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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Moleskine Goes Peanuts to mark strip's 60th anniversary

Here's one for fans of Charles Schulz ace comic strip creation, Peanuts, which has appeared in many British newspapers down the years, along with many collections - most recently, The Complete Peanuts series published by Canongate Books. Moleskine, makers of the legendary notebook used by some of the world's most celebrated artists and writers, has just launched new limited edition notebooks to commemorate one of the 20th century's most widely adored artists and help mark the 60th Anniversary of the strip's launch.

Sounds like a nifty Christmas gift for fans of Snoopy and company to me.

Schulz's Peanuts gang are some of the most well-known and internationally popular characters ever drawn - the comic strip now appears in over 2,200 newspapers, in 75 countries and 21 languages. Featuring exclusive cover art, interior art and packaging, these Peanuts Notebooks are available in a variety of sizes and rule types to accommodate every Moleskine and Schulz devotee, aiming to represent some of the best-loved characters particular point of view and their continuous banter and self-expression with the black and white colour scheme reminiscent of the daily comic strips found in newspapers and bookstores all over the world.

Moleskine say the strong personalities which define the Peanuts gang are given top billing on the covers of the large notebooks, which feature upclose shots of Snoopy and Charlie Brown on the paper bands and a side profile embossed in white on the notebook itself.

The inside cover of each notebook features inspiring quotes from favourite characters. In an extra special touch, the iconic Moleskine "In case of loss" section has been customised as Snoopy's house, with the text presented in Schulz's recognisable writing. The back of the notebooks feature a Peanuts family tree and the story of Moleskine and a set of special Peanuts stickers (which incorporate the classic Peanuts "thought bubble") are inserted in the expandable pocket.

All the Limited Edition notebooks are embossed with Peanuts 60th Anniversary, making a must-have collector's item for the many Schulz and Moleskine fans.


Moleskine-style notebooks (which are not made from moleskin, in case you were wondering) are, apparently, almost as collectable as comics for some. They were apparently the favoured choice for note keeping for a diversity of creators for over 200 years and the modern Moleskin notebooks are produced by a  small Milanese publisher who brought the legendary notebook back to life in 1997, describing them as the successor to notebooks used by artists and thinkers such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.

Novelist Bruce Chatwin is credited with naming the little black notebooks 'moleskine" in the 1980s, going out of his way to buy what was then a very scarce item after the manufacturer, a small family-owned company in the French city of Tours, went out of business.

• Check out the new Peanuts books on Moleskine's dedicated Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/moleskine


• Moleskine is at: www.moleskine.co.uk

Eagle Awards Ceremony announced for London MCM Expo

The Eagle Awards fly back to London at the end of this month - with a superb Awards ceremony planned at the MCM Expo.

With voting now closed, the announcement of the 2010 award winners is obviously the main reason for the gathering, organisers say their hope is that all attendees will find it a rare chance to socialise outside the familiar convention environment.

Introduced in 1976, the Eagles are the comics industry's longest established awards. Acknowledged as the pre-eminent international prizes, they have been featured on the covers of leading US and UK titles across the last 34 years ranging from Uncanny X-Men and Swamp Thing to MAD, 2000AD and Back Issue.

The London MCM Expo, which will host the ceremony, is now into its 18th show, supported by major media companies such as Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, Wizards of the Coast, Manga Entertainment, SFX and NEO to name but a few.

Taking place each May and October at London's massive Excel exhibition centre, the event is now the main focus and must be place for UK fans and industry to attend to promote new releases and forthcoming productions whether comics, movies, games, DVD's, books and the like.

The organisers rcently announced a new event now in the planning stages for Manchester next July.

• Eagle Awards web site: www.eagleawards.co.uk
• London MCM Expo: www.londonexpo.com



The Eagle Awards Ceremony
When: Friday, 29th October 2010 at 7:30pm.
Where: EXCEL London, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL
What: The Eagle Awards presentation plus food, drink and entertainment
Dress: Smart casual
Tickets: £15 each or £25 for two
There are 6 on-site hotels; to book a room at the  Novotel email H3656-re@accor.com rates are £109 inclusive of breakfast and vat. Rooms are subject to availability.
To book tickets, contact Mike Conroy: mikeATeagleawards.co.uk

In Review: XIII - Where The Indian Walks

Who is XIII? Presidential assassin? Special forces soldier? Husband? The questions continue in the second part of the XIII saga Where The Indian Walks written by Jean Van Hamme and illustrated by William Vance.

Amidst the chaos and unanswered questions of the first book, XIII had discovered a photograph of himself standing beside a pretty blonde called Kim Rowland, the widow of Captain Steve Rowland, who is waiting for him "where the Indian walks". Trying to find out more about Kim at the army base Rowland had been posted at, XIII is taken into military custody and interviewed by General Ben Carrington who knew Rowland when he was in a specials forces outfit called SPADS. The General tells him that he, XIII, is Rowland and therefore he is actually looking for his own wife. Since XIII does not really believe this, the General arranges for him to go to Rowland's family home where everyone recognises him and he gets caught up in their various attempts at securing the family inheritance whilst continuing to track down Kim.

This second book in the story of XIII dates from 1985 and while Vance's artwork reflects the clothing styles of the period, it remains detailed and dynamic with much the military hardware in the book still in use today. What does date it is the use of a school databank via a home computer terminal - it may raise a smile today but it was the height of internet technology at the time and full marks to Van Hamme for using it a quarter of a century ago. While Van Hamme tells two different stories in parallel, about the soldier's wife as well as about the inheritance, one inevitably proves more interesting that the other. For me the Kim Rowland story is more intriguing and does lead the storyline on into the third book but I do wonder if the ongoing plot will return to the family in the future.

Is XIII really Steve Rowland? Everyone else in Where The Indian Walks seems to think so but XIII remains unconvinced and as a reader you are drawn to XIII's view of things which then leaves an incredible question mark over every other character. It is the strength of Van Hamme's writing that instead of ending up frustrated at this, you are left wanting more.


There are more details of the English language XIII books on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the original French XIII albums on the Dargaud
website.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Strip Magazine enlists Warpaint, Lawless

Warpaint by Phil Hester and John McCrea.
Colour by Andrew Elder.
© 2010 Phil Hester and John McCrea
Print Media Productions has announced two more projects for its upcoming Strip Magazine, launching in early 2011 - two brand new creator-owned strips, Warpaint by Phil Hester and John McCrea and Lawless by Ferg Handley and Kev Hopgood.

In Warpaint, a homeless teen finds herself drawn into a cataclysmic struggle between mankind and elemental monsters bent on the destruction of our world. Clad in a hulking, indestructible second skin, and with the aid of a mischievous trickster god, Mia Tsatoke must not only defeat the rampaging behemoths, but navigate the perilous path between her own fragile humanity and the vast, unearthly power now at her fingertips. Only by confronting her own painful past can she solve the puzzle that will bring an end to the seemingly eternal cycle of violence. Only by donning her Warpaint can she bring peace.

Written by Eisner Award-nominated artist Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Black Terror) with art by Eisner Award-winner John McCrea (Judge Dredd, Hitman), Warpaint is a fast paced, but thoughtful adventure bridging the worlds of fantasy, American Indian mythology, bleak realism, dystopian science fiction, and super heroic action. it is a tale that will engage readers from the full spectrum of comics fandom and hopefully beyond.

"Ever since my 16-year-old self saw a moldering stack of UK weeklies in the corner of my first comic shop, I have longed to be part of the UK and European comics scene," says Phil Hester. I'm so happy to be a part of Strip Magazine's effort to storm the newsstand with smart, fun, breakneck action stories. The chance to work again with the brilliant John McCrea makes this one a dream come true. Warpaint is a strip we think is unlike anything else in comics and we can't wait to show it to you."

"I try to work with Phil as much as possible," adds John McCrea. "His writing is smart and cool, with characters you believe in and care about- and so it is with Warpaint. Add to the mix that I get to work with the extremely talented Andrew Elder, whose colouring would make even a mediocre artist look good and I am, to quote Proust, an extremely happy bunny."

John McCrea will be on the Strip Magazine stand at the British International Comic Show later this month to talk about Warpaint at some point during the weekend.

Also heading for Strip Magazine later in 2011 will be the dramatic historical adventure Lawless, the incredible story of Jack Lawless and the Irish Legion, a band of renegades and outcasts who fought against the British in the tumultuous era of the Napoleonic wars.

Written by Ferg Handley (Commando, GI Joe, Spider-Man) and drawn by Kev Hopgood (co-creator of Marvel's War Machine, artist on Games Workshop's Darkblade), Lawless is a creator-owned tale bringing historical action adventure back to British mainstream comics with a vengeance.

Lawless creator Kev Hopgood says of the tale: "I’ve been a huge enthusiast for the Napoleonic period since I can remember, but have never had the chance to tell a story with that setting before. Now is the time!"

"When Kev approached me with the concept, I bit his hand off," added Ferg. "I’ve always been fascinated by the Napoleonic era, and the Irish Legion angle made me think 'hmm, The Pogues in uniform…'"

Ferg Handley's first professional comic was Commando 3102 published in December 1997. Since then, he has written over 250 Commando titles and carved a name for himself largely as a popular comics writer for UK comics such as Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Heroes and GI Joe.

Kev Hopgood has a long a varied career in comic books and children’s illustration. Starting out with such strips as Zoids, Action Force and Night Zero for UK publishers he went on to went onto a three year run on Iron Man for Marvel Comics. During this time he co-created the character War Machine. Following a stint in the computer games industry he went to work on the Darkblade strip for Games Workshop.

Nowadays he splits his time between comic strip work for publishers Panini UK and Eaglemoss and children’s illustration for companies such as Oxford University Press, Barrington Stoke and Franklin Watts.

Strip Magazine, a new monthly magazine for the UK news stand, will launch in 2011, along with a series of graphic albums that include numerous creator-owned projects from creators such as PJ Holden, James Hudnall, John Ridgway, Gordon Rennie, SMS and others. The Iron Moon, a steampunk adventure by Stephen Walsh and Keith Page, launches the range in October.

Based in Lancaster, Print Media Productions is the UK arm of Bosnia-based Print Media, publishers of Strip Magazin, Plavi and Metal Hurlant. Strip Magazine is their first UK title.

• For more information about Print Media Productions and STRIP Magazine visit www.stripmagazine.co.uk

• Follow Phil Hester on Twitter: http://twitter.com/philhester


• For more about John McCrea visit: http://john-mccrea.blogspot.com or www.johnmccrea.com


• For more about Kev Hopgood visit: www.kevhopgood.demon.co.uk

In Review: X'ed Out by Charles Burns

By: Charles Burns
Publisher: Jonathan Cape (UK) Pantheon (US)
Out: 7th October (UK) 19th October (US)

The Book:  Meet Doug, aspiring young artist. He's having a strange night. A weird buzzing noise on the other side of the wall has woken him up, and there across the room, next to a huge hole torn out of the bricks, sits his beloved cat Inky. Who died years ago. But that's no longer the case, as he slinks through the hole, beckoning Doug to follow. So he does. Now there's no turning back. What the heck is going on?

To say much more would spoil the creepy, Burnsian fun, especially since - unlike Black Hole - X'ed Out has not been previously serialised anywhere and will have readers guessing at every unnervingly meticulous panel. Drawing inspiration from such diverse influences as Herge and William Burroughs, X'ed Out is an engrossing new comic book fever-dream, from a true master of the form at the height of his powers.

The Review: The Urban Dictionary defines 'X'ed Out' as "Something formerly important that is no longer significant. Well, Charles Burns X'ed Out is definitely significant, simply for its stunning art and disturbing but effective storytelling, following artist Doug on a bizarre trip between reality and dream.

Throughout, despite the book's description of the central character, the reader is left unsettled as to who Doug really is, as he explores a strange world of weird alien creatures in a chaotic, insane world, all the time 'flashing back' to his real world past and the events that led up to him being plunged into nightmare. Is he really the young artist as portrayed, or someone else? Burns, I gather, is a creator much focused on matters of identity, and protagonist Doug is certainly unsure of who he is, in both real world and dream state. His relationships with women and monsters might help him 'find himself' eventually but since this is the first of a series of graphic novels, matters are left unsurprisingly unresolved by the tale's end.

Ending a graphic album on a cliffhanger these days says a lot for the publishers confidence in sales and X'ed Out is a satisfying, engrossing read, with Burns delivering some of his best comics art yet. While comic fans will delight in spotting the references (among them, most obviously, the TinTin book Shooting Star), the story's the thing, and this mind-boggling adventure delivers. Definitely worth tracking down.

The series will continue with The Hive, but no release date has been announced as yet.

If you are in the US, Burns will be giving a slide talk, art exhibition and book signing at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle on Saturday 30th October - a perfect Hallowe'en eve occasion. Among many other events, he's also appearing at New York's Strand bookstore on 21st October - more info here on the New York Daily News site.



More Reviews

Biblioklet: Charles Burns X-ed Out is Fantastic
"It’s weird, wild stuff, working in the idioms of William Burroughs and HergĂ©, brimming with punk rock energy and druggy art madness."

Financial Times
X’ed Out is designed in full colour but its seamless and troubling transitions between dream and waking, the real and the imagined, show that Burns has lost none of his touch. Its teen protagonist is confined to bed, gobbling pain pills after a mysterious head injury and afraid to leave the house."

Grovel
"Apart from the obvious fact that Charles Burns’s chosen creative medium is comics, you could be forgiven for assuming that the gravitational pull of his influences drag him more towards B-movies than graphic novels. But with X’ed Out, Burns draws heavily on an obvious love of Tintin to create an incredible post-apocalyptic dreamscape, integrated into the usual Burnsian world of teenage angst, illness and ennui."

Middleton and Fermoy Books
"This novel is concerned with Burns' enduring preoccupation with identity, the ability to cover or alter yourself, the wish to transform and become a new person - that a person may indeed be 'X'ed Out'. Doug's head wound is clearly visible as a result of having his head shaved, his 'affliction' is in plain sight. Doug can not cover the cause of his suffering, but can Doug transform himself? The eternal teenage quest for identity.

Links

Boing Boing: A Q& A with Charles Burns and Gary Panter
February 2010

The Daily Cross Hatch: An interview between Charles Burns and Brian Heater

November 2008 - Burns talks about Black Hole (Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Check out this overview of a 2008 Charles Burns exhibition in New York

Charles Burns on ArtNet

More Charles Burns books from Fantagraphics

Charles Burns: Wikipedia Entry

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mystery of the Multiverse...



Could a Comics International-style comics magazine be in the offing? It certainly seems that way, judging by this image that just popped into the downthetubes mailbox...

In Review: Krazybov Issue 3

krazybov_003.jpgKrazybov is a polished, entertaining comic anthology title with a very 21st Century approach to publication. Freely distributed in shops and at events around central London and sent around the world to subscribers, once all the printed copies have been given away it's made available to read online or download for free.

Described by the creators as a 'zine with delusions of grandeur', the aim is to provide a platform for creators and inspire others to experiment. To keep the comic free it's heavily reliant on the adverts that appear in the book and it also has a classified section at the back (which, as well as paid inserts, includes some funny gags, too).

There's a lot to like about this title: wrapped in a stunning cover by British artist Simon Dominic, Issue 3's highlights, for me, are the creeping horror of 'The Children Of Rungholt' by Seb Kempke and Dirk Juergens from Germany (StudioSunderland.com), worthy, in my opinion, of comparison with the stories of MR James; 'Grey Days' by Nik Neocleous from England, a tale of alternate universes and a very unlucky office worker; and 'Pic Nic' by Alberto Pessoa from Brazil, a fun, wordless and joyous re-telling of Red Riding Hood's encounter with the Big Bad Wolf.

There's always things in an anthology that won't gel with some readers, but there's plenty in Krazybov 3 that will, including the work of Brandon Palas and Adam Atherton, so head over to the web site or try and track down a copy if you're a metropolis-dweller.

• Check out the content of Issue 3 here on the krazybov web site


• A preview of issue four can be read at krazybov.com/004.

• Web: krazybov.com

Commandos back in action!

Two weeks after the last batch of Commandos comes a new squad of four-action-packed stories.

Make these ones last as it’ll be three weeks (yes, three weeks) before the next ones!

Comparing the covers of Issues 4334 and 4332, you can see the difference in artist Janek Matysiak's output as he migrated from conventional pen and paper art to pure digital images.

In addition to his work for companies like DC Thomson, Oxford University Press and Hodder, Janek is a concept designer at game design company Proper Games.

Commando No 4331: Smash All Stukas!
Story: Ferg Handley Art: Vila Cover: Ian Kennedy

Young Barney Gibson wanted to do his bit in World War II, joining the army as a gunner. An orphan, he had always been a bit of a loner as a lad. Now, for the first time, he felt a sense of belonging — his new mates were the closest thing he had ever had to a family.
Then one sudden, vicious attack by German Junkers Ju87 dive-bombers — the dreaded Stukas — took all that away. Barney would never be the same again…

Commando No 4332: Climb For Your Life!
Story: Mac Macdonald Art: Morahin Cover: Janek Matysiak

Mountain climbers are a hardy bunch. They have to be for the mountains can be as vicious an unforgiving an enemy as any human foe. Knowing that, they will help fellow climbers even at the risk of their own lives.
Tough as nails mountaineer Hans Kopfler was one such. A member of Germany’s elite Gebirgsjager he had total loyalty to those he served with. Unfortunately that loyalty would not always be shown in the other direction.

Commando No 4333: Deadly Double-Cross
Story: Mike Knowles Art: Denis McLoughlin Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally No 2710 from 1993

“Double-crossed!”... those chilling words seared in to the brain of Dave Gregory, a captain in the Special Boat Service, when a searchlight on a Russian minesweeper picked him out of the inky Baltic night.
For now he might be helpless, his Browning automatic no match for the Russian fire-power, but heaven help the man who had betrayed him when Dave decided it was time to even the scores…

Commando No 4334: Renegade Army
Story: Cyril Walker Art: Janek Matysiak Cover: Janek Matysiak
Originally No 2646

Deserters, bandits, common thieves — they had all banded together under a powerful leader to wage their own war on all-comers — for profit. Now war correspondent Matt Jarvis, never one to dodge a dangerous assignment, had fallen into their hands.
Just surviving was about to become more important than writing any story!

• Official Commando web site: http://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


• You can read interviews with former Commando editor George Low, current editor Calum Laird and writer Ferg Handley on the downthetubes main site.

In Review: Vern And Lettuce

Of all the books in the DFC Library already released or scheduled, Vern and Lettuce is aimed at the youngest audience so far. Written and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre, it follows the humorous antics of Vern the sheep and Lettuce the rabbit that were originally published in the first 40 issues of the DFC comic beginning in 2008.

Living in the town of Pickle Rye, Vern works in the local park keeping the grass short and attempting to control the moles who live under the ground, while Lettuce is the older sister of five young bunnies whom she regularly has to bunny-sit for (her parents obvious breed like... well you get the idea). They both live in a tower block along with an assorted array of goats, cows, pigs and even a family of polar bears.

The book begins with a series of single page stories that introduce the main characters, their friends and neighbours and which generally set the scene for the rest of the book which is the ongoing story of Vern and Lettuce deciding to enter a Britain's Got Talent style TV contest and their journey to London which inevitably doesn't go quite to plan.

In reviewing Mezolith, the most adult of the DFC Library titles so far, I described Vern and Lettuce as sweet and having read the full book in one go I stand by that description. Although aimed at younger children it is by no means sickly sweet and while the start of the book can be a little up and down depending on how funny you find each page's punchline, it sets the scene well with Vern's ongoing battle against the destructive moles and Lettuce's attempts at entertaining her unruly siblings. This then leads into the ongoing story of the duo's trip to London to get onto the TV show Barnyard Talent.

While Sarah McIntrye's other credits are as the illustrator of children's story books, as the writer as well as the illustrator of Vern and Lettuce she takes the talent show storyline that you expect to go in one simple and rather inevitable direction and twists it in a totally unexpected way into what could almost be described as an anthropomorphic Tintin or Blake and Mortimer plot. Even without this plot twist, while never blatant, there are smiles available to the more adult reader with the polar bears only moving to Pickle Rye because of global warming or Vern being worried about his carbon hoofprint.

If you are wondering why a group of the most voracious land predators on the planet are sharing a block of flats with a varied group of prey animals, or why the rabbit wears a dress while the sheep only wears a smile, then this is really not the book for you. If however you are looking for something to give the younger members of the family for their birthday or Christmas, then this comes highly recommended for them and well worth a read of yourself before you wrap it up.


• There are more details of Vern and Lettuce on the DFC Library website (along with sample pages) and also on the David Fickling Books blog.

• Sarah McIntyre also has more details of the book on her website and her blog.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tube Surfing: Comic Heroes, Jon Haward, Dragons and Night Salad

jon_haward_furyvsspiderman.jpgWe've run Mr Matthew Badham ragged with our demands on his multi-layered brain, so he's taking a little break. You will, instead, have to put up with my meanderings around various British comic creators equally meandering (at times, anyway) web site... Special thanks to Matt for doing such a great job - check out his ace article on independent press comics in the UK in the latest Comics Now mag from Future Publishing!

(Which also features a great column on the loneliness of the long-distance comics freelancer by Dez Skinn)

Jon Haward is one of Britain's best comics artists, with credits aplenty for his work for almost every British comics publisher. Sadly, he's the latest victim of the economic downturn and he's giving up on his freelancing and is looking to relocate to find a full time job. Anyone after an in house concept illustrator /storyboard artist or art director should contact him via his Facebook page before he gets snapped up.

The Forbidden Planet International blog reports that American cartoonist and respected commentator on the scene Daryl Cagle recently posted a comment about US editorial cartooning and ‘the rest of the world’ which has stirred some debate, not least on the blog of the UK professional cartoonist’s association, the Bloghorn, who have taken exception to Cagle painting the rest of the cartooning world outside the syndicated US mainstream with the same brush, his post appearing to infer that ‘world cartoonists’ spend all their time doing relatively obscure works with the aim of getting them into international competitions, while US cartoonists are busy earning a wage and creating cartoons that use both words and pictures to make a point and create humour.

Emma Viceli's fab manga adventure Dragon Heir: Reborn is now available to buy online from the Sweatdrop store. For direct copies, you can either contact Emma via her blog, or get along to shows like the MCM Expo, London, where she'll be selling the book at the Sweatdrop stand. "If you pick up a copy, whether online or in person, you have my heartfelt thanks and sincere hopes that you enjoy your purchase," she says.

Warren Ellis Influence MapWarren Ellis joined in with the 'Influence Map' meme that has been doing the rounds among creators for a few weeks now. While he didn't create this one himself, he says it's "very close"...

• A quick plug now for the latest issue of the newly Hugo Award-winning StarShipSofa Stories (volume 2) which features an illustration by Leigh Gallagher. "Quite a while back Dee Cunniffe got in touch to see if I'd like to do an illustration to go with one of the many prose pieces, of which I picked a story called 'Bitterseed' written by Ted Kosmatka," he reports via his blog. "They have an impressive line up of talent of this book -- Neil Gaiman for one -- but what's also cool is this nifty trailer which you can find on Youtube here!"

Metaphrog reports their new graphic album Louis - Night Salad was featured in The Scotsman on Saturday.

• Writer Dan Abnett clearly had a great time at Games Day along with Jim Swallow and many other ace creators and has written up a photoblog entry here.

• And finally... Sarah McIntyre's Vern & Lettuce has just been voted a young girl's favourite comic of the moment over on the Forbidden Planet International blog, which is good enough for us. It's out soon and we've interviewed Sarah here and will be posting our own review later this week...

Monday, 27 September 2010

Malta ComicCon 2010 Update

The second Malta Comic Convention is now only a matter of a few weeks away, with Liam Sharp, Gary Erskine, Tim Perkins, Sean Azzopardi, Claudio Castellini, Renee Witterstaetter and Dave Windett now just some of the confirmed guests.

Unfortunately, the event, which runs from 16th - 17th October clashes with the British International Comic Show in Birmingham and the Gijon Comics Festival in Spain so some fans are going to feel spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding which comics event to get to - especially with the giant MCM Expo in London at the end of the month. But for anyone perhaps wanting some sun with their superheroes I'd imagine it would be pretty guaranteed in Malta, even in October.

• More info: Malta ComicCon2

Last few days for 2010 Northern Sequential Art Competition



You have a few more days to send in an entry if you want to take part in the new Northern Sequential Art Competition hosted by the Travelling Man comic retailer and the Thought Bubble Convention. The deadline of 8th October 2010 is approaching fast,  so don't miss out.

The theme of this year's competition is 'November in the North of England'. Your story can be told with text and illustrations or by imagery alone. It must be a new, complete story with six panels or more and the page must contain the story's title.

Your page can be as wacky and creative as you wish - you can make the theme very prominent or just have a slogan on a t-shirt.

Finished work should be uploaded to the competition's Flickr page (Flickr is free to join, but you'll need to sign up to add work) or can be submitted as hard copy and sent to Thought Bubble (address on application form).

Your story should be A3 and 300dpi in origin (if you win the competition organisers will need your story to be good enough quality to print). However to make it easier to upload your image on Flickr it can be much smaller. One entry per person.

All entries will be showcased in a digital exhibition at venues in Leeds and the surrounding area for a period of two weeks prior to Thought Bubble taking place 18th - 21st November in Leeds.

The panel of judges (including 2000AD Editor Matt Smith, Imagine FX Editor Claire Howlett and Marvel Spider-Man Editor Steve Wacker) will select two runners up and a winning entry from each age group, the overall winner in each category will receive £200 of graphic novels and a private tutorial with a leading writer or artist based in the North of England.

All six winning entrants will see their work published in a special Thought Bubble Free Comic Book Issue alongside incredible talent such as Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Sean Phillips (Marvel Zombies), Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy), Andy Diggle (The Losers), Antony Johnston (Daredevil), Kieron Gillen (Thor), Mike Carey (Lucifer) and Marc Ellerby plus many more.

The winning story will also be published in Imagine FX.

The Free Comic Book Day comic book will be distributed around the world in May 2011 as part of Free Comic Book Day, a worldwide initiative to promote sequential art.

• Entries need to be loaded on to flickr for the 18th October 2010. Age groups for the competition are: 12 to 17 and 18+. If you have any questions just email Lisa at thoughtbubblefestivalATgooglemail.com

Let's hear it for some Comical Animals!

Bumble Billy by Gary Northfield
A quick reminder that Jim Medway's Comical Animal, a bi-monthly online publication for comic, cartoon and kids books aficionados, is on course for a proper launch in December.

Sponsored by Good Grief! and Blank Slate Books, Jim is taking submissions for strips, articles, reviews and illustrations for the first full issue, scheduled for December. You can get to the submission guidelines here.

The preview issue features strips by a host of British artists such as Dave Shelton, Gary Northfield, Lizz Lunney, Francesca Cassavetti, Rob Jackson, Dan Berry and many more.

• Check it out at: http://comicalanimal.com

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics plans Superhero Issue

Wonder Woman 2010
- designed by Jim Lee
The academic comics publication Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics has issued a call for papers for a special issue of the twice-yearly title that will focus on 'Gender and Superheroes'.

"The superhero genre dominates the comics industry with representations of hypermuscular action men or sexy women wearing costumes that show off their near naked bodies," editors Dave Huxley and Joan Ormrod note in their appeal.

"There are examples of more diverse approaches to both creating and analysing these figures but they remain, as yet, in the minority.

"Much of this work is produced by mainly male creators for similarly constructed audiences. Superheroes pervade all contemporary mass media and there has been a plethora of publication in this genre in recent years.

"We are, therefore, proposing a special issue in which this topic can be examined in a more sustained manner."

Trina Robbins work on women superheroes uncovers a rich history of characters and creators, while Angela Ndalianis’s two edited collections of essays (Super/Heroes and The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero, published by Routledge last year), the latter contains essays by Karen Healey and Clare Pitkethly on female superhero fans ("fangirls") and on Wonder Woman, respectively.

The editors of the magazine feel Lillian Robinson's book Wonder Women: Feminisms and Superheroes is certainly relevant to the continued debate, and Wonder Woman is also the focus of Jennifer K Stuller’s survey of popular cultural representations of strong women, Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors, published by I B Tauris earlier this year as might be Roz Kaveney's Superheroes!: Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films.

"Clearly, given the continuing fascination with superheroes, there is rich potential in discussing gender and superheroes as evidenced by a significant proportion of papers submitted to the journal in recent months," say the editors.

The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics is a peer reviewed journal covering all aspects of the graphic novel, comic strip and comic book, with the emphasis on comics in their cultural, institutional and creative contexts. Its scope is international, covering not only English language comics but also worldwide comic culture. The journal reflects interdisciplinary research in comics and aims to establish a dialogue between academics, historians, theoreticians and practitioners of comics. It therefore examines the production and consumption of comics within the contexts of culture: art, cinema, television and new media technologies.

Submissions are invited of papers 5000-7000 words by 15th December 2011 relating but not limited to the following topics:

Wonder Woman revamped - 1968.
The cover of Wonder Woman #178.
Art by Mike Sekowsky (pencils) and
Dick Giordano (inks).
© DC Comics
• Representation

- Representing gender: masculinity, femininity, gay, transvestite superheroes – transgression or queer readings)
- The superhero/ine body (Superheroes in other nations, for example, British, Indian or Latin American superheroes and how they hail transnational and national identities)
- Representing superheroes in comics (for example, Love and Rockets, Kim Dietch’s The Cat)
- Revisioning of the character (for instance, the reworking of Catwoman)

• Theoretical issues

- Feminist theory and gendered identities – Judith Butler
- Gaze and psychoanalytic
- Class and the superhero

• Audiences

- Manga superheroes and their audiences
- Girls reading superheroes
- Fan production – slash fiction, changing gendered identities for instance www.buzzfeed.com/mathieus/if-super-heroes-were-women-8q4

• History and Industry

 
- Online comics – fan production or industrial production
- Tracing specific characters within an industrial context
- Creators representations of gender (for example, Alan Moore's Promethea or Grant Morrison's The Invisibles)

Read the full call for papers for more information or download the PDF using this link

If you are submitting an article please remember to check the Journal's format guidelines and obtain agreement from copyright holders for any images you plan to use. If you have queries about this then contact the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics website for clarification. The magazine can publish black and white or colour images.

• Any queries about the issue should be sent to either Dave Huxley d.huxleyATmmu.ac.uk or Joan Ormrod j.ormrodATmmu.ac.uk.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Tube Surfing : Country Surfing with Commando, Marvelman & Rainbow Orchid

Scotland: One of the latest batch of Commandos, issue 4329 Divided Aces, written by Scot Ferg Handley and illustrated by Argentinian Jose Maria Jorge, is set in and around Edinburgh and includes the familiar Forth Rail Bridge on its cover. Unsurprisingly this was picked up in the Scottish press with a long piece on Ferg and the story in the Edinburgh Evening News.

America: Back when we mentioned Marvelman Family's Finest issue 1, the first Marvel publication of Mick Anglo's Marvelman character, we suggested that it would be interesting to see the difference in the sales figures between issue 1 and further issues to see if readers expecting to read Warrior/Miracleman style stories would remain interested in the juvenile 1950s stories that the comic reprinted.

Comparing the sales figures for July and August on ICv2 shows a 48% reduction in sales for issue 2 when compared with issue 1. Now while ICv2's sales figures are for Diamond US and do not include Diamond UK and we would expect any given issue 1 to sell more than an issue 2, loosing almost half your readers is a big drop.

Holland: Rainbow Orchid writer and artist Garen Ewing reports that the first volume of the adventures of Julius Chancer will be released in Dutch by publisher Silvester Strips under the title De Regenboog Orchidee. There was some debate as to whether the main character would be renamed to Tom Tipps which apparently is easier for the Dutch to pronounce but it seems as if the publisher has decided to stick with Julius Chancer. Of course it could have been worse and they could have decided to call him PG Tipps. In the meantime over on his blog, Garen has started to show specially selected panels from the final book in The Rainbow Orchid trilogy which is due to be published in 2011.

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