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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Motton's Memories: an interview with one of Dan Dare's early writers

Wandering WorldThanks to a chance discovery on the Internet, downthetubes is pleased to be able to present a rare interview with comics writer David Motton, whose career spanned three decades of British comics publishing, but is probably best known for his Dan Dare stories for Eagle, most drawn by Keith Watson.

Before he went freelance as a writer, David worked for the Fleetway on the editorial staff of The Sun Comic, becoming its editor in its final years, after which he took over the editorship of Knockout and Film Fun - simultaneously for a while. He also scripted many stories during his staff years, notably Jet-Ace Logan and Max Bravo - The Happy Hussar.

As well as Dan Dare (and at the same time), David's many credits include Skid Solo for Tiger, The Guinea Pig for Eagle, Burke's Law for early editions of TV Century 21, The Woodentops for Pippin, Space Patrol and some Doctor Who stories for TV Comic.

"I produced much other work too, both before and after," he says. "As time went by and jobs moved on in the nature of things, I wrote many articles for Tell Me Why and Look And Learn.

"In the early 1970s the London markets for my work closed down and I then spent a good few years, until the end of my writing days, working for D.C. Thomson of Dundee. My work spanned a wide range of their publications including among others Commando (I actually wrote the opening issues of these under a pseudonym back in the early 1960s), Wizard, Hotspur, Valiant, Mandy, Bunty, Debbie, Judy and, finally, Desperate Dan in The Dandy."

David's time on Dan Dare is considered controversial by some, but it's clear he remembers working on the strip with fondness -- and is somewhat stunned by the sheer volume of inaccurate information about him and his work on the web. We're delighted to be able to present David's account of his comics career, together with questions posed about his work by several British comics fans.

You can read the full interview on the downthetubes main site here

Dan Dare and Eagle © Dan Dare Corporation

Friday, 25 February 2011

Print Media to publish Dave Morris and Leo Hartas Mirabilis project

Print Media Productions has announced it will be publishing hardcover editions of Mirabilis: Year of Wonders -- a huge graphic novel project by Dave Morris and Leo Hartas, also available on iPad and soon to debut on digital platforms Graphic.ly and Comics+.

Mirabilis is a fantasy adventure story for young adults which opens New Year’s Day 1901, when a green comet appears in the sky. As it gets bigger, the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Soon there are mermaids in the Thames, elves in Parliament and a dragon roosting on Big Ben. But then the comet rounds the sun and starts to fade. Will the world be able to go back to a life without magic?

The full-colour graphic novel was originally serialized in The DFC, the weekly print comic published by Random House UK, who financed the production and has been released as a digital edition for iPad.

Published by Random House, The DFC treated several thousand devoted subscribers to the very best in British graphic fiction, with stories by top-name talent like Phillip Pullman and Harry Potter artist Adam Brockbank.

The biggest single project among all The DFC's ongoing stories was unquestionably Mirabilis, a hugely ambitious comics saga planned to span almost 200 issues. Billed as "a modern Tintin", Mirabilis's planned 800 pages equals more than a dozen volumes of Herge's classic comic series.

When The DFC closed, Mirabilis creators Dave Morris and Leo Hartas had barely begun to tell their epic yarn. The next two installments appeared on the Mirabilis website (www.mirabilis-yearofwonders.com) and drew almost 8000 hits. That's when Hartas and Morris realized they could be onto something.

"We couldn't bear to end our story there," explains Morris, a bestselling UK author and a mentor with the American Film Institute. "You have a duty both to your readers and to the characters you've created not to leave them in the middle of a cliff-hanger."

"The question was how to finance the project," says Hartas, the award-winning illustrator who draws the Mirabilis comic. "It's a recession and nobody was investing in anything. Then we decided, to hell with it – rather than looking around for new work, we'd just get our heads down and complete the story."

Dragon Rides - art for Mirabilis by Leo Hartas

The new Mirabilis

The first season of Mirabilis is now ready. Mirabilis: Winter is a whopping 200-page book whose eight chapters comprise the first act of Mirabilis's year of wonders. Morris and Hartas had several discussions with David Fickling, The DFC's ebullient editor, about releasing it through his book imprint. But the tortuously slow progress of print publishing meant that the first volume wouldn't appear until late 2012 – and Fickling and his Random House paymasters couldn't commit to future books until they saw the sales figures.

"In the end, much as we would have loved to stay with the Fickling label, we decided to keep doing it our way," says Hartas. "We just wanted to get the work out there in front of readers as soon as possible."

Two events provided the key to achieving that ambitious goal. First with the release of the iPad, which allowed Morris and Hartas to launch a digital version of the comic in time for Christmas 2010, and then in a deal with Print Media Productions, who have signed up Mirabilis: Winter for release as two prestige-format hardback volumes that will be in UK bookshops in 2011.

Morris and Hartas had already had offers from digital publishers to release Mirabilis on iPhone, but were reluctant because the small screen didn't do justice to the fabulous full-colour artwork. "A graphic novel page is not merely a storyboard sequence of panels," says Morris. "On a phone screen you lose too much of the full reading experience of a printed book. The iPad, though, that's another matter."

Teaming up with Brighton-based TDB Software, Morris and Hartas drew on both their creative and entrepreneurial experience to set up Mirabilis on iPad through their own Mirus Entertainment label. The Mirabilis app is free and comes with the first 25-page chapter already loaded. Subsequent chapters are $1.99 and have been crafted to evoke the experience of collecting a set of comic books, right down to the covers and letters page.

"A comic is more than just a novel with pictures," says Hartas. "It's about community, it's about being drawn into a completely immersive fantasy world."

As inveterate comic and book collectors, Morris and Hartas were not content for their story to only appear digitally. “That’s why the offer from Print Media Productions came at such an ideal time,” says Hartas. “Print Media have their own print works in Europe, meaning that we can work closely with our editor, John Freeman and publisher Ivo Milicevic, to get the production quality tuned to perfection without the long delays that other publishers have to suffer with books being printed out in the Far East.”

The first volume was printed last week in Bosnia, and Dave and Leo were involved in pre-production every step of the way.

The Print Media edition of Mirabilis: Winter is being published as two top-quality hardback books, each of 112 pages, at the large-format album size traditional for European graphic novels that can be seen in a series like Charley’s War and the company's first graphic album release, The Iron Moon.

Mirabilis: Year of Wonders Volume 1 is now being solicited by Diamond (Order Code FEB111949), joining Keith Page and Stephen Walsh's Iron Moon title as the first graphic album projects from the new British company.

• More information on the Print Media web page: www.stripmagazine.co.uk

Mirabilis: Winter Book One can be ordered via Diamond Previews, Order Code FEB111949.


Mirabilis on iTunes . Versions for Graphic.ly and Comics+ will be announced soon

• Learn more at www.mirabilis-yearofwonders.com

2000AD, TV21 and Whoopee art offered in latest Compalcomics auction

Bionic Woman art for Look-In 13 by John Bolton. Lot details here

There's artwork and British comic rarities in the Spring 2011 auction at Compalcomics, which has just opened, including 2000AD art by Ron Smith and superb work by artists such as John Bolton, Frank Bellamy, Ken Reid, Robert Nixon and Italian artist Giorgio de Gaspari.

There are 292 lots in the winter catalogue, including a Thunderbirds page by Frank Bellamy published in TV Century 21 Issue 168, and a continuation of individually lotted Dandy Comic war years issues, many not seen at auction before.

The British section also includes Film Fun Issue 1, complete with its incredibly rare free 'Fatty Arbuckle' gift and a rare Beano No 2 is at lot 26 (only a handful of copies are known to exist) and there's a beautifully fresh second Dandy Monster Comic at lot 58, published in 1940.

The Compal team have also unearthed a Radio Fun first issue graded Very Fine for your consideration at lot 19, the comic that introduced readers to comic strip versions of the likes of George The Jolly Gee-Gee, Flanagan & Allen, Sandy Powell, Will Fyffe and brought them the Clark Gable Picture Story ‘Along Paths of Peril’, back in 1938.

Denis Gifford was a comics historian of great importance whose input was well known and the auction featuresa collection of his Gerald G Swan albums and comics as well as an unpublished 1944 album by him entitled 'Corker Comics issues 1-12' for which all of the page settings and original artwork is included.

There is also a minor contribution of artwork characters Larry, Horace and Pop and Percy Pig by RAM, a talented young artist and writer later going on to international comedic fame as one Robert A Monkhouse. Surel a unique piece of British comics history.

This Corker Comics lot features comic strip by the late, great Bob Monkhouse

Dick Daring cover art by Giorgio de Gaspari
for Thriiler Picture Library 244
While there are some terrific lots of comics - both individual and collected, including TV Century 21, Eagle, Junior Express Weekly and many more, it's the art in this auction that is sure to attract attention, not least from Western comics fans who might be salivating over several pieces of cover art for Cowboy Comics and Thriller Picture Library by Italian artist Giorgio de Gaspari whose atmospheric action style is well captured with Kit Carson, The Kansas Kid, Dick Daring and Spy 13.

There's also some 2000AD art on offer - including a page of Judge Dredd by Ron Smith, Ant Wars art by Alfonso Azpiri, and a joint lot featuring art by Adrian D. Beeton and John Stokes.

The Broons and Oor Wullie by Dudley Watkins are up to their usual tricks along with Frankie Stein and the World Wide Weirdies by Ken Reid, and a Frankie Stein piece by Robert Nixon - plus a special Viz artwork that ComPal is  offering on behalf of the charity Sunshine Project International.

You may notice that Simon Donald's snowman theme is well blessed in the testosterone department.  If you don't fancy that there's always the Dennis The Menace Clickity Clicker, given away in an issue of The Beano in 1960 -- in full annoying working order!

• Bids will be accepted until Tuesday 15 March at 8 PM UK time. Catalogue at:  www.compalcomics.com/catalogue/index.htm

(With thanks to Graeme Neil Reid for additional info)

Tube Surfing: British Artists - Interviews and Unpublished Art

There has been a small flurry of British artists getting interviewed recently.

Alex Ronald, who has worked as an artdroid for 2000AD in the past and is now getting a lot of attention for the Vampire Vixens Of The Wehrmacht strip just started in Wasted, talks about VVW on the the Wasted blog.

Also short and sweet is an interview by Lew Stringer over on Blimey with Commando and Spaceship Away artist Martin Baines about the colouring work he has done on the Frank Bellamy Garth strips now being published by the Daily Mirror.

If those two have whetted your appetite then David Robertson, of Fred Egg Comics and organiser of the war comics exhibition now touring Angus Council libraries, presents an absolute beanfeast of an interview with Doctor Who and Hellblazer artist John Ridgway over on The Comics Journal. The interview is so long and detailed that TCJ split it over two postings, here and here (and managed to spell David's surname wrong in the title of the first one).

And finally... Our brothers in arms in the Commando office have discovered some unpublished art in their files by the late Jeff Bevan whose favourite subject to illustrate was ships. Pre-internet, when references for ships were less easy to come by, Commando used DC Thomson staff artist Bevan to create ship reference art that could be sent out to freelancer artists to use when drawing their Commando stories. The artwork has been declassified for the first time and is available to view on the Commando website, here and here.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Happy Fifth Birthday, Panel Borders!

We plugged the latest Panel Borders show earlier today, but presenter and producer Alex Fitch has just let us know that yesterday marked his 5th anniversary of making programmes for Resonance FM in London, so here's a look back at just some of the people he's talked to since 2006, with links to the podcasts...

Actors include Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead), Philip Glenister (Life on Mars / Ashes to Ashes), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange / Never Apologise), Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Susannah York (They shoot horses don't they? / The Struggles for Poland)

Artists: Ray Harryhausen (Animator: Jason and the Argonauts / Clash of the Titans), Raymond Briggs (The Snowman / When the Wind Blows), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen / Give me Liberty), David Lloyd (V for Vendetta / Kickback), Gilbert Shelton (The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers)

Writers: Chris Carter (The X-Files), Paul Cornell (Doctor Who), Chris Claremont (X-Men/Captain Britain), Cory Doctorow (Little Brother / Overclocked), Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion / Ctrl Alt Shift Unmasks Corruption), Charlie Higson (The Fast Show / The Enemy / Young Bond), Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York / Being John Malkovich), Alan Moore (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen / From Hell), Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials / The DFC) /

Directors: Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds / UFO), Dario Argento (Suspiria / Tenebre), Marc Caro (The City of Lost Children / Dante 01), Joe Dante (Gremlins / The Movie Orgy), Peter Greenaway (Nightwatching / The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover), Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / Eggshells), Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy / I'm a Cyborg, but it's okay) and Michael Winterbottom (Code 46 / 24 hour party people)

It's an impressive list, so I think a round of applause is hereby in order. Here's to five more, Alex - at least!

• Full alphabetical list at http://panelborders.wordpress.com/index with a handful of videos at http://www.youtube.com/panelborders

Panel Borders: Women of Caption

Concluding Women in Comics month on Panel Borders, Alex Fitch presents three interviews conducted at the small press comics convention Caption, held in Oxford last Summer. Selina Lock and Jeremy Day discuss the history of the convention, how it has changed over the years and the various events they've been involved with at the East Oxford Community Centre.

My Cardboard Life by Philippa Rice: read the strip at http://mycardboardlife.com
Alex also talks to Philippa Rice, creator of the comic My Cardboard Life, who was one of the people involved in running a collectible dinosaur sticker game at this convention and at other comics events.

• Panel Borders: Women of Caption broadcasts tonight at 5.00pm on Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

2000AD Mongrol Figure on sale next week


(Updated 24/2/11): The first of a series of seven A.B.C Warriors action figures, Mongrol, goes on sale next Monday and should be available from your local classy toy retailer.

Produced by 3A Toys, Mongrol is just one figure in a range that includes the Mighty Tharg - with more to come.

Mongrol is the first in a series of 1/6th figures of the ABC Warriors – a band of renegade robots designed to fight a future war and able to withstand 'Atomic', 'Bacterial' and 'Chemical' warfare – by renowned toys creators threeAToys.

Known for his brutal catchphrase "Mongrol smush!", the immensely strong battle-droid is always itching for a fight. Standing at 30cm high, and with a shoulder width of 35cm, this fully articulated figure will make a thrilling addition to any fans' collection.

ABC Warriors creator Pat Mills is delighted with the figure. "Normally I'm not impressed by toys, but Mongrol is amazing," he said on Facebook. "[It's] very McMahon and rightly so, as he was his creator."

"2000AD has produced some of the most innovative and famous characters in comic book history," notes the comic's editor Matt Smith, "So for threeA, a company with such a good reputation for making quality toys, to produce figures based on them is a match made in heaven for us.

“Mongrol is one of the classic characters from 2000AD and it's great to see him brought him to life like this, fit for any discerning fan's home.”

Based in Hong Kong, 3A Toys was formed as a partnership between internationally acclaimed artist Ashley Wood and leading designer toy maker ThreeZero in 2008. 3A Toys is home to the hit toy line World War Robot, Metal Gear Solid and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn.

2000AD and the worlds within its pages was inspirational in igniting the dream of becoming a comic artist for me, which lead to my first professional comic job, illustrating a Dredd Story for the Megazine," said Ashley Wood, CEO at 3A Toys when the licensee was first signed back in 2009," It feels very gratifying and exciting to revisit this universe now with toys.”

This exclusive Mongrol figure will go on sale from threeA online and to retailers on Monday 28 February for a recommended retail price is US$250. There will also be a ‘stealth’ Black Mongrol exclusively available through Bambaland.com. While most threeA toys go on sale for limited periods, Mongrol’s ordering window is to be left open – giving fans of both 2000AD and stunning-looking toys a much better chance to get their hands on this fantastic piece.

• For more info email infoATthreeaonline or visit our website at: www.threeaonline.com

• Mongrol will be on sale from the 3A Store: www.bambalandstore.com

Farewell, Brigadier: Nicholas Courtney passes

We're sorry to report the death of Nicholas Courtney, an actor probably best known to downthetubes readers as Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart in Doctor Who, after a long illness. He was 81.

I met Nicholas Courtney many times during my editorship of Doctor Who Magazine and he will be remembered as an absolute gent: always helpful, regularly able to regale fans with stories of his time on Doctor Who.

He was extremely helpful to me, as leading member of Equity, in helping out with contacts for actors who the Magazine owed payments for BBC photo use, and willingly gave up his time for interviews for the title.

He was also happy to let us feature him in both comic strips and in illustrations, such as the cover, above, for the 1991 Doctor Who Winter Special and the art below by Paul Vyse, used to illustrate an encounter between him and the Sixth Doctor, specially written for the Magazine by Colin Baker himself.

As the team over at Big Finish note, he was warm, generous and, most of all, great fun. Our thoughts are with his wife Karen and his family at this time - he will be very much missed.

Nicholas Courtney - Official Web Site

A special page to post messages of condolence will be added to the site.


Doctor Who News page Obituary

SFX: Nicholas Courtney RIP

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

IDW's Doctor Who Classics reaches Seventh Doctor era

The first issue of US comics publisher's latest Doctor Who Classics volume went on sale earlier this month across the pond, featuring re-coloured Seventh Doctor stories by a slew of creators I've worked with down the years.

The Seventh Doctor's initial adventures were edited by Richard Starkings, and originally hit the ground running in Doctor Who Magazine Issue 130 back in 1987 with the four-part Ice Warrior story 'A Cold Day in Hell' written by Simon Furman with art from John Ridgway and Tim Perkins. It's the first episodes of that story that feature in this issue of Doctor Who Classics: The Seventh Doctor, which features an all-new cover by Robert Hack and new colours by Charlie Kirchoff.

'A Cold Day in Hell' featuring the Ice Warriors – used with the full permission of Brian Hayles’ estate, the use of TV monsters in the strip requiring such approval – saw the departure of John Ridgway as regular artist, as well as an end to shape-changing Frobisher’s journeys in the TARDIS. For many DWM readers neither decision was popular, and there were appeals for both John and Frobisher’s return. This was the last regular appearance for the shape-changing Frobisher, however, who had been stuck as a penguin for some time and although making an appearance in the Colin Baker-penned comic special Age of Chaos, wouldn't return to DWM until Issue 329, in Where Nobody Knows Your Name, a story by Roger Langridge, in which it turns out he now runs a pub!

Panels from 'A Cold Day
in Hell', re-coloured by
Charlie Kirchoff.
Writer Simon Furman was determined to have a TV villains the Ice Warriors in the story, which required clearance from (and payment to) creator Brian Hayles' estate. "My first two Who strip stories had obeyed the unwritten directive 'thou shalt not use established villains straight out of the gate,'" he recalls, "but with my third story, the first to feature the Seventh Doctor in strip form, I felt a grade A Who villain was called for.

"I’d always loved the Ice Warriors, back from when I was a little kid (I caught the original Troughton Ice Warriors story when he was partnered with Victoria and Jamie and it blew my whatever-year-old mind), and the chance to do a new Ice Warriors story was simply too tasty to resist."

 Tim Perkins recalls feeling rather daunted by the opportunity to work with John Ridgway on the story, but his inks proved very popular with readers, who voted him their favourite back in 1988. "Working on Doctor Who meant working with John, whose work I really admired, although I’m still not sure I was ready for it,” he says, "but John was brilliant and lent his advice where it was needed and made me feel I was doing it right. I had a ball on the series and was pretty much left to ink it the way I saw fit.

 "John basically draws with ink, with very sparse pencils, but everything is there, so even though he was pencilling more for me than he would for himself, there wasn’t as much on the pages as some of the other artists I had worked with at the time, which also meant there was more of me in the art.

"I think I can now do a good impersonation of a John Ridgway ink job, but back then it was just me inking like I would anything for anyone. I was learning such a lot.“

Next month, Issue 2 completes the Ice Warrior story and features 'Redemption' by Simon Furman, Kev Hopgood and Tim Perkins, and Death's Head's first appearance in Doctor Who - 'The Crossroads of Time'. Simon Furman again scripts that story, with art by Geoff Senior.

The story was designed to free the robot bounty hunter from his battles with giant robots in Transformers comic and, eventually, get him into his own US-style title.

“It was an enjoyable experience to pit Death's Head against the Doctor,” recalls artist Geoff Senior, “mainly because I didn't expect it to happen! I never thought they would ever meet, so when they did I was pleasantly surprised.

Geoff had no problems realizing a battle between the giant Death’s Head and the diminutive Doctor. “The scale didn't really cause me a problem. It was something that may have troubled Simon more – he had the problem of figuring out a way to shrink DH down in size.

“Death’s Head was initially a 'throw away' character who proved too valuable to throw away,” Geoff notes. “It was important to find an excuse to reduce him in size, so that he could interact with other more normal sized Marvel characters.”

Issue 3, on sale in April, features 'Claws of the Klathi' by Mike Collins and Kev Hopgood, with inks by Dave Hine.

“I was going through one of my 'more writer than artist' phases,” recalls Mike Collins of 'Claws', “doing scripts for various licensed books and Future Shocks for 2000AD. I'd written one Who story before – Profits of Doom – which sowed the seeds for a major arc featuring the Sixth Doctor who unfortunately got 'moved on', so it never got completed.

“I was lured back to Doctor Who by Richard Starkings,” he continues, also admitting the commission, like many others, “may have been in a pub and may have involved Guinness.

“I love Victoriana,” the artist-writer, who has since written modern-era Who for DWM, reveals. “Talons of Weng Chiang is one of my favourite ever Who stories, and I wanted to do something with that vibe.

Mike wasn’t the only person enthused by the strip’s Victorian setting. “I did do a load of research for that one, I was really fired up by Mike’s script,” says Kev. “I’m really into Victoriana, too, which I think Richard knew from our time 'working' in fanzines. It was great having Dave ink my work on this job as well. Although he’s now gone more into writing, he’s one of the few inkers that I’ve been absolutely happy with.

“It was a bit of a jolt to go onto the good Doctor after having drawn Zoids and Action Force.”

"This strip was very different to my previous collaborations with Kev Hopgood," recalls David Hine. "I was used to producing a slick brush line but this strip called for a very different style because of the Victorian setting.

"This was shortly after Berni Wrightson's illustrated Frankenstein had appeared: his illustrations recalled the pen-and-ink work of American illustrators like Joseph Clement Coll, John R. Neill and Franklin Booth. Intricate pen work that looked almost like etchings.

"Kev and I were both big fans of Wrightson and we set out to emulate that work. I ditched the brush, took up the pen and spent long days and nights finishing the job to deadline. It was a lot of work, but I think we achieved the look we were after and I remember that story going down very well with the readers."

The stories pace and shorter episode count marked a major change from previous Doctor Who comics which, during the Fifth and Sixth Doctor eras, had  more of an 'epic' feel to them.

“I wanted to do whatever I could to make the strip more reminiscent of the show,” editor Richard Starkings reveals of his approach to the strip. “I loved Steve Parkhouse's stories for the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Doctors, but felt that he was very much doing his own thing – toward the end it was practically autobiographical.

'Planet of the Dead', coming in May
(Issue 4) features seven Doctors
“The one thing I wanted to avoid was a lame duck companion slowing the strip down,” he reveals, “so we got rid of the heat vampire, Olla, Simon Furman introduced in Cold Day in Hell and I asked writers to focus on characters in each story that could fill the companion role.” (That device is of course one recently employed in more recent Doctor Who TV Specials such as The Christmas Invasion and The Runaway Bride).

Looking back on the strips now, Richard feels many stand the test of time. “I think Kev Hopgood and Dave Hine's art for 'Claws of the Klathi' is amongst the best work either of them produced to date,” he argues, “and even though I got a lot of stick for crossing over with Death’s Head and The Sleeze Brothers, they still make me giggle, and I think, along with the Keepsake story, they're the equivalent of 'Doctor Light' episodes in the recent series."

On downthetubes: A Cold Day at Marvel UK
An extended feature going behind the scenes on the early Seventh Doctor stories featuring interview material with many of the creators

IDW Doctor Who Classics - Official Information. IDW's Doctor Who comics are not officially available in the UK but they tell me they will be available as digital editions later this year

MCM Expo Reveals X-Men First Class Panel



X-Men: First Class writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz are to appear on a panel at the next MCM Expo London Comic Con at ExCel London on 27-29 May, show organisers have announced.

A prequel to the popular superhero franchise from Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox, X-Men: First Class focuses on the relationship between Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the origin of their groups, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants.

Miller and Stentz also collaborated on the screenplay of another soon-to-be released Marvel Comics film, Thor, which stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, as well as sharing writing and production credits on hit sci-fi shows such as Fringe, Andromeda and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

“We’re delighted that Ashley and Zack will be part of our X-Men: First Class panel,” said MCM Expo co-organiser Bryan Cooney. “As London’s Comic Con we play host to tens of thousands of comic book and film fans, so to have the writers of two of the biggest superhero movies of 2011 at the show is perfect.”

“Only last week we announced much-anticipated action-adventure Green Lantern as the MCM Expo’s official title sponsor, and the addition of two such talented writers helps ensure that this May’s show will be one to remember.”

• For more on X-Men: First Class, visit www.x-menfirstclassmovie.com

• For more on the London MCM Expo, visit www.londonexpo.com

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