downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...
The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013, but we're glad you're here, because that's currently undergoing some under the bonnet refurb! So we've brought this blog back from the dead to tide us over.
We expect to be back up and running next week, just before the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival - see you there?
Hop over to www.downthetubes.net for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!
Saturday, 26 January 2013
Eleven classic novels, one for each Doctor – are being released, repackaged with new introductions, and guests include former Doctor Who Magazine editor and comics writer Gary Russell and comics writer Dan Abnett.
PLAYERS (TERRANCE DICKS) Arriving on the sun-baked veldt in the middle of the Boer War, the Sixth Doctor is soon involved in the adventures of struggling politician and war correspondent Winston Churchill. Of course, he knows Churchill is destined for great things, but unseen forces seem to be interfering with Winston's historic career. The Doctor suspects the hidden hand of the Players, mysterious beings who regard human history as little more than a game. With time running out, can the Doctor find the right moves to defeat them?
REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS (BEN AARONOVITCH) With unfinished business to attend to, the Seventh Doctor returns to where it all began: Coal Hill School in London in 1963. Last time he was here, the Doctor left something behind - a powerful Time Lord artefact that could unlock the secrets of time travel. Can the Doctor retrieve it before two rival factions of Daleks track it down? And even if he can, how will the Doctor prevent the whole of London becoming a war zone as the Daleks meet in explosive confrontation?
BEAUTIFUL CHAOS (GARY RUSSELL) Wilfred Mott is very happy: his granddaughter, Donna, is back home, catching up with family and gossiping about her journeys, and he has just discovered a new star and had it named after him. He takes the Tenth Doctor with him to the naming ceremony. But the Doctor soon discovers something else new, and worryingly bright, in the heavens - something that is heading for Earth. It's an ancient force from the Dark Times. And it is very, very angry.
• Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Signing Saturday 9th March 2013 1.00 - 2.00pm Forbidden Planet London Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR. More information here on the Forbidden Planet web site
Friday, 25 January 2013
Released in time for last year's Thought Bubble, Paul Scott of Omnivistascope fame put together a US comic-sized collection of the strips he's done with artist Paul McCaffrey, under the title The Last Days Of Man.
Since the release, Paul tells us the collection has garnered plenty of praise - no surprize give Paul's past awards for projects such as the humour title Solar Wind and his other works such as Midlam Miniatures.
Reconstructed through genetic and data records, just over three million years in the future, the two Pauls have worked on recreating some of Professor Brabblepap’s most important work for the University of Flobobobapple on that most enigmatic and pervasive extinct species, the human race.
Join us them a journey through the great hives of Earth, where the curious descendants of the human race still live. Visit the distant asteroid base of Professor Milius, where the last great human experiment is about to reach its conclusion. Tune in to the exclusive Thoughcast™ from Kesney Towers as the inventor of Bodyclock™ runs out of time. And in deep space, the transmitted shadow of a long dead race threatens the entire galaxy.
Included in the comic is all of their work from across five issues of the critically acclaimed science fiction comic, Omnivistascope, with four stories, re-mastered and presented in a new 36 page US format comic book.
• The Last Days of Man is on sale online for just £3 at: www.midlamminiatures.co.uk/books/LDoM.html
With a cover by Patrick J. Jones, the title comprises a selection of ace science fiction art also featured in my 2010 book, Sci-Fi Art Now and some other art specially selected for this project, too - 30 gorgeous SF-inspired postcards in total.
British artists featured are: Rian Hughes, Stuart Jennett, Paul McCaffrey, Steve Sampson, Smuzz (who I'm working with on the Crucible comic) and Dave Taylor.
Other artists work in the book are: Larry Blamire, Matt Gaser, Aaron Jasinski, Patrick J. Jones, Michael Kaluta & Lee Moyer, Tom Kelly, Yigit Koroglu, John Malcolm, Sergey Musin, Nemons, 2012 Hugo and Chelsey Award-winning John Picacio, Neil Roberts, Jon Sullivan, and Oliver Wetter.
The book looks great and joins a number of similar titles from ILEX, more information here in an earlier post.
Thanks to all involved - the creators and the ILEX production team, headed up by Tim Pilcher.
As we enter Doctor Who's 50th anniversary year, I'm ready for my close-up investigates a radio drama series tangentally connected to the franchise. The Scarifyers is a horror / black comedy series, with new installments broadcast each year on BBC Radio 4 Extra (formerly BBC 7) and released on CD and concern the adventures of an elderly horror writer and his retired police sidekick as they investigate supernatural crimes and occurances in 1950s Britain. The cast includes Terry Molloy (Doctor Who's Davros), Nicholas Courtney (Doctor Who's Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and David Warner (Time Bandits et al.) with supporting cast including actors famous for roles in Doctor Who and other Sci-Fi dramas such as Gabriel Woolf, Philip Madoc, Gareth David-Lloyd and Brian Blessed.
Alex Fitch talks to series writer and producer Simon Barnard and CD cover artist Garen Ewing about the genre crossing narrative, their love of old SF and horror and the use of iconic actors in new serialised roles.
5pm, Friday 25th January 2013, repeated 8am, Tuesday 29th January, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com
In the third of our trilogy of shows looking at the 25th anniversary of John Constantine: Hellblazer, Alex Fitch talks to creators of the comic book from opposite ends of the UK. Scots novelist and playwright Denise Mina discusses her year long tenure as writer of the title from 2006-07 and remembers the challenges of penning her first comic book scripts; Brighton based artist Warren Pleece talks about pencilling and inking 9 issues of the comic in 1997 and '98, plus collaborating with Philip Bond for SF spin-off Bad Blood at the turn of the century.
6pm, Sunday 27th January, repeated at 4.30pm, Tuesday 29th January, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / extended podcast after broadcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com
Thursday, 24 January 2013
Killer B*****s of the Zombie Holocaust - described as a completely new twist and vision on the popular zombie genre - is a road trip following Laura and Sarah as they battle through a game controlled by a group of people inside 'The Dome'.
Contestants have to battle through a city to find a suitcase that has two tickets out, and will gain you entry into the 'The Dome'.
"Who the people are within 'the Dome' is unknown and the technology they have is different to anything we have seen before, all we do know is that the winning contestants are to be used for a war that is starting," says Dean.
Inspired by the likes of Planet Terror, Battle Royal, Lost and even the game Mass Effect, Killer B*****s of the Zombie Holocaust is a story about two incredible girls and their fight for survival in a game unlike anything else and a truth that is as unique as the title of the series.
In episode one, we get to meet the protagonists Laura Woodford and Sarah Coombes - two girls amongst 100 people, chosen to fight in a game created by ‘The Dome’.
"This new series is all about secrets and who’s who," says Dean. "The first episode shows us how strong the girls become at the end of the game and also how the game begins, using flash-backs and flash-forwards. All the unanswered questions that come with this, will be revealed as the story progresses."
This series will interact with the reader like no comic has before, the creators claim. The girls have a Twitter account, where photos taken during their battle will be uploaded. Plus there will also be opportunities for readers to actually star in the comic - and in this issue a character called ‘John Parrish’ is in fact a fan on Facebook who won a competition and is now a fully-fledged member of ‘The Dome’.
Dean grew up reading 2000AD and Tank Girl, but has largely worked in film and TV production, with credits that include an award winning short and a feature film that has now landed him a producer role with Burn Hand Film on their latest film, being shot April 2013.
"It was during college though, that the real magic happened," says Dean of the origins of Killer b*****s of the Zombie Holocaust. "I wrote a small script for a friend called John Day, so he could test his skills on Adobe after effects. I talked my girlfriend and her friend into taking part, and we went to a forest and filmed them - this sounds dodgy as I write it, but stay with me! - and when we left the forest we had some amazing footage of two girls and some serious zombie deaths. So we put the film together (well kinda, was all made in 24 hours flat) and alive came the Killer B*****s!
"With that, I then got carried away and wrote this giant script, I sat back started to read it and all I could see in my mind was comic panels. I was at the time working on a graphic novel called Eri but I knew everything had to stop for the Killers! So I searched for some new artists and came back with a guy from Mexico, a guy from Wales and a girl from New York and 1 year later? Here we go!"
"It's been a long time coming," Mark Beer adds. There have been many changes over the last few months - and all for the better!
"Partnering with Hound Comics has been a win win situation for us," he says. "The company has allowed us the time to bring you the best we can for the coming year. We are in good company, passionate people who are proactive in wanting to bring their A-game."
Ever since reading his first Superman comic, Mark was destined to follow his passion for comics. Graduating from University after studying illustration he started his freelance career that took his work into many different directions and interests. Working in 3D sculpt for conceptual work, traditional paint, digital paint and comic pencils Mark has kept busy pursuing his dream of working in the comic industry.
His work has been featured in several publications including Imagine FX, SciFi Art Now (compiled by downthetubes John Freeman), on ign.com and the Zombook. As a freelancer Mark has worked on upcoming film projects including The legend of Oakswamp and the mysteries of Ironwood, Facility 31 and The Unseen from Director Tim Bui.
Creating art for various projects between commissions he has created album artwork for heavy metal group Obzidian's "Damned eternal" and has worked with a natural history publication company on Dinosaur posters, where he worked closely with paleontologists at Oxford and Cardiff museums in the UK.
In addition to his work as the shader and colourist for Killer B*****s , he's keeping busy with other pencil and cover work and is also busy creating tie-in statues and busts for the title's release.
• You can purchase a physical copy here on amazon.com here
• Digital copies are available in many places too, including Amusedom
• More about the title on the Hound Comics web site
• View a preview on the Hound Comics web site
• The comics official web site will go live next nonth - bookmark http://kbofthezh.com
The judging panel for this year's Manga Jiman competition has selected the manga below as the winning entries for this year - and manga fans have a chance to be at the invitation-only awards ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in London next month.
This year, the Embassy is holding a competition for a limited number of its web site visitors to attend this exclusive event. For a chance to win, e-mail your full name, the name of the organisation you represent and your position to email@example.com with "Webmagazine" as the subject.
Winnerss will be notified by e-mail no later than 31 January 2013.
Entries are listed in alphabetical order by title and the exact position of each entrant will be announced at the ceremony.
A Comic Book
Ganbare, My Son
I Love You
Sara Ferreira and Gisela Martins
Susan and Steven Cook
Saying and Doing
Dean McKnight and Jade Sarson
The Boy Who Flew
Kieran Blue Walton
The Lady In White
All of the above entries will be displayed at a special exhibition at the Embassy of Japan in the spring of 2013 and the website will be updated with the final positions once the announcement has been made.
More on Facebook for further news on Manga Jiman: https://www.facebook.com/MangaJiman
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
How would Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men respond to the current political and economic climate in the UK? How will they react when placed just seven years into future and the dystopian nightmare of 2020?
‘It just felt like the right time to write a story like this,” said the writer and artist Craig Daley.
The first digital issue - available online or on CD ROM from the Sheffield Space Centre - issue includes the usual humour expected from CDComics, whose previous titles include three Surreal Murder Mysteries (Meadowhell, Spring Heeled Jack and Football Crazy) and a 1960s-based alien abduction story, Carnacki & Hannay. This time, Craig's telling his story against the backdrop of a society that is divided across old class boundaries. On one side the plebs and on the other those who were born into privilege, the ruling elite class.
Along with a revamped Robin Hood, the comic has many of the characters you would expect to see such as Little John, Marion, Tuck, Much – and Scarlet, who has been through the most blatant transformation and is now a female. Along with the characters, even Sherwood Forest gets a surprising make over as the action moves from the traditional forest locations to the cities of London and Sheffield in 2020.
There isn’t a bow and arrow in sight, but the politics is close enough to the truth that the comic keeps the appearance of reality that flows through CDComics’ output. The comic says ‘There is No Conspiracy’ and unlike political thrillers, such as The X-Files, it doesn’t create one. The narrative uses current and historical events, facts and figures and just takes the reader seven years into the future.
“I'd like to think it owed more to A Very British Coup with action piled on top, rather than The X-Files," says Craig. "That was the reasoning behind the title of this first issue."
The action is full on and takes centre stage throughout this 32-page first issue that introduces all the main characters and the comic also asks enough questions to make you want to read Issue Two.
• Issue One of ‘Robin Hood: There is No Conspiracy’, is available to download from Amazon.co.uk, Drive Thru Comics, Smashwords (and after processing by Smashwords will be distributed on Kobo, Diesel, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Apple, priced around £1.25/$1.99 or the Euro equivalent.
• The CD ROM version of the comic packaged in a slim line DVD case with wrap around cover will also be on sale, priced £2.50, from Sheffield Space Centre on the Wicker, Broomhill’s Galaxy 4 and Record Collector, Rare and Racy on Devonshire Green and Blackwells on Carver Street, Sheffield
'Prisoners of Time' will feature every incarnation of the Doctor, as well as a long list of villains, including the Zarbi from the TV story best known as The Web Planet.
downthetubes caught up with comics artist and writer Simon Fraser - best known for his work on Nikolai Dante, a series he created with writer Robbie Morrison in 2000AD - to ask him about his work on the first issue...
downthetubes: How did you gain the commission to draw the first issue of 'Prisoners of Time'?
Simon Fraser: I share a studio with Tim Hamilton who has worked for editor Denton Tipton at IDW on Doctor Who previously. Tim wasn't available this time , so he passed the job on to me. One of the advantages of sharing a studio with other comics types.
downthetubes: Are you a fan of Doctor Who and if so, which Doctor?
Simon: I was recently clearing my old stuff out of my parents house. I seem to have had six large posters of Tom Baker on my bedroom wall when I was 16. That might answer both questions. The other two posters were Star Wars related and there was an airbrushed poster of a Porsche (it was the 80s).
downthetubes: A project like this inevitably attracts comments over likenesses, do you find that limiting given the freedom you have on projects like Nikolai Dante for 2000AD?
Simon: It's all about learning the characters faces and mannerisms until they feel like your own characters. Rather than slavishly copying production stills or framegrabs, because that always looks wooden and stilted.
The older characters are usually easy. Hartnell especially was a joy to draw. It's one of the oddly wonderful things about a career in comics that I can now draw a decent portrait of Sir Thomas Huxley from memory.
I'm not sure I'm as strong on Ian and Barbara frankly, but I've spent a lot of time looking at them now and I've got a great deal better appreciation of just how good William Russell and Jaqueline Hill were in the roles.
downthetubes: Will you be doing more Doctor Who projects after this one?
Simon: I've got no plans to right now. I'm trying to keep off licensed properties for a while and do more creator owned work. When the chance to draw William Hartnell's Doctor came along though, I was powerless to resist.
downthetubes: 50 years of Doctor Who - what do you think is the key ingredient that's given it such longevity?
Simon: It's a very clever format. The TARDIS is a brilliant way of moving characters into interesting situations, while at the same time being almost ludicrously simple to execute within the restrictions of network television. Then you have all these great writers and actors being given free reign to use their imaginations and enjoy themselves, back when British television was all rather po-faced. Something so imaginative and odd was bound to engender a strong fanbase, strong enough to carry the show through some pretty rough times and ultimately ensure its rebirth.
If I had to pin down just one thing I'd have to say, Imagination.
downthetubes: You've just completed 'Nikolai Dante' for 2000AD. What's your next project?
Lilly Mackenzie & The Treasure of Paros which is my webcomic on ACTIVATEcomix.com and ultimately in the Judge Dredd Megazine, where the first Lilly Mackenzie story ended up being printed.
Beyond that I'm involved with a series of pitches for original projects. One of which is a very ambitious series of books about the origins of the Arab Spring, specifically Syria. So I'm very interested in the news right now.
downthetubes: Above anything else, what one piece of advice would you offer aspiring comic artists?
Simon: To be brutally honest here, if there is anything else that you think you might be able make your life doing , try that first. Drawings comics is alongside being a musician, an actor or a poet in terms of career prospects. There's not much work, it's mostly poorly paid and frequently frustrating.
So, given that you are absolutely committed to your own eternal damnation; learn the craft and keep learning it. Draw from life as much as humanly possible, then do some more. The way to get and keep a career in the creative arts is to have a unique point of view and a unique way of expressing it and the way that you get to that is by starting at first principles and working up.
As soon as you are half competent, then start putting your stories on-line and get people to comment. You won't get as much serious criticism as you will need. The good stuff is supposed to sting, don't be afraid of that. With any luck you are your own harshest critic . You're supposed to be vaguely dissatisfied with your abilities, that's what motivates you to get better.
Have I put you off yet? No? Well if you were interested in taking good advice then you probably would be doing something much more sensible than comics in the first place.
Hmm, that's more than one piece of advice!
• Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 written by Scott and David Tipton with art by Simon Fraser is on sale from 30th January from IDW Publishing.
• More about IDW's Doctor Who range on the official web site
• Simon Fraser's Official Blog: http://simonfraser.posterous.com/blog
• Read an interview with David and Scott Tipton about the maxi series on Comic Book Resources
Thanks to Denton Tipton for his help with updates to this story
Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Due to hit comic shops on 5th June, A1 is a new monthly series featuring three fantastic ongoing strips: Weirding Willows, Odyssey and Carpe DIEm.
A1 has a long pedigree in comics. Launched in the late 1980s as an outlet for the creator-owned stories of Dave Elliott and Gary Leach, the award-winning anthology quickly became a place where big-name industry friends could follow their creator-owned desires and publish their own material. Some of those industry friends included Alan Moore, Barry Windsor-Smith, Eddie Campbell, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Bill Sienkiewicz, Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, Glenn Fabry, Peter Milligan, David Lloyd, Phil Bond, Jamie Hewlett, Dougie Braithwaite, Grant Morrison, Moebius, Alan Martin, D’Israeli, Kelly Jones, Nick Abadzis, Steve Dillon and many, many more.
Now, Elliott is taking A1 back to its roots, with three top-grade tales created by himself and his closest artistic friends, released as part of a co-publishing venture between Titan Comics and Atomeka.
When asked about his love for the anthology format Dave said, “For me there is a joy in putting anthologies together. They are so easy to get wrong and wonderful when they turn out right. A1 has always been about variety, but consistent in quality.”
A1 now returns monthly, showcasing three brand-new ongoing stories reflecting the variety it has always been known for.
Weirding Willows by writer Dave Elliott and artists Barnaby Bagenda, Sami Basri, Sakti Yuwono & Jessica Kholinne, sees the worlds of Wonderland, OZ, Neverland, Mars, Pellucidar and Elysium leak through portals into the little English town of Willow Weir, as Alice and her allies defend her world from the things that would come through those portals to destroy them. Here's some preview art...
Odyssey by writer Dave Elliott and artists Garrie Gastonny and Sakti Yuwono, follows an immortal military superhero, out of place and time, who finds himself in the middle of an eternal war for mankind between Angels and Demons. Here's some preview art...
Carpe DIEm by writer W. H. Rauf and artist/creator Rhoald Marcelius, follows an offbeat group of 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! A riot of colour and concepts in a Tank Girl vein. Here's some preview art...
“Dave’s address book is legendary within the industry,” says Steve White, Senior Editor at Titan Comics, “But so is his dedication to new ideas, and finding new creators to bring them to life. He’s always been a creator’s creator, and the new A1 shows the kind of beautiful adventures he can inspire. It’s a fantastic package.”
A1 #1 comes with three main covers to collect: Weirding Willows cover by artist, Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau; Odyssey cover by series artists Gastonny and Yuwono; Carpe DIEm cover by series artists, Marcelius.
#1 will hit comic stores on 5th June, 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
• To keep up-to-date with news from Titan Comics, visit www.titan-comics.com or join them on Facebook or Twitter
• Retailers can order A1 #1 from the February 2013 edition of Diamond PREVIEWS. For updates retailers can sign-up to the Titan Comics retail newsletter, here or follow @TitanRetail on Twitter
Whereas in English-speaking countries comics are often considered, beyond the comics community, for children or adults ‘who should know better’, in France and Belgium the form is recognized as the ‘Ninth Art’ and follows in the path of poetry, architecture, painting and cinema. The bande dessinée [comic strip] has its own national institutions, regularly obtains front-page coverage and has received the accolades of statesmen from De Gaulle onwards.
On the way to providing a comprehensive if academic-leaning introduction to the most francophone of cultural phenomena, Comics in French: The Bande Dessinee in Context considers national specificity as relevant to an anglophone reader, whilst exploring related issues such as text/image expression, historical precedents and sociological implication. To do so it presents and analyses priceless manuscripts, a Franco- American rodent, Nazi propaganda, a museum-piece urinal, intellectual gay porn and a prehistoric warrior who's really Zinedine Zidane.
Released last year in hardback, the book gained good reviews. "Comics in French is written in a friendly, engaging style," noted the Journal of Graphic Novels & Comics. "Grove patiently explains and justifies his largely chronological, historical approach at each step of the way, discussing its pros and cons. The book covers a vast number of text/image… [and] is a valuable and very readable new contribution to bande dessiné studies. It deserves a place on the bookshelves of teachers, students and aficionados alike.”
Laurence Grove is Reader in French and Director of the Stirling Maxwell Centre for the Study of Text/Image Cultures at the University of Glasgow. His research focuses on historical aspects of text/image forms, and in particular bande dessinée. He is President of the International Bande Dessinée Society and, as well as serving on the consultative committees of a number of journals, he is general editor of Glasgow Emblem Studies, and co-editor of European Comic Art. Laurence has also authored (in full, jointly or as editor) nine books and approximately forty chapters or articles.
• Comics in French by Laurence Grove 360 pages, 40 ills, bibliography
ISBN 978-0-85745-902-2 Pb $37.95/£25.00 Published January 2013
ISBN 978-1-84545-588-0 Hb $120.00/£75.00 Published July 2010
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Orang Utan Comics has announced two big new releases at the London Super Comic Con on February 23rd - 24th, 2013, at the Excel in London.
The first release is a 48 page, full colour, limited edition LSCC Preview Edition of Hero: 9 to 5 - Quietus - available to order now from the company's online store or to pick up at the event.
"This will include the first half of the follow up to the hugely successful 2010 graphic novel by myself, David Gray and Yel Zamor," writer and publisher Ian Sharman tells us, "plus an exclusive four page Thunder Woman story that will not be available anywhere else.
"We are printing these in extremely limited numbers, so make sure to head straight to the Orang Utan Comics booth when you arrive and pick up your copy."
Hero: 9 to 5 – Quietus is set in a world where the rich can afford the best in super hero protection, but the poor have to get by with the heroic equivalent of third party, fire and theft.
The “Lone Knight” returns from the pages of Hero: 9 to 5, but how will The Loner and the finest men and women that publicly funded super hero protection can supply cope when a mysterious figure leaves a trail of unconnected corpses in his wake? How will a young hero deal with the loss of his mentor? And, more importantly, how will Thunder Woman get her groceries when she runs into Lash Lady at the store?
In a world where being a super hero is just another job, what happens when there’s nobody left alive to pay the bill?
Quietus – some men just want to watch the world die.
You can also grab a free copy of the Eagle Award nominated Eleventh Hour Volume One when you buy the Hero: 9 to 5 – Quietus LSCC Exclusive Preview Edition at the convention.
Orang Utan, who publish their books in partnership with Markosia, are also launching a new graphic novel by the exceptionally talented Michael Georgiou, Elemental Micah – Just Exhale, which collects the first four stories of this ununsual hero.
“With no super heroes or super villains, what defines someone with powers?" asks Ian. "Micah’s seventeen with poor eyesight, a broken nose, overweight, apathetic, gay and has the powers of a God. With these new powers, the future has never seemed so uncertain.”
Elemental Micah will be on sale at the Orang Utan Comics booth and also direct from Michael Georgiou at his own table at LSCC.
• For more information visit: www.orangutancomics.co.uk