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Friday, 22 July 2011

Titan Books lands Avatar Press distribution rights for the UK

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
will be distributed in the UK by Titan Books
Titan Books has announced it is partnering with Avatar Press, the highly regarded independent American publisher of comic books, founded in 1996 by William A. Christensen, to distribute their award-winning line to the book trade in the UK and Ireland.

Featuring exciting work from major stars of the comic book universe including Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, George RR Martin, Christos Gage, David Lapham, and more, Avatar Press is notable for offering creators an opportunity to publish creator-owned books with no content restrictions whatsoever.

Titan plans to distribute approximately 40 new books a year, with full PR and marketing campaigns on lead titles. In addition Titan will make the rich Avatar back catalogue fully available to the book trade.

The first titles will include Game of Thrones author George R.R Martin’s Fevre Dream, Night of the Living Dead 2 and Alan Moore’s much anticipated Neonomicon, which will all be available in the UK from Titan in late 2011.

Fevre Dream is an adaptation of George R.R Martin’s 1982 historical horror novel about vampires on antebellum Mississippi river steamboats. "'Bram Stoker meets Mark Twain,' one might say," says the author of the book, "or even 'Huck Finn Meets Dracula.'" It was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award.

“We're proud and delighted to be working with a wonderful publisher like Avatar," commented Publisher Nick Landau, currently at the San Diego Comic Con, "and are confident we will raise their business to new levels in the UK”.

“The UK book market is a challenging environment to sell into," notes William A. Christensen, CEO of Avatar Press. "We are happy to have an institution like Titan Books to help us navigate the waters and provide long-standing relationships with the biggest booksellers. The opportunity to work together with their highly regarded distribution network will allow us to reach new readers in the UK.”

Avatar Press produces a wide variety of cutting-edge comic books, graphic novels, and original web content. Their high-quality publications include the work of such industry luminaries as David Lapham (Caligula, Crossed: Psychopath), Alan Moore (Neonomicon), Warren Ellis (FreakAngels), and Garth Ennis (Crossed, Chronicles of Wormwood). They also produce a diverse range of licensed projects including the classic zombie epic Night of the Living Dead and George RR Martin’s Fevre Dream.

Titan Books is part of the Titan Publishing Group, an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981. With offices in London's Bankside area, close to Tate Modern, the company publishes books and magazines on a world English basis, as well as territory by territory, with domestic sales teams and distribution in the US, UK, Australia & New Zealand, and export agents in other territories. The Books Division has four main areas of publishing: film, TV and music; fiction; graphic novels; and illustrated books.

Its own catalogue includes a range of British comic collections including Charley's War by Pat Mills and Joe Colqhuhoun and Darkie's Mob by John Wagner and Mike Western.

• For more about Titan Books range visit: http://titanbooks.com

•  For more information about Avatar Press, their publications, and creators visit www.avatarpress.com

Dredd movie release date set for September 2012

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Via IM Global
(with thanks to Everything Comes Back to 2000AD): Variety is reporting that the release date for the Judge Dredd movie - titled simply Dredd - starring Karl Urban as 21st September 2012.

At this stage, it's unclear whether this is just the US  release - British comic fans are clearly hoping for a simultaneous UK debut.

Produced by Lionsgate and set for a 3D release, Dredd will follow The Expendables 2 into cinemas, which is set for release on 17th August.

Directed by Pete Travis, director of Endgame and Vantage Point, Dredd stars Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson and Lena Headey as "Madeline Madrigal".

Shot in South Africa, Variety notes the film is produced by DNA Films' Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich and Alex Garland, along with Stuart Ford's IM Global.

Reportedly a day in the life as of Dredd as he trains rookie Anderson, "Alex Garland's script is faithful to the original concept that made Judge Dredd a favourite bad-ass hero," Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner revealed last May (reported here on ReelzChannel). "It's a high-octane slay ride through the dark underbelly of the vast future city. A fan pleaser."

The official synopsis of the film, published on the IM Global site, reveals Dredd takes us to the wild streets of Mega City One, the lone oasis of quasi-civilization on Cursed Earth.

"Judge Dredd is the most feared of elite Street Judges, with the power to enforce the law, sentence offenders and execute them on the spot — if necessary. The endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland and the frenetic vision of director Pete Travis bring Dredd to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film that returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's revered comic strip."

"I grew up reading Judge Dredd," said script writer Alex Garland. "The incredible writers and artists of 2000 AD were formative influences on me. Andrew, Allon and I have developed this adaptation of Judge Dredd with an emphasis on adrenaline and realism, but with all the scale and spectacle of Mega-City One."

Of director Pete Travis he commented: "We think Pete's propulsive, edgy style is a perfect match for the project."

Dredd will be competing with Hotel Transylvania, an animated film from Sony on its US release weekend.

Commenting on the news, 2000AD fan site ECBT2000AD noted: "It doesn’t confirm if that's just the US date or if we’ll get it over in the UK at the same time. If anyone from Lionsgate reads this I’d just like to point out that if there is one of those 'It's released in America today, you guys get it in three weeks' announcements you can expect some serious kicking off. Just for the record."

We're sure there will be more news on the film and its release date this weekend at the San Diego Comic Con, where Rebellion and 2000 AD have a big presence as they step up their US activities.

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Via IM Global

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Diesel launches Only the Brave Captain America fragrance


Well, Parliament has wound up for the summer and it's time for the traditional 'silly season' of stories, as the news media scrabble for stories to fill both print and electronic pages.

We just didn't think things would start here in comics world with the launch of a superhero fragrance.

Still, you've got to admire DIESEL, who have created this "new and utterly cool limited edition fragrance" Only The Brave: Captain America Edition. It's a sign of great faith in the potential popularity of the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger film, which was partly shot in the UK - and the enduring appeal of the good Captain himself, discussed here on USA Today.

Still, we have to say the PR hype for this new license is a bit OTT. Created to celebrate the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, we're told this fragrance "signifies the ultimate encounter between the most iconic men’s fragrance and the most legendary superhero".

Our astonishment aside, you can't knock the product design - ace British comics artist Bryan Hitch designed the comic box the fragrance comes in and, in celebration of this momentous occasion, the Only The Brave fist will don Captain America’s iconic shield in a pop style: strong, fun, arty – heroic!

Yes, it's gloriously daft. But hey, it's clearly been done in style.

Panel Borders: Infamous Games and Comics

Continuing the Panel Borders radio show's month of shows about the crossover between games and comics, Alex Fitch talks to writer Pat Mills about the series of seven online comic strips he’s written to accompany the release of the new PlayStation game inFAMOUS 2 - InFamous 2: The Fame Strips.

In the comic strips, riffing on the idea of fame and infamy, Pat and editor Howard Marks are satirising modern celebrities and also giving them and their companions the kind of powers you might find in the game.

Alex and Pat talk about writing these strips, his previous experiences in writing interactive comics in the form of 2000AD spin off title The Dice Man and his thoughts on web comics and strips available for ebook readers.

• Panel Borders: Infamous Games and Comics airs at 5.00pm, Thursday 21st July 2011 on Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast after broadcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com


Read the full collection of InFamous strips online here

Ghostly Commando set to haunt your newsagents!

Here's the latest issues of Commando, on sale today in all good newsagents, featuring some great new stories and a classic ghost story, drawn by John Ridgway.

Commando 4411: Double Vision!
Story: Mac MacDonald Art: Carlos Pino Cover Art: Carlos Pino

Remember Max Singer and Sid O’Brien and their adventures when they played the dangerous roles as doubles for Adolf Hitler and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in Commando “Seeing Double”?

Well, they’re back...And in deeper trouble than ever!

Commando 4412: Wings Of Warriors
Story: Mac MacDonald Art: Rezzonico Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

Marc Lebel was a young, hot-headed French Air Force pilot, determined to halt the Nazis. But when his mentor died saving his life, Marc’s thirst for revenge looked like it would be the end of him as well…

Commando 4413: Revenge Of The Phantom
Originally Commando No 818 (February 1974), re-issued as No 2188 (June 1988)
Story: Alan Lomas Art: John Ridgway Cover Art: Jordi Penalva

Major Gunther Stolle of the SS did not believe in ghosts — a brutal thug like him didn’t bother with such nonsense. Even when tough German troops broke and fled, gasping out tales of a phantom tank crew, he still didn’t believe it.

But soon he was going to know the terrible truth, for the commander of the tank had vowed to hunt him down… even from beyond the grave!

"They say you can’t beat a good ghost story and here’s the proof," says George Low, former Commando editor, of this reprint issue. "There’s not only a ghostly crew but their tank is a phantom too. The advance up through Italy with British-manned Sherman tanks… plus dastardly nasty Nazis adding to this witch’s brew… chills and excites with every page.

"John Ridgway made the spirit flesh in 1974 and Penalva carried on the theme with a spine-chilling cover. Excellent work from Alan Lomas with the script and it’s a great treat for Halloween…or any other day of the year. Just don’t read this one alone or in the dark…"

Commando 4414: Walrus Patrol
Originally Commando No 284 (September 1967), re-issued as No 979 (November 1975)
Story: McOwan Art: Gordon Livingstone Cover Art: Ken Barr

They flew their scrapheaps into some mighty strange places...

Donald Ducks, Flying Scrapheaps, Rattletraps. Walrus crews got fed up of the names other blokes called their big clumsy Walrus flying-boats.

Then an RAF desert bomber group asked for fighter support and, to their horror, in lumbered two air-sea rescue Walruses!

Not until their own bombers were destroyed the day before a big raid did the RAF scoffers find out what those “rattle-traps” could do in the hands of pilots like Bill Donovan and Al Tucker.

Then “Donovan’s Ducks” took off in a blaze of glory.

"It’s strange what sticks in your mind through the years," notes current Commando editor Calum Laird. "When I came to re-read this for the first time since the late 1960s, I could clearly recall the picture near the start of the story where the British aircrew were struggling in the water as sharks circled them. It was as good a use of applied tone as ever I’ve seen but that’s no surprise, the man who did it was Gordon Livingstone, an expert.

"His inside art more than does justice to the story, while Ken Barr’s cover depicting two Walruses doing what no Walrus should piques your curiosity so much that you just have to read it. Well, go on then, what are you waiting for?"

• Official Commando web site: http://www.commandocomics.com/

Commando Official Facebook page


• 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

• Commando is also available for iPad and iPhone. The apps are free to download through the Apple iTunes App Store and a digital subscription is priced at £4.99 per month, compared to a £99 annual print subscription. For those not sure there are four free issues to download prior to making a purchase.

Commando Comics iPhone App on iTunes

Commando Comics iPad App on iTunes

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

You can't flush this web comic away...

Comic creator Gordon Robertson has just launchd a new web comic inspired by a very personal story.

Provocatively titled Arse Cancer, "it's not just a catchy title," says Gordon. "A year ago I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I was lucky I caught it early and have beaten it and am back to full health.

"While I was ill, I tried to write about my experiences, at first planning a blog, but it never came out in the way I wanted it to," he reveals. "There are some really moving and heartfelt blogs out there, stuff that will make your heart soar, and stuff that will make you cry like you never thought possible, all tributes to some incredibly brave people. I couldn't write anything like that. It just wasn't what I was going through.

"What I experienced leaned towards the bizarre, off the wall and was all slightly surreal. Writing a comic seemed like a natural way of expressing that.

With art from Newcastle-based artist Cuttlefish, ArseCancer is a comic (if not always an entirely reliable) journey through Gordon's recollections and you can read it at: www.arsecancer.co.uk

British indie comic anthology Vanguard debuts

Comic creator Dirk van Dom and a few others from the 2000 AD forums have put together their own anthology title - Vanguard - and issue 1 is now on sale.

Vanguard features four (would be) on-going serials, written by Dirk and illustrated by some of the best talent working in the UK small press arena.

The title follows the 2000 AD formula of offering a varied menu of tales, and will hopefully feature something for everyone, with sci-fi action and butt-kicking heroines, fantasy adventure featuring Gryphons and Smoke Angels, a modern-day supernatural mystery thriller featuring a cast of cursed, tragic heroes with strange abilities -- and a retro-style "animals on the rampage" tale starring one very angry donkey!

As well as Dirk, other creators involved in the new book include David Blankley, Louis Carter, Brigonas Mac Giolla Chomhaill, Owen Watts and Liam Byrne, who provided the cover.

"My collaborators on this project have put their all into turning in some fantastic-looking pages and the whole thing sits together really well," says Dirk. "With this first issue, our small-press adventure is off to a fine beginning, and I can promise that it will only get better from here.

"The first issue of Vanguard is very much an experiment, to test the waters and get some feedback on the stories, see what works and what doesn't. The aim is to produce a regular - if infrequent! - comic that will develop the stories and characters within and allow them to reach their natural conclusions.

"The plan is that there will be two issues of Vanguard published each year, probably Summer and Winter editions, though how feasible/workable this is all remains to be seen... Issue 2 is certainly going to happen by the end of the year."

• For more information and how to order visit: http://vanguardcomic.blogspot.com/

londonprintstudio offers five internships in comics for 21-25 year olds

Al Davison at a londonprintstudio comic workshop

Do you enjoy telling tall tales or scribbling stories? Do you love reading graphic novels, comics or picture books? Then look no further - londonprintstudio is offering five carefully chosen 21-25 year olds the chance to:
  • Run comic workshops for 16-20 year olds
  • Receive mentoring from top professional comic artists, anthology makers, screenwriters, print makers, comic publishers and art educators
  • Develop your own artistic comic projects with supervision from mentors and feedback from your fellow interns
  • Be introduced to the London comic scene, attend events, give presentations, network and meet publishers, editors and creators in the comic industry
  • Take part in editing, planning and creating work for a comic anthology publication and a comic exhibition at londonprintstudio.
The course is run by professional comic creator Karrie Fransman, whose comics have appeared in The Times and The Guardian and who is currently working on her first graphic novel due to be published by Random House.

The internships run for two days (14 hours) per week for  six months. Interns will receive a travel and food expenses budget for two days per week. All londonprintstudio staff and volunteers are required to have a Criminal Records Bureau Check.

The deadline for return of application form is Monday 5th September 2011, with interviews set to take place on Tuesday 13th September 2011. The intrnships will then start on Tuesday 20th September 2011

• For job description and application visit: www.londonprintstudio.org.uk/F13-intern.html

• For more information on the project visit: www.londonprintstudiocomics.blogspot.com

Com.x Announces 'Babble'

Indie British and US publisher Com.x has announced the impending publication of Babble, a project from writer Lee Robson, illustrated by Bryan Coyle, who are perhaps best known for their contributions to ace indie title FutureQuake and the Accent Press range.

Babble was originally slated for release by Insomnia Publications, before the company’s demise last year - and Com.X support of the project is a big boost for two creators who have done such great work in the British 'small press' community for many years.

In Babble, Carrie Hartnoll is a girl lost in a life going nowhere fast, until a chance encounter with an ex-boyfriend affords her the opportunity of a whole new career in Ivy League America, working as part of a research team attempting to resurrect the language of Babel - a language, it is theorised, that can be understood by any human, from anywhere in the world.

As Carrie pieces together her fractured personal life, she becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the apparent suicide of the project's original team leader, which propels her to uncover the horrific truth about the language and why it was written out of the history books...



Writer Lee Robson 

hails from the north east England and is quickly gaining ground in the UK independent press scene. His work has featured in the Eagle Award nominated FutureQuake, and its sister publication, horror anthology Something Wicked. He’s also a regular contributor to Accent UK’s series of themed anthologies such as Robots and Western and the upcoming Predators and Victoriana.

Irishman Bryan Coyle, who ives in Cookstown (" the Los Angeles of Mid Ulster", he claims) is a veteran of the Irish and UK independent press scene. As well as self-publishing the abominable Pony School and dabbling with web comics such as the Doctor Who spin-off The Forge, he’s also a regular contributor to the Eagle Award nominated FutureQuake, its sister publications MangaQuake and Something Wicked, the award-winning Solar Wind, the acclaimed Omnivistascope and the Accent UK series of themed graphic novels.

"We are so pleased to be working with yet another talented duo," says Com.X publisher Benjamin Shahrabani.
 • More info: www.comxcomics.com or check out the dedicated Babble blog or the Facebook page

Games awards event set to attract top talent to Brighton

While downthetubes focus is British comics, we're aware that many creators do work for the games industry, so readers might be interested in the upcoming Develop Industry Excellence Awards in Brighton tomorrow (20th July).

Over 550 top designers, programmers, artists and studio bosses from around the world - representing some of the hottest games development talent in the world - are to attend the Awards, which will also be getting a huge national media presence.

The creative teams of many critically-acclaimed and best-selling games will be in attendance to find out who has won key awards that acknowledge technical innovation, pioneering visual arts, attention-grabbing audio accomplishments and commercial and business prowess.

Amongst them will be the minds behind hit titles such as Angry Birds, Crysis, Bulletstorm, Limbo, Minecraft and Need for Speed, plus the companies that invented the best-selling Kinect and PlayStation Move motion controllers.

• More info and full list of nominees at: www.develop-online.net/events/281/Develop-Awards-2011

London AnimeCon preps for take-off

Time's running out to sign up in advance for London Anime Con, an epic 18+ anime and gaming convention that includes some manga programming of over a thousand people, taking place 30th - 31st July at the Rocket Complex on Holloway Road.

The event offers video gaming, an artist alley, a karaoke lounge, an anime bar/cinema, manga workshops, cosplay workshops, Japanese culture talks, five awesome live-bands, top guests, talks and far too many events to list, including staples such as the Cosplay Masquerade, DDR tournament, Otaku Fashion Show, Pub Quiz and several massive nighttime parties planned on each night till 1.00am.

The deadline for paying online Is 25th July and organisers urge registration to guarantees your place and get in (early) at £8 instead of £10.
Pre-registered attendees get a free conbook and poster And you can pre-order a con t-shirt at the same time.

- You can signup now for London Anime Con at http://www.londonanimecon.com/register.php Pricing is a reduced £15 for two days or £8 for one day if you register and pre-pay now.

- London Anime Con is at The Rocket Complex, London Metropolitan University. Opening Times: 11am to 1am. Normal Entry costs £15 for both days, or just £8 per day to get in if you prepay. On the day entry is £10 per day.
Evening Only Entry: If you arrive after 6pm, you can get in for £4 pre-pay or £5 on the door.

- London Anime Con Website: http://www.londonanimecon.com

- Link To Pre-Pay: http://www.londonanimecon.com/register.php

- Provisional Timetable: http://www.animeleague.net/forum/showthread.php?64989


Monday, 18 July 2011

Starscape Online launches new Storypaper

Longtime British indie publisher and comic creator Chris Smillie has announced the launch of the Starscape storypaper, just part of his comic projects that can be found at Starscape Online. With a cover from 2000 AD artist Alex Ronald, the first 50-page issue features work from a range of creators that includes Matthew Soffe and Dustin Parr.

"After a long time in planning, I'm pleased to announce the long-awaited return of the storypaper (or, if you like, an updated penny dreadful)," says Chris.

"If you don't know what these are, have a look at the Storypaper link on http://StarscapeOnline.com for information and downloads of a past penny dreadful (featuring Spring-Heeled Jack) and storypaper (with Sexton Blake).

"Starscape Storypaper is an update on these, such as Hotspur, Union Jack and The Marvel.  Basically, it's an A6 pocketbook of around 50 pages (very handy for the train or bus) of the sci-fi, fantasy, superhero and horror genre.  The pocketbook contains both serials and one-shots with a fair splattering of awesome covers and spot illustrations.


"The idea came to me when lamenting the popularity of Harry Potter and the lack of British all-age adventure comics," he reveals. " I should once again stress that by all-ages, I mean the output of writers, such as Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tolkien, John Wagner and much of Alan Moore.  Growing up, as a kid, I thrilled to the likes of the Human Torch and Strontium Dog. And now, as I regrettably age evermore, I still see the Silver/Bronze Age as stand-out periods in the world of comics.

"I also fancied reading something a little more substantial," he adds. "Response to the fanfiction has been good and I thought that I would love to be able to pick up a journal of prose featuring the likes of Green Lantern, Dr Strange or Slaine. 

"As usual, that got me thinking that, if no-one else is likely to do it, I might as well have a go. Perhaps not those characters but expect to see some familiar names from myth, legend and Starscape, as well as all-new material."

The first issue features a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, superpower & horror tales. In The Knights of Eternity by Chris Smillie, with art from Alex Ronald and Alex McCarthy, Merlin conquers time - but what does the Son of the Devil need the Ankh of Time for?


Extermination Theory by Matthew McLaughlin and Dustin Parr posits that even in the future, pest control is a nasty business - especially when it's Mankind versus gruesome alien bug!

Plus, in Identity Unhidden by Shaun Avery and Ivan Eight, we discover dressing in longjohns and fighting supervillains isn't the career most mothers want for their son but has the Attendant met his match as he confronts the Big Boss?


• The Starscape Storypaper is just £1.50 inc. UK p&p for over 50 pages. As well as a paper copy, there's also a means to download digitally. For more info visit: http://starscapeonline.com


• Starscape is also on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/pages/Starscape-comic/119437891434222

Eagles Initiative talent competition axed due to low number of entries

Organisers of the Eagles Initiative talent competition, launched last year, have abandoned this year's competition.

The Eagles Initiative was launched in May 2010 as an independent offshoot of the Eagle Awards (see news story) to find and promote new creators in a worldwide talent search. With many industry professionals graciously agreeing to donate their time to judge a shortlist of twelve entries to form three prize winners, and with Stan Lee as its patron, it was a bold experiment and the team behind the project expected many thousands of entries, with a top prize of £1000 on offer.

"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, I have had to reluctantly cancel this years Eagles Initiative competition due to low turnout," announced organiser Barry Renshaw.

"Though many entries were of a very high standard, there were not enough submissions to make the competition viable.

"It's a decision that is bitterly disappointing to me and everyone involved," he added, "especially after the amount of time and effort put into it, but considering the poor response it was the only option."

All registration fees are being refunded and as per the guidelines, all submissions remain creator owned and of course will not be published by the Initiative. Entrants have already been informed.

Among those who had agreed to participate as judges were Tom Brevoort, Mike Carey, Howard Chaykin, Chris Claremont, Mike Deodato Jr, Steve Epting, David Finch, Geoff Johns, Denny O’Neil, Trina Robbins, Bob Shreck, Gail Simone and Roy Thomas.

The plan was for  all 12 short listed entries to be made available both digitally and in print in the form of an internationally distributed anthology.

While admitting to be "personally gutted" by the cancellation, Renshaw added "we will be looking at developing smaller more localised projects in the future. We still believe a proactive and progressive approach to finding and developing new talent is important and the Eagles Initiative will pursue that mandate in the future.

"In the meantime I want to take this opportunity to personally thank all the industry professionals for offering their time for free to be a competition judge, and for lending their support to what I still believe to be a unique opportunity for undiscovered talent."

• Eagles Initiative web site: www.eaglesinitiative.com 

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