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Saturday, 14 November 2009

Most Bizarre British Comics Tie-In 2009

And the 2009 downthetubes award for the most bizarre British comics tie-in merchandise of the year goes to...

Firstly let's remember that our favourite piece of bizarre British comics tie-in merchandise to date has been the Jackie Knitting Set. DC Thomson have licenced a lot of different Jackie products over the last few years on the back of the success of the original Best Of Jackie hardback book published by Carlton/Prion in 2005. These have included mugs and key rings with the Jackie compilation music CDs being perhaps the most successful of the recent batch with the fourth album, Jackie The Annual 2010, being released last week. Despite these the Jackie Knitting Set still takes the biscuit and when we spoke to DCT editor Bill McLoughlin, who now works for the company's licencing department, about it he described it as "probably the most unusual and I'd be hard pushed to come up with something more quirky!"

In the meantime Ron Grosset and his team at Waverley Books have had a lot of success with their Broons tie-in books beginning with Maw Broon's Cookbook in 2007. These have always been lovingly compiled, beautifully produced and competitively priced. One reason for the competitive price is Waverley Books' deliberate policy that they are not sold for a big reduction in shops such as Bargain Books or as a loss leader in supermarkets.

The selection of Broons tie-in books from Waverley now include both the Maw Broon's Cookbook and Maw Broon's But An' Ben Cookbook as well as the Broon's Burns Night, Broon's Book Of Gairdening Wisdoms and the recent Maw Broon's Remedies An' Suchlike. Earlier this year Waverley branched out with Maw Broon's But An' Ben Apron which is exactly what it sounds like, an apron, even if Amazon confusingly list it as a 1 page paperback box set. The latest item from Waverley is Maw Broon's But An' Ben Spoon.

Never mind Nigella's solid beech Serving Hands or Jamie Oliver's Ubuntu Pinch Pot, for a mere £1.99 you can now get a wooden kitchen spoon with the Broon's But An' Ben design on it, 12 inches long and, as the packaging proudly proclaims, designed for both "right-handed or left-handed operation".

Now that gets our award for the most bizarre British comics tie-in of the year.

Friday, 13 November 2009

In Review: Spandex


The Book: Welcome to Spandex – super-heroes with a difference! From the creator of The O Men (www.comix.org.uk/theomen), Spandex is a brand new super-drama with a very unique spin. And even if you have heard what it’s about, it’s really not what you might expect – trust me…

The Review: First, a quick apology: I'm painfully aware I have been sent a number of books for review lately and the creators have yet to get a full review. At present I'm juggling work for ROK Comics and Titan Books full time during the week (and anyone in publishing will know how 'full time' extends to 'every waking hour' if you're not careful), so downthetubes, which is put together in my spare time, unpaid, has had to take a bit of a back seat.

Right, now the excuses are out of the way, on with bigging up Spandex - because it deserves it.

Featuring an all-gay superhero team, this sexy mature readers-only dramedy follows the adventures of Liberty (Britain's newest transvestite superhero), Diva (best described as a lesbian Wonder Woman), Prowler (who can absorb the skills of gay people), Glitter (a male Dazzler), Indigo (a beautiful French teleporter), Mr Muscles and Butch (strong twins). Issue one, ‘The Attack of the 50 Foot Lesbian’, is a 40-page beastie available as a print comic and PDF, introducing the team and their Brighton headquarters as they do indeed, battle a 50 Foot Lesbian, and next year will see the release of a 120-page Spandex graphic novel, featuring more adventures with the team. In between these, ‘Spandex Shorts’ will be released – mini-comics spotlighting various characters.

This is a book with all the plotting and scripting style that Martin honed to near perfection in The O Men. He has a real gift for superhero group dynamics and his new team of gay superheroes, fighting evil and their own personal demons, continues his high standards. Art-wise, watch out for visual gags and a clear knowledge of Brighton and its populace, delivering a fun adventure yarn with just the right amount of brooding menace as the story develops and you realize not everything is as it appears.

Martin 's O-Men was a superb riff on superhero group dynamics, but Spandex takes his usual skilled scripting to an entirely new level. This first issue shows huge promise for the series and I look forward to reading more.

•To buy Spandex #1 though Paypal, just click here or to get the PDF click here

• Official web site: www.spandexcomic.com

2008 Interview with Martin Eden on Forbidden Planet International

More Reviews...

Jonathan Wilkins for Total SciFi

"Whereas many contemporary comic book heroes are dark and brooding, the protagonists of Spandex are real people who just happen to have superpowers. There are dark ideas covered, but they’re mixed with a winning humour, because life isn’t always as oppressive and difficult as some comic creators would have us believe... Thought provoking, funny and highly original."

P B Rainey

"Martin describes Spandex as a superhero strip the likes of which you'll never have seen before and he's right. In it he explores the sexual dynamics between the cast and introduces some of the team's main villains, including as a 50' tall lesbian. Great strips, colourfully illustrated with some fun Smash Hits magazine styled extras and fantastic value for money; what more could you want?"

New Harker Debuts

You'll all be pleased to hear that Issue 9 of the fab indie detective series title Harker, from Ariel Press is out now. It's available from all the usual comic shops (listed here on the offcial blog) and it's also available directly from the Ariel Press shop here.

This issue follows on from the murder of an unpleasant crime author at a Whitby hotel police detective Harker was staying in. Something smells fishy when a second corpse is washed in on the tide, and Harker is back on the case.

Can he find out how the murderer got away with it? And what dangers lay in the foggy mire? Don't stray off the path!

The team of writer Roger Gibson and artist Vincent Danks continue to maintain high standards with the issue, and stick to their demanding release schedule for the book, which is helping keep the book in the comic public eye. The next issue due out on 14th December, or slightly before!

Monday, 9 November 2009

New British Comics #2 Released

nbc2_eng.jpgThe second issue of anthology title "New British Comics" is now on sale, available, just like the first issue in both English and Polish.

Edited by Karol Wisniewski, the new edition comes wrapped in a superb cover by Nelson Evergreen, this issue includes strips by the likes of Dan White, Leonie O'Moore, Dave Thomson and a few new faces such as downthetubes contributor David Hailwood, Craig Collins and Iain Laurie.

The Polish edition has already successfully premiered at the 2009 International Festival of Comics in Lodz, again raising awareness of the UK indie comic scene and the concept of exchanging work between both countries.

Retailing at £4.00, "New British Comics" issue #2 is approximately B5-ish format - well, it is made in Poland - with 84 b/w pages and is available from Badpressltd.com and SmallZone.co.uk

• For further information and to view sample pages, visit the totally revamped web site at www.polygobooks.com/newbritishcomics/

• Blog: http://newbritishcomics.blogspot.com

Titan Launches Wallace & Gromit iPhone Comic

wg_iphone_comic.jpg


Britain's Titan Publishing has just launched its first digital comic for iPhone and iTouch - featuring Aardman Animations' inventors extraordinaire and Oscar winners, Wallace & Gromit.

Launched as the animated pair celebrate their 20th Anniversary, each comic is a complete Wallace & Gromit adventure and is packed with bonus features on the inveterate inventor and his faithful canine companion - and one of them is free-to-view.

“It’s really exciting to see Wallace and Gromit at the forefront of such a cracking new technology," commented Wallace & Gromit Digital Comic editor Ned Hartley, "although I secretly suspect that Wallace would be more comfortable with the type of apple that comes with cheese.”

• For more general information visit: http://titanpublishing.com/iphone/ and to keep up to date on new W&G phone releases visit this Facebook fan page


• Wallace & Gromit Comics are available from Apple’s App store now. Initially there are four comic stories to download...


• The W-Files Download now: US ($free) | UK (£free)

When strange shapes and flashing lights are seen in the night sky, there are only two paranormal investigators that can solve the problem. Sadly they aren’t available, so Wallace and Gromit might as well have a crack at it. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

• Parts & Labour Download now: US ($0.99) | UK (£0.59)


Where does he get those wonderful toys? Ever wondered where Wallace gets the parts for his eccentric, wonderful (and occasionally useful) inventions? Find out here!

• Big in Japan Download now: US ($0.99) | UK (£0.59)


Wallace and Gromit take time out to visit Wallace’s biggest fan in Japan, Hiro Worship. It turns out all is not well in the land of the rising sun, and it’s not long until Gromit has to deal with some monster problems!

• Where there’s Muck there’s Brass Download now: US ($0.99) | UK (£0.59)

Nothing gets Wallace as worked up as the disbanding of the local brass band, despite the fact that they aren’t very good, no-one wants to see them and they don’t really want to play anyway. This calls for... an invention!

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• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials: editor@downthetubes.net

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