut Helen Freeman to the moon but might end up costing her her daughter. The second book in this series will be out in January 2010.

Finally, in Cedric Vol.2: Dad's Got Class, Cedric is back, and still head over heels for Chen. At home, the skirmishes between Dad and Grandpa continue. Business as usual? Not quite, because the boy suddenly finds himself enrolled in the Wolf Cubs. An unpleasant surprise - until he learns there are Girl Scouts too!

• If you're curious about Cinebook's range, then head over to their stall at the British International Comic Show this weekend or visit their web site at www.cinebook.co.uk

Spooky Salem Brownstone Promo Released



As if it wasn't quirky and unsettling enough, Walker Books have just released a video on YouTube to promote the new graphic novel Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers by John Harris Dunning and Nikhil Singh, showing off more of its weird but wonderful art.

Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers is a darkly beautiful, Victorian noir comic book, telling the story of a young magician and his battle against dark forces from another world.

As Salem twists the key and slowly creeps into the grand gothic mansion left to him in his fathers will, his life takes a decidedly unusual turn. Aside from the money and house, Salem discovers his fathers legacy also includes an unfinished battle with creatures from another world, a battle that he is suddenly and dangerously thrown into. With help from his guardian familiar, and the colourful performers of Dr Kinoshitas Circus of Unearthly Delights, Salem must battle the evil spirits in order to stop them from infiltrating our world, and from destroying humanity.

Read the downthetubes review here

• Salem Brownstone is on sale in the UK from 5th October 2009. The US launch is July 2010

• John Harris Dunning and Nikhil Singh will be in conversation during ComICA in London at the ICA on 24th October, 7.00pm, Nash Room. More details here


Original Comics Art Auction To Benefit Philippines Flood Victims

art_auction_eisner.jpg


(via Forbidden Planet International and Gerry Alanguilan): Following the terrible floods in the Philippines, which have caused a huge number of deaths and damage to homes and infrastructure, some of comics professionals based there - many of whom have been contributors to the success of comics publishers in both the UK and the US down the years - have lost homes or had them badly damaged in Manila, where the storm hit particularly hard.

Artists known to be affected so far are Carlo Vergara, Gilbert Monsanto, Jay David Ramos, Rico Rival, Danny Acuña, Jun Lofamia, Clem Rivera, and Noly Zamora. Steve Gan also had his printing press submerged under flood waters.

Comics artist Gerry Alanguilan - a major force in promoting comics art in the Philippines - was unscathed by the disaster, but has now launched an original Comics Art Auction to benefit Ondoy Flood Victims. The first piece on offer is a tribute to the late, great Will Eisner, drawn by Gerry for Comic Book Artist Magazine #6 back in November 2005, pictured above. The artwork is illustrated with pen and ink on 11"x16" vellum paper.

"With the help of other comics professionals, I’ve begun an Ebay auction of original comics artwork which would benefit victims of the flooding brought on my Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana)," he says. "Initial recipients will be Komikeros who have lost or damaged homes and property, and the rest will be donated to the Philippine Red Cross.'

To view the auction go to:
http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZkomikeroQQhtZ-1


More pieces to the auction will be added soon.

Gerry is also currently collecting pieces to auction from other comics pros. Pieces that have International interest (like original art from Marvel, DC, Image and other international comics publications) will be sold on Ebay Worldwide. Other pieces will be sold at the Philippines 5th Komikon event on 18th October.

• To make a general donation to help disaster victims there is a list of places to donate here

Eagle Times Delivers Danny Dare

Baxendale_Dan_Dare.jpg


The latest issue of Eagle Times features an article by downthetubes contributor Jeremy Briggs on Danny Dare (Dan Dare's Number One fan), who appeared in Wham! in the 1960s.

The cover art illustration for the issue is by Gerry Embleton and features 'Dan Dare' from the 'new' Eagle published in the 1980s.

ET22-3-Front-Cover.jpgThe full contents of the Autumn 2009 issue are as follows:

• What's in a Name?

The first part of a look at the career of multi-talented artist Gerry Embleton, who contributed to the original Eagle as well as drawing the revamped 'Dan Dare' for 'new' Eagle in 1982
  • The Eagle art of George William Backhouse - a review of the career of the artist, concentrating on his work for Hulton Press.

    • Dimworthy and Co.

    An exploration of the schoolboy comic strip series from the 1960s Eagle

    • The Rivals of Jeff Arnold, Part 2

    'Steve Larrabee' from Lone Star comic

    • Danny Dare

    A review of the 1964 comic strip about 'Dan Dare's Number One Fan!', created for Wham! by Leo Baxendale and later drawn in part by Dan Dare artists Bruce Cornwell and Don Harley

    • Colour Printing in Eagle

    A brief account of the four-colour photogravure process used to produce Eagle, with examples of the colour separations and print combinations that led to a page of 'Dan Dare'

    • Journey into Space: The Host

    A review of Julian Simpson's new radio play featuring the latest adventure of Charles Chilton's Jet Morgan and his team of space explorers

    • John Ryan (1921-2009)

    An obituary of the creator of Captain Pugwash and Harris Tweed (Eagle), Lettice Leefe (Girl) and Sir Boldasbrass (Swift), plus John Ryan Remembered

    • The Musical George Backhouse

    Illustrating Master Melodies of the World for Amalgamated Press in the 1930s

    • PC 49 and the Case of the Murderous Mouse


    The third and concluding part of the story adaptation

    • Lost Continuity in the Dan Dare strip

    Commentary on an apparent inconsistency in the fictional Dan Dare timeline

    • Hulton's Merchandising

    An example of an Eagle and Girl merchandising advertisement that appeared in the trade magazine Games and Toys in 1954

    Another Eagle dummy?

    • Pop Music during Eagle Times - 1966


    To get a copy you'll need to become a member of The Eagle Society. Membership is via Annual Subscription to Eagle Times magazine, which is published four times annually.

    The Subscription rate for 2009 is: UK £22, Overseas £34 (in £s Sterling, please)

    Please apply by snail mail to: Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow Middlesex, HA1 2UA United Kingdom

    Enquiries: eagle-timesAThotmail.com

    • More information on Eagle Times and the Eagle Society at Eagle Times
  • The Script Archive Needs Your Help

    We're sorry to report that the fab comic writers resource, the not-for-profit Comic Script Archive might be going down.

    "It sucks because I know it’s been really helpful to a lot of you – even some pros have emailed me, happy that the site exists – all of them commenting that they ‘wished something like this was around’ when they were breaking in," says the site runner (whose name I can't actually find on the site -- which is really annoying!)

    "That said, my hosting dues are up and I’m at a point, until December, where financially I’m living in a bunker. There’s just no way I can justify the cost (which is around $120 a year, not exactly life changing money, but that’s a utility bill).

    It's a great resource for would be comic strip writers and we reckon it should continue. If you can, please donate whatever you feel comfortable with here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=8587754

    On the chance that the site does not make its goal, any donations offered will get kicked over to legendary comic writer John Ostrander’s cause: www.comix4sight.com/. As we've previously reported, John has been battling glaucoma and is need of support.

    Plus, in the event that the site OVERshoots its goal, all overages will also go to John’s cause.



    For the full details on the appeal here's a Tinyurl that directs back to the post: http://tinyurl.com/yecmors

    The Comic Book Script Archive is at www.comicbookscriptarchive.com

    Making the Most of your Self Published New Comic at BICS

    Comics Worth Reading, a great US indie comics advocate, has featured a recap on some recent posts following last weekend’s Small Press Expo in the US, and offers some useful advice on using possibly duff copies of your new book, that I thought might be useful for indie press publishers going to the British International Comic Show at the weekend.

    "When you’re unpacking your books, comics, or minicomics for a show, you’ll notice some copies don’t look as good as the others," notes site runner Johanna Draper Carlson. "Maybe they’re print errors... or packing damages.

    "Set those copies aside, and give those out as review copies or press freebies," she suggests. "Save the good ones to sell. Most press members won’t mind; if you explain, they’ll even understand.

    She also suggests taking some some kind of small stickers (red dots) or flags to the con, and mark your damages as you see them so you’ll be easily able to find them when you need them. If you have more damages than you’d like or want to give away, sell them at a discount to bargain hunters. One respondee to the post also suggests they would also make good donations to a school or local library.

    CWR is a great site: it's posted lots of info, often on Manga information on to selling you Manga in Japan and PR: What Not to Do: Review Copies and Guilt Trips

    Comics Worth Reading Site

    Tube Surfing: Pitching at Conventions, Classic Tempest and Comic Domination

    • Anyone planning to attend the British International Comic Show to pitch work might be interested in Insomnia Publications Guide to pitching to them, which they hope will give creators a bit more help and confidence when it comes to knowing what they're looking for. downthetubes also has some advice about portfolio preparation and pitching here. Hope it's useful.

    • Also at BICS this weekend are Classical Comics, who have just released their adaptations of William Shakespeare's The Tempest
    and Romeo and Juliet. They've very kindly sent us review copies of both and I'll run a full feature next week - once I've read them - but on first look, both do the plays proud. I shouldn't really pick favourites, but given that The Tempest is, perhaps, Shakespeare's most original play - it was apparently the last he wrote - I have to say the art job Jon Haward has done on it is simply stunning. If he doesn't get a Doctor Strange or Doctor Fate commission on the back of this, the world's gone mad... If you're going to BICS, check out the books there.

    • And if you do visit the Classical Comics stand, be sure to check base with colourist team Kat Nicholson and Jason Cardy, who have recently taken the helm on Draw the World Together, an organisation created to unite arts communities in providing possibilities for children who live in communities where they do not have the opportunity for basic healthcare and education.

    Comic creator Andrew Wildman who has been running DwTT for the last four years, recently stepped down from the position. "It feels like the right time to do what was always my intention, hand it over to someone who can bring something fresh to the project," he says.

    "Throughout the last four years there have been many amazingly talented people who have helped out with the project and together we have raised tens of thousands of pounds to help street children in both Cambodia and India. Two of those who have shown dedication to the project and a keenness to be involved at a higher level are Kat and Jason, whose willingness to contribute their time and talent at comic conventions has been a major contributor to the work of DtWT."

    Kat and Jason's first real gig at the helm is at BICS, so if you are going to be attending pop along and say hi to them on the 'Classical Comics' stand.

    books_grandville.jpg• The first part of a brand new, huge interview from Pádraig Ó Méalóid with comic artist Bryan Talbot is now live on the Forbidden Planet International blog. As with his Alan Moore sessions its pretty big so editor Joe Gordon has split it into two parts, with the second part to follow soon. The first installment most touches on earlier material, from selling Oz Magazine and doing illustrations for the early Tolkien Society through Brainstorm Comics, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, The Tale of One Bad Rat, 2000AD and Sandman. The second part will bring us up fully to Alice in Sunderland, Metronome and Grandville. Read it here.

    • There are lots of web comic hubs out there, but this one just might offer something a little different. Comic Domination (
    www.comicdomination.com) is a webcomics publishing site designed for both creators and readers. "The most viewed comic for the week gets featured, so it gives readers a chance to discover new comics, and they can add comics to favourites, comment, and a lot more," explains site runner J.T. Blevins, who's also involved in online animation site Toonjet. "There are tools for creators so that all you have to do is upload and publish comics, and the system creates a webpage for it automatically. The system allows you to install and create your own templates for unlimited options."

    classiccomics_kotrt.jpg• And finally... over on the Birmingham Mail's brilliant Speech Balloon column, they're reporting that the UK'S Classic Comic Store (not be confused with Classical Comics, above) is currently busy reissuing a number of classic comics from around the world. Notable releases include English language versions of the Greek and Joint European Classics Illustrated and a special version of The Grapes of Wrath.

    "This is an adapted version of the Philippines National Classic Comics series," explains publisher Jeff Brooks, "a very good adaptation in black and white,' Jeff Brooks revealed. Classic Comics also have a number of other releases, and again, if you're at BICS this weekend, you can find out more there - or visit their web site at www.classiccomicstore.com

    Wednesday, 30 September 2009

    "The Prisoner" Merchandise Planned

    toy_dinky_minimoke.jpg


    While ITV has yet to announce its scheduling for the new The Prisoner series inspired by the 1960s cult classic, they clearly have high hopes for the show's success, announcing the appointment of not only a book but also a toy figures deal this week.

    ITV Studios Global Entertainment has appointed Factory Entertainment the master-toy licensee for multiple categories for The Prisoner and has also confirmed Penguin Group USA will be re-publishing the original version of Thomas Disch’s 1969 novel based on The Prisoner, which will coincide with the USA television premiere of the new series.

    The new Factory Entertainment deal not only encapsulates the upcoming AMC and ITV Studios remake of The Prisoner, which stars Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen, but also the original 1960’s series star Patrick McGoohan.

    Factory Entertainment consumer product to be released will include action figures, prop replicas, trading cards and die cast models. The products will begin launching internationally from Winter 2009 and in the UK in Spring 2010.

    Genre fans may recall Factory, who also hold licenses for the Magic Roundabout and The Beatles, among others, acquired Star Trek collectibles Master Replicas from Corgi International back in May.

    Could a replica of Dinky's classic Prisoner-inspired Mini Moke, pictured above, be on the cards? The fab Prisoner fan site, The UnMutual notes that the original Dinky toy was one of the few merchandise items available at the time of the original showing of the series, and a good condition boxed example can fetch several hundred pounds at auction today.

    amc-the-prisoner-comic-con-comic.jpgA free promotional comic produced by Marvel Comics, featuring art by Sao Paulo graphic artist Amilcar Pinna, has already been released for the joint production with US company AMC, which will screen the six hour mini-series from 15th November (see news story). It's unclear whether this is a trailer for a new comic tie-in or a one-off. Information gratefully received!

    "There is already a huge buzz about the new The Prisoner, which we believe will be even more successful as the original cult series." commented Darren Epstein, CEO of Elstree-based Factory Entertainment. Talk about raising expectations for the original's army of fans.

    "We’re looking forward to releasing the all new range of products that will reflect and target both the new and classic customer fan base," he added.

    "We’re excited to bring The Prisoner back into print," says Stephen Morrison, Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Penguin of the new edition of the novel, "attracting new readers to this science fiction classic by Thomas Disch, one of the masters of the genre.

    "Our tie-in artwork and collaboration with AMC and ITV will allow us to reach fans of both the original and beloved 1960s series as well as those readers who discover the brand for the first time through AMC’s television event.”

    ITV Studios Global Entertainment is set to launch brand new The Prisoner at Brand Licensing Europe earlier today, and at MIPCOM 2009 at the beginning of October. As soon as we have a UK air date we'll let you know.

    Garth Debuts in New Spaceship Away

    comic_spaceshipaway19w.jpgThe latest issue of the Dan Dare-inspired comics magazine Spaceship Away is on sale now via the official web site, and as previously mentioned, features the first installment of the Frank Bellamy Garth story The Bubble Man, beautifully re-coloured by John Ridgway.

    Spaceship Away Part 19 - the title's sixth birthday issue - also includes articles on Frank Hampson's Epsom College days and the creation of comic strip Nick Hazard, drawn by Ron Turner, which also features in the comic magazine (also re-coloured by John Ridgway); plus new artwork from John M. Burns and all-new original Dan Dare comic strips - Green Nemesis and The Gates of Eden, both drawn by Tim Booth.

    To get the magazine delivered to your door, go straight to Spaceship Away Order Page

    Saints Be Praised! It's the Dead Sea Comic...

    comic_deadseacomic03.jpgStraight from the caves of Qumran, missed by Bedouan and archaeologists alike, comes the Dead Sea Comic filled with fun, facts and figures from Bible times, from the downright bizarre to the truly incredible. Did you know that Abraham married his sister, or that it took Noah 120 years to build the ark!? Well you do now -- and it's all in here.

    The Dead Sea Comic is the brainchild of top cartoonist Steve English and looks at the Bible from an observational view point, focusing on the people of the time, the narrative, and the writers who wrote it. Comic characters guide you through the stories. Professor Skeet teaches you ways to remember the facts and figures, Agony Ant explains how they tie in with other parts of the Bible, and Peter's Cat and the Entertaining Angels, among others, give their own offbeat interpretation of events.

    As well as cartoons, maps, games and puzzles, there are also pull-out pages to use with your own Bible to make it more fun to own and use.

    The comic is also supported by a website www.deadseacomics.co.uk which includes extra fun and resources to download.

    Each issue of the Dead Sea comic focusses on a single topic from the Bible: Issue One covered the book of Judges, Issue Two, Noah and the Flood. The current Issue 3 is all about Daniel and the up and coming issue 4 will see the birth of Jesus - well in time for Christmas.

    • The Dead Sea Comic is published bi-monthly at £1.99 and is available from Good News Books who can be found at www.goodnewsbooks.net. For more information you can also contact Steve at steve_englishATtiscali.co.uk.

    Primeval Revived, So Where's the Comic?

    PrimevalITV has changed its mind about cancelling its Saturday teatime time travel and dinosaur show Primeval, prompting some to wonder if this means a comic will now get off the ground.

    ITV announced yesterday that Primeval will return to UK television screens for two new series from 2011 comprising 13 new episodes, thanks to a ground-breaking deal between ITV, multichannel broadcaster, UKTV, and producers Impossible Pictures.

    Back in 2007, British artist Neil Edwards, now the artist on Marvel's Fantastic Force (#4 is on sale, previewed here on CBR), worked up sample pages for a proposed Primeval comic, which would have been published by Richard Emms AP Comics. The project never got off the ground and Richard is now firmly embedded with Flash Gordon publishers Ardden Entertainment, but with two new seasons in the works, a film, and a strong licensing programme including books and toys, it's surely only a matter of time before Doctor Who Adventures gets a rival?

    In the meantime, ITV reports the new Primeval TV series will be showrun once again by Adrian Hodges and will feature the return of stars from the previous series, including Hannah Spearritt, Andrew Lee Potts and Jason Flemyng (so we'll get to find out, at last, how they get back to the present day!), alongside the acclaimed special effects created by the award-winning team at Framestore CFC.

    The premieres of Season Four and Five will be split between ITV1 and UKTV’s new entertainment pay TV channel, Watch. ITV1 will be the first to broadcast season four (in early 2011), while Watch will premiere season five later that year, with ITV1 screening it later.

    In a perhaps unlikely team up of broadcasters, Impossible Pictures has worked closely with BBC Worldwide to implement a new funding strategy for the series, in which BBC America, which has acquired previous series for broadcast in the US, joins Germany’s Pro7 as a co-production partner for the new episodes.

    primeval_pg9_neil.jpg“I'm thrilled that ITV has agreed to this new deal which will allow Impossible Pictures to produce another 13 episodes of Primeval," says Tim Haines, Creative Director of Impossible Pictures Ltd. "The confidence demonstrated in the programme's continued success here and abroad will help us bring more big screen action and a whole host of new creatures roaring back into people's living rooms.”

    “We’re delighted to have agreed this new deal with Impossible to return Primeval to ITV1,"commented Laura Mackie, Director of ITV Drama Commissioning. "The innovative nature of this partnership will allow the show to maintain its high production values and deliver the fantastic programme that our viewers know and love.”

    "We're really excited to be part of this truly innovative deal that guarantees the continuation of this fantastically entertaining series," added Paul Moreton, Channel Head of Watch.

    "I know Primeval is going to be a massive hit with Watch viewers and the perfect complement to other popular sci-fi dramas such as Doctor Who and Torchwood.”

    There. You see? Doctor Who - a comic (on both sides of the Atlantic) and a magazine with a comic. Torchwood - a magazine with a comic. Primeval...

    Marvel Motormouth Cover Art For Sale

    overkill19_art.jpg(Updated) A cover of Marvel UK's would-be 2000AD rival Overkill has just been sold on eBay featuring popular superheroine Motormouth, painted by Steve Sampson.

    Bidding, which ended earlier today on the item, saw the art sell for just under £85. Bidding was at £25 when we first posted this story earlier today.

    Steve painted a number of brilliant pop art covers for Overkill in the 1990s and went on to grace the pages of several UK titles. Pictured left is how the art above was finally used, in the days when digital design was in its infancy, and it shows! There's some limited information on the actual issue here on Comic Vine: strips in the anthology title, which occasionally ran originated content for the UK market as well as stories also commissioned for US books, included Death's Head II, Digitek and others.

    overkill19_cover.jpgSteve's official web site (www.sampsonart.com) is packed with some stunning graphics, including his work for Judge Dredd: The Megazine which have to be seen to be believed.

    Steve lives and work in Brighton, UK, and, along with partner Ghy Kurabayashi is well known for combining his illustration and graphic design skills with his love of colours, manga, games, vinyl toys, comics, music, pop+ urban art and all things Japanese. These days, their clients include ILEX Press, German publishers Brandlounge and Brazil's Editora Abril.

    Tuesday, 29 September 2009

    Team TOXIC at BICS

    (via Lew Stringer): The editorial team behind TOXIC, Egmont's popular long-running comic-mag for boys, are just one more publisher exhibiting at this year's British International Comic Show at the ThinkTank, Millennium Point in Birmingham this weekend (October 3rd/4th).

    TOXIC will have a table at the show, and visitors will be able to meet editors and artists/writers on the comic including Robin Hoodie artist Laura Howell, editor Andy Davidson, sub-editor (and small press writer/artist) Luke Paton, and ace cartoonist Lew Stringer at various times over the weekend.

    • Latest BICS info and guest list: www.thecomicsshow.co.uk


    • Official TOXIC website: www.toxicmag.co.uk

    Thomas Wogan Is Re-Published

    twid_cover_web.jpgAny comic creator out there who wonders if it's worth self-publishing will be pleased to hear that sometimes all those hours slaving away at the photocopier, then stapling comics together until you're sick of the sound of the 'ker-chunk' as you put another copy together, can pay off.

    We present as evidence David Hughes Thomas Wogan is Dead, which we reviewed back in January. Publishers Tabella picked up reprint rights to the quirky tale set in Morecambe (and the hereafter - although is there a difference?), and a spiffing new edition of the tale goes on sale at the Birmingham International Comic Show this weekend.

    We're pleased to report that the downthetubes review had a small part in the process, and wish both David and Tabella the best of luck with the new edition.

    "There are some differences to the original version, the most noticeable of which, I feel, is the addition of a commercial font," says Dave. "I gave this some serious thought after Tabella suggested looking at the lettering. I think I'll keep my own lettering for some projects and use fonts for others, they're certainly not as emotive, but they offer a regularity and overall look which lends itself well to certain projects. I definitely think they work here."

    Thomas Wogan is Dead is available from Tabella Publishing for £5.99: more details here.

    Monday, 28 September 2009

    Tube Surfing: Davison Who Art, Time Bombs and Herbbs!

    al_davison_doctorwho.jpg• As part of the A Thing About Machines electronic Arts Festival, dedicated to the innovative composer Delia Derbyshire who composed the Doctor Who theme, The Tin Angel in Coventry screened films by local filmakers, including the premiere of comic creator Al Davison's new film Trinity. Meanwhile, Al's Doctor Who exhibition is on till 3rd October at Coventry's Lock Gallery, featuring art from his IDW Doctor Who comic.

    • A new 28-page chapter of the time travel graphic novel The Fat Man by Thomas Cochrane has gone live this weekend over at www.the-fat-man.co.uk.

    • Fans of Rodrigo D. Ricci's Ligeia the Vampire, which also features on British mobile comics site ROK Comics, can download the Ligeia the Vampire's official wallpapers, this time starring Edgar the Cat from the strip's official web site here.

    issue-8-cover.jpg• Along with hundreds of other creators, the makers of magical mystery strip Harker will have a stall at the Birmingham International Comics Show this coming weekend. "We'll have copies of every issue so far (including issue eight, hot off the presses)," says writer Roger Gibson, "and we'll also be launching Harker: The Book Of Solomon - our first 122 page graphic novel, collecting issues 1-6." Issue 8, available to order on the Harker online website from Tuesday, here on the comic's official web site, will also be available in a number of comic shops, all listed here.

    • Talking of BICS, Time Bomb Comics tells us they'll be there, marking the occasion with the release of the dark, apocalyptic 100-page original graphic novel The Furies, written by Steve Tanner with artwork by Andrew Dodd, the first graphic novel to be released from the two year old company.

    Time Bomb Comics will also have previews available of a few of their forthcoming projects including Bomb Scares, an anthology that promises disturbing horror stories in a twisted vein, featuring work from brand new talent such as Katja Lindblom and Rachele Aragno to established creators Gary Crutchley and Shane Oakley; and London Calling described as an "Ealing Studios meets Hammer Horror in a uniquely British one-shot featuring art by well-known Commando artist Keith Page.

    • Writer Stephen Paul Coffey reports The children's book Rosemary Herbb and the Zodiac Ghosts is now for sale on Amazon.com. This book tells the very first tale of Rosemary Herbb, an 11 year old girl who is able to see ghosts. "The book is perfect for readers for all ages and a great gift to children," says Stephen.

    Striker Heads Into the Net

    Striker2_10.jpgLong-running soccer strip Striker recently came to an end in The Sun - catching many fans by surprize, even though creator Pete Nash had been saying for some time he planned to end the saga. But, after 24 years of publication, both in The Sun and as a self-published nationally-distributed comic, Pete still hopes the series will enjoy new life in new forms - including the online publication of the first ever adventure on myebook.

    When Striker came to a conclusion earlier this month, Pete, tells downthetubes he had a holiday, a little relived at no longer being beholden to the deadlines the strip imposed on his life. But on his return he was gobsmacked to find his inbox full of emails from anxious fans, wondering what had happened to their favourite football comic, as The Sun itself had given no indication it was coming to an end!

    "I received hundreds of them and they're still arriving," says Pete, "so I hope fans will forgive me for not replying to each one personally." Instead he is posting news about the strip's post-Sun developments on www.striker3d.net, which has long been its official internet home. This includes hopes Pete's long-held dream that the Striker saga will become a blockbuster movie or TV series as well as releasing the entire archive into a volume of books available in print.

    "I have been warmed by so many kind comments and somewhat surprised by the strength of feelings expressed," Pete told fans via the StrikerWorld forum (registration required), also revealing the ending of Striker was rather more rushed than he would have liked because The Sun decided to stop the Saturday pages in August, so he had to reduce the final episode he had written by five or six strips. "I left the story with an open ending to allow for the possibility of an eventual relaunch (Romeo and Todd would provide excellent scenarios) but The Sun clearly want to pursue their own ideas. Having said that, one would have thought they could have come up with a better replacement for Striker than web virals."

    Explaining the strip's completion, he told fans, "Last year, I gave notice to The Sun that I felt the time was approaching to end Striker as it was becoming increasingly difficult to create fresh storylines for the characters and I did not want to run the risk of it becoming stale.

    "There was always the possibility of re-launching it in the future and to this end I offered to create a replacement strip for The Sun or to rerun earlier adventures showing how Warbury Warriors were formed when Nick and Eric first got together. Sadly, The Sun did not wish to discuss this possibility.

    "I ended the strip with a scenario that both wrapped up the storyline and left it open to the possibility of being restarted at a later date. I had no idea The Sun would leave their readers in the dark by failing to announce the strip was ending."

    striker86.jpgThis, of course, is not the first time The Sun has decided to leave fans in the dark about the strip's future. Back in 2003, when Pete decided to launch his own weekly Striker comic, The Sun gave readers every impression the strip was over for good, even featuring the Warbury Warriors team being killed in a plane crash in its replacement strip, The Premier.

    Behind the scenes, as the Press Gazette reported, the paper also accepted £85,000 for a series of adverts to mark the end of the comic strip appearing in The Sun and to tell readers it was launching as a comic in its own right - then refused to run them. The paper also touted replacement strip The Premier in a news item, only mentioning the new Striker comic toward the end, declaring it would be "The most exciting and innovative strip to be launched in a British newspaper for decades". (It wasn't).

    Despite this - and the unfortunate demise of Pete's Striker comic after 87 impressive issues, which even offered shares to readers to try to keep going, with huge success (but not enough to save it) - eventually Striker returned to The Sun, ousting The Premier, reaching a finale this month, much to the dismay of many fans of the strip, which has been created in digital form using Maya software for over 10 years. But even though the strip has ended its daily newspaper appearances, Pete still has plans for its future now he is back in full control, owning all rights to the saga.

    Myebook - Striker: Rise of the Warriors - click here to open my ebook"For a long time now I have wanted to publish the entire Striker archive as a series of books and develop it into a movie or TV series," he says. "I now have the time to explore those possibilities."

    • Striker fans wanting to keep up to date on Striker developments should visit www.striker3d.net where you can also read some of the earlier Striker adventures free online.

    Sunday, 27 September 2009

    In Review: Salem Brownstone - All Along the Watchtowers

    Salem Brownstone All Along the WatchtowersThe Plot: A sumptuous and rich gothic fantasy following the adventure of Salem Brownstone as he falls into a strange and magical world after the death of his father.

    As he twists the key and slowly creeps into the grand gothic mansion left to him in his father’s will, Salem’s life takes a decidedly unusual turn. Aside from the money and house, his father’s secret legacy includes an unfinished battle with creatures from a world beyond ours. Immediately thrown into the sinister conflict, Salem must make contact with his guardian familiar and get help from the colourful performers of Dr Kinoshita’s Circus of Unearthly Delights, if he is to ward off the evil spirits and avoid the tragic fate of his father...

    The Review: While the plot of what I assume may just be the first Salem Brownstone novel - a story first serialised in the award-wiining anthology Sturgeon White Moss - may read like your 'standard' children's novel, the story's visuals make it so much more. There may be echoes, too, of plots from Marvel's Doctor Strange or DC Comics Doctor Fate, but for all both sagas strengths, I'm at a loss to think of one which has such a unique, quirky and, indeed, sinister interpretation like that given Salem Brownstone by artist Nikhil Singh.

    Salem Brownstone


    From the opening gambit of a son coming home to find their parent isn't what he thought and having to follow in their footsteps, Dunning and Singh weave a macabre tale full of surrealist imagery, combining the the rich history of Lovecraft-inspired demons just itching to break into our world and wreak havoc with odd, unsettling characters in our own dimension, whose motives remain unclear. Not only do Dunning and Singh offer a bizarre tale of good versus evil: without being vital to enjoying All Along the Watchtowers, they lay the seeds, I assume, for a far bigger tale, with mystery a-plenty about Salem's father, his friends - and even his enemies, one of whom plays a vital part in the resolution to this demonic invasion.

    Acclaimed by the likes of Alan Moore and Paul Gravett, there's some decidedly unsettling imagery within the covers of this beautifully produced, 'velvet'-covered hardback edition aimed at the 12+ audience - not least of them being the point at which a dupe of the otherworldy demons/gods accepts their offer of great power and has to swallow a flying insect to do so. There is action aplenty, too, as Salem and new found friend, Cassandra, battle to save the world - all rendered with the kind of vision that will surely have tremendous 'Gath' appeal and beyond.

    There are some wonderful cameo moments, too, as equally bizarre characters comment on the 'weirdness' of Salem Brownstone's new home and lifestyle, oblivious to their own repugnance. These kind of scenes are so often missing from mainstream fantasy comics, but for my money, must take inspiration from the hapless neighbours of witch Sammantha in 1060s TV series Bewitched, for example, but twist them into something both beguiling and bizarre.

    This is a terrific, odd, but haunting first novel from Dunning and Singh, perhaps made memorable more for the art than plotline: but it is Dunning's rich world of human versus demon that gives Singh's art life, and the partnership is evident on every page.

    • Salem Brownstone is on sale in the UK from 5th October 2009. The US launch is July 2010

    • John Harris Dunning and Nikhil Singh will be in conversation during ComICA in London at the ICA on 24th October, 7.00pm, Nash Room. More details here


    More Reviews...

    "A wonderfully imaginative and stylish piece of work and a perfect example of the adventurous new directions that comic books should be taking in the future." (Comic creator Alan Moore)


    "Our new century demands a new charismatic comic-book magician to weave his spells on us. Updating classic conjurors like Mandrake and Doctor Strange with a twist of Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, John Dunning and Nikhil Singh have crafted a haunting, hypnotising master of the mystic arts in Salem Brownstone. Their sharp, surprising storytelling and intense, imaginative illustration combine to create real magic on the page." (Comic editor and commentator Paul Gravett)


    "Salem Brownstone is a graphic novel that is both original and compelling. There's a seamless relationship between the images and the text, and the characters linger in the mind." (Director Anthony Minghella)

    Salem Brownstone


    Web Links

    Nikhil Singh: Official Website

    Nikhil is an artist, writer and musician. He lives a reclusive life, but works prodigiously. He has released two albums, formed a theatre group, written the soundtrack to two Canne Film Festival films, done stage design and murals for Miss Kitten, serialised Salem Brownstone with Sturgeon White Moss and staged two solo and several joint exhibitions of his artwork. His mutant alter ego is also the front man for the pop punk outfit, The Wild Eyes...

    John Harris Dunning on Facebook

    South African-born John has written for newspapers such as The Guardian and Metro and contributed to magazines that include Esquire, Arena and more. Salem Brownstone is his first graphic novel.

    Salem Brownstone on Facebook

    • Sadly, the web site for the wonderful anthology, Sturgeon White Moss, which spawned Salem Brownstone, seems to have been hijacked. If anyone has information or links, feel free to let us know...

    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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