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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Past Perfect #54

"Reviews from the floor of 64" first saw the light of day back in 2008 as a comics magazine dedicated to everything to do with Power Comics and, thanks to Paul Ware’s admirable efforts, has now notched up an amazing 54 issues. Along the way this small but perfectly formed comics magazine changed its name (and it focus) to Past Perfect when the scope of the magazine was expanded to include the world that existed outside the Power Comics.



Each issue is A5 sized, typically 28 pages long and has a good mix of colour and black & white pages.
Each issue contains a review of one issue of Terrific or Fantastic (the current issues review Terrific #23) as well as other comics, annuals & fiction of the period and there’s also a letters page.

The current issue looks at Conan the Barbarian (part 12 of an on-going series, basically reviewing one issue per magazine). Alpha Flight (part 8 of an on-going series) and  the TV Century 21 annual for 1967.
This magazine is the best of all things, it’s compact, it’s written from the heart (with all the enthusiasm that gives a fanzine) but is produced with the head (giving it the regularity of a professional magazine).

All in all, excellent value for £2.

Contributors are welcome.
Subscriptions are available for Past Perfect (including the 2 special editions he’s produced) and for Paul’s other (how does he find the time?) publications, Dark Dominion and Star Sword Red

http://www.nakedfairypress.co.uk/contact-us

Or email Paul directly via pd.ware@tiscali.co.uk

Friday, 13 July 2012

In Review: The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator


Writer / Director: Edgar Writer
Artist / Animator: Tommy Lee Edwards
Narrator: Julian Barratt
Music: Unloved (David Holmes, Keefus Green and Jade Vincent)
Publisher: Microsoft

4 online episodes, approx 7 mins each

The plot: Brandon Generator, a freelance writer with writer's block, overdoes on 13 cups of espresso and blacks out. He awakens in a world similar to our own, but bits of reality disappear into a white void. Threatened by a giant four eyed monster made of coffee he tries to escape back to reality, deal with mysterious pieces of writing and voice mails that have arrived from the aether and track down a mysterious girl.

The Review: An excellent piece of comic book story-telling that sits in the middle ground between animation and motion comic; Brandon Generator tells a whimsical fantasy story that mixes Hoxton creative navel gazing with crowd sourced fantasy elements. The casting of Julian Barratt as the narrator is perfect – bringing to mind both the lo-fi fantasy of The Mighty Boosh and the satirised media world of Nathan Barley. As a disembodied voice, Barratt also sounds quite similar to regular Edgar Wright collaborator Simon Pegg (who, ironically, is currently starring in A Fantastic Fear of Everything, which is also a comedic, urban fantasy about an agoraphobic, paranoid writer).
I spoke to Wright at the launch event of the fourth and final episode of  Brandon Generator and told him that it also reminded me of Jackanory, a comparison he was quite pleased with, and he suggested Barratt's soothing, laconic tones are ideal to listen to just before bed!


Commissioned by Microsoft to promote their latest internet browser IE9, the project also exists partially as a tech-demo, and while it also plays fine in other browsers, the website encourages users to upgrade to the latest Internet Explorer to use all of the interactive features. This may be less of a concern now for anyone who hasn't seen the story yet, as the interactive nature of the project has concluded – cliffhangers at the ends of the first three instalments encouraged the public to send in lines of dialogue, sketches of creatures and plot elements – and the way I experienced Brandon Generator at the launch event was projected onto a big screen, a closer experience to Wright's usual cinematic work, and one that didn't diminish the quality of Tommy Lee Edwards' art. David Holmes' ambient score is also very enjoyable, awaiting a full album release in due course.
The animation ranges from simple pans across Edwards' drawings to multi-layered moments where flashing messages sit on top of scrolling text on top of background images to reflect the lead character's disorientation, but rarely goes as far as fully animated characters. In any case, Edwards has experience in moving pictures, such as The Book of Eli, so he's better placed than many other comic creators in animating his own work. This means, while the project is more sophisticated than every motion comic that has preceded it, you can still imagine the possibility of it being printed as a regular graphic novel – something the creators refrained from promoting when asked about this at the launch, as it might detract from the novelty of it being an online experience. The possibility of an eventual graphic novel and the creators' love of print comics is evident in certain scenes where three or four panel borders are combined with the mise-en-scene.


The crowd sourced elements incorporated into later episodes work well, from the design of the coffee monster and its name “Caffiendo” to the random lines of text the lead character is assaulted with as he tries to escape the monster, one of which was contributed by Erotic Comics author Tim Pilcher, who receives a credit at the end of episode 3. Hopefully this means other online projects by A list comic creators might also be willing to incorporate suggestions by their readers, without the usual fear of being sued by anyone on the unsolicited 'slush pile'.
Overall, Brandon Generator is worth checking out for fans of any of the creators' work and anyone curious about the possible future of online comics.

You can find the animated comic plus a plethora of behind the scenes information at http://www.brandongenerator.com

Panel Borders: Tom Gauld and Simone Lia discuss Cabanon Press


Panel Borders: Cabanon Press

In the second of a series of shows about comic book creators who have collaborated together, Alex Fitch talks to celebrated British cartoonists Tom Gauld and Simone Lia in a conversation recorded at this year's Spring Comiket at Bishopsgate Institute, London.
Tom and Simone talk about their collaborative comics First and Second (collected together as Both by Bloomsbury) and publishing books together under the title Cabanon Press.

8pm, Sunday 15th July 2012, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

Also, Alex contributes to this week's episode of the counter-culture and liberal activism podcast, The Pod Delusion:

The Pod Delusion episode 144

In this episode we find out what’s happening with Richard O’Dwyer, the Sheffield student who's facing extradition to the US for copyright infringement, why Nature won in the libel courts, and why the government is letting creationism be taught in British schools...
Plus: Sean Ellis suggest a novel solution for Lords Reform, Alex Fitch discusses portrayals of Gay Marriages in comics such as Life with Archie, Astonishing X-Men and James Robinson's new DC title Earth 2 with journalist Tim Macavoy, and we preview a couple of fun Edinburgh shows!

http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2012/07/12/episode-144-13th-july-2012

International Alternative Press Festival returns to London

A quick reminder that the 2nd International Alternative Press Festival begins on 20th July, featuring an inspired assortment of creative events in London. The festival events lead up to the 4th-5th August weekend Small Press Fair in Holborn’s Conway Hall.

Alternative Press is a group of artists concerned with promoting creativity through the mediums of comix, zines, book arts, screen printing, poetry and other forms of self publishing. Organising events since 2008, last year, produced the first International Alternative Press Festival, which attracted over 1,000 visitors. Alternative Press is building upon the success of last year’s festival to establish an annual programme.

From the 22nd July - 5th August, a parade of 11 venues on Lambs Conduit St and Great Ormond Street will host artwork by a broad and exciting selection of international comic artists.

GOSH! Comics and Orbital Comics stores are hosting related exhibitions as part of the festival. This includes the work of Private Eye cartoonist Dave Ziggy Greene at Orbital Comics and the launch of the new issue of The Comix Reader, an alternative comics newspaper that attempts to reignite the free spirit of the underground press, at Gosh!

- The 2nd International Alternative Press Festival, 21st July 2012 at 6.00pm to 5th August 2012, London. More info: www.alternativepress.org.uk


 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Women in Comics - conference team plan essay collection

Lois Lane in Superman, in 1939
After two very successful conferences - the Women in Comics I at The University of Cambridge in 2009, and Women in Comics II at Leeds Art Gallery, as part of Comics Forum and Thought Bubble (2010) – the organisers have announced they are aiming to publishing a collection of essays and interviews around the theme of women in comics.

The collection will give a chronological overview of women creators and the representation of women in comics in Anglophone Comics, Bandes Dessinées and Manga.

The team are are in negotiation with an established American University Press about the publication and look to publish the collection in 2013/2014

In addition to their already accepted essays we invite submissions on the following topics:
  • Early women comic characters, particularly pre-1945
  • Women in superhero comics and/or as superheroines
  • Women and life narratives
  • Female characters in Manga
• Abstracts of 150-200 words should be sent to Sarah Lightman (s.lightman.1ATresearch.gla.ac.uk) and Catriona MacLeod (Catriona.MacLeodATulip.lon.ac.uk) before August 15th 2012.

American Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference announced

What is the future of illustration studies? What can comics scholars learn from animation studies and vice versa? Do illustrated books or graphic novels resist the supposed obsolescence of the book?

What do pictures want (now)?

These and related questions will be explored at the Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference at Dartmouth College in the United States, to be held 19th - 21st April 2013.

Scholars interested in the illustrated image in all of its mediated guises are invited to participate in this interdisciplinary conference. Nearly all illustrated or drawn ‘texts’ are eligible for consideration:
  • Comics and graphic novels
  • Cartoons and animated films
  • Picture books
  • Illustrated books
And given the uniquely plenary nature of the conference, which brings together scholarship on static and moving illustrations, preference will be given to proposals that seek to bridge visual media.

Possible topics may include:
  • Individual titles by prominent practitioners in the field
  • Identity, subjectivity, authority, ideology or culture in or more type of illustration media
  • The future of particular schools of criticism (psychoanalysis, critical race theory, phenomenology, Marxism, feminism, queer theory, post-colonialism, formalism, aesthetic theories, etc.) and one or more type of illustration media
The location of the conference may also be a source of inspiration for prospective participants. Not only does Dartmouth College lie in close proximity to the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, but it is also the historic home of Theodor Geisel, Dr. Seuss, whose illustrated books continue to awe and amuse.

Interested participants may propose individual papers or panels. Individual papers should be no longer than 20 minutes. Panels shall be 90 minutes long and should be comprised of three presenters and one (ideally separate) panel chair.

• Interested parties should send 300 word abstracts and a brief bio for each proposed paper no later than 1st December 2012 to  Michael A. Chaney (michael.chaneyATdartmouth.edu)

Cam Kennedy sketchbook on sale from Atomik



2000AD artist Cam Kennedy's eyesight is fading and means, sadly, it is unlikely we'll see many more new comics from him, so it is important to treasure whatever art from him we can. So I was pleased to have my attention drawn to the Cam Kennedy sketchbook being sold by Atomik Strip, a Belgian comic shop.

To buy it you, apparently, will need to contact Tony Lariviere, over on the preview we've embedded. He says it should cost around €15 + P&P.

The Dark Newt Rises - in The Dandy!


Watch out, folks - there's a new superhero in town... well in The Dandy, anyway, as Lew Stringer brings the Dark Newt to the weekly comic next week.

"This is the first time I've solely created a character for The Dandy," says Lew. How other popular strips, Kid Cops and Postman Prat were created by the editors and passed to the longtime comic creator to develop.

The name and premise is, of course, a spoof on the classic Batman saga The Dark Knight but Lew says the story goes off on its own direction. "Good job too, as there are a couple of other Batman spoofs in that issue by other artists," he reveals. "Anyone would think we were all influenced by some movie or something..."

"I'm very proud to have created a new strip for one of my lifelong favourite comics in The Dandy's 75 anniversary year," he says, "but I'm also a bit apprehensive about the reaction.

"I'm hoping readers like it. I certainly enjoyed writing and drawing it."

The Dark Newt will initially run in the comic for six weeks. Let's hope it goes down well.

Check out Lew's blog for some pre-production art on the strip. The Dark Newt starts in The Dandy 3590 next Wednesday (18th July). More about The Dandy online at: www.dandy.com

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide digital edition released

Since 1970, only one comic book price guide has been dubbed "the Bible" for casual and die-hard collectors alike of US comic books. While others have come and gone, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide has maintained its stature as the premier reference source for the hobby, covering more than a century of comic book history.

The Guide, an essential tool for collectors and investors, is highly regarded for its well-researched pricing, in-depth historical information, and incomparable insights into the marketplace.

If you have a US comic book collection or are thinking about starting one, this is an invaluable resource - and now you can get it all on your computer with the click of a mouse.

Heritage Auctions has just announced the availability of the Electronic, fully searchable Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide - downloadable right here for only $30 (about £19.30 on today's exchange rate).

System Requirements:
The following operating systems are supported:

  • Windows 2000 with service pack 3 or above
  • Windows 2003
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Mac OSX 10.4 "Tiger" and above
If your system meets these requirements, then proceed to download the Overstreet Price Guide.

The publication is Digitally Rights Managed: when the Comic Price Guide is installed, it is installed on and licensed to one single computer. The PDF (actually a PDC file) cannot be copied to or viewed on another computer, and the installer will not reinstall the file on another computer. Once installed, the Comic Price Guide can be viewed only on the computer on which the installation was run. You must be online when you install the file so that your Order ID can be verified.

Former Radio 1 DJ Recalls Time with Roy of the Rovers

On the day Chris Moyles has announced he is finally leaving Radio 1, another BBC DJ has recalled his time as a comic characters in Roy of the Rovers in 1990.

Den of Geek have interviewed Simon Mayo about his new book Itch and they also asked him what it was like being  honorary vice-president of Roy's team, Melchester Rovers.

Simon recalled: "They just wrote and said could we include you as vice-president of Melchester Rovers, and you will be included in the cartoon strips, and we'll send you some of the original artwork. I said yes, and they published it. It bears no resemblance to me. I've got a square jaw and look quite masculine! But it's up on the wall, I've still got it, it's quite funny!"

The Roy of the Rovers comic, a spin-off from Tiger, was last published in 1993. Other celebrities to appear with Roy included Geoff Boycott, Emlyn Hughes and Bob Wilson.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Stan Lee Excelsior Award 2012 Winners announced

The full results of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award 2012 can now be revealed!

This award for graphic novels is fully endorsed by The Stan Lee Foundation and the School Library Association. Seventy seven UK schools took part this year and, of the eight shortlisted graphic novels, hundreds of students (in the 11-16 age bracket) chose the following titles as their winners:

1st Place - Star Wars: Blood Ties by Tom Taylor and Chris Scalf (Dark Horse)

A multigenerational tale of honor and redemption, starring two of the heaviest hitters in the Star Wars galaxy -- the father-and-clone team of Jango and Boba Fett.
 
Shortly before the start of the Clone Wars, Count Dooku sends Jango Fett on a mission that will affect the course of Boba Fett's life some 20 years later. But for now, neither of them knows what the future holds in store, and besides, they have their schedule filled dodging monsters and fighting bad guys! It's Jango Fett and Boba Fett together in a series featuring fully painted art by Purge artist Chris Scalf.

2nd Place - Chimichanga by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)

When Wrinkle's Travelling Circus' most adorable little bearded girl trades a lock of her magic beard hair for a witch's strange egg, she stumbles upon what could be the saving grace for her ailing freakshow - the savory-named beast: Chimichanga!

3rd Place - Green Lantern: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis (DC Comics)

Witness the beginning of the career of the bravest Green Lantern who's ever lived as the secret origin of Hal Jordan is revealed. This title helps you to discover how and why Hal received the power ring. It also helps you to uncover the mystery of Abin Sur's death - and why Jordan's teacher and mentor, Sinestro, became obsessed with the prophecy of the apocalyptic end of the universe 'the Blackest Night'. 


There were also two further awards up for grabs:

Winner of the JABBICA (Judge A Book By Its Cover Award, voted for by school librarians) - Sita: Daughter of the Earth by Saraswati Nagpal and Manikandan (Campfire)

The winner of the TRUE BELIEVERS AWARD (for the school that returned the most Rating Forms) was Chilwell School, Nottingham.

• See the website at www.excelsioraward.co.uk shortlist2012.html for more details

Artist seeking artists for charity comic

Brain aneurysm survivor Siike Donnelly is aiming to share his love for comic books, and his writing ability, to recruit artists for a very personal project that he hopes will save more lives like his.

30-year-old Siike (Seek) Donnelly, an American comic creator, survived a subarachnoid hemorrhage, commonly known as a brain aneurysm, in 2010. Having to rebuild his speech pattern and learn to walk again, he reached out to other aneurysm survivors, finding that very little is being done to not only raise awareness to something that could affect anyone at any moment, but also found very little money being raised as well. Today, he aims to change that.

"I'm one of the lucky ones," he says. "Most people don't survive a brain aneurysm, and of those that do, most suffer from disabilities.

"Though I have new daily obstacles, I want to take advantage of the world I'm connected to, and love more than anything, to help me raise awareness and funds through something as simple as a comic book."

In recent months, Siike has gathered nearly a dozen artists for his cause, even starting up his own company called The Naïve Project. Through his company, Siike will publish a comic book called Solestar, a Japanese character of his creation, who has an origin set during the bombing of Hiroshima.

"I wanted to create a superhero that knew loss right from the start, he explains. "It's kind of the staple when creating someone with powers. They have to come from tragedy to obtain victory. This is something I now understand on a personal level. Hopefully victory follows my tragedy with this project."

The concept is simple; Siike, a published author of two books, Rhino and Heaven's Echo, has written a 55-page story that focuses on Solestar's final Christmas Day on Earth, in 2099. He is asking for 55 artists from anywhere in the world to email him, read his script, and pick a page that they are willing to donate to the cause.

With a dozen artists already on board, including Kate Carleton, Paul Barnes, Aaron Pierce, Renzo Ventrella, Christian Leaf, Martin Dunn, Neil Kapit, Jim Dewey, Jenai Pellerin, and more coming on board each week, Siike is a fifth of the way to his goal in just two short months. Once all 55 pages are completed and compiled as a 'jam' style comic, it will be packaged with a few pages about brain aneurysms, information on the people sponsoring the comic book, America's Brain Aneurysm Foundation (www.bafound.org), and a short story featuring unused artwork and photos to show how this project all came together.

Siike hopes to have the 100 page graphic novel print ready by Christmas 2012. It will sell for $10, in limited supply at first, with all proceeds going to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

There are six million people in the United States at this very moment with an unruptured brain aneurysm. At any second, it could burst, with a great chance at ending their life. For those that survive a brain aneurysm, it's guaranteed they will experience another in their lifetime. It's averaged out that every 18 minutes, someone suffers from one of these ruptures. Siike hopes his comic book will change those statistics.

"It's important that people just know about this. Raising money with this comic will help those already affected but the knowledge inside the pages alone could save a life that has yet to be affected. I think that?s kind of cool, a superhero that will actually save a life. I hope we can see more of that in the future."

At The Naïve Project, a quote adorns any spot that Siike can find room for it, from his favorite superhero playing actor of all time, Mr. Christopher Reeve. The quote reads, "At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable." Saying that Siike is a dreamer is an understatement. And though some may not see the irony in the name he gave his company, Siike shows no fear for the many obstacles that still lie ahead.

"My concept may seem stupid to some, a waste of time to others, but trying to do something good is never any of those things," he enthuses. "During my attempts at getting this project off the ground I've run across people that have tried to stop it, bring it down, and take personal shots at me. I let them, because I know they are wrong. The life I save could be their mother, father, significant other, or child. I can endure a few haters knowing the end result will be someone not going through what I went through, or what someone who had it worse than me went through.

"Hopefully there are 43 more artists out there that appreciate and respect what I?m trying to do. Hopefully they'll join us."

• If you’d like to hear more about Siike's story and this project, get a free download of the Battle Drawn Radio Show’s Episode 6, where he and I talk about The Naïve Project, Solestar, and our mission at Nerd Nation.

• Contact Siike @ExplodingBullet or by email: thenaiveprojectATgmail.com or via www.facebook.com/thenaiveproject. Listen to his podcast, which he co-hosts with his good friend Gene Hoyle, at www.nerdnation.co.


Art by Kate Carleton. Logo designed by Martin Dunn.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Fanfare, Knockabout Comics and K9 team up for San Diego!

The annual pilgrimage that is San Diego Comic-Con has begun anew for many creators and British-Spanish publisher Ponent Mon/Fanfare has dropped us a line to tell us about  lots of interesting products they'll have at the show from a host of UK based producers, including some fun for the kids.

Basing operations from Booth 2102, their newest title on offer at the event will be Summit of the Gods volume 3, a story set around the disappearance of mountaineers Mallory and Irvine on Everest’s North-East ridge in 1924, leaving behind them the mystery of who was first to reach its summit. You can view the first chapter here. Volume 4 is on target for the end of the year.

Knockabout Comics will be sharing the table with issues of Alan Moore's magazine Dodgem Logic and their latest releases in books including the quirky look at money, Lovely Horrible Stuff from Eddie Campbell (Alec, From Hell).

American comic fans will also be able to check out Neil Gibson's 'Twisted Dark' series of books, short tales with that certain twist and a whole series of wonderful new (to me) artists. All three volumes will be available at the booth and a few of his 'soon to be launched' colour comic Tortured Life. You can read 'Tortured Life' for free on Neil's site.

Fanfare's secret weapon for 2012 is that endearing and endurable K9 (www.k9official.com) mechanical dog who first appeared in the 1977 episode of Doctor Who entitled The Invisible Enemy with the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson). He now has his own brand new TV series created by Bob Baker and Paul Tams and featuring the voice of the original actor, John Leeson. Here's a complete episode guide of the first series.

It was announced recently that it will show this autumn on BBC Kids in Canada and Fanfare will announce the US channel which will air the show on San Diego Preview Night, Wednesday 11th July.

If you are at San Diego, drop by booth 2102 to discover who that is and pick up one (or both!) of our show exclusives: "Top Dog" Tshirt with front and back design (the back is secret until Wednesday) and the detailed 4" collector's resin figurine with signed/numbered collector card.

Team Girl Comic Issue 5 Kicks Off

Back in May, Glasgow's Team Girl Comic collective began a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to publish issue 5 of their title. Their target was $1000 (Kickstarter being a US site) and, remarkably, they reached it in five days flat.

Their Kickstarter campaign went on to raise over $1700 which allowed them not just to go ahead and print issue 5 but also to expand it from the title's usual 28 - 32 pages up to a remarkable 44. It also allowed them to get their sold-out back issues reprinted.

TGC issue 5 is now available and is an anthology featuring short comic strips by female writers and artists from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages, from absolute beginners to professional artists.

The issue includes many regular contributors such as Gillian Hatcher, Colleen Campbell (who created the front cover, above), Penny Sharp and Evy Craig as well as newcomers Amanda 'Hateball' Stewart (left), Elena Vitagliano and many others. It is available to buy now from the TGC website and will soon be available at Plan B Books in Glasgow, Deadhead Comics in Edinburgh, and Gosh! and Orbital in London.

The next event that Team Girl will be participating in is the Glasgow Merchant City Festival where they will be taking part in Comics Night at the Scotia Bar on 26 July 2012. They are planning to have an exhibition of their work, lots of drawing on the night as well as a comics-themed pub quiz.

There are more details of Team Girl Comic on their website and Facebook page.

Team Girl Comic editor Gillian Hatcher talked to downthetubes about the title
here.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

London Film and Comic Con 2012

Crowds gathered at Olympia, London from 6-8th July for another hugely successful London Film and Comic Con. High-profile TV and movie guests included Bernard Cribbins, Freema Agyeman and John Simms from Doctor Who, Gillian Anderson from The X-Files, Gates McFadden and Jeri Ryan from Star Trek and film stars Charles Dance and Karl Urban.

Talent from the world of comics included Lee Townsend and Mike Ploog. The latter was interviewed by Mike Conroy, providing an interesting and informative overview of the artist's career.

Cosplayers aplenty were in attendance with the likes of Darth Vader, Admiral Ackbar and numerous Stormtroopers walking around providing entertianment for attendees. The Batmobile was also in attendance.

Olypmia was a great venue, if a little trickeir to get to than Earl's Court, the LFCC's traditional home, and overall this was a fun and entertaining event as always.

Comic Creators voice protest to proposed UK copyright law changes

(Updated 9/7/12 with comments from various creators about the plans)

Comic creators are raising concerns about changes afoot to copyright law in the UK, effectively stripping away long held rights and potentially handing the handling of your copyrighted creations to new 'colllecting agencies'.

The new legislative measures to update the UK's copyright licensing system were announced last week, which the British government claims will "help strengthen the system and boost its contribution to the economy and society."

New clauses primarily drafted to address the problem of 'orphan works' material where the original creator might be unknown, will now be included in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently being discussed in Parliament.

The proposals, if approved, would:
  • allow the creation of a future ‘orphan works’ scheme to open access to valuable material that currently can’t be licensed or used
  • put in place a voluntary regime for extending collective licensing to help reduce complexities in the system
  • reserve a power to introduce statutory codes of conduct for collecting societies if they fail to operate to minimum standards.
The proposed changes are complex, but essentially would remove an automatic right to copyright.

This isn't DownTheTubes usual area, but I feel it's an important matter for all British comic creators who might be reading this.

Whatever your view, you should not ignore what is being cooked up by our government.

The actual proposals are outlined here on the Intellectual Property Office web site (PDF): http://www.ipo.gov.uk/response-2011-copyright.pdf

Writing for tech site The Register, Andrew Orlowski argues photographers, illustrators and authors will be amongst those to lose their digital rights under the radical new proposals published by the Government today.

"New legislation is proposed that would effectively introduce a compulsory purchase order, but without compensation, across an unlimited range of creative works, for commercial use," he notes. "Millions of amateurs who today post their images to Flickr and automatically receive the full protection of the law, would also lose, unless they opted-out.

"The changes involve orphan works reform - floated as Clause 43 of the Digital Economy Act in 2010 but killed off by photographers - and an Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) program. The white paper follows intense lobbying by the culture sector and large corporate users of copyright works, such as Google, who wish to lower their costs."

Comic creator Jim Campbell has started a petition protesting at the proposed changes.

"I'm not a lawyer, and I'm certainly not an expert on copyright, so I would urge you to read the government's consultation document and form your own opinion," he says. "The document, in so far as I understand it, raises a number of areas of concern.

"The proposed changes to the law on orphaned works will mean that all works where the copyright holders are unknown or uncontactable will be assumed to be available for commercial exploitation," he argues, "and the rights to do so will be left in the hands of 'collecting societies' who will be able to negotiate licenses to use material without the express permission of the material's creators.

"This represents a fundamental reversal of creators' current rights under copyright law and requires creators to explicitly assert their rights over material or face losing those rights. The government is quick to defend the intellectual property rights of big business and should do no less on behalf of the individuals and smaller creative organisations who contribute so much to the country's economy and character."

Signees so far include Dave Gibbons, John Ridgway and many other key British comic creators.

“I already see far too many instances of creative work being plundered for profit,” notes comic creator Simon Coleby. “This legislation serves only to legitimise that unethical and unfair practice, and is only in the interests of those who wish to unscrupulously benefit from other peoples' creativity.”

"What I create is mine to pass to those I want it to go to, not to have it stolen by suits who are allowed to say they have "searched dilligently but in vain" for the copyright holder,” argues John Ridgway.

“These changes skew things far too much in favour of big corporations who already have the resources and legal muscle to protect their interests," feels Roger Langridge, “effectively allowing them to exploit small companies and individuals with the full protection of the law. It's just wrong.”

“This was something I was very active with when the Orphan Rights Bill was being forced through the US Government a while ago,” says comcic creator and publisher Tim Perkins. “Creative people have rights and this is yet another example of corporate and super-rich greed. Orphaned works can be obtained if the Canadian example is employed. This is just another lazy way for legislation to grab "Real" orphaned works and make it so that larger corporations and publishers can 'Steal' new works as well, knowing most creative people could never sustain any real amount of protection!"

Announcing the changes, Business Minister Norman Lamb said: "It is vital that we make the most of our creative industries, boosting their contribution to the economy while ensuring protection of the rights holders. The copyright licensing system has been behind the times and we need to modernise and make it fit for the 21st century.

"The measures we plan to introduce as soon as possible would make it easier for those seeking access to, and use of, copyrighted works. Freeing up so-called ‘orphan works’ will allow use of works for the first time, making the most of untapped economic and creative potential. Extending licensing arrangements for collective societies, whilst ensuring rights holders are protected, will also help maximise the benefit for the UK’s world-class creative industries."

The draft clauses will be subject to scrutiny as part of the Bill’s progress through Parliament. These measures were developed by Government in response to recommendations from the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property, which was published in August 2011, which is broken down into somethingsome folk may be able to better get their heads around on the blog for Action on Authors' Rights.

You can read Jim Campbell's thoughts on the proposals here on his blog

View Jim's petition against the proposals 

• The Government’s policy statement: Consultation on modernising copyright (PDF, 406Kb) is available on the Intellectual Property Office website

Com.X promotes Monster Myths at San Diego

Monster Myths
Publishers Com.X will be promoting a number of their innovative and eye catching projects at San Diego, including the recently-released Monster Myths written by John Lupo Avanti and Chester Westward, drawn by Avanti.

Alfredo, a recovering felon turned working stiff, resides in Lower Scabo where working-class people live under the tyranny of the evil Cannibals Motorcycle Gang. After being beaten and left for dead by the gang, Alfredo decides to recruit a group of graffiti writers to instigate a war between the riff-raff of Lower Scabo and their neighbours in the well-to-do community of Northview.

In doing so, Alfredo transforms from a two-bit perp into an iconic rebel, determined to free Lower Scabo from the control of those seeking power. An over-the-top, dark comedy pitching biker gangs against cleancut, real estate developers and, in the middle, an unlikely hero stirring the pot in the hope of saving his neighbourhood.


"I wanted to tell a story about all the weird stuff I experienced as a kid in the 80’s in my hometown, which was nicknamed Lower Scabo," Avanti told Comicosity earlier this year. "I wanted to do a book about beating off Doberman Pinschers with radiators, bikers that hang fat kids from trees and all the ways you can harass an ice cream man.

"From there, the book took on a life of its own. Most of the characters are based on someone or something from when I was a kid. It is dangerously sentimental, but that is who I am and that is what people like about my work."

Com.x is an independent British comic company creating innovative and highly-acclaimed graphic novels for the last 12 years, run by Eddie Deighton, Benjamin Shahrabani and Jon Sloan.

- The 120-page book is on sale now. Check out the Com.X web site for more info, and there's an interview with Avanti on Broken Frontier in which he offers more background on his career and the book, too.

 

Rogue Trooper history for sale


Hello, I'm the Emperor, one of the first three people to receive a physical Krill Tro Thargo from the Mighty Tharg himself "for services to thrill-power". So the downthetubes team have drafted me in to provide some context to developments at the Galaxy's Greatest Comic, as well as monitoring projects the droids may get up to elsewhere, the small press activity that spins off from the 2000AD forums and pretty much anything else of interest that catches my eye.

The current big blip on the thrill-radar is the fact that a seller on eBay has put up some impressive pieces of Rogue Trooper history for sale. The image above is an early concept design by Dave Gibbons that has the seeds of the eventual design present, just under a thick layer of armour. Below we see another one which retains a slightly Neanderthal look to the features but frees him from all that extra weight:


These aren't totally unknown, having being revealed in a feature on the series' creation in the 1983 2000AD Annual:


However, the seller does have another intriguing document, the original pitch, which they have redacted as an incentive for fans to get bidding:


So we'll go over to them for a description of the contents:

This is the original typed submission page sent to 2000AD to 'sell' the "FUTURE WAR" story called "Hero", no, it's "Sergeant Sig...", "The Killin...", I mean "Rogue Trooper". Actually, lots of names for the series were suggested on this page, and most long since forgotten (really, check the Rogue Trooper volumes - they've no idea!), as well as secrets about his background that were either abandoned, or never explored.
In order to possibly keep these secrets secret for another 30 years, never to be revealed in any 2000AD history book, the details on this page have been redacted in that way popular with Governments, and will only be revealed to the bidder when they recieve [sic] it ...



All of which adds up to a nice slice of 2000AD history, but buying the lot could prove expensive. Hopefully, a fan will pick it up and preserve it for posterity, but with Dave Gibbons' name attached to it and a Rogue Trooper film in development it could easily disappear into an anonymous collectors hoard (it may even get split up, which would be a pity). We will keep an eye on this and see if we can find out what happens to it.

New British Small Press Community launched

Comic creator Trystan Mitchell just dropped us a note to mention an excellent new Small Press Comics Community Forum has just been birthed in the UK, dedicated to small press comics and self publishing. Some excellent discussions and experience sharing going on between some really inspirational creators and fans.

"It looks like developing into a really valuable asset and worthwhile venue," says Illustrator, writer paper toy creator and sign-writer Trystan, whose credits include work for The Guardian and commissions for campaigning organisations The Land is Ours and Greenpeace. "Highly recommended."

It's described as a forum for Small Press comic fans, contributors and creators where they can share and discuss their Small Press Comics and other comic discussion.

Always good to see another place for British creators to chew over ideas and trade tips and offer advice. Along with our own Forum, Smallzone, Bugpowder, the Temple APA and the official 2000AD forum, to name but a few, the opportunities for this are ever growing.

- Check it out at: http://www.spcomics.org/

Commando: Spot The Difference

Commando 4514 and predecessors
Twenty-five years ago Commando published an issue entitled "Roll Of Honour" featuring a cover by artist Ian Kennedy. To celebrate the 65th anniversary of D-Day in 2009, Carlton Books released the then latest of their Commando reprint books entitled D-Day: Fight Or Die! with 12 issues reprinted inside it and a cover that was familiar but different - the field of battle had become a Normandy beach with landing craft added. When the book was reprinted in 2011, it lost the 'D-Day 65' logo as well as two stories bringing it into line with then current practise of publishing 10 story reprint books.

The issue that the cover was originally for, "Roll of Honour", has just been reprinted as part of Commando's Silver Collection. The writer was Commando regular Cyril Walker while the internal artwork was by regular Warlord artist Terry Patrick. Commando's Deputy Editor Scott Montgomery describes the issue in his introduction: "A neat little story this. At the heart of it is a murder mystery that spans the last few years of world War II and, as the title suggests, the honour of a regiment is at stake — but also much more… Writer Cyril Walker spins a good yarn as always, while Terry Patrick’s art is a little bit different for Commando, with almost cartoony faces and thick black lines. It’s well-suited to this character-driven plot. Finally, there’s Ian Kennedy’s cracking cover to finish things off."

Ian Kennedy will be appearing at the Gordon Highlanders Museum on Monday 8 July 2012 as part of the museum's free "Meet The Commando Team" event. There are more details of this and the Steadfast Commando artwork exhibition at the museum's website.

The batch of four Commandos available this fortnight are -

Commando 4511No 4511 – The Secret Saboteur
Story: Mac MacDonald
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

The Allies were gearing up to invade North-West Europe and the Germans knew it. Everyone was on high alert, with the Gestapo ruthlessly rooting out saboteurs and meting out rough justice to the civilian population. In one area, though, they were plagued not by sabotage but by a series of — for them — unhappy accidents wrecking their war machine. But were they accidents? One ex-Hamburg policeman — Tomas Merkel — wasn’t convinced, no matter what his Gestapo boss thought.


Commando 4512No 4512 – Thunder In The Jungle
Story: Mac MacDonald
Art: Morahin
Cover: Janek Matysiak

The Far East, 1944. It was widely believed that tanks could not cope with jungle warfare but the British were determined to prove this notion wrong — and were equally determined to regain Burma from the clutches of the Japanese. Second-Lieutenant Peter Wright had been an infantry officer but he and his unit had retrained as a tank crews. Now they were under pressure to deliver results…and their M3 Stuart light tanks would soon clash with the metallic might of their Japanese Type 95 counterparts. Could the green British tankies work as a team and survive the
THUNDER IN THE JUNGLE


Commando 4513No 4513 – Knife For A Nazi (Originally No 16, January 1962)
Story: Elliot
Art: Salmeron
Cover: Ken Barr

Up and over the cliffs they called unclimbable, swiftly and silently across country, deep behind enemy lines they came, the fearless men with blackened faces. These were the men they sent on a mission when all else had failed — These were the Commandos. On this raid it was not the enemy they feared, but the stranger in their ranks, the explosives expert who was the key man of the whole operation, and who by his inexperience and rashness became the danger man! Here is the story of how that man won the admiration and respect of the world’s finest fighting men.

In his introduction to this reprint editor Calum Laird says, "A new boy having to prove his worth to an established group, and in particular its leader, is a well-used theme in all fiction, although in just issue 16 it was new to Commando comics. Here author Elliot uses that set-up to bring an extra tension to an action-packed Commando special mission and in so doing makes it more than just a war story. Mind you, he had to do something a little bit special to live up to the promise of Ken Barr’s super-menacing cover. Can you feel how sharp that knife is? The black-and-whites from Salmeron have wonderful British-ness — the Commando CO’s ‘tache in particular. This Spanish artist served Commando for many years, and this example shows you why."


Commando 4514No 4514 – Roll Of Honour (Originally No 2143, December 1987)
Story: C.G. Walker
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Jewel theft and murder — not the sort of things that would bring glory to a regiment’s roll of honour if any of its men were suspected of such crimes. That’s why someone was determined to keep a very big secret to himself. But there was someone equally determined to get at the truth, no matter what the cost!

• 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

• Steadfast! the Commando artwork exhibition at The Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen runs from 9 July to 30 November 2012. There are more details about the exhibition on the museum website.

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• Got a British Comics News Story? E-mail downthetubes!

• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials: editor@downthetubes.net

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