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Monday 10 September 2018

Reminding you downthetubes has moved...

Just a quick reminder that if you've landed here for the latest British comic news, then you need to go to - this blog remains active as an archive only. Thanks!

Tuesday 10 October 2017

New Comics and Graphic Novels set to launch at this year's Lakes International Comic Art Festival

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival tales place this weekend in Kendal (13th - 15th October 2017). Along with its free Family Zone, comic creator talks, signings, exhibitions, illustration portfolio reviews, Finnish Village (and sauna!) there are a number of new comics and graphic novels getting their launch at the hugely-popular annual event.

Among them are Grandville: Force Majeure by Festival Patron Bryan Talbot (published by Jonathan Cape), Graphic Science by Darryl Cunningham (Myriad Editions); and the Festival's very own tribute to comics legend Will Eisner to mark his centenary, the Spirit Centenary Newspaper.

Grandville: Force Majeure launches at the Festival just as news breaks that the rights option for a proposed Grandville TV series have been bought by Euston Films, the graphic novels adapted by Doctor Who and New Tricks writer Julian Simpson.

Festival partner Page 45, the award-winning Nottingham-based comic shop, will be offering all three new titles in the Georgian Room of the Comixology-sponsored Comics Clock Tower, where Festival Patron Emma Vieceli will be signing her brand-new Young Adult LGBT graphic novel BREAKS (co-created with Malin Ryden) on both Saturday and Sunday morning.

Dozens of comic creators will be selling new independently-created comics, artwork and more, throughout the weekend in the Clock Tower, including Marc Jackson, who's new comic Here Comes Cat Stevens! was commissioned by LICAF; and Australian comic artist Bruce Mutard, who brings his new work Post Traumatic with him, along with a number of other antipodean creators as part of a Caravan of Comics.

Look out, also, for the annual Festival anthology edited by Dan Berry, assembling comic stories created during the Festival's Cartoon Cafe Challenge sponsored by Wacom over the weekend and printed within 24 hours of creation!

The Spirit Centenary Newspaper features a cover by Becky Cloonan and work by Brendan McCarthy, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Graham Dury and Simon Thorp, Chris Samnee, John M Burns, Sergio Aragonés, Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo, Seth, Jason Latour, Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch, and Michael Cho.

The project, the brainchild of comics academic John McShane, was realised with support from IDW Publishing and Kitchen Sink Press publisher Denis Kitchen. Proceeds from sales will go to LICAF’s Creators’ Development Fund.

"I don't know how real editors do it, but curating this project has been well worth the wait," says Sean Phillips, who edited the newspaper. "All the creators involved have more than surpassed my expectations to produce a great tribute to Will Eisner's The Spirit.

"Creators include some of my favourite artists and writers and the hard part was deciding who to ask. Luckily everyone said yes, including my absolute favourite, John M Burns. Sorry to everyone else, but having John draw a page for this is one of the highlights of my career. All the pages are great, but this one was a real thrill!

"My thanks to everyone involved with fitting this project into their busy schedules, even if some people's definition of the word 'deadline' is more elastic than mine..."

Celebrating Will Eisner's work, the Festival also ran a Revealing the Spirit of the Lakes competition, the winners to be announced at the weekend. Students across the globe were invited to celebrate the incredible creative comic art legacy of Will Eisner and his iconic vigilante – The Spirit - by imagining a vigilante hero or heroine for the Lake District.

The top five entries will go display in the Warehouse Café at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, until 5th November, alongside The Spirit of Eisner exhibition.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival returns for its fifth year to Kendal, Cumbria this weekend, from 13th to 15th October 2017. Celebrating comic art from across the world, the weekend festival takes over the town of Kendal, on the edge of the Lake District.

The festival brings the biggest names in comic art to Cumbria with over 70 special guests from across the comic world. This year, artists, creators and writers from Japan, the US, Canada, Australia, Finland, as well as European comic creators will take part in the festival.

• The full programme of events is now live on the Festival web site, along with details about its new Weekend Pass

Buy your tickets for the fifth Lakes International Comic Art Festival here

• Web | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube| Podcast | View the Festival Programme on IssuuDownload the Programme (PDF)

•& Download the Comics Festival app from iTunes here (requires iOS 10.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch)

Read the Page 45 guide to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival

Saturday 7 October 2017

New York Comic Con 2017: Day Two

Tony Esmond reports from New York Comic Con... lucky man!

Day Two at the New York Comic Con 2017 opened early as I realised that I can actually see the Javits Center from my hotel room. I headed down for breakfast with the normal cronies and spotted a possible love connection between one of them and the steroid swallowing waitress (I shall take the secret to my grave!!!)

I headed down without Mr Harrower today (he's off doing some art stuff in Harlem) and lined up again. I've been really impressed with both the security here and the speed they get you pushed through onto the site. All the staff so far have been friendly and professional.

The Shadow with art by Giovanni Timpano published by Dynamite Comics
I headed straight to Giovanni Timpano's table and had a chat with him about his Shadow/Batman series. He showed me some of the inked pages and they look superb. I've been a fan of this guy's work for a long time. It was great to see him and his art up close. Definitely an artist to watch out for.

Find out more about him at or follow him on Twitter @GioTimpano

On the left, Mr Brent Schoonover and on the right, the Mighty Siuntres
During the weekend I also got to catch up with Wordballoon's John Siuntres. This is a podcast that I have been listening to for a bonkers amount of years and I always try and search John out and thank him for what he does. I highly recommend having a try. It is, in the main, an interview show with some of the best in the industry.

I managed to introduce John to Christian Wildgoose and we chatted about a possible  Wordballoon/Awesome Comics Podcast crossover event!

Check it out on iTunes or follow the podcast on Twitter @johnwordballoon

It was also great catching up with old pal Sarah Woolley. I bought her book Charlotte and the Quiet Place, written by Deborah Sosin, a couple of years ago for a friend's kids and they absolutely loved it!

We chatted about her newly released art in Bitch Planet: Triple Feature. Search her out online and buy some of her work. Top stuff. If you are at the convention, then head over to Booth L-10 in Artists Alley.

You can find her online at or follow her on Twitter @SaritaJeanine

With the change in layout after the knocking down of the building that used to be a home for Artists Alley I've noticed that things, events or signings seem to be cropping up in all the nooks and crannies of the Javitts. The DC/Vertigo booth is down on the ground floor at the far end. It's got a small signing/queueing area and a small exhibition of the Justice League movie costumes.

It seemed a little out of the way and out of place somehow. Jim Lee was sat on his own at a table (and you don't see that often). Later in the day, David Finch looked a tiny bit lonely?

The United Kingdom was, as always, out in force at the NYCC. The Titan Comics booth was looking spiffy and after spending a couple of minutes only at the 2000AD booth, I began to suspect that there may be a few sore heads from the previous night's larking about. That's a tradition I am proud to say continues.

I also bagged myself a copy of the Steve Dillon Memorial Charity Sketchbook (for sale for $10 at the 2000AD booth) that is being sold to raise money for the Hero Initiative. As previously reported on downthetubes, it boasts a heartbreaking image of Steve himself by Bill Sienkiewicz and contains art from a who's who of talent on interiors.

You can buy a copy or donate to this worthy cause at It will also be on sale at the MCM London convention on 27th – 29th October.

Garth Ennis tribute to Steve Dillon is here on downthetubes.

I closed the day out with a panel - and it was a cracker. Run by IDW, it was split into two parts. The first dealt with the new Shelly Bond spearheaded Black Crown imprint and featured spotlights on some great books. It was brilliant to see Peter Milligan (who will be at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival next weekend) taking centre stage and talking about his upcoming series Kid Lobotomy. Then Shelly introduced some pages from Punks Not Dead with art by the mighty Martin Simmonds - I can't wait to see what comes from this company that is shaping up to be the new Vertigo!

There's more about the Black Crown imprint here on the IDW web site, and they have posted their Black Crown ashcan here (note the various "adult content" warnings if you decide to view this direct on Issuu).

Then we heard about the new quarterly comics/magazine hybrid, Full Bleed, that has been killing it on Kickstarter. Bob Fingerman chatted about his water coloured portraits of scurrilous politicians with real passion and humour. I can't wait to get my hands on this new series.

You can find the Kickstarter for it here.

Titan Comics stand at the con

For those Original Art junkies, here's a selection of the pages I leafed through today....

If only I had a bigger bank account!!!

I also captured Batgirl meeting her artist at Christian Wildgoose's table in the afternoon.

I'm not at the con tomorrow as the Saturday is like ramming your head into a rugby scrum for ten hours, so I'll probably just post photos of me in a robe on my Never Iron Anything blog at the day spa for the report tomorrow...

Many thanks for reading.

Friday 6 October 2017

Dulwich Picture Gallery to host first major British exhibition devoted to Tove Jansson

Hot on the heels of the Moomin-related activities at this year's Lakes International Comic Art Festival, there's an exhibition of the work of their creator Tove Jansson at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which starts on Wednesday 25th October 2017 and runs until 28th January 2018.

One of the most celebrated illustrators of the 20th century, Tove Jansson is known internationally as creator of the Moomin characters and books, a phenomenon which continues to stretch across generations. Her wider outputs of graphic illustration and painting, however, are relatively unseen outside her home country of Finland.

150 works, including a selection of self-portraits and paintings never seen before in the UK will reintroduce Jansson as an artist of exceptional breadth and talent, and provide an insightful overview of the key stages of her prolific career. 

Ultimately, Jansson’s most enduring desire was to be an artist and this exhibition will reveal the unwavering passion that kept her working and exhibiting as an accomplished fine artist alongside her career in graphic illustration.

Tove Marika Jansson was born in 1914 in Helsinki to the graphic artist, Signe Hammarsten and the sculptor Viktor Jansson. She grew up with her two brothers Per Olov and Lars in an ambitious artistic family, living and breathing art. The open-minded, bohemian atmosphere encouraged the talented young Jansson to search for her own artistic expression, which produced striking results with intuitive certainty from an early age.

In the midst of the mass bombings of Helsinki in 1944, Jansson managed to get an attic studio in the centre of the Helsinki. The studio became her cherished home, a source of power and a haven, where she created her most renowned paintings and texts. It was there that Jansson finished her first story featuring Moomintroll.

The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945) was the first volume in the series that was to become the most prominent and best-known part of Jansson’s career as an artist. 

As a writer, Jansson did not want the stunning success of Moomins to limit her freedom either. After Moominvalley in November (1970), it was time for something new.

In 1968, she had published the childhood description Sculptor’s Daughter for adult readers, but it was the acclaimed collection The Listener (1971) that showcased her as a short story writer for the first time.

Jansson’s studio in Helsinki was dedicated for work, but since her childhood, she had fallen in love with the sea and archipelago (a love reflected in the Lakes Festival's exhibition, Tales from the Nordic Archipelago, which continues at Kendal Museum until 2nd November).

She spent many summers on the tiny island of Klovharu in the Gulf of Finland. There and in her frequent travels abroad, she was accompanied by her life partner Tuulikki Pietilä, graphic artist and professor.

• Tove Jansson (1914 - 2001) 25th October  2017 - 28th January 2018 Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Southwark SE21 7AD | Exhibition Information and related events | Buy tickets

• Official Moomin web site:

Tove Jansson books on

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