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Saturday, 24 April 2010

Glory Be! creator joins Who actors for Harlow Sci-Fi weekend

glory.jpgWriter and artist David C Hill will be attending the renowned Comic Book & Sci-Fi Weekend at the Harvey Centre in Harlow, Essex to sign copies of his esteemed yet off-beat comic, Glory Be! – and is offering fans the chance to grab an exclusive ‘Norton Mouse’ mini-comic.

The bank holiday weekend also kick-starts a fantastic new competition, open to every reader who purchases a copy of the comic between 1st May and 1st July 2010 (either at the event or via the website). By answering the set question correctly, one lucky winner will be immortalised in comic book form and featured as a guest character in the next issue of Glory Be! - "an accolade that money just can’t buy," say the publishers

Glory Be! is an 84 page full-colour comic book set within the fictional community of Riverdale Church. Not a traditional comic per se it is, for the most part, a series of extraordinarily random "off-the-wall" email exchanges between a charismatic church pastor and his Machiavellian band of troubled sheep.

Albeit that there is a clear Christian premise within the story, Glory Be! is designed to appeal as much to non-believers as to avid church-goers.

Taken from the main Glory Be! comic, Norton Mouse is a particularly popular character with his own fansite and ever-spiralling fan base on Facebook and Twitter. Followers include television legend Jonathan Ross, Peter Serafinowicz and he natters with Christine Hamilton, Murray Gold and Josie D’Arby – to name a few.

The Comic Book & Sci-Fi Weekend, hosted by 3 Darths Comics and Collectables, is the second comic book and SF weekend in the Harvey Centre, with a host of special guests and events line up. Visitors can collect a free comic and meet the Stormtroopers from the UK Garrison who will be on hand to meet and greet Star Wars fans and will be collecting for their nominated charity NSPCC.

As well as David, other guests at the Bank Holiday weekend event include (subject to work commitments): Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, from Doctor Who; Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi and Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter films); R2D2 actor Kenny Baker; Scott Capurro (Beed’ in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace); plus Tim Rose, Mike Edmonds and Nick Briggs, who supply the voices of the Daleks, Cybermen and other monsters in Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

• Glory Be! Magazine web iste: glorybemagazine.tumblr.com

• Glory Be! on Twitter: www.twitter.com/glorybemagazine


Where: The Harvey Centre, Harlow, Essex, CM20 1XR
When: Bank Holiday 1st – 3rd May 2010 – 10am to 5.30pm (4pm Sunday)

• For more information and guest listings/timings please visit this page on the Harvey Centre web site

Friday, 23 April 2010

VV Brown's City of Abacus launches in May

City of Abacusdownthetubes readers may be familiar with the music or modelling work of British singer-songwriter and model VV Brown, whose single releases include "Shark In The Water" and "Crying Blood". But what you might not know is that she's also a huge fan of graphic novels and comic books - she was one of the contributors to Ctrl.Alt.Shft Unmasks Corruption last year - and as a result of this passion, she's created her own comic book series, titled City of Abacus, which, after a bit of a delay since it was first announced, is due to be published early next month.

As you'd expect with such a celebrity name involved, the comic book will getting plenty of major media exposure, so we're chuffed the promoters of the book thought to do a bit of research and contact comics news sites like ours in the run up to a major promotion for the book on YouTube. There will also be some tie-in City of Abacus social community pages on Facebook and Myspace (due for completion in the next couple of days), and the official website (www.thecityofabacus.com) is due to go live on 7th May 2010.

Right now, it's just a holding page at the moment with a little more info and a countdown timer, but it's where you'll be able to buy the comic from, as well as comic book stores.

city_of_abacus_spread.jpg


City of Abacus, featuring art by Emma Price, is a dark, futuristic tale of corruption, rebellion and adventure, which has been described as "Manga Marxism". Set in the eerie city of Abacus, presided over by evil ruler Queen Virusos, where music is banned, creative objects have become mysterious relics and the city’s people have their thoughts controlled by the ‘MX-41’. Only the orphaned heroine Freeda is unsettled by this conformity.

A tale of conquest, politics, love and mental freedom, Brown created City of Abacus with her video director David Allain: it's planned as an eight-issue series, will be released through 2010, then collected as a graphic album.

"I don't usually do comics but it's a passion project for me," Allain told The Independent last year, after the first chapter of City of Anacus was featured in Ctrl.Alt.Shft and tested on audiences at the Glastonbury Music Festival. "Last year I did VV Brown's music video and the idea of a comic started from there. The reaction at Glastonbury was great and we're planning to do a whole saga."

Brown began writing the book back in 2008. "It was a eureka moment and I just wanted to be creative and experiment with something different," she told web site jotta earlier this week, also citing X Men and Watchmen as her favourite comics. "I called David up after I wrote the first chapter in a few days and asked him to be apart of it."

"I always wanted to paint, but then I did a fine art degree, and ended up finding the wonderful world of comics," says Emma Price of her work. After gradating from Byam Shaw at Central St Martins, London, she now works as a graphic designer.

The first volume of the multi-volume series will launch with an exhibition and event at The Book Club, Shoreditch, on 6th May 2010 with set design by jotta, who will be creating props and a lifesize cardboard recreation of the City of Abacus which will transport guests to the pages of the comic book.

City of Abacus web site: www.thecityofabacus.com


• An Exhibition of art from City of Abacus will run from 7th - 29th May 2010 at the Book Club, 100-106 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH. Tel: 020 7684 8618

Thursday, 22 April 2010

In Review: Buck Danny - The Secrets Of The Black Sea

Buck Danny - Secrets of the Black SeaThe Secrets of the Black SeaThe Secrets of the Black Sea is the second of Cinebook's translations of the many adventures of American military pilot Colonel Buck Danny.

Buck Danny was created by writers Georges Troisfontaines and Jean-Michel Charlier with artist Victor Hubinon for Spirou magazine in 1947. Over 50 albums later Danny is still flying contemporary aircraft whilst both he and his colleagues have not aged, whether they are flying for the Sino-American Flying Tigers against the Japanese in World War 2 or the latest American air domination fighter in Cinebook's previous Buck Danny title Night Of The Serpent. The Secrets Of The Black Sea was originally published as Les Secrets De La Mer Noire beginning in issue 2903 of Spirou in 1993 and then released by Dupuis as the 45th Buck Danny album.

Set during the last days of the Soviet Union in July 1991, Danny is flying F/A-18 Hornet attack fighters for the US Navy off the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier when he is called to the Pentagon for a diplomatic mission. This requires him to visit the new Soviet aircraft carrier Kusnetsov to assess its capabilities under the Soviet Union's new sense of openness - Perestroika. Those readers who know their aircraft can immediately tell from the cover illustration, of a Soviet Navy fighter being attacked by a Soviet anti-aircraft missile, that the visit will not all be plain sailing - and it isn't. What begins as apparently the US Navy versus the Soviet Navy quickly becomes the Soviet Navy versus the KGB as a coup is plotted.

Francis Bergese's aircraft artwork is always a joy to behold, be it World War 2 planes in Biggles: Spitfire Parade or the more modern aircraft of Buck Danny, but his plotline on Night Of The Serpent was perfunctory following a simple structure which seemed designed more to get a variety of aircraft types into the story than to tell an interesting story. However The Secrets Of The Black Sea is written by Jacques De Douhet and he constructs a political and military tale that is effectively a prequel to the real life August 1991 coup attempt against Soviet President Gorbachev.

Since it is a Buck Danny book there are still a remarkable number of different aircraft types for Bergese to get his inks around, a job for which he is more than capable. On the American side he illustrates virtually every front line US Navy aeroplane and helicopter of the time period while on the Soviet side, as well as the Sukhoi Su-33 on the cover, he manages to incorporate Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters, Ilyushin airborne refueling and AWACS planes, Mil and Kamov helicopters and both single and two seat versions of the Soviet equivalent of the Harrier jump jet, the Yak-38 Forger.

Unlike the previous Buck Danny book, The Secrets Of The Black Sea is satisfying both visually and storywise and hopefully further releases will be of the same standard.


• There are more details of the Cinebook English language Buck Danny books on their website

• There are more details (in English) of the Dupois French language Buck Danny books on their website.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

New Commandos Hit the News Stand

Commando 4287The latest four Commandos from DC Thomson, on sale one week earlier than is traditional, are available now from all good newsagents...

Commando 4287: Guided Missile

Story: Bernard Gregg Inside art: Vila Cover art: Ian Kennedy

Over the Austrian mountains in 1944, a German Dornier 217K bomber launched a strange, rocket-like craft, which performed a high-flying dance of death with an RAF Lancaster. And no matter how the Lanc jinked and turned, the rocket kept closing, until it finally destroyed its prey.

Despite the markings, these planes were both German-made and only models, but the secret rocket was one which could change the whole course of the war... if the Nazis were allowed to perfect the real thing!

Commando 4288Commando 4288: Bombs on Target!

Story: Cyril Walker Inside art: Ian Kennedy Cover art: Ian Kennedy

Dropping bombs accurately wasn’t easy. Often, they fell wide and wrecked innocent targets... like the night death rained down on a small English country town because a Nazi pilot lost his nerve.

The response of the survivors was to help pay for a bomber to strike back. This is the story of that one Lancaster and its remarkable record...

• This is number four of a five-book series featuring art by Ian Kennedy. The three previous re-issues resulted in calls for the other two to be pulled from the vaults. Number five is available on the official Commando website as an exclusive web comic.


Commando 4289Commando No 4289: Fly into Fear

Story: Ferg Handley Inside art: Morahin Cover art: Ian Kennedy

Sergeant Tom Sellers longed to fly, eagerly joining the RAF during the Second World War. Training didn’t go well, though — he was nervous when night-flying, failed vital coursework and didn’t make the grade. Disappointed, he accepted his lot and re-trained as an RAF mechanic, posted out East.

There, Tom found himself caught up in a major behind-the-lines operation with the Chindits in Burma. Then he ended up back in the air, doing vital reconnaissance work. Would his old anxieties come back? Would he... fly into fear?

Commando 4290Commando 4290: War Of The Wagtail

Story: Alan Hebden Inside art: Benet Cover art: Benet

Wagtail. It doesn’t sound very warlike, does it?

But, in the hands of a British desert strike force, a Wagtail recce kite would become a very warlike flyer indeed...

Next month, Commando celebrates VE-Day 65 by running four new War’s End stories - plus a re-issue of the seven-part series commissioned for VE-day 50 which many readers won’t be old enough to have seen.

• Official Commando web site: www.commandomag.com


• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846

Shrewsbury gears up for magical cartoon mayhem!


The Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival 2010 takes place this coming weekend (22nd - 25th April) and this year's theme is Magic, Myth and Mystery.

This wonderful Festival offers unique opportunities to see artists at work: 20 of them on huge boards in The Square during the weekend, others drawing caricatures and some running cartoon workshops for all ages. 

Highlights of the event include the Festival themed exhibition at Bear Steps Gallery featuring new cartoon originals, and prints, on the theme of Magic, Myth and Mystery. This is a selling exhibition and a great opportunity to buy work by some of the UK's top cartoonists. 

2010 also sees exhibitions of Greek and Australian cartoons at Theatre Severn.
  • Click here for the full programme of events for 2010.
  • Click here to download the S-MILE Trail (PDF)
  • Click here to download the Cartoon Festival brochure (PDF)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

In Review: Mezolith Book 1

Mezolith Book 1 The DFC, the subscription-only anthology comic that ran for some 10 months in 2008 and early 2009, was always seen as a breeding ground for graphic novel compilations of its stories and so it's good to see the comic tales now beginning to be published in full colour A4 size hardback books. The first tranche of these span the humour of Good Dog, Bad Dog, the manga of The Spider-Moon and the pre-historic adventure of Mezolith.

Set 10,000 years ago in what will eventually become the east coast of Britain, Mezolith tells the stone age tales of a young boy, Poika, and the members of his tribe, the Kansa. As they go about their hunter-gatherer lives, the seven stories in the book show the dangers that they face from the animals they hunt and from the neighbouring tribe, as well as relating some of the superstitions of the tribe.

From Poika's near death experience on a hunt at the beginning of the book, via his healing aided by the local medicine woman, to several dangerous run-ins with the leader of the Owl tribe, the book's continuity between its stories is tight and it helps bind together the world that writer Ben Haggarty has created. Adam Brockbank's artwork is impressive in its detail and the fluidity of its action sequences, as perhaps befits art from a film storyboard artist. His panels are both as beautiful and as horrific as the different stories require them to be.

Yet it is that juxtaposition between the beauty and the gore that makes the book somewhat of a contradiction. The back cover blurb describes it as "Stone-age horror from the DFC Library" and while the initial gory attack of the wild bull on Poika isn't particularly horrific, it is the hallucinatory dreams that he has while recovering, involving a giant blue human baby, that start the more gruesome sections of the stories. It is hard to reconcile that the torture of Poika's father by the Owl people, which includes the amputation of one of his hands, was in the same comic as, for instance, Sarah McIntyre's sweet Vern and Lettuce.

The Swan Bride of MezolithYet despite the real life dangers that the tribe face, the best story of the book is the fantastical Swan Bride in which one of the members of the tribe journeys to a far off land to retrieve the shape changing swan woman that he has fallen in love with. While this also has its gory moment, it stands out as being completely different to the rest of the book with its supernatural creatures appearing to be part of the real world and its message of love triumphant. Swan Bride is the one story in this compilation that you will go back and read again.


Mezolith is a more mature book than I would have expected to see coming out of the DFC. So while I enjoyed it and would look forward to seeing more of the tales of Poika and his tribe, I won't be buying a copy for my eight-year-old nephew. Not yet, anyway.

Also available from the DFC Library now...


The Spider MoonThe Spider Moon - Amazon.co.uk link


Good Dog, Bad Dog: Book 1Good Dog, Bad Dog - Amazon.co.uk link


More details of Mezolith and the rest of the DFC Library, including sample pages are available on the DFC Library website

Monday, 19 April 2010

Time's Almost Up for There's No Time Like the Present

tntltp12.gifPart 12 of Paul Rainey's comic, or serialised ‘graphic novel’, There’s No Time Like The Present is now available priced £2.50.

"It’s an exciting issue because it’s the penultimate part to the story that I began back in 2004," says Paul. "Copies are being rolled out to the usual outlets over the next few days for you to buy or you can order directly from me by going to my website and using Paypal. Alternatively, you can contact me by email for other methods of payment."

Also finishing over the next month or so is Paul's 2000AD Prog Slog Blog: Paul has been reading and (sort of) reviewing every issue of the classic science fiction comic weekly and associated publications published between numbers 1 and 1188. If you’ve ever read the comic, or been curious about it then you might want to check out his blog, now at 700 posts, even if it’s just to see how this frankly ridiculous project has boggled Paul's mind!

Once described as "the holy grail of comics", There's No Time Like the Present should be ready in time for the first Unicon event at the UniComics Festival, taking place in Hatfield on 24th April 24th.

• More about Paul Rainey and There's No Time Like the Present on his official web site

New Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer story released

Following the release of Star Tigers Chapter One at the beginning of the year, Doctor Who fan film makers Altered Vistas have just announced the DVD not-for-profit release of Chapter Two: With Friends Like These, based on the classic Doctor Who Magazine comic strips starring Ablsom Daak, Dalek Killer.

This second chapter of Star Tigers - a series for Doctor Who Weekly created by Steve Moore back in the 1980s - sees Abslom Daak and Prince Salander set off across the galaxy in search of a crew for the Killwagon. First is Harma the Ice Warrior, working on the seedy world of Paradise, then Vol Mercurius, owner of the planet Dispater... But Dispater is being invaded by the Daleks.

The fan production comes with the usual raft of bonus features: a Star Tigers Gallery; dozens of images from the original unlettered strip, reprinted with kind permission from David Lloyd; and the Making of Star Tigers, a comprehensive documentary illustrating the creative process and taking you through script, sound design, character and set design to animation and editing.

Also included is World of the War-King, a story based on an original, unpublished Star Tigers script written by Steve Moore. Back in 1980, Steve wrote a third story in the Abslom Daak/Star Tigers sequence that was never published, and he eventually forgot about the story. Until recently, that is. Upon rediscovering the original script, he sent it to Altered Vistas who have created a new version of the strip in the style of their animated Star Tigers - and you can also read it online here.

An exclusive ‘living comic book’ version of this 1980 comic strip that contains one or two surprises...

Visit the Altered Vistas website

60 Years of Eagle Celebrated



Eagle Society member Phil Daniels has posted the first part of his video report on the 60th Anniversary of the Eagle in Southport on youtube. (The whole video will be split into at least three parts).

"The Eagle was the best of all Boys magazines ever, first published on 14th April 1950," Phil enthuses. "I remember well getting my first copy and reading it for 10 years!

"This celrebration was held in Southport, the town in Lancashire, UK, where it began its life."

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