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Friday, 11 January 2013

Cartoonist Terry Bave remembers the crazy days of British humour comics

(with thanks to Lew Stringer): Terry Bave, artist of numerous comic strips in British humour comics from the late 1960s to the 2000's, has published his autobiography. 

Terry was at the heart of English cartooning and had a long, successful career as an artist working on children's comics, such as Whizzer and Chips, Cor!!, Buster, Whoopee, Dandy and Beano. From the heyday of the 1960s and 70s, Terry saw the rise, and eventual decline, of creative cartooning for children's comics. 

Working with his wife Shiela, he created new characters, developed old ones and produced a legacy of a huge body of work focused, always, on children. Living retired in Devon, his fertile imagination and still inventive pen have produced a book full of warm, funny and historical reminiscences, edited and published with the assistance of his daughter-in-law, Rebecca Bave.

• A must-buy for fans of UK humour comics: http://www.lulu.com/shop/terry-bave/cartoons-and-comic-strips/paperback/product-20625272.html

Radio show on 25 years of Hellblazer featuring Delano, Diggle, Lloyd and Milligan

Panel Borders - 25 years of John Constantine: Hellblazer

Panel Borders returns after the Christmas break for a new series in an earlier slot on Sunday evenings. Starting a series of shows about the 25th anniversary of the occult detective John Constantine's first appearance in his own solo comic book, Alex Fitch talks to writers Jamie Delano, Andy Diggle and Peter Milligan, and artist David Lloyd, about creating issues of Hellblazer from its first issue to the present day. 
Jamie and David discuss the early days of the comic, launched as a spin off from Alan Moore's acclaimed run on Swamp Thing while Andy and Peter talk about bringing the character into the 21st Century.

(Recorded in front of a live audience at SCI-FI-LONDON, Apollo Piccadilly Cinema, April 2011)

6pm, Sunday 13th January 2013, repeated at 4.30pm, Tuesday 15th January, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / extended podcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Titan Comics, A1 Publisher Dave Elliott unite for new Co-Publishing Venture


Hot on the heels of the recent announcement that Titan Comics is offering new original creator-owned series in 2013, Titan has released information about a new co-publishing venture with A1 publisher, Dave Elliott.

Dave Elliott has more than 25 years of experience working in the comic book industry. He created Sharky and Maximum Force and has worked on diverse titles such as Deadline, 2000AD, Justice League of America, Transformers and GI Joe.  In 2006, he co-founded Radical Studios and played an integral role in the development and launch of Radical’s premiere comic book titles, several of which have now begun development as film properties – including Hercules, Shrapnel, Caliber, Hotwire, and The Last Days of American Crime and Oblivion, which is due to hit cinemas in May and stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman.

The new publishing venture between Titan Comics and Dave launches in June 2013 and will see the release of brand-new comics and stunning new and classic graphic novels.

The first wave hits from June 2013 with two new series: A1, a monthly revival of the famously experimental anthology and the new music-festival adventure, Tomorrowland.


The first collections will drop in September 2013, with releases including the League of Extraordinary Gentleman-style Weirding Willows, supernatural anthology Monster Massacre and the adventures of the teenage god Sharky. The first volume of the new A1 annual and the collection of Tomorrowland will release later in the year.

"Anyone who has been in the comics industry knows Dave Elliott, and his industrious and creative talent," says Nick Landau, Publisher of Titan Comics. “He has an address book like no-one in the business, a never-ending fount of ideas, and the savvy to win the best global creators over to his team. We’re delighted to be co-publishing his latest creations."

"Having worked in the entertainment industry for over 25 years I wanted a partner that complemented what I do”, said A1 Publisher, Dave Elliott. “I wanted a partner who has the same aspirations for seeing this industry do what it has the potential to do. And most importantly I wanted a partner who realizes that if I do well, so do they. I know with Titan’s 30-year experience in the industry, I'm getting just that."

Each new release will also be available to read day and date on the iPhone, iPad, Web, Android and Kindle Fire.

The new co-publishing venture begins in June 2013, with two brand-new comic series, with further new collections being released through the year. Here's the information so far:

June 2013
 

A1 #1The new monthly from creators Dave Elliott, Barnaby Bagenda, Garrie Gastonny, W. H. Rauf, Rhoald Marcellius, Sakti Yuwono and Stellar Labs.

The exciting return of the award-winning graphic anthology series, this time monthly in a new format. It features three great ongoing strips: Weirding Willows, in which the worlds of Wonderland, OZ, Neverland, Mars, Pelucidar and Elysium clash in the little English town of Willow Weir; Odyssey, An immortal superhero out of place and time finds himself in the middle of a war for mankind between the Angels and the Demons; and Carpe Diem, about the World's seven greatest assassins, one for each day of the week.  Their leader is always a Sir Monday, but the rest of the team always hate Mondays...

• Retailers can order A1 #1 from the February 2013 edition of Diamond PREVIEWS.

July 2013

Tomorrowland

Writer: Paul Jenkins Artist: Stellar Labs (DC Comics, Marvel Comics, IDW Comics, Image Comics, Top Cow comics)

Yesterday is History. Today is a Gift. Tomorrow is a Mystery.

There are two worlds – the world we see, and the one we sense. The world we see is a harsh place: divided by war and political extremism, religious fundamentalism and the pursuit of money. The world we sense is the one that hides in plain sight: you see it in your peripheral vision; moving, vibrant. It’s a world where art, music and science intertwine, where the written word is a powerful tool of creation.

In these two worlds, we are all two people: one connected to destruction and one connected to creation. That is the way of the universe. But what we don’t know is that creation and destruction wage an eternal war for the energy we carry inside us.

And it is a war that we are rapidly losing…

 • Retailers can order Tomorrowland #1 from the April 2013 edition of Diamond PREVIEWS.

September 2013

Weirding Willows

Writer: Dave Elliott Artist: Barnaby Bagenda, Sami Basri, Sakti Yuwono & Jessica Kholinne

The worlds of Earth, Wonderland, OZ, Neverland, Mars, Pelucidar and Elysium collide like never before. Weirding Willows is a thrilling, emotional rollercoaster of the imagination, across space, time and not so parallel dimensions!

Monster Massacre Volume 1

 From amazing creators, like Alan Moore, Dave Dorman, Mark A. Nelson , Dave Wilkins, Tom Raney, Ron Marz, Doug Braithwaite, Michael Gilbert and many more…

From all around the world, the greatest comic talents are given full and free rein to explore the universe, to seek out new life and new civilizations… to boldly go where no one would dare let them go before!

No matter your tastes in science fiction and fantasy, you will find something here to love.

Sharky
Writer: Dave Elliott Artist: Alex Horley (DC Comics, Dark Horse, Image Comics)

SHARKY is the Earthbound son of ODIN and the grandson of ZEUS – and he just hit puberty!
October 2013

A1 (Annual)

From amazing creators, like Matt Wagner, Dave Johnson, Rufus Dayglo, Dave Dorman, Mark A. Nelson, Jim Steranko, D’israeli, Garry Leach and many more…

Monster Massacre Volume 2

From amazing creators, like Stanley Artgerm Lau, Tom Raney, Dave Wilkins, Alex Horley, Dave Dorman, Mark A. Nelson, Sami Basri, Toby Cypress and many more…

December 2013

Tomorrowland (Collection)
Writer: Paul Jenkins Artist: Stellar Labs (DC Comics, Marvel Comics, IDW Comics, Image Comics, Top Cow comics)

• To keep up-to-date with news on all these new series and future releases from Titan Comics, visit www.titan-comics.com or join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/comicstitan) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/comicstitan).

• Retailers can keep up to date with ordering details and incentives by signing up to Titan’s retail newsletter, here or follow @TitanRetail on Twitter.

In Review: V for Vendetta at the Lass O'Gowrie

Photo: Laura Evans
After the successful adaptation of The Ballad of Halo Jones by Manchester-based Scytheplays back in 2012, the Lass O'Gowrie, famous for their Fringe productions of Russell T. Davies' Midnight, Year of the Sex Olympics and Coronation Street together with Scytheplays are tackling another of Alan Moore's seminal works: V for Vendetta.

A timeless tale of anarchy against the system, V for Vendetta has endured ever since its first appearance back in 1982 in Warrior magazine. Popularised by the use of the iconic Guy Fawkes mask by protesters, especially since the 2006 film, the story has entered popular culture in a way few things have managed.

The Hunger Games spearheaded a resurgence in popularity of dystopian stories - or perhaps that fascination has never gone away. The thirst for stories of struggle against tyranny, or the rights of the individual has always been there. Written at the height of dissatisfaction with Thatcher's government and with the threat of nuclear war lurking in the background, V for Vendetta potentially becomes a very real flash-forward, yet has endured and remained relevant ever since.

Set in a dark future society where racial and political “deviants” are arrested and held without charge or trial in internment camps, V for Vendetta is a glimpse into one man's idea to fight the system, and the subsequent lengths this idea will go to fight for freedom.  The stage adaptation is largely successful, the staging area evocatively decked out as V's Shadow Gallery. With a smaller cast of characters than the comic, some of the treatment of citizens in this world has faded, but the central core of V's fight against the state burns more intensely than ever.

Part detective story, part thriller, part noir. V for Vendetta offers a multitude of narratives to its readers/viewers. Sean Mason's stage adaptation is pacy, retaining much of the flavour and content of the comic. Having wisely disposed of many of the action sequences allows for the text to breathe and for the audience to concentrate on the words and the messages within Moore's text.

Photo: Laura Evans
Daniel Thackeray's V not only has height in his favour, but a majestic stage presence. Despite the restrictions imposed by the mask, Thackeray owns the stage with his commanding performance. The gestures he makes to emphasise key words act as much as his voice, which wavers from hysterically manic to chilling in the space of a few words. Thackeray retains the ambiguity over V's status as hero or villain that made V for Vendetta so compelling.

Heroine Evey Hammond (Sinead Parker) undergoes a total transformation as V unfolds. Parker is an astonishingly watchable actress and exudes confidence in herself and Evey. She becomes completely enveloped and wholeheartedly believable as this well-defined character. Cast out from V's lair, her dramatic connection with Paida Noel's subtle and haunting Valerie is a breathtakingly shocking sequence.

Watching the quartet of New Scotland Yard cops on the case is almost like watching a surreal episode of The Thick of It, such is the machinations and bungling occurring within. Eric Finch's attempt to understand V is his undoing, and Marlon Solmon's sympathetic and masterful performance conveys Finch's futility nicely.

Photo: Laura Evans
If Daniel Blake's Almond is the Tony Blair figure of the lot, exuding confidence and a very public face, then Brian Gorman's Creedy is very much a figure in the Gordon Brown mould. An unrespected and petty man, Creedy's letching over Leni Murphy's pitiful Rosemary is chilling to watch. Meanwhile, young Dominic Stone, played with relish by Michael Whittaker undergoes his own desperate journey. The Yard counterpart to Evey, he has a naïve streak that makes the audience root for him.

A dark disturbing look at a world in an unspecified near future, V for Vendetta is scarily near to the knuckle. Of the oppressors who shape V, only Carly Tarett's Delia Sutcliffe is (borderline) sympathetic, and she provides one of the best scenes in the play with a stylish and emotive exit. Both Jez Smith's Prothero and Stuart Hudson's Lilliman are thoroughly unlikeable, and in Lilliman's case compellingly hideous. Weighed up against V's dubious politics, it's up to you to decide who's methods are right.

Whilst V for Vendetta is an accomplished play with a clear amount of work and effort gone into it, transitions between scenes could be a little smoother to allow the overall experience to flow better. The loss of a couple of the iconic images from the comic book is a necessity, but a shame. A lack of clarity to visualise the Houses of Parliament bursting into flames, or the fireworks this creates seemed to be lost on some of the audience watching. This said, V for Vendetta remains immensely watchable, and ruthlessly engaging, and is yet another triumph of the Fringe.

–Matthew Chorlton

V for Vendetta runs at the Lass O'Gowrie, Charles Street, Manchester until Thursday 10th January with an additional performance on Sunday 13th January. It will return on Sunday 27 January in a double-bill with The Ballad of Halo Jones. Tickets available from WeGotTickets or the Lass bar. 

• For more on V for Vendetta and Lassfest, please go to http://lassfest.co.uk/?p=750

• Matthew Chorlton is the creator of The Fiction Stroker web site: thefictionstroker.wordpress.com

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Brian Bolland signs Dredd at Forbidden Planet London

Ace artist Brian Bolland will be signing Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland, published by IDW, at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore on Saturday 12th January 2013 from 3 – 4.00pm.

Mega-City One, 2099. This vast urban nightmare has sprung up from the post-apocalyptic ashes of North America's east coast.

Each of the 400 million citizens based there is a potential criminal and only the Judges can prevent total anarchy. These future lawmen are judge, jury, and executioner.

Toughest of them all is Judge Dredd - he is the Law! By the end of 1977 Brian Bolland was regularly handling art chores for John Wagner's scripts on Judge Dredd. All told, he illustrated 19 stories. Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland collects these stories in oversized format, featuring meticulous modern colouring by Charlie Kirchoff.

Brian Bolland, whose asociation with Forbidden Planet goes back to the 1980s as the designer of their iconic 'People Like Us' advertisements and, later, the t-shirts, has earned a reputation as one of the best cover artists in the industry, and his elegantly composed and beautifully rendered pieces have graced a host of titles, including Animal Man, Batman, The Flash, The Invisibles, Wonder Woman and many more.


More info on the event here on the Forbidden Planet web site

Striker returns to The Sun

As rumoured last week, the Striker comic strip has returned to The Sun newspaper, after a long absence - ousting vampire comic Shadows.

Returning on Monday, the strip began with longtime soccer hero Nick Jarvis being interviewed on TV about the perilous state of Warbury Warriors, a team he both played and then managed, taking it from non-league football to the Premiership and Champions League glory.

The club have been given three weeks to pay a £9million tax bill or face winding-up proceedings - and Jarvis lets the club’s Arab owners know exactly what he thinks.

Created by Pete Nash, Striker had a long run in the daily paper before Pete decided to go it alone and create his own weekly comic. The strip has also appeared in Nuts magazine, and there has been previous interest in turning the comic into a TV series.

More news and images her on The Sun's web site

London SuperCon announces fourth wave of guests

The London Super Comic Convention, running 23rd - 24th February 2013, has just announced a fourth wave of guests at the event, joining names such as Neal Adams, J Scott Campbell and Brian Bolland previously announced.

The latest comic creators set to attend are:

  • Dan Slott - Writer of Amazing Spider-Man, Mighty Avengers, Avengers: The Initiative, She-Hulk, Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, Batman Adventures, Looney Tunes, or Ren & Stimpy
  • Neil Edwards - Artist on Fantastic Four, Squadron Supreme, Captain America, Mighty Avengers, Herc, Spider-Man Season One and current artist on Dark Avengers
  • Kieron Gillen -Writer of Uncanny X-Men, Thor, Journey Into Mystery, Generation Hope. Currently writing Iron Man and Young Avengers
  • Jamie Mckelvie - Artist on Secret Avengers, Siege: Loki, Invincible Iron Man, Wolverine, Ultimate Spider-Man, Generation Hope, and is currently working on the forthcoming X-Men: Season One Graphic Novel
  • Simon Furman - Writer of Alpha Flight, Death's Head, Doctor Who, Dragon's Claws, Robocop, She-Hulk, Terminator, Torchwood, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and What If?  He is currently writing Transformers: Regeneration One, 
  • Al Davison - Artist on Doctor Who by IDW, Hellblazer, House of Mystery and The Dreaming
  • Simon Davis - Artist on covers of 2000AD over the past 20 years, Sinister Dexter', Stone Island and Ampney Crucis Investigates
  • Ian Edginton - Written Leviathan, Stickleback and, The Red Seas as well as one-off serials such as American Gothic. He worked on Top Cow's Pilot Season and Stormwatch: Post Human Division
  • Adi Granov - Has provided covers for X-Men, Nova, Avengers, and interior artwork for Iron Man
  • Erik Henrix - Writer of SideShows and the upcoming The Evil Tree, Champions of the Wild Weird West, Deadly Harvest, The Book, The Slave Trade
  • Peter Hogan - Writer of Crisis and Revolver, Terra Obscura and The Dreaming. Ongoing adventures of Tom Strong and Resident Alien
  • Kev Hopgood - Artist for Iron Man, 2000AD and Games Workshop
  • Frazer Irving - Artist on Klarion, The Witch Boy, Azrael: Death's Dark Knight, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman and Robin as well as covers for Bedlam by Image
  • John-Paul Bove - Colourist on Godzilla, Doctor Who, Transformers, GI Joe.
  • Marco Santucci - Artist on Secret Invasion: Spider-man, X-factor, Siege: Spider-man and Captain America: Forever Allies
  • Ralph Tedesco - Writer on Se7en, Salem’s Daughter and Grimm Fairy Tales’ Inferno
  • Marco Turini  - Artist on Squadron Supreme, Marvel Comics Presents and a new Top Cow comic to be released in February
  • Chris Weston - Artist on Swamp Thing, The Invisibles, Starman, JSA, Lucifer, and The Authority. More recently he worked on The Filth,  Ministry of Space and The Twelve. 
More info: www.londonsupercomicconvention.com

Lion: King of Picture Story Papers From Bear Alley Books

Steve Holland of the Bear Alley blog is just about to release Lion: King Of Picture Story Papers, the second of his updated comics indexes available from Bear Alley Books.
 
Lion was a weekly boys adventure comic published by Amalgamated Press beginning in February 1952. With a cover character of spaceman Captain Condor, Lion was AP's answer to Hultons' Eagle comic and its cover character Dan Dare although, in its early days at least, Captain Condor was definitely the poor relation. Ironically enough with the AP/IPC takeover of Hultons in the 1960s, Eagle became part of the same company as Lion and was eventually amalgamated into it in 1969. Lion continued on until May 1974 when it was amalgamated into Valiant.
 
Steve tells the story of this in the book as well as providing a detailed stripography of the comic's stories with creator details in an A4 book that runs to 262 pages. The book's stripography also covers all the Lion annuals and specials.
 
Lion: King Of Picture Story Papers is due to be published on Friday 18 January 2013 and will cost £25.99 plus £4 UK postage. However all pre-orders received before then will get a 10% discount on the cover price.
 
The previous comic index, covering Hurricane and Champion, is still available from Bear Alley Books as well as titles on artist CL Doughty, Peter Jackson's London Is Stranger Than Fiction, reprints of the rare Sexton Blake annuals for 1938, 1940, 1941 and 1942, and three titles covering the full run of the World War One era Eagles Over The Western Front comic strip from early 1970s issues of Look And Learn magazine..
 
There is more information and ordering details of all the Bear Alley Books on the Bear Alley Books blog.
 
The Hurricane and Champion Comic Index was reviewed on downthetubes here.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Titan launches creator-owned comics line

Chronos Commandos
Titan Comics goes big in 2013 - with original, creator-owned series by new and world-renowned talent.

Titan Comics is the bold new imprint from the London-based world-leading publisher – offering the best original creator-owned comics alongside new and classic graphic novels, a project company boss Nick Landau has had for many years.

The imprint launches in July 2013 with two creator-owned miniseries and four brand-new collections, with a new series beginning each month afterwards: debut Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol by writer/artist Stuart Jennett, who cut his teeth at Marvel UK with Warheads but now runs an expanding design studio; newly coloured Numbercruncher by X-Men: Legacy writer Si Spurrier and 2000AD artist P.J. Holden; Ring of Roses – collected in colour for the first time, by writer Das Petrou and artist John Watkiss; the wonderfully funny Thrud The Barbarian by writer/artist Carl Critchlow (2000AD, Magic: The Gathering); plus never-before-published volumes in a complete library of The First Kingdom by comic legend Jack Katz.

Thrud
The next wave will see three new series launching later in the year: Gravestown by writer Roger Gibson and artist Vince Danks (Harker), and Surface Tension by writer/artist Jay Gunn hit stores in September, while the stunning Death Sentence by writer Monty Nero and artist Mike Dowling (2000AD, Rex Royd) continues the new line into October.

Titan Comics is the latest initiative from Titan Publishing, which has been a purveyor of comics, graphic novels, fiction and licensed publishing for over 30 years.

Since 1981, they have been instrumental in the field of licensed film and television properties, including The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Transformers and Star Trek, as well as creator-owned successes such as Tank Girl and Lenore – but now they feel it's the time to nurture a new generation of creators, characters and properties.

Titan Comics is seeking to help creators shape their ideas into the best comics possible. "Combining unique voices and visions with strong marketing and a trusted brand, Titan Comics is the ultimate expression of our editorial, design and sales experience," said a company spokesperson.

From editorial to design, Titan Comics will help creators shape their ideas into the best comics possible – while they retain full rights over their creations and intellectual property.

As well as all-new creator-owned titles, Titan Comics continues to restore and reprint the best classic material, bringing back seminal titles in lovingly-produced volumes.

"This is the start of something very special," says Nick Landau, Publisher of Titan Comics. “We’re searching out fantastic new voices and astonishing new artists, and helping them bring their dream projects to fruition – as well as remaining a world-leader in the field of classic comics restoration and republication.”

Steve White, Senior Comics Editor, says readers can expect, “the same level of quality we've delivered across Titan's huge portfolio of licensed publications – coupled to the blazing imaginations of the next generation of independent creators.”

Each new release will also be available to read day and date on the iPhone, iPad, Web, Android and Kindle Fire.

Titan Comics
• To keep up-to-date with news on all these new series and future releases from Titan Comics, visit www.titan-comics.com or join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/comicstitan) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/comicstitan).

• Retailers can keep up to date with ordering details and incentives by signing up to Titan’s retail newsletter, here or follow @TitanRetail on Twitter.

 

How will you support International Book Giving Day?

14th February 2013 offers not only the opportunity to line the pockets of card companies with absolutely no capacity for commissioning good romantic verse - it's also International Book Giving Day. This year, the organisers - determined to promote books around the world - are calling on book lovers to say how they'll support it.

The options are:

1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative

Celebrate International Book Giving Day by giving a child a new, used or borrowed book.

2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby

Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available. Purchase a good book, and deposit your book covertly or overtly in your waiting room of choice. The goal here is to spread the love of reading to kids, so choose a fun book, nothing controversial.

3. Donate a Book

Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown and get them in the hands of children who could really use a book or two. Donate your books to your local second hand store, library, children’s hospital, or shelter. Alternatively, donate your books to an organization working internationally to get books in the hands of kids, such as Books for Africa.

International Book Giving Day is a volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books, noting that most children in developing countries do not own books; in the United Kingdom, one-third of children do not own books; and in the United States, two-thirds of children living in poverty do not own books.

As well as the ideas for giving books away above, the organisers of International Book Giving Day, whose focus is on encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on 14th February, encourage people to support the work of nonprofit organizations (i.e. charities) that work year round to give books to children, such as Room to Read, Books for Africa, Book Aid International, The Book Bus, Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Pratham Books.

"We are not able to evaluate nonprofit organizations (i.e. charities) to ensure that they will put your money to good use," they point out on their web site. "The fact that organizations are listed on our website is not an endorsement.

In 2012, International Book Giving Day was celebrated by people in Australia, Canada, South Africa, France, India, Ireland, Japan, the Phillippines, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US.

"We hope that people around the world will think about the best ways to help children in need in their communities and that they will celebrate International Book Giving Day in ways that make sense to them."

• For more information or to indicate your preference, visit: http://bookgivingday.com

Monday, 7 January 2013

Doctor Who Adventures at 300: An interview with artist John Ross


Doctor Who Adventures has just notched up its 300th issue - and downthetubes caught up with comic artist John Ross, who has drawn a strip for every issue of the popular title...

John worked on a lot of magazines for Marvel UK  from the mid 1990s up until 2006, most notably Spectacular Spider-Man AdventuresDoctor Who Magazine and Action Man, which he did for nearly 10 years. During that time, he also worked for other companies including Eaglemoss, BBC Magazines, and GE Fabbri on titles like Jackie Chan Adventures, Spider-Man: Heroes and Villains, and Doctor Who - Battles In Time.

Since 2006, he's mostly been working on Doctor Who-related stuff and primarily on the Doctor Who Adventures magazine, drawing the strip in every issue. Currently, he's illustrating the Doctor Who Annual 2014 for Penguin Books as well as doing the weekly strip in DWA.

downthetubes: How did you get the job as regular artist on Doctor Who Adventures?

John Ross: As far as I can remember, BBC Magazines contacted Marvel UK's Doctor Who Magazine and asked for a recommendation. I'd drawn a few strips for DWM, so the guys there knew my work. Also, they may have seen my strip work in Doctor Who - Battles in Time, which I'd worked on before DWA... Whatever happened, the BBC contacted me and asked to see some character pix of the Doc and Rose. I sent some in and got the job.

I've been on it ever since and I have to say it's possibly the best job in the business. I get to draw an enormous variety of characters and locations every week, as well as the Doctor and his classy companions! I work with great people who are passionate about what they do and are dedicated to making the best mag they can. They're constantly striving to keep things fresh and there's a big re-launch planned to coincide with the start of the new series.

downthetubes: Are you a fan of Doctor Who and if so, who is your favourite Doctor?
A page from one of the 2012 Doctor Who Adventures Christmas stories, written by  Eddie Robson, drawn by John Ross, colour by Alan Craddock.
John: I never miss an episode now but I wasn't what you'd call a massive fan when I was a lad. I watched the series on and off through the years, though and have vivid memories of being terrified! I think Matt Smith is brilliant.

downthetubes: You've drawn a huge number of stories - any particular favourites after 300 issues?

John: Well, there are a heck of a lot, way too many to mention... some that spring immediately to mind are -  Oscar Wilde and the VampiresOrder of the Bonemenders, the Doc and Heather stuck on a sinking U-Boat during World War Two, the 10th Doctor's farewell, the 11th Doctor's first appearance, stories set in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Central London, Lavender Hill, 1950s Chicago, 1960s Carnaby Street, the introduction of current DWA companion Decky, and there were two great Christmas stories this year.

There have been loads of incredible characters such as the pregnant alien on a tank, suicidal crash test dummies, the snot monster, the ear worm, and there has to be a special mention for the Screamer - a terrifying head on a hand created by a DWA reader. Also, there's an interesting penguin/owl crossbreed appearing in an issue out soon! I could go on, the list is almost endless.

downthetubes: A project like this inevitably attracts comments over likenesses, how do you tackle the demands of readers and (I assume) the actors?

John: The DWA editors give me feedback and also pass on comments from approvals people in Cardiff and from the actors themselves. I've been lucky in that there haven't been any major issues...   I work closely with the editors when sketching out a new character (Doc and/or companion)  until everyone's happy with the look.  It's rare that I'm asked  to make changes to a character after the initial character sketches have been approved.

For me, though, it doesn't really end there - I'm always looking at improving in any way I can. In fact, that's the case in all areas of my work, not just the look of the characters.       

downthetubes: How much support do you get in terms of reference materials, especially when things like the TARDIS is redesigned?

Original Doctor Who Adventures companions Decky and Heather

John: The DWA team send a massive amount of reference. I've got loads of pix of the new TARDIS to study...

downthetubes: You've also numerous fictional companions for the strip - again, any favourites?

John: Current companion Decky is fantastic, and I've got a soft spot for Heather, she had a lot to contribute. Decky and Heather are both DWA reader creations and it was interesting seeing some of the entries for the "Design a Companion" competitions, DWA readers have real imagination!

downthetubes: 50 years of Doctor Who - what do you think is the key ingredient that's given it such longevity?
The Ponds make their final appearance in Doctor Who Adventures strip -- and are surprised to find that John Ross has drawn a giant nappy on an alien. Written by Craig Donaghy and coloured by Alan Craddock.
John: For me, it's purely because it's impossible to get bored! Every story can be set in a different time period in a drastically different location - visually, there's something new every time and there's no limit on how outrageous the supporting cast can be, from aliens/monsters to actual characters in earth's history. The only boundary is the creator's imagination. 

downthetubes: Have you written any of the stories? And, if not, what would you love to see the Doctor battle in a new story?

John: I haven't written any of the stories, but I like big, bad, ugly monsters and aliens so anything featuring those is fine by me. If I was offered the job on a Doctor Who/ Spider-Man crossover, I wouldn't turn it down.

downthetubes: As well as Doctor Who Adventures, are you working on any other projects?

John: At the moment, I'm also working on the 2014 Doctor Who Annual for Penguin Books. I've drawn the strips in those every year since 2007. I do four pages of pencils and inks for DWA every week, which is enough to keep most artists busy... so I don't do a great deal of other stuff.

Occasionally, I do advertising work and last year I did concept art for Russell T. Davies' Wizards vs Aliens TV series. Russell had liked my work in DWM and DWA and asked for me to get involved.  And I do commissions. 

downthetubes: Above anything else, what one piece of advice would you offer aspiring comic artists?


John: Study everything - anatomy, composition, perspective, visual storytelling etc. It's great to be able to draw cool characters but if you want to work professionally, you must have a solid all round knowledge.

I'd also strongly recommend that you learn to draw from life as opposed to comics - that way you're more inclined to develop your own style and less likely to copy other artists mistakes! :-)



• Follow Doctor Who Adventures at: www.dwamag.com


Doctor Who Adventures art © BBC

Paragon back with twelfth jam-packed issue

Issue 12 of the long running indie British anthology comic Paragon is on sale now from lulu.com and sees the return of Jikan the time-travelling, demon-hunting Japanese warrior Dirk Van Dom and El Chivo, along with Li'l Ganesh and his li'l monkey chum, Hanuman by Dave
Candlish and Jim Cameron.

Not to mention the plucky British Tommy, Ginger Perkins by Jim Cameron. or the pulp adventurer Spencer Nero (Script by Greg Meldrum, Pencils by Tom Newell and inks by Dave Candlish) and part six of Icarus Dangerous.

The issue, which features some great looking and often funny strips, is available in print or online.

Paragon #12 e-edition on lulu.com (download immediately)

Paragon #12 Print edition on lulu.com

Dandy Events At The National Library Of Scotland


To tie-in with their free Treasures exhibition on The Art And History Of The Dandy which runs until 3 February 2013, the National Library Of Scotland (NLS) are holding two free Dandy related events.
 
The first, on Wednesday 9 January 2013 at 1800 is an Adult's Cartoon Workshop to be run by former Dandy editor Morris Heggie and artists Gordon Tait and Steve White. The NLS website describes it as, " Want to know how 'The Dandy' has made generations laugh over the years? 'The Dandy' creative team of Editor Morris Heggie and artists Gordon Tait and Steve White will be giving a workshop into how to draw, write scripts and produce publications. Bring out your creativity as you are guided through every step. Ideas are welcome – you could create a brand-new Dandy character! So if you’re tough enough for eating cow-pie and shaving with a blowtorch, this is a day you’ll never forget!"
 
The second event is a talk by Morris Heggie on 75 Years Of The Dandy on Tuesday 15 January 2013 also at 1800. The NLS website describes it as " Morris Heggie, Editor of 'The Dandy' and an expert in comic history, will give a never-before-seen presentation on the art and history of 'The Dandy'. Insights into the story of Britain’s longest running comic will open your eyes to how it all happened. There will be a short question-and-answer section where you can find out anything you wanted to know. Make sure to bring along your copy of the final printed 'Dandy', because he will be doing signings."
 
Both events will take place in the National Library of Scotland on Edinburgh's George IV Bridge and are free. Pre-booking is required and this is available on-line via the NLS website or by phoning the NLS on 0131 623 3734.
 
There are more details of the National Library Of Scotland, the Dandy exhibition and the two Dandy events on the NLS website.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Bringing V for Vendetta to the stage: an interview with Dean Thackeray

Daniel Thackeray as V
Daniel Thackeray as V. Photo: Laura Evans

V for Vendetta is writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd's seminal comic series from the 1980s. The story depicts a near-future police state in which a Fascist party called Norsefire hold power. It is against this backdrop that V, an anarchist revolutionary, undertakes a campaign to bring down the government.

Next week, a new stage adaptation of V for Vendetta is being performed at the Lass O'Gowrie pub in Manchester as part of Lassfest (an arts festival featuring comedy, drama and music, as well as various other cultural events). Adapted by Sean Mason (who also adapted Ballad of Halo Jones), we're delighted Matt Badham decided to find out more about this premiere of this new adaptation of this prescient tale of a struggle against oppression in the surveillance society.
In this interview, Matt talks to Daniel Thackeray, who will be portraying V in the new production.
 
Matt Badham: You've said to me that staging V for Vendetta was your idea, although it's Sean Mason who's actually written the script.

Daniel Thackeray: I decided pretty early on that I wanted to act in it, so I stepped back from the production side of things.

Sinead Parker as Evey Hammond and
Daniel Thackeray as V. Photo: Laura Evans
MB: Why do you think the comic is a good choice for a stage adaptation?

DT: We wanted a good quality follow-up to [our adaptation of] The Ballad of Halo Jones, which is also an Alan Moore property. We're on quite good terms with Alan Moore and some of the rights-holders for his various works. 

Both Halo and V have similar points to make and they were both written at roughly the same time, in the 1980s. There's criticism of consumerism, capitalism, the herd mentality of people and the way that governments can be somewhat uncaring when it comes to the needs of their citizens. It seemed logical that if people enjoyed Halo and engaged with it as a stage adaptation -- and we did get some good reviews for it and positive feedback from audiences -- they would like V for Vendetta as well. Possibly more, because I think it's arguably more relevant to our current times.

MB: What specific challenges have there been in putting V for Vendetta, a comic, on stage?

DT: V is an unusual comic in that it's actually very verbose. This is one of the reasons I thought it would be good as a stage play. It's dialogue-heavy and the art style is quite deliberately grim and gritty. That's a good stylistic choice when it comes to representing this slightly drab life that everybody is living in the comic. It's a world that can be presented quite easily on stage.

MB: I suppose the term that could be used is kitchen sink…
DT: Yes. However, one challenge was that V for Vendetta does have quite a few action sequences in it that we've had to change or remove. We've either placed those off-stage or simplified them. There's a big scene where V takes down five cops and we couldn't do it. You could do it on-stage - but you can't do it on-stage in a small space, which is what we've got to work with.
We're taking the opposite approach to the film adaptation, which I think emphasised and even extended the action sequences and turned V into an action hero. We imply that he is a capable fighter but we don't see most of the fights themselves. Instead, it's mainly his theatricality and his politics that are emphasised in our version.
V Police: Creedy (Brian Gorman), Finch (Marlon Solomon) and Stone (Michael Whittaker) Photo: Laura Evans
MB: Can you give me a specific example of your approach to the action sequences?

DT: There's a scene in the comic on a train where V appears and kills two cops and kidnaps [Norsefire propagandist] Lewis Prothero. That's totally gone. Prothero just wakes up in V's lair.
Larkhill's Dr. Surridge (Carly Tarret), Lewis Prothero (Jeremy Smith) and Bishop Lilliman (Stuart Hudson)

MB: And that works?

DT: In the comic, you have a later scene where police officers talk about what has happened and the fact that Prothero has been kidnapped. And that is actually a bit pointless because you've already seen it all. But in the play, it works well for us as a device to explain the detail of the kidnapping.

MB: Are we still going to get that sense of V as a deadly figure? As someone to be feared?

Photo: Laura Evans
DT: Yes. In the dialogue we emphasise points that are mentioned in the comic, like the fact that he kills with his bare hands. He does have a thing of using knives but there is also this detail that he will sometimes 'stab' people with his fingers, which indicates both his physical power and his terrifying determination.

MB: I suppose the police procedural elements that exist in parts of the comic are a bit of a gift in that they offer valuable opportunities for exposition.

DT: Yes. Like I said before, it is all very 'talky'. But there are some striking visuals there too, of course. Theatre needs strong imagery and V, if you get him right, provides that with his mask and the way he talks and the way he moves.

MB: Just before we finish, it's probably worth mentioning that Halo Jones is coming back to the Lass and that there will be a V for Vendetta and Ballad of Halo Jones double-bill.

DT: Yes. It will be both plays on the same day with a two-hour break so people can grab a bite to eat and mingle.

Photo: Laura Evans
Photo: Laura Evans
MB: That seems as good a place as any to end this short chat. Thanks for your time, Dan, during what I know is a fairly frantic rehearsal period as you gear up for your first show.

DT: No worries. Thank you.

V for Vendetta at the LassFest features V, played by Daniel Thackeray; Evey Hammond - Sinead Parker; Creedy - Brian Gorman; Finch - Marlon Solomon; Stone - Michael Whittaker; Dr. Surridge - Carly Tarret; Lewis Prothero - Jeremy Smith; and Bishop Lilliman - Stuart Hudson.

• All photos by Laura Evans

• For more on V for Vendetta and Lassfest, please go to http://lassfest.co.uk/?p=750





Phoenix launches digital edition on first birthday

The Phoenx app screenshot
If you haven't sampled The Phoenix - the lively weekly childrens comic aimed at 8-12 year olds that sprang from the ashes of The DFC - then those of you who have or were given shiny iPads for Christmas are being offered the chance to do so as the title launches its digital edition - backed by an unbeatable launch subscription offer of just £9.99 for six months, for this coming week only.

Despite huge acclaim, a great creator line up and an attractive print subscription package (albeit, we're told, some initial glitches for some), The Phoenix, like The DFC, has suffered from a lack of presence on the shelves of your local newsagents or supermarket. It's currently to be found in Waitrose, but for a lot of the country that supermarket chain is still nowhere to be seen, so sampling The Phoenix before committing to a subscription has not been possible.

The launch of the digital edition changes all that, offering not only a great-looking comic app available worldwide, courtesy of downthetubes sponsors Panel Nine but a sampler issue as an appetiser - and a staggeringly cheap, one week only six month subscription offer.

It's an offer that has proven an instant success, with the app currently the top-grossing Children's Magazine in Apple's Newsstand, beating out CBeebies, Doctor Who, Pokemon and Barbie.

The comic reader not only enables a page per view option but also features an impressive 'Panel Mode' feature that presents each strip panel one at a time with a simple 'double tap' command. For those relucant comic readers, unsure even how to read a comic (sadly, a common affliction thanks to a decline in comics literacy), this helps them learn just how to digest a great strip before going on to enjoy The Phoenix at its full page best.

A fabulous mix of humour strips and adventure serials and carefully designed feature pages that put the boot firmly into many rivals offerings in terms of puzzles and interactivity, the launch issue of the digital Phoenix includes an impressive roster of talent.

Pride of place surely goes to the return of Pirates of Pangaea by Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron, plus Cora's Breakfast by Nick (Hugo Tate) Abadzis and plenty more, including Long Don Gone by Don Skelton and Star Cat by James Turner.

The app is the work of digital comics company Panel Nine, who have have created the digital Phoenix for Apple’s Newsstand for iPad service. It's a slick comic reader, with a good choice of font size and the aforementioned Panel Mode view (although I think I'd still like a pinch and zoom option, too, but you can't have everything).

Given that a single printed issue costs £2.99, the subscription launch offer is really good - but it ends very soon, so head over to the iTunes store now to take advantage!

Now all we need are digital back issues or print/digital collections of the best strips in the first 52 issues of this great comic!

• The six month, 24-issue subscription is going to be available for the first week only at the quite amazing price of £9.99 ($13.99) (that's something over 80% off). Go to https://itunes.apple.com/app/phoenix-weekly-story-comic/id583824799 to download!

The Phoenix official web site: www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk

 

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