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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Rough Cut Comics gets 'Utopian' promotion

Rose Black

Scottish comic publisher Rough Cut Comics made its TV debut in the new Channel Four thriller, Utopia.

Kudos TV, the company known for hit-series Life on Mars and Spooks, chose the company’s titles to be used in the drama which follows a group of people who uncover the manuscript for a cult graphic novel whose author has signed a deal with the devil.

The producers contacted Rough Cut Comics during the shooting to use their comics and books as backdrop material in the series, and publisher Ed Murphy, who has been running the label for 12 years, says he is overwhelmed by the coverage of his comic-book titles in the drama.

“Our first Rose Black book has been featured prominently in the trailers promoting the show on Channel Four over the last few weeks,” he notes.

“We feature in the opening scene with a character reading our Rose Black title. We’ve got posters in the background of the comic-book shop. I know our other titles feature throughout the series.

“It’s a great acknowledgement of all the hard-work the writers and artists have been putting in over the last few years," he adds. "I think we’ve built up a strong following and it’s great TV producers of this scale are aware of Rough Cut Comics.

“The adverts for the series have been screened in the cinemas and there was the Rose Black front cover six feet high on the screen. I’ve received calls from customers from all over the country congratulating us.

“It looks like ‘product placement’, but we haven’t paid a penny for this. I think the producers were ‘aware’ of us because they phoned us up at the beginning of the year and asked us for specific titles. When I heard it was Kudos, a company whose work I follow avidly, I was very excited to be part of it.”

The Rose Black books, a horror series which has “re-imagined” vampire mythology, are being re-released through Amazon on the back on the Channel Four screenings over the next six weeks.

The company is currently working with artists Dave Golding, Dave Alexander and Dom Regan on a new volume of Freedom Collective strips, which will be unveiled at the first Edinburgh Mart on 20th April.

Rough Cut Comics will also be making an appearance at The Big Glasgow Comic Mart being held in Bacchus, Glassford Street on 3rd February.

• You can find out more about Rough Cut Comics at www.roughcut-comics.com or on their Facebook page

Atomic Diner prep lauch of 'Noe the Savage Boy'

Atomic Diner will be hosting a launch of their new book Noe The Savage Boy #1 in Forbidden Planet Belfast on Saturday February 9th from 1.00 to 3.00pm.

On hand will be the title's creators - Rob Curley (plot) Malachy Coney (script) and Stephen Downey (art) - and copies of the comic on sale will feature a Forbidden Planet Belfast Exclusive Cover.

Noe’s story begins in the village of Baltimore, Cork in 1631 in which the entire community is kidnaped by Barbary pirates and brought to Africa as slaves. Noe’s faith lies in the hands a group of clandestine monks who help train him to become a true warrior and overcome is dark faith.

Noe The Savage Boy is Coney’s first work for Atomic Diner after a career in comics that featured work at Top Cow/Image Comics The Darkness book and titles at Harris Comics and Fantagraphics, among many others.

Atomic Diner was set up in 2004 by Robert Curley, primarily to produce and publish a line of cross genre titles from horror to detective and of course good time super heroes. The company is 100% independent and prides itself on good story telling from Ireland's top creators. Over the past six years they have helped launch the careers of artists such as Stephen Mooney, Declan Shalvey, Will Sliney, Stephen Thompson and Bob Byrne and are proud to continue this tradition by working with people such as Terry Kenny, Maura McHugh, Stephen Daly and Gareth Gowran.

• Atomic Diner web site: www.atomicdiner.com

Malachy Coney's Blog

Diggle and Jock signing 'Snapshot' at Forbidden Planet London

Writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock will be signing copies of the Forbidden Planet variant edition of their new comic published by Image, Snapshot, at 4.00pm on Saturday 9th February at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore.

Jake Dobson is your typical nerd; works at the Near-Mint Rhino comic-book store in San Francisco. But when he finds a lost cell phone, he's horrified to discover it's full of snapshots of a murder victim.

Suddenly he finds himself hunted by a vengeful hitman who wants his phone back. and Jake in a body bag! And then things start to get really complicated...

Andy Diggle and Jock have both worked separately for 2000AD, Marvel and DC but are best known for their collaborations - including Green Arrow: Year One and The Losers.

Please note that, due to time constraints, FP advise they may have to limit the number of items signed - and there may not be time for artist sketches.

The variant edition will be available at the signing - or by Mail Order.

More info here on the Forbidden Planet web site

 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Creator Spotlight: Oliver Passingham and 'Tobruk'

Over on Australian comics blog Pikitia Press, which occasionally diverges to cover British comics creators with some Antipodean connection, Matt Emery reports on an intriguing example of 1960s comics taking full advantage of popular mainstream media that might help boost sales.

In this case, it's the publication of a strip adapting the war film, Tobruk, in a Lion Summer Spectacular, drawn by Oliver Passingham, whose credits in a long career began with newspaper strips such as Lesley Shane, Rick Martin (working under a pseudonym, John Diamond), Jane Fortune and Sally Marsh during the 1950s.

Reprints of his Lesley Shane newspaper strips, by Amalgamated Press, which appear influenced by the work of Alex Raymond, led to work on Rick Random, School Friend and other Amalgamated titles.

Rubbing shoulders with comic and prose adaptions of films such as Batman, James Bond: You Only Live Twice and Thunderbirds, Passingham's Tobruk went through changes in production, revealed by close examination of the original art boards Matt has access to.

"The original board of the first page of Passingham's Tobruk is comprised of a photostat reproduction of the Tobruk movie poster as a header, a moody night scene depicted in inky washes, and two panels showing frogmen sabotaging a french freighter, depicted with ink line drawings and white paint highlights," he reveals.


"Upon examining the art-board I found Passingham had originally depicted the entire scene in washes... with the bottom two panels still visible under the pasted on replacement.

 

"My presumption for the redrawn panels is that Passingham may have been compelled by editorial to redraw the characters to resemble their movie counterparts," Matt feels. "He certainly nails the likeness of star George Peppard in the bottom panel close up. In those days of no video or internet reference Passingham did a fine job of capturing the scale of the movie and compressing it into the limits of a comic anthology."

You can view more art here on the Pikitia Press blog.

An example of Passingham's Lesley Shane strip, published in 1954 in, which was syndicated worldwide

 

Born in 1925, Oliver Passingham's credits include work with DC Thomson for over 33 years. In the 1970s he began to travel the world, living in the Canaries, on the French Riviera, Monte Carlo and a year in Sydney, Australia during 1980, eventually returning to London in 1990, retiring in 1993. He died in 2003.

His work has been the subject of exhibitions, including one at Arundel in 2009.

Pikitia Press - English Comic Diversions

More about Lesley Shane on Yesterday's Papers

 

First Edinburgh Toy and Comic Mart announced


The first ever Toy & Comic Mart in Edinburgh will take place on Saturday 20th April, organised by Hero Conventions and local retailer Heroes & Idols.

Running from 11.00am - 4.00pm, the free event will take place at the RAF Club, 11 Hillside Crescent, London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5EA - only a few minutes walk from McDonald Road Library where the Edinburgh Oxfam Comic Events used to take place.

The local indie press, including Black Hearted Press, will have tables along with the usual mix of specialist traders and special attractions include a prize raffle, freebies and guest talks (limited numbers). The organisers will be announcing the guest line up at a later date.

More info: http://www.facebook.com/hero.edinburgh or email: Enquiries@heroconventions.com

Radio interview with Steve Bissette

Panel Borders: Creating Constantine

Continuing our month of shows about the 25th anniversary of John Constantine: Hellblazer, Alex Fitch discusses the first appearances of the character with co-creator Steve Bissette. Alex and Steve discuss the artist's tenure as penciller on the acclaimed horror comic Swamp Thing, drawing (the as yet unnamed) Constantine in the background of scenes before Alan Moore gave the character a voice, and Steve's continuing fascination with the monster genre.

6pm, Sunday 20th January 2013 / repeated at 4.30pm, Tuesday 22nd January, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / extended podcast after broadcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com

British Science Festival gets set to publish science comic

Science includes the study of epic themes. Themes so epic they go beyond research journals and textbooks. You know, the sort of epic themes that leap off the pages of comic books into the hearts and minds of children.

The beauty of epic themes is that you can take them as seriously as you like. Some particularly awesome epic themes are robots, explosions and danger, dinosaurs, space, time and travel, very big things and very small things, things we can eat and things that can eat us (and other stuff to do with the human body), codes, ciphers and hidden messages, heroes and villains -- and matters of life and death.
    Celebrating those epic themes, a team of comic creators - Lydia Wysocki, Paul Thompson, Brittany Coxon, Michael Duckett and Michael Thompson - are working with Newcastle University to produce a science comic book as part of the British Science Festival in September 2013 in Newcastle.

    They’re planning to print about 8000 copies of the full colour comic and will make a more detailed brief available in due course.

    Here’s an expression of interest form if you’d like to know a little more and their blog is here and you can find them on Twitter @NCLScienceComic - or email the team at newcastlesciencecomic@gmail.com

    Web: http://newcastlesciencecomic.blogspot.co.uk

    Thursday, 17 January 2013

    Brits invade BackIssue magazine

    BackIssue #63

    The April 2013 editin of TwoMorrow Publishing's BACK ISSUE (#63) watches the USA’s and UK’s comics worlds cross over in our “British Invasion” issue.

    Featuring a history of Marvel UK by Rob Kirby, the Beatles in comics, DC’s British talent pool of the 1980s, V for Vendetta, Excalibur, Marshal Law, Doctor Who and a “Pro2Pro” interview with Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy, it showcases the talents of many great talents. These nclude Brian Bolland, Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons, David Lloyd, Alan Moore, Dez Skinn and others.

    With loads of art originally produced for the UK market the issue comes with a Mighty Marvel in London cover by Ron Wilson and Dave Hunt, showcasing art from Marvel UK’s rare 1970s “Quadra-Poster” as a deluxe 25-inch long fold-out triptych cover.

    Rob Kiby's feature is part of a book about Marvel UK he's been compiling for some two decades now. "I'm thrilled to have been given an opportunity to share a tiny portion of my work with a larger audience for the first time,'" he says. "They've done an outstanding job on the feature, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing all the other British-related goodies they've come up with."

    • There's more info here on the TwoMorrows website. Diamond Comic Distributors Order Code: DEC121348

     

    New festival to celebrate comic art launched in Lake District

    Lakes International Comic Art Festival
    A new festival which aims to match the vibrancy of France's annual Angouleme event was launched last night, to celebrate the very best comic art from across the world, from cartoon strips to superhero comics and manga to non-fiction graphic novels.

    The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will run from 18-20th October 2013 in Kendal, Cumbria.

    The founder patrons of the new festival include Bryan and Mary Talbot who won the biography category in the Costa Book Awards earlier this month. They are joined by another internationally renowned comic artist Sean Phillips.

    And, while the Festival organisers are keeping tight-lipped about their guest line-up, at a special event at the Brewery Arts Centre attended by local comic creators, arts organisers, press and councillors, Bryan revealed Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell and Posy Simmonds are signed aboard.

    The full guest list will be revealed over the next few months, with top comic archivist and promoter Paul Gravett also on board and lending his support. The organisers, who have been attending numerous comics events around the country over the past few months and are planning the Festival as something long term, have already gained support in kind from designers, PR experts and local business, and had meetings with publishers in an effort to attract their support.

    The launch of the new festival comes at a time when there is a growing buzz about comic art. Graphic novels have been taken increasingly seriously over the last 20 years.

    Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, written by Mary Talbot and illustrated by husband Bryan, was the first graphic novel to win the biography category in the Costa Awards. The Chair of the 2013 Man Booker Prize has also encouraged entries by authors of graphic novels.

    Bryan Talbot’s work also includes Batman, Judge Dredd, Alice in Sunderland and his Grandville series of detective thrillers. He also wrote and drew A Tale of One Bad Rat, which is partially set in the Lake District, a haunting tale homaging the work of Beatrix Potter.
    Bryan Talbot
    Bryan Talbot at the Festival launch
    “The UK is one of the only countries in Europe that doesn't have an international comic festival, celebrating the whole range of this versatile and exciting medium," he says. "This is the golden age of graphic novels, with more, and better, comic art being produced today than ever before.

    "The Lakes International Comic Art festival is therefore a concept whose time has come."
    Giving a brief overview of British and US comics history, and enthusing about the achievements of European comic festivals such as Angouleme, Bryan clearly has high hopes for this new Festival, supported by his wife.

    “The medium of comics, or sequential art, is as valid an art form as any other and is capable of dealing with any subject and any genre in its own unique way, a way that is direct and accessible," he feels. "The best graphic novels are comparable to the best in prose, film or drama.”

    The festival will include events where people will be able hear from some of the biggest names in comic art, panel discussions, films, exhibitions and workshops. Authors and artists will also be signing copies of their work and there will be a marketplace to buy comics and comic art.

    Sean Phillips, who lives in Cumbria, has also worked as an artist on comics such as Batman and Hellblazer, and more recently on crime genre comics Criminal and Fatale.
    “It's great to be involved with any festival that is interested in promoting the vast range of comics out there," he says.

    “Comics is a medium, not a genre. It's not just superheroes and the Beano, and this festival is a good chance to see that there are comics for everyone, no matter what their interests are. Comics can be used to tell any type of story in any genre, and that should be celebrated.”
    Julie Tait
    Festival organiser Julie Tait outlines plans for the event
    The festival is the brainchild of Julie Tait and her 14-year-old comic fan son Finn, who live in Kendal.

    "The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will celebrate this exciting and vibrant art form, which is gaining a growing number of fans of all ages," says Julie. "For me, the fusion of great art and great writing is dynamite. It makes it a very exciting, inspiring and challenging art form to be promoting, celebrating and encouraging."

    The event's founders have looked to the comic art festivals held on the continent for inspiration, including Europe’s largest celebration of the art form at Angouleme in France, which takes place later this month.

    "In countries like France there's a real appreciation of comics as an art form and our aim is to create something of the atmosphere at comic art festivals like the one in Angouleme," Julie enthuses. "There will be plenty for the real enthusiasts but we also hope it will help to introduce a new audience to comic art."

    Julie also runs the team behind the Lakes Alive outdoor arts festival. Speaking about her latest venture she says: "There's a real enthusiasm in the Lake District and across Cumbria for new, contemporary cultural events. We believe this new festival will provide something that is inspiring, exciting and creative for local people to enjoy, as well as bringing in audiences from outside the area."

    The new festival will take place at a number of venues across Kendal, including the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal College and the Town Hall and will be created and presented by Lakes Arts Festivals Ltd, a not-for-profit company.

    • More details about the new event will be available at www.comicartfestival.com shortly. It is also possible to keep up to date with plans for the festival by following @comicartfest on Twitter or by liking the Lakes International Comic Art Festival Facebook page.

    Wednesday, 16 January 2013

    Hunt Emerson, Paul Rainey in latest Self Publisher Magazine

    Self Publisher! Magazine #61 might be a US-based digital title but with the huge number of British creators doing their own thing it's no wonder quite a few feature in the free downloadable magazine.

    British talents interviewed this issue are Hunt Emerson, Paul Rainey and Tim Perkins, rubbing shoulders with a cover feature on Marvin Wynn's The Edge and an interview with Sneak Peek of Call Me Perilous #1

    Regular articles include the Small Press Hall of Fame and more, a "Last Word" from comic creator Jay Savage, all in a full colour, 48-page magazine.

    • Grab a copy right now at: http://www.selfpubmag.com/downloads/entry/free-downloads/self-publisher/self-publisher_7.htm

     

    Hard Case Cunningham!


    Comics have always been a source of imagery for use in other medium - but suitcases? That's a new one on me. Ace creator Darryl Cunningham (of Psychiatric Tales fame etc) was commissioned to create some eye-catching designs for a range of suitcases for major maker Samsonite, and here's the result.

    They aren't available in the UK yet, but you can buy the full set from amazon.com for a tad over $500. (We have tried to contact Samsonite's UK PR agency for info, but no reply as yet).

    Speaking as someone who wants to make their suitcase stand out on airport carousels, definitely something to be considered.

    Manga Studies: From Architecture to Female Otaku

    The London Asia Pacific Cultural Studies Forum is organizing a free session at London's Birbeck College on 28th January 2013, devoted to Manga Studies with researchers and professionals visiting from Japan.

    The global circulation of manga has attracted increased attention and Manga Studies has now developed as an international, multidisciplinary field that attracts researchers from a wide area of study from the visual arts to the social sciences. This session is expected to be a multidisciplinary event that invites scholars from a range of fields to observe the diversity of manga consumption as popular culture, worldwide.

    The speakers are Dr Ryuichi Tanigawa, an Assistant Professor at the Center for Integrated Area Studies at Kyoto University who specializes in Modern Asian Architectural and Urban History, Architectural Theory; Dr Chie Yamanaka, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Human Studies, Jin-ai University who specializes in Sociology, Manga Comics Studies, and Korean Studies; Mr Yu Ito, a Researcher/ curator of Kyoto Seika University International Manga Research Center, Kyoto International Manga Museum. He has organized many manga exhibitions and workshops over the past years. He specializes in Manga Comics Studies and Folklore.

    Also at the event are Dr Sonoko Azuma, an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University who specializes in Sociology of Culture and Gender Studies; Mr Simon Turner, a Ph.D student at Birkbeck College, University of London whose main research interest lies in the field of Japanese Cultural Studies and New Media Studies; Dr Shinji Oyama, a Sasakawa Research and Teaching Associate in Japanese Creative Industries Studies head of Japanese cultural studies at Department of Media and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck College; and Dr Mariko Murata, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Sociology, Kansai University, Japan. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at Birkbeck.


    The event has been co-organized by the Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practice (Birkbeck, University of London) and LAPCSF, supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research 2012 (Challenging Exploratory Research, Ryuichi Tanigawa, Grant No.24656343) MEXT, Japan.

    Here's the full program.

    Manga Studies: From Architecture to Female Otaku

    Speakers: Dr. Ryuichi Tanigawa, Dr. Chie Yamanaka, Mr. Yu Ito, and Dr. Sonoko Azuma
    Discussant: Mr. Simon Turner
    Chair: Dr. Mariko Murata

    Program

    18:00-18:10 A Welcome from the Organizers (Dr Shinji Oyama and Dr. Mariko Murata)

    18:10-18:30 Manga, Architecture, and Cities: Interpreting Space in JOJO's Bizarre Adventure (Dr. Ryuichi Tanigawa)

    18:30-18:50 The Reception of Manga in the Republic of Korea: A Case Study on NARUTO (Dr. Chie Yamanaka)

    18:50-19:10 Barefoot Gen in Japan: War and Boys’ Comics (Mr. Yu Ito)

    Short break

    19:20-19:40 How to Enjoy 'Yaoi' Texts: Manga Consumption of Female Otaku in Japan (Dr. Sonoko Azuma)

    19:40-20:10 Discussion (Discussant: Mr. Simon Turner)

    • Starting at 6.00pm, the talks will be in English and the discussion will be interpreted. Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required. You can book here: http://mangastudies.eventbrite.co.uk

    New Year, New Commandos! Quick, march to your newsagent


    Here's the first batch of DC Thomson's Commando comics for 2013 - and there's a fine selection on offer...

    Commando No 4567 - Collision Course
    Story: Alan Hebden Art: Keith Page Cover: Keith Page

    So how did Flight Lieutenant Kerrie Matheson, in his unarmed DH 86 transport, end up hurtling straight towards an enemy Bloch 220 Auvergne aircraft?

    Well, it had all started off as a routine secondment from his posting at Coastal Command. He became part of a mission to build a long distance air bridge, ferrying Allied planes from French-held Africa to Egypt.

    Then his routine flying duties took a deadly turn - with mystery, espionage and murder setting him on a... Collision Course.


    Commando No 4568 - Eighty-Eight!
    Story: Alan Hebden Art: Jaume Forns Cover: Ian Kennedy

    It's not every day you see a German 88mm gun being operated by a group of “Fighting Kiwis” - New Zealanders from a British and Commonwealth Expeditionary Force battling in Greece, determined to hold back the German onslaught.

    But this was not an everyday story.

    Thanks to a bungling SS officer, the Kiwis were able to help themselves to the enemy artillery's pride and joy. Having been relentlessly pounded by the very same guns, they decided to give the Jerries a taste of their own medicine!


    Commando No 4569 - Beach-Head!
    Originally Commando No 54 (January 1963)
    Story: Parsons Art: Gordon Livingstone Cover: Ken Barr

    Johnny Malloy was a little guy - five foot zero or thereabouts, but he wore the coveted Commando flash on his shoulders.

    He seemed lazy, good-for-nothing, a coward - yet every man in his platoon was ready to die for him when it came to the bit.

    Who was he then - this odd little Commando? Just about the most important guy in the British army, that's all!

    "All the ingredients for a classic Commando story are here," enthuses Calum Laird, editor. "a dicey but vital mission, a group of soldiers who don't trust a comrade…and Gordon Livingstone's inimitable artwork. I say inimitable with confidence as many have tried and none has succeeded.

    "Flipping open the Ken Barr cover in 1963, you'd be met with a script and art which neatly capture all the fine details of service life, thanks to a generation that lived through a world war and National Service. There's a priceless authenticity about this. And you can have it for only £1.50. What a bargain"


    Commando 4570 - Arctic Victory
    Originally Commando No 2177 (April 1988)
    Story: David Heptonstall Art: Terry Patrick Cover: Ian Kennedy

    After a few weeks in a certain squadron of the RAF Regiment, Phil Adamson was beginning to wonder if this unit really was just for the defence of airfields. What with unarmed combat instruction, learning about explosives and a mock-raid on a local flying school, it was more like training for a crack Commando squad.

    He didn't know how right he was!

    "Although it first appeared in the Spring of 1988, it somehow seems fitting to republish author David Heptonstall's icy tale in mid-January," says Deputy Editor Scott Montomery, "when the chill of winter still in the air.

    "Artist Terry Patrick's rendering of Arctic Scandinavia - especially on pages 26 and 27 - is very effective and, as always, cover legend Ian Kennedy does Commando proud.

    "The story seemingly starts as an air yarn but then changes gear, morphing into a 'men-on-a-mission' adventure with a hint of espionage. It's a little bit different."

    COMMANDO SUBSCRIPTION OFFER

    downthetubes ispleased to offer an exclusive discount on a subscription to DC Thomson's Commando comic, entitling readers to save 50% by ordering using our special discount code!

    Follow this link to DC Thomson's subscription page.

    When prompted, enter this unique code COMDT - then make your payment and your subscription will be up and running. The price quoted offers a 50% discount for three months at £12.50. That’s £68.50 off the shop price.

    Please note, although the offer is not restricted to UK delivery (you need a UK bank account), the price increases for overseas delivery although the offer of 50% discount for three months is the same.

    *Saving based on discounted Direct Debit price compared with shop price. First quarterly payment discounted by 50% at £12.50 and £25 per quarter thereafter. UK bank accounts only. One year discounted subscription rate of £99.

    Tuesday, 15 January 2013

    In Memoriam: Charles Chilton (1917–2013)


    An obituary by Steve Winders

    Charles Chilton, who died on January 2nd, was one of British radio’s most innovative and successful contributors. Born in London during the First World War, Charles’ father died in action, without ever meeting his son and his mother died suddenly when he was just six years old. Charles was brought up by his paternal grandmother as a member of a large extended family of eight people sharing just three rooms – one of which was condemned as uninhabitable! On leaving school, he briefly worked as an apprentice, making electric signs, before being taken on by the BBC, where he first worked as a messenger boy and then as an assistant in the Gramophone Library. Later he became a gramophone programme compiler and producer and along with Leslie Perowne, he promoted jazz in Britain through programmes in the late thirties such as ‘Swingtime’ and ‘Kings of Jazz’. Although he began to present programmes himself, he was temporarily stopped because of his London accent!

    Called up for military service in the Second World War, Charles trained as a wireless operator and spent much of the war training other wireless operators. In 1945, his previous experience and talents were better utilised when he returned to radio, working for Radio S.E.A.C. (South East Asia Command) in Ceylon. Here he worked alongside David Jacobs, who would later become a member of the cast of his most successful radio programme, Journey into Space. With the end of the War, Charles returned to the BBC and in 1947, married Penny, a secretary at the BBC, whom he had courted since 1940. Their marriage would last 65 years and Penny would make a significant contribution to his successful career, by carrying out research for his programmes.

    After producing a number of music based programmes, Charles created a new series in 1949 which combined music and drama. This was the acclaimed western serial Riders of the Range, based on actual events in the history of the American west, and which Charles both wrote and produced. It ran to six stories over five years and led to Charles being asked to write a strip version of the programme for the popular boys’ weekly, Eagle. The strip was a great success and outlived the radio version by nine years. Charles set up a long partnership with the artist Frank Humphris and they produced many memorable stories, maintaining the highest standards right to the end.

    He also wrote several historical books about the American west. Most notable of these was his 1961 work, The Book of the West. This won him The Western Heritage Award for Juvenile Books, in 1963, after it was published in the United States.

    On the radio, Riders of the Range was followed by Journey into Space, a science fiction drama, which proved a massive ratings winner, famously being the last radio programme to beat the television audience. Three serials, broadcast between 1953 and 1956, told the exciting stories of Captain Jet Morgan’s expeditions to the Moon and Mars. Charles adapted the serials into novels and this series too, found its way into a comic strip, in TV Express.

    He also produced three episodes of the third series of the famous Goon Show in 1952, returning to produce 15 episodes of the eighth series in 1958-59 and eight episodes of the Vintage Goons series, but in his later career he is best remembered for his musical documentaries, in which he explored historical events through the music of the time. Among these are The Blue and the Gray, about the American Civil War, Marching to Glory, about the Salvation Army, How the West was Won and The Long, Long Road, about the First World War. The Long, Long Road was adapted into the stage musical Oh What a Lovely War! in 1963 as a result of Charles’ collaboration with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop. It was made into a film in 1969 and is regularly revived on the stage.

    Charles was awarded the M.B.E. for services to broadcasting in 1976 and retired from the BBC staff the following year, but he continued to work as a writer, with his play The Return from Mars, broadcast on radio in 1981, revisiting Jet Morgan and his Journey into Space crew. In 1984 he wrote a six part radio science fiction serial called Space Force, which had originally been intended to be a new Journey into Space serial, but was changed late in its development to be about a new crew. A second Space Force serial followed in 1985.

    After recordings of Journey into Space were found in BBC archives in 1986, the serials were repeated on BBC Radio Two and gained a new audience. They have been regularly repeated since.

    In 2008, at the age of 91, Charles wrote another new Journey into Space play in collaboration with his son David, and he was involved in a further play about Jet Morgan and his team in 2009, although this play was written by Julian Simpson. In a busy retirement, Charles acted as a guide on London Walks for many years.

    I first met him in 1980 at a convention in London to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Eagle. Here he formed a double act with Frank Humphris and they performed an extract from their Riders of the Range story The Arizona Kid. He was a natural storyteller and communicator. In 2010, he finally produced an autobiography Auntie’s Charlie, published by Fantom Films, an informative, amusing and sometimes poignant account of his life and work.

    I wrote to Charles on several occasions over the years and always received friendly and detailed replies. My last communication was just a few months ago, regarding an article I was writing about Paul Carpenter, the actor who played Jeff Arnold in Riders of the Range on the radio. Charles was most helpful and even checked my piece for accuracy when I had completed it.

    Charles’ work has entertained and educated millions of readers and listeners over the years. With Penny’s help, he always fully researched his documentary programmes to ensure accuracy and this meticulous desire for truth extended to his fictional work, enhancing both Riders of the Range and Journey into Space. He will be sadly missed.

    • Charles Chilton, born 15th June 1917, died Wednesday 2nd January 2013, survived by wife Penny, children Anthony, Mary and David and 10 grandchildren.

    Further Obituaries

    Bear Alley

    British Interplanetary Society

    Camden New Journal

    The Daily Telegraph

    Eagle Times

    The Guardian

    The Independent

    Starburst

    The Times (subscription required)

    The Washington Post

    Web Links

    More about Auntie's Charlie on the Fantom Films web site, including a preview of Chapter 1

    Ham & High: Radio legend Charles Chilton dies, aged 95

    Roger Howe's interview with Charles Chilton, conducted when he was 92

    • Charles Chilton deposited his personal tape archive at the British Library in 2005, where it remains a jewel of the radio collections. Article here on the Sound Recordings blog

    It's Tank Girl versus Tank Girl for new Titan mini series


    Titan Comics has announced announce the launch of Solid State Tank Girl, a brand-new four-part series by creator Alan Martin and stellar new artist, Warwick Johnson Cadwell.

    Originally created by Martin and one half of the critically-acclaimed virtual band Gorillaz, Jamie Hewlett, Tank Girl remains one of the greatest counter-culture comics anti-heroines, driving her attitude-laden tank straight into the face of bland, spandex-wearing simpletons!

    Hitting stores on 15th May 2013, Solid State Tank Girl sees the post-modern princess of punk return to face her nastiest nemesis: ANTI-TANK GIRL!

    Tank Girl, Jet Girl, Booga and Barney are back and on a mission to save their favourite little radio store. Things are going according to plan, too, but somewhere along the line Booga manages to electronically summon the gang’s evil counterparts, fronted by the darkest bitch on the planet – ANTI-TANK GIRL! The fight is to the death, as each gang member draws on their deepest, most screwed-up powers to eliminate their own personal nemesis. Things are about to get very dark, very bloody… and very stupid!

    The new series has Martin teaming up with Warwick Johnson Cadwell, whose previous credits include Birdsong, New British ComicsSolipsistic Pop and West comic anthologies.

    We're told Cadwell was forced to hand-wash 86 pairs of Tank Girl's soiled underpants, scour Jet-Girl's air-intake and lick Booga's salty bollocks while dressed as a Glaswegian nun before he was even allowed to submit his art samples. Imagine what he had to do in order to gain Alan Martin's approval and become the new official Tank Girl artist! (We'll give you a hint: it involved a plunger, an oxygen tank, seven mini-tubs of quick-drying hair-gel, the cogs of an antique watch, the spleen of a goat, and four kilos of body-chocolate).

    “The new Titan Comics imprint is all about taking a chance on new creators and new talent," says Steve White, Senior Comics Editor, "and pairing Warwick’s street-art energy to Alan’s potty-mouthed imagination has refreshed Tank Girl once again. The results are blindingly good!”

    • Solid State Tank Girl #1 hits comic stores on 15th May 2013. The series will also be available to read day and date on the iPad, iPhone, Web, Android and Kindle Fire, exclusively through the comiXology app and comiXology.com. Retailers can order Solid State Tank Girl #1 from the February 2013 edition of Diamond PREVIEWS.

    • Titan Comics web site: www.titan-comics.com

    Monday, 14 January 2013

    New British comic fanzine, Atomic Comic, launches




    The first issue of a new fanzine about British comics, Atomic Comic, has been launched, and is available now for free as a digital download.

    The 36 page issue, the work of Harry Rickard and George Shiers, includes an interview with creators Andy Fanton
    and Will Dawbarn, part one of a brief history of comics, a look at the
    first appearance of Dennis the Menace's first regular pet, Gnasher and a whole lot more!

    You can read the fanzine here on the Issu portal, without spending a single penny!
    • Atomic Comic blog: http://theatomiccomic.wordpress.com
    Atomic Comic on Facebook
    Atomic Comic on Twitter

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