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Friday, 5 November 2010

Tube Surfing: Lunartik Toys, Lunatic Comiket and Divine Comedy!

• Matt JOnes has confirmed his new Lunartik Mini Teas figures will be Launching at the Forbidden Planet Mega Store on the 20th November (see news story). He'll be on hand to sign my new Lunartik Mini Teas and fill fans faces full of cake!

• A quick reminder that Frames of Mind: Comica Conversations with Brick and Darryl Cunningham takes place this Saturday (6th November) between 2.30-3.30pm in London. More info here.
Talking of ComICA, you may also be interested in Comics of the Living Dead: Comica Conversations with Charlie Adlard and Alex Fitch, later on Saturday (4.30-5.30pm). Tickets for both are £4 each bookable online - it's best to pre-book though, but some may also be available on the day on the door.

• Also this weekend is the Comica Comiket with the new Drawing Parade event featuring 10 artists drawing live before your very eyes on a giant plasma screen. Admission free, on Sunday 7th Novmber, 12-5.00pm at Royal National Hotel, Bloomsbury. Full details here on the ComICA site. Paul Gravett has posted a list of titles on sale at the event here on his web site

Bloomsbury have just sent us a copy of the recently-released Dante’s Divine Comedy by Seymour Chwast. His fab book, which we'll review soon, is a wonderful retelling of Dante’s work, infused with humour, irony and satire, depicting the journey through the 100 cantos in Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. Each page includes startling noir-ish graphics, as the dark allegorical tale is combined with one of the most striking visual art mediums of the twenty first century.

Bloomsbury also published Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou – a very successful book based on the life and work of Bertrand Russell – and they tells us they're hoping Dante’s Divine Comedy will have similar broad appeal.


One of the most influential artists of contemporary times, Seymour Chwast’s work can be found in the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  He co-founded Push Pin studio in 1954, which became known for its playful representations of popular culture and which continues to flourish to this day. 

Chwast remains a hugely influential figure and a source of inspiration for many young artists. 

There's more information on the book on the Bloomsbury web site here and Push Pin’s website is found at www.pushpininc.com, which includes various details on the artist himself and his work.

Fossil Angels was written by Alan Moore in December 2002, and was to appear in KAOS #15. KAOS #15 never actually appeared, and the piece has been without a home since then. Pádraig Ó Méalóid was lucky enough to be given a number of  the scripts by Alan himself a few years ago, and this was amongst them. He asked if he could publish it and, when another publication which it was slated to appear in folded, Alan told me I was free to go ahead: so here's the story, published in two parts here and here on Padraig's Glycon site – the first time it's ever been seen  anywhere.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Flying Tonight: Four New Commandos...

Four new Commandos are on sale now with one by the late great Jose Maria Jorge, who died last month.

Commando No 4339: Nightmare in Siberia
Story: Ferg Handley Art: Mike White Cover Art: Mike White

Royal Navy Lieutenant Will Clemence was also looking forward to some much-needed home leave after three years service in Russia.

However Will, who always did things by the book, somehow found himself on an unexpected, dangerous mission, alongside a civilian. Jack Lampard was a maverick American journalist — who it seemed never did anything by the book!
Would Will survive this nightmare in Siberia?

Commando No 4340: Russian Revenge
Story: Mac MacDonald Art: Rezzonico Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

In 1940, medical student Vlad Rezky had only just managed to escape from German-occupied Vienna to America. The rest of his family weren’t so lucky, hunted down because of their Jewish ancestry. One day Vlad hoped to avenge their deaths on their killer, a ruthless Nazi officer.

Four years later Vlad, an interpreter for the US Army, was part of a delegation aboard a Soviet Lisunov Li2 transport, bound for the front line. Revenge was still on his mind but the cannon shells of a marauding Focke-Wulf FW190 looked likely to end his war, and his life, long before he set foot on the ground once more.

Commando No 4341: Pilot for Hire
Story: Ian Clark Art: José Maria Jorge Cover Art: José Maria Jorge

Jake Bryson had fought in more dogfights than most. And he’d flown more types of fighter aircraft than most. He was a flying mercenary, selling his ace talents to the highest bidder.
Yes, he was in great demand all right, but the deal going down this time surprised even Jake... and that took some doing!

Commando No 4342: False Glory
Story: Ian Clark Art: Benet Cover Art: Benet

When Hitler’s armies invaded Russia in 1941, it seemed like a great adventure for many a German soldier and young Hans Moller was no exception. Gradually, though, as winter closed in and the Red Army showed a new stubborn determination, what had once been a glorious crusade became a bitter test of survival.

And, slowly but surely, Hans and his mates found themselves fighting not for glory, but for their very lives!

• 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.

Panel Borders: On Air, at ComICA...

Wonder Woman drawn by
Nicola Scott
Starting a month of radio shows looking at unique renderings of superheroes, Panel Border latest episode – Panel Borders: Team Batman, Robin and Catman – is about depictions of masculinity in superhero comics via a pair of interviews recorded at the British International Comics Show in Birmingham last month.

Alex Fitch talks to Nicola Scott, an Australian artist who has previously drawn half a dozen issues of Wonder Woman but whose depictions of male characters such as anti-hero Catman in the Secret Six and Teen Titans have drawn new female readers to those titles. Meanwhile, Dickon Harris talks to Canadian artist Yanick Paquette, who is also associated with drawing iconic male comic book characters such as Wolverine and Batman and is continuing his burgeoning association with Grant Morrison on the new title Batman Incorporated which launches this month.

Panel Borders: Team Batman, Robin and Catman airs at 5.00pm tonight (4th November)on Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast after transmission at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

Panel Borders is also heavily involbved in the upcoming ComICA in London. Here's a run down of the events to check out.

Transitions Conference at Birkbeck College
Friday 5th November, 1.30pm (TBC) / conference starts at 9.30am
Birkbeck College, Clore Centre, 25-27 Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL (nearest tube: Russell Square / Goodge Street)

Alex Fitch will be chairing a session on comics and academia at the Transitions multi-disciplinary research conference on comics and graphic novels with Laydeez do Comics’ Sarah Lightman and Nicola Streeten.

Frames of Mind: Brick and Darryl Cunningham
Saturday 6th November, 2.30pm
London Print Studio, 425 Harrow Rd, London W10 4RE (nearest tube: Warwick Avenue / Westbourne Park)

What role can comics play in mental illness? A conversation between Brick, author of Depresso, and Darryl Cunningham, author of Psychiatric Tales, about their moving (semi) autobiographical graphic novels dealing with depression and other issues and how creating these comics has helped both themselves and others.

Charlie Adlard and The Walking Dead
Saturday, November 6th, 4.30pm
London Print Studio, 425 Harrow Rd, London W10 4RE (nearest tube: Warwick Avenue / Westbourne Park)

Alex hosts an hour long talk with British artist Charlie Adlard about drawing various strips for 2000AD including Savage, Nikolai Dante and Judge Dredd plus his ongoing commitment to the monthly American survival horror comic The Walking Dead which he has been drawing since 2004 and has just been turned into a new TV series produced by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption). Followed by a signing with the artist.

Comica Comiket: Independent Comics Fair
Sunday 7th November, 2010 – Noon to 5pm
Royal National Hotel, 38-51 Bedford Way, London WC1H ODG (Nearest tube: Euston / St. Pancras)

Comica Comiket, the independent comics fair, teams up with the popular, long-running National Collectors Marketplace at the Royal National Hotel, Russell Square, and taking over its own dedicated space, the plush Ellis Room. The legendary Fast Fiction Table was started by Paul Gravett at the Westminster Central Hall Comic Marts in 1981 and grew into the regular hub of the UK small press scene of the 1980s and birthplace of Escape Magazine.  Charlie Adlard, Darryl Cunningham, Paul Duffield, Hunt Emerson, Garen Ewing, Paul Grist, Roger Langridge, Ellen Lindner, Woodrow Phoenix and others will draw live and sign books during the afternoon. The public are admitted free.

Comic Cuts – controversial comic books and banned periodicalsWednesday 10th November, 6pm
Whitechapel Idea Store, 321 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1BU (nearest tube: Whitechapel / Bethnal Green)

Alex discusses examples of banned and censored comic books in the last quarter of the 20th Century with publisher Tony Bennett and (via speaker phone) writer / artist Rick Veitch.

Tony’s publishing company Knockabout has seen its titles seized by British Customs, has been taken to court for publishing “drug related titles”, and for promoting the work of Robert Crumb. Knockabout have also commissioned comic book adaptations of previously banned novels such as Lady Chatterly’s Lover.

Rick is best known for his collaborations with writer Alan Moore, including the drawing of an issue of Moore’s Miracleman comic in the 1980s which was withdrawn from many shops due to its “graphic depictions of childbirth” and then when he took over as writer on another Moore comic – Swamp Thing – left the periodical when the publisher refused to print a certain issue.

Movie Mania this weekend at the National Space Centre

Back in 2006 over 3,000 people invaded Britain's National Space Centre in just one day to meet their favorite movie characters. It's a day that still holds the record for the most people through the doors at Leicester's number one visitor attraction, but aqn upcoming event this coming weekend, offering much more to see and do, means the record looks like it will be smashed.

Over 50 costume characters came along to entertain the crowds: this year, the number for this year's Movie Mania is over 100 and still rising, including Darth Vader, Star Wars Stormtroopers, Ironman, Captain Jack Sparrow, Predator, Lara Croft, Ghostbusters, X-Men, Aliens, Colonial Marines, Austin Powers, the Stargate team, Batman, The Joker and many more.

Members of the 501st UK Garrison, Reel Icons, Rebel Command and UKCM have also joined forces to make this event totally out of this world.

Costume characters will be joined by real stars of the movies, with people such as Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Norman Lovett (Holly) and Chloe Annett (Kristine Kochanski) from TVs Red Dwarf, joining the team to raise money for children's charities.

One of the highlights of the weekend is one for the over 18s only, taking inspiration from the cult movie Aliens. The Alien Encounter is a live interactive walk through experience created by the UKCM for the National Space Centre, offering a tour through the Biological Research Facility to discover everything you need to know about Alien lifeforms here on Earth.

(We're told the Marines will be on hand to keep you safe, so what could possibly go wrong?)

All visitors will be able to have photographs taken with their favorite character, join the ghost hunt with the Ghostbusters, learn some new pirate moves from Captain Jack Sparrow or help Batman defeat The Joker and his Goons. In addition the Replica Prop Board team will be on hand with one of the UK's largest collections of movie accurate props and costumes, as well as finding out insider tips on making props of your own.

"We're amazed at the support from these groups to make such a huge event happen here in Leicester," says Malika Andress, Head of Marketing at the National Space Centre. "People will be amazed at not only how movie accurate the costumes are, but the fact that these guys become the characters, they don't just wear a costume.

"The whole event is about having a great day out for family and fans alike, but also about raising money for children's charities, so the Dark Side does have a nice side after all!"

Web: www.spacecentre.co.uk

CLiNT #3 features more Kick Ass, Tarantino

Issue #3 of CLiNT is on sale now in stores in the UK and Ireland.

Strips this issue are the latest episode of Kick Ass 2  by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.; Turf, chapter 3 by Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards; the still bonkers and inpenetrable
Rex Royd by Frankie Boyle, Jim Muir and Michael Dowling;
American Jesus
, by Mark Millar and Peter Gross and the superb-looking Nemesis, chapter 3 by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. 


This month's Space Oddities short strip is a real stunner called Lost Soldiers: The Fall of the Fortress by Bruno Letizia. The art on this is great - let's hope we see more from him in future issues. 


This is is this writer/artist's first mainstream English publication, but he's done a huge amount of work in Italy for publishers such as Nicola Pesce Editore, Coniglio editore and more recently, for Alacran with strips such as the comic book porn situation comedy Food Girls for Coniglio Editore (written under the pseudonym Savage Dolls).

Comics news site Bleeding Cool has more details on him and some of the other Space Oddities creators here.

CLiNT #3 also features interviews with film director Quentin Tarantino, Al Murray, The IT Crowd’s Matt Berry and Star Wars Kid all grown up!.

• CLiNT #3 is on sale now in all newsagents and comic shops in the UK. Official CLiNT Magazine web site:  http://clintmag.com


• Preview art from the latest chapter of Nemesis - http://tinyurl.com/244xlly


• Preview artwork from the latest chapter of Kick-Ass 2 by John Romita Jr http://tinyurl.com/2fuxmzu

CLiNT on Twitter

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

In Review: Solipsistic Pop Issue 3

Published By: Solipsistic Pop Books

Edited and Designed by Tom Humberstone
Price: £12 UK
Web: http://solipsisticpop.com

The Book: Book three of Solipsistic Pop contains 80 pages of comic art created to be accessible to readers of all ages. 30 exclusive stories from 26 of the best comic artists, illustrators and designers working in the UK today. Includes a free Solipsistic Pop pencil to create your own comic and an A3 poster with re-peelable stickers.

Featuring contributions from Kristyna Baczynski, Becky Barnicoat, Adam Cadwell, Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Francessca Cassavetti, Faz Choudhury, David O’Connell, Darryl Cunningham, Rob Davis, Joe Decie, John Cei Douglas, Marc Ellerby, Sarah Gordon, Anne Holiday, Tom Humberstone, Daniel Locke, Lizz Lunney, Mark Oliver, Luke Pearson, Octavia Raitt, Edward Ross, Philippa Rice, Anna Saunders, Julia Scheele, Tom Smith, and Andrew Waugh.

Limited to a print run of just 500 copies, downthetubes is honoured to have received an advance copy of this ace anthology. We'll admit it's not cheap - £12 an issue is steep - but the artwork and the title's quality definitely counts in its favour.

I think we should also bear in mind that a good quality originated hardback graphic novel of the same extent would probably set you back about £12 with retailer discount. On that basis, Solipsistic Pop, which this issue comes with a branded pencil, sticker set, and poster is actually pretty cheap. (Especially when you consider that some people are paying £3 (and over) for 22 pages of an American mainstream comic that has advertising and either Disney or Warner essentially bankrolling them as loss-leaders for movie franchises...)

Highlights? Definitely Darryl Cunningham's 'Stan' strips, Tom Smith's 'A Joke' (A man walks into a bar full of weird animals...) and Anna Saunders one page 'Kitty Control Centre' and Andrew Waugh's 'Teething Problems' (Robot wanting to explore the outside world), both of which made me laugh out loud and scare wildlife. But there's so much more to enjoy, and I feel a bit mean singling out particular strips when everything is so top notch ('The Magical Unicorns of Keith the Wizards' by Lizz Lunney is making me smile even now).

Solipsistic Pop features some of the very best of British indie comic creators at the top of their game, all clearly enjoying the stories they've created for this anthology (and yes, anthology rules apply, not every strip will appeal to all, but I'm confident you'll find more to appeal than less.

This is a real gem of a title – 80 pages of independently published, alternative, offest-printed, environmentally-sound, ad-free comics (mid-recession). What more do you need?

• Where to Get It: http://solipsisticpop.com/shop

Pre-order your copy today to avoid missing out!

• On Friday 12th November, the publishers will be celebrating the launch of Solipsistic Pop 3 with a party in Camden’s Black Heart (NW1 0AP). Entry is £3 and the doors open at 8.00pm.

New Dandy and Beano out today

New Dandy and Beano


(With thanks to Lew Stringer): New issues of the revamped The Dandy and the latest Beano are on sale today.

The new Dandy - which is provoking ongoing debate on the downthetubes forum and has just started its first poll about its strips on its Facebook page - some will go as the result of reader votes, others will stay - features Harry Hill's Real Life Adventures in TV Land by Harry Hill and Nigel Parkinson, Kid Cops and Postman Prat by Lew Stringer, Robot on the Run by Alexander Matthews, Pre-Skool Prime Minister by Jamie Smart and much more. "Even Bruce Forsyth returns to comics," notes contributor Lew. "Shades of Film Fun!" For more on the issue, check out Lew's blog post.


The Beano (Number 2559) comes with a Dennis and Gnasher by Jimmy Hansen who also draws a two page Dennis strip. Also in the issue: Ken Harrison drawing Minnie the Minx, Hunt Emerson on Ratz and David Sutherland on The Bash Street Kids. Other contributors include new artist Diego Jourdan Pereira (drawing Ivy the Terrible) and Laura Howell (on Meebo and Zuky)

While some fans have raised concerns about the Dandy's announced poll about its strips, Lew Stringer reminds us the comic was never one to rely on characters with such longevity. "Each decade has brought in fresh new characters although Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat, and Bananaman are still around albeit with modern new designs," he notes.

"The Dandy has always been the one to take more risks and, having had three revamps in six years, let's hope that it's third time lucky for the all-fun, all-new, back to basics Dandy of 2010."

Web Links

• Official Dandy web site: www.dandy.com
• The Dandy on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dandy/121479097908918
• Follow The Dandy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DandyComic

Last Call for Pickled Award entries

There's just six days to go before The Pickled Award deadline (Monday 8th November).

Art illustration agency Pickled Ink launched the new award  back in September in a bid to find an artist to draw a new graphic novel by Super Gran creator and writer Jenny McDade (see news story).

The winner will be awarded £1000 and a contract of representation at Pickled Ink, whose current artists include Hanako Clulow, Hattie Newman, Hannah Bagshaw and many others.

In brief, they're asking for: character design of two lead characters; and a 20 frame sample sequence and a front cover design. The winning artist must be an existing or recent graduate, able to draw modern fashion, facial expression, great storytelling, and be generally '2011'.

This competition is not limited to students in the UK, so if you’re studying in China, Brazil, Israel, Greenland, where ever... you can enter too.

2000AD co-creator and girls comic writer Pat Mills will be helping Pickled judge the award on 15th November and the winner will be announced soon after that. It’s a great opportunity to get your work seen by the ‘Godfather of British Comics' and to enter the world of commercial illustration with Pickled ink! To download the brief please click here and if you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact Pickled at info@pickledink.com.

• The deadline for entries is Monday 8th November 2010. Download a PDF of the full brief here on the Pickled Ink web site

Pickled Ink web site

Pat Mills on Facebook

Creating Tammy: a downthetubes feature by Jenny McDade

TOXIC goes alien mad

Egmont's TOXIC Magazine has gone totally alien crazy for its latest issue, leading with coverage of hit Cartoon Network show Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, alongside its usual mix of puzzles, prizes and comics.

The title hasn't dropped its free gifts, either - this issues include a finger rubber, bogey pencil and pad.

TOXIC is on sale now in all good newsagents (and some smelly ones). Check it online at: www.toxicmag.co.uk

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Modern Toss creators meet fans and sign copies of their new book at Fopp in Covent Garden

Fans of the cult cartoon booklets and TV show, Modern Toss will get the chance to meet the creators in person when they visit the Fopp store on Earlham Street in London's Covent Garden on Wednesday 3rd November 2010 to sign copies of their new book, Modern Toss presents More Work.

The creators Mick Bunnage and Jon Link will be at the store from 6.00 pm to meet fans and sign copies of the new book which is officially released on Monday 1st November 2010.

As writers, cartoonists and animators Mick and John's work has tickled almost every edge of the contemporary 360 degree media platform - from challenging late night television to cutting edge advertising, from international design magazines to greetings cards racks.

Their first TV series broadcast on Channel 4 in 2006, was a groundbreaking mixture of blunt-talking, animated characters with bizarre and surreal live action. Described as “badly drawn, utterly foul mouthed, mean spirited and misanthropic.. also very,very funny” by The Independent on Sunday, the series won almost universal critical plaudits and was nominated for a Rose D’Or award in 2009. Their second series was snapped up and broadcast in the US in 2009.

The pair have had two previous gallery exhibitions in Brighton and last summer presented a musical evening of their cartoons, complete with voice actors and live orchestra, to celebrate Brighton Arts Festival. A trimmed version of the show was taken to Latitude festival in summer 2010.

The highly collectible ‘Buy More S*** Or We’re All Fucked’ plastic bag, part of their ‘Improperganda’ inspirational range, was designed for an exhibition in the same festival. A major celebration of their artwork took place in London’s Maverick Gallery in June this year.

• The signing session will take place at Fopp London, Earlham Street, Covent Garden on Wednesday 3rd November 2010 at 6.00 pm. Modern Toss on the web at: www.moderntoss.com

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Webcomic List Awards 2010 Nominations Start November 8th

Launched last year to replace the now defunct Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards, the Webcomic List Awards exist to recognise the best that online comics have to offer and nominations are open to everyone involved in the creation, promotion or distribution of comics.

The categories covered in the awards are:
  • Best Comic
  • Best New Comic for webcomics launched on or after the first of November 2009
  • Best Colour Art
  • Best Black and White Art
  • Best Non-traditional Art, covering all artistic techniques other than conventional drawn images, such as photography, pixel art and 3D art
  • Best Writing
  • Best Character
  • Best Gag-a-day Comic
  • Best Longform Comic
Nominations will run from the 8th November until the 20th December after which the comics with the highest nominations will be handed to a panel of judges who will pick the winners in each category to be announced in an online illustrated ceremony on the 31st January 2011.

The Webcomic List (www.thewebcomiclist.com) is a Webcomic listing site, news portal and community forum launched in 2003 which lists and monitors over 16,800 online comics.

"Judging this year's awards are a selection of prominent web and print comic creators, as well as community organisers," explains Wendy Wood, head of this year's TWCL Award committee.

Judges confirmed for this year include: Scary-Go-Round and Bad Machinery creator, John Allison; Screenwriter, novelist and former editor of Judge Dredd Megazine and 2000AD, David Bishop; DC, Marvel and Image Comics veteran Kurt Hathaway; Rob Tracy, founder of webcomicscommunity.com; Melissa De Jesus and Ed Power, creators of the syndicated strip My Cage; Zoe Robinson and Luke Surl of the Webcomics Company podcast; creator of the webcomic My Cardboard Life, Phillipa Rice; Online Comedian Dr. Stuart Ashen; and  Tom Truszkowski, creator of Station V3, Z7, Silence in the Darkness of Q16 and Ebb's Children.


• More info: www.thewebcomiclist.com

UK Artist Matt JOnes launches toy range


Tea making, toy producing, resin casting, sketch book doodling artist Matt JOnes (AKA Lunartik - he likes to be called Matt JOnes with a large JO) has been designing Vinyl Toys for about seven years,  making custom pieces for all sorts of exhibitions and customers. Now, he's launching his own range: a new Mini Vinyl Toy called "Lunartik in a Cup of Tea" with the tag line... One Cup is Never Enough.

"I'm well known in the toy industry for working very long hours and make nice things for nice people with a good eye for detail," says Matt. "Hence the name Lunartik - like the moon, staying up every night!"

Before he releases the toys, he's showing off his Special Brews, one per week, on his web site. Matt tells us the toys will go on sale proper with a big launch party and toy signing in London. (More details on that coming soon).

• The Mini-Teas will be released soon. Pre-orders Page where you can reserve your cups today - www.lunartik.com/pre-order-mini-teas

In Review: Mo-Bot High

Collected from the pages of the weekly DFC comic, Mo-Bot High is Neill Cameron's take on secondary school girls, their mobile phones and giant battle robots, all collected together into one multi-coloured hardback by the DFC Library.

Asha has moved to from London to Middleford with her father and on her first day at Midford High School as she walks into the playground, even before she has spoken to anyone, her mobile phone is downloading an app that she has not requested. Discovering that everyone is behind the bike sheds watching two giant robots battle it out as if it was an everyday event, she quickly learns that the DMC app gives her phone the ability to create a Digital Mobile Combat-Suit that she can control. Picked on by the school bullies, Asha has to quickly learn the controls of her Mo-Bot to both defend herself and to fit in with the rest of the school girls. While the teachers and parents seem oblivious to the robot battles in the school, one cleaning lady seems to be taking rather a lot of interest in the new student and her newly learned abilities.

This is very much a girls school story for the 21st century with the girls not just running the battles, whether for strength or speed, but also customising their Mo-Bots like accessories - flower patterns are an option. Yet there is no 'jolly hockey sticks' about it despite one Mo-Bot, amusingly, using a hockey stick as a weapon. Boys are around but they are sidelined in the story by the simple expediency of them preferring to use their Mo-Bots to play football. The teachers are blissfully unaware of the battles going on in the school as they are kept at arms length either by the girls hiding the Mo-Bots from them or by the sinister cleaning lady and her dinner lady associates misdirecting them. Since the DMC app does not work outside of the school grounds there isn't a problem with parents discovering them and, apparently, any battles go on out of public view.

Story-wise Mo-Bot High comes across as The Matrix as done by The Sarah Jane Adventures team with the visuals being a mix of Transformers and Tron. With the real world represented in traditional comic line art, the impressive Mo-Bots and their dynamic battles are all CGI style graphics, motion lines and bright colours - even the book's end papers are in a dazzling dayglo pink. Yet despite the apparent incongruities, Neill Cameron is able to get it to all hang together with the sinister cleaning lady always watching the children adding an air of menace in the early part of the story and her importance being revealed towards the end. Indeed the story works very well as a book and does not have the obvious weekly segments that some of the other DFC Library titles display.

Mo-Bot High is a colourful action adventure for girls with enough of an interesting back story and intriguing ending to leave me hoping for a second book.


• There are more details of Mo-Bot High including sample pages at the DFC Library website.

• There are more details about Digital Mobile Combat-Suits at Neill Cameron's Mo-Bot
website and more about him on his blog.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

In Review: Lucky Luke - The Judge

Cinebook continue their English language translations of the Lucky Luke books with their 24th book The Judge based on the real life Judge Roy Bean who lived in Texas during the late 1800s. While the character is probably best known to British audiences through the 1972 Paul Newman movie The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean, if even half the tales of the real Judge Bean are true then he is an obvious character to be incorporated into a humorous western strip like Lucky Luke.

The story begins with Lucky Luke agreeing to lead a cattle drive from Austin, Texas to Silver City, New Mexico during which he is arrested by Judge Roy Bean as a cattle thief. Frustrated by the bizarre trial that the judge conducts in his own saloon, Luke escapes and ends up helping Judge Bean against an even more crooked judge attempting to set up his court in the same town.

The story uses many of the quirks of the real Judge Bean from holding court in his own saloon to expecting jurors to buy drinks during the court's recess. Indeed it would seem that the more bizarre the judicial method related in the book, the more likely it is to be based on fact. Even the illustration of his saloon, The Jersey Lilly, with its hoardings advertising both justice and ice beer is based on the real building in Langtry, Texas.

While Cinebook credit the book solely to Morris (Maurice De Bevere), the character's creator, this is actually the fourth of the Lucky Luke series to be written by Rene Goscinny with art by Morris. Also while this book's copyright date is given as 1971, this story first appeared as Le Juge in Spirou issue 1021 in 1957 and would go on to be published in 1959 as the 13th Lucky Luke book. Yet despite The Judge being over fifty years old, it has lost none of its wit and humour. Nor does the Lucky Luke series seem to have lost any of its popularity with comic book readers despite its age since the latest book regularly goes to the top of Cinebook's own sales chart with the previous one issued often in the number 2 slot.

From the Chinese undertaker trying to help his own business along during the trials by crying "Give him rope!", to the tame liquor swilling bear, Lucky Luke -The Judge is a fun read for both children and adults.


• There are more details of the Lucky Luke books on Cinebook's website.

• There are more details on Lucky Luke on the official Lucky Luke website (in French).

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