It has been a while since we have had a Tube Surf so…
The Phoenix had a bumpier than expected take-off when their distribution deal through Waitrose supermarkets left many potential readers puzzled when no Waitrose had copies of the new comic. We are glad to say that our network of twitchers are now reported sightings of Phoenixes nesting on the shelves of many different Waitrose stores so, if you have a nearby store, this is a nest site that we would be happy for you to raid. It you don't have a nearby Waitrose there is still the option of a taster subscription which gets you five issues (worth £14.95) delivered to your door for just £10. Our review of Phoenix issue 1 is here and the Phoenix website with subscription details is here.
Dandy, Phoenix, Corporate Skull Who et al artist and writer Jamie Smart has recently been on the receiving end of criticism of his work that has too often crossed the line into some disgracefully personal attacks. Jamie takes the time to write a very well thought-out and articulated FAQ-style piece on what artists, professional or amateur, should expect when they release their work out into a harsh, cruel world. Jamie's blog piece is here.
On a similar note, while we don't hang out on forums much, we have noticed that comics professionals seem to be quietly withdrawing from many of the various comics forums. While such places are poorer when they leave, it is understandable if, for instance, a forum member posts that they hate a particular artist when what they actually mean is that they dislike that artist's work. To a certain extent Facebook has replaced the work of a lot of the forums, as forums previously replaced Yahoo groups. downthetubes gets more comments about our blog pieces on Facebook than on the blog itself and it is a much more pleasant place to be than some forums as people appear to think twice about what they say when they cannot hide behind cryptic nicknames.
Last year Carlton books issued a set of four Commando paperbacks each containing 3 Commando reprints which were reminiscent of the IPC War and Battle Picture Library Summer Specials from the 1970s and 1980s. They were also considerably cheaper (and lighter) than the big 10 and 12 story oversized reprint books of previous years. The four titles have proved popular enough that Carlton are issuing a second set of four, each themed around a particular military subject and with stories chosen by Commando editor Calum Laird. The titles are Bombs Away!, Desert Rats, Dive! Dive! Dive! and Who Dares Wins and they are due to be published on 12 April 2012 at a cover price of £4.99 each.
Sticking with a DC Thomson theme, the company now has a Broons and Oor Wullie on-line shop, separate from the main DC Thomson e-shop. They have also expanded their range of Broons and Oor Wullie merchandise from the familiar softcover bi-annuals, hardcover reprint books and Ma's cookbooks to include, amongst other things, scarfs, flat caps and baseball caps in the official Broons and Oor Wullie tartans plus a range of jute shopping bags with Broons images on them. With DC Thomson's hometown of Dundee known for its three J's of Jute, Jam and Journalism our favourite of the new items would have to be the shopping bag, showing Ma Broon despairing of the cost of her groceries, which covers the jute and journalism of the three J's and allows you to add the jam yourself.
The Independent has an interesting piece on book illustrators and how, in modern book publishing, internal book illustration has become the preserve of children's books when, in the past, major authors writing for an adult audience such as Charles Dickens would work closely with an artist to illustrate their work. With quotes from the likes of Gerald Scarfe and Posy Simmonds, it is worth a read.
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