downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...

This blog is no longer being updated

The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013.

Hop over to for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

ROK Comics Launches

I'm very pleased to announce the launch of ROK Comics on Mobile, a new publishing solution enabling comics creators and publishers to syndicate their works to mobile phone users worldwide - and I've been given the task of being its "Managing Editor".

ROK Comics should open up huge worldwide commercial opportunities for all comic creators, artists, writers and publishers, and the service offers a revenue share deal to creators using the service, creators which on launch include Chris "Mauretania" Reynolds, David "Trek Life" Reddick, David Hailwood, Nick Miller, Graeme Neil Reid, indie publisher Broken Voice, with more to be announced in the next few days and weeks. We'll also we'll be publishing/adapting including several comics under license.

The concept behind ROK Comics is a no brainer for me and I've been banging on about it for years, but it's only the relatively recent advent of mobiles capable of displaying graphics well that has spurred the project, plus the worldwide reach ROK has thanks to its wide-ranging partnerships with a large number of telcos around the world.

With access to hundred of millions of handsets through existing Mobile Network Operator Agreements, ROK Comics can deliver digital comics straight to mobile handsets and collect revenue for doing so. Comic readers will be able to download the comics via Pay Per Download or subscription via Multi Media Messaging (MMS).

Creators publishing professionally via ROK Comics will receive 50% of the available revenue on every sale, with full access to sales statistics, viewings and more.

In addition to several licensed comics that will be offered via ROK Comics, publishers can also create Free Samples of strips that can be viewed online and on mobile to promote their print editions, and let fans know about them by e-mail, and provide an "Embed" of a strip, which can be posted on web sites, blog or company site.

In addition, ROK Comics offers "FreeFall Comics" – an advanced Flash-based service enabling anyone to create strips using ready-made characters and backgrounds that can also be delivered to mobile.

There are thousands of comics creators worldwide who publish independently or online, with no way to profit from their hard work. By enabling mobile delivery, syndication of their creations is now instantly possible, and, I hope, generating real revenue.

Have a look and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Tank Girl's welcome return

Over on, Cameron Archer has posted a detailed review of the new Tank Girl from US publisher IDW.

Those who remember Jamie "Gorillaz" Hewlett's full on 1980s Deadline version of the character (Titan Books republished those strips some time ago) should know that he's been replaced by artist Ashley Wood (various artists worked on later TG see below), but the Tank Girl: The Gifting series is still written by Tank Girl co-creator/writer Alan Martin, who is apparently going back to the basics with a scaled down cast. The stories mostly centre around Tank Girl, "mutated" kangaroo/former toy designer Booga and escaped mental patient Barney at this point, although Jet Girl cameos.

Archer says "The colourful and vibrant look that defined the comic when it went all-colour in the early 1990s has been replaced by a more stylized, muted colour scheme. The art style is still visually dense, but in a different way... " and is pleased with the enjotabel, if inconsequential stories. "I'd like to know if Alan Martin can keep this pace up for all four issues of Tank Girl: The Gifting," he signs off, "but the initial outing gives me hope that he can. Frankly, Tank Girl was MIA for too long and it's good to see her back."

I'll second that emotion. At one point I know Titan Books was so pleased by sales of its TG collections they considered commissioning new stories, so there's definitely a market for the gal. I'll be looking out for this in Bristol.

Tank Girl Titles from Titan:

Tank Girl
Alan Martin & Jamie Hewlett Cover by Jamie Hewlett
Buy it from
Buy it from

Tank Girl 2
Alan Martin & Jamie Hewlett Cover by Jamie Hewlett
Buy it from
Buy it from

Tank Girl 3
Alan Martin & Jamie Hewlett Cover by Jamie Hewlett
Buy it from
Buy it from

Tank Girl: The Odyssey
Peter Milligan & Jamie Hewlett Cover by Jamie Hewlett
Buy it from
Buy it from

Tank Girl: Apocalypse
Alan Grant, Andy Pritchett, Philip Bond & Phil Gascoine
Cover by Brian Bolland
Buy it from
Buy it from

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Firefight in Iraq - Stunning animation

I've just been sent this link to this haunting depiction of firefight in Iraq, as seen through the eyes of U.S. Army Specialist Colby Buzzell.

This segment is from Buzzell's story Men in Black, part of a longer PBS documentary, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, which first screened in the US back in April.

Soldiers in Iraq found the American Defense Department were sending out brief news releases that seemed to sanitize the experience of soldiers, with little or no reports of the work of personnel in the field other than officers, so during his year long tour in Mosul, Buzzell started posting his experiences to a blog. Pilot Online reports that for a brief six or eight weeks, until his bosses persuaded him not to, it was a way to counter the boredom and capture the bravado that he saw with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

The final film was produced by Richard Robbins, with Buzzell's piece accompanied by animation above, visualising Buzzell's account of a fierce firefight, while another flashes pictures of 1,900 fallen servicemen and women during the narration.

Robbins says he chose not to politicize the soldiers' and Marines' experiences. He didn't want to make a film about whether the war was justified, but about the human experiences of those on the ground.

It's a stirring and thought-provoking piece, the link arriving in my inbox on the day the news broke here that a soldier Lancaster has died from wounds inflicted after his convoy was hit by insurgents just outside Basra. One more grim statistic from the ongoing conflict, on top of past military deaths and at least 62,000 Iraqi civillians.

Flash! (Waa Aah!)

The US SciFi Channel has announced that Eric Johnson will play the lead role of Flash Gordon in SciFi's 22-episode "modern day retelling of the classic comic strip franchise." This unofficial fan site for the actor, whose past genre credits include The Dead Zone and Smallville, reports filming began on 1 May.

Some of the sets built for the Tin Man miniseries, SciFi's revision of The Wizard of Oz, are being used for the Vancouver-based production.

Interviewed by, Johnson said "Flash Gordon has a retro-futurisitic feel. It’s the same company making both shows, so whatever you can beg or borrow makes sense. We’re shooting in Vancouver, same place, but this is a very different set. It’s like if someone gave you the frame of a car, and you can easily put a new engine in it.”

Johnson is best known to fans as Whitney Fordman, Lana Lang's boyfriend on the
early seasons of Smallville.

There's no word yet on casting for Ming the Merciless, Dale Arden or Dr. Hans Zarkoff, and not a whisper about whether Brian Blessed has been asked to be a hawkman, which is just tragic if you ask me.

Flash Gordon is set to air on SciFi US on 10th August 2007 and is being produced by Reunion Pictures under an agreement with property owner King Features Syndicate. RHI Entertainment is distributing the series internationally with Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr., who recently worked with Sci Fi on the miniseries Legend of Earthsea, executive producing, and Peter Hume, who has written the opening two episodes, is also expected to exec produce. Matthew O’Connor and Tom Rowe will also serve as producers.

The RHI official site has a template page up for the series, but there's no information there yet.

Spider-Man rules the world

It might have had mixed reviews ("Fun factor nil", sniffs The Guardian), but after a record-breaking US opening, Spider-Man 3 has now demolished the international box office record with nearly £114 million at 16,700 playdates in 105 countries in six days. Variety reports that's almost £32 million more than the foreign launch mark set by The Da Vinci Code a year ago in its first five days.

No doubt helped by a huge marketing campaign culminating in eight international pre-ems, Spider-Man 3 set records in 26 foreign markets including Brazil, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Korea. Asia in particular sparked strongly to Spidey with new highs in every single territory.

Even in markets where the pic's opening didn't topple records, Variety reports nearly all the openings eclipsed the first two Spidey pics. In Britain it was set to be the third-biggest three-day opening with £11.45m, after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Looks like we could be in for a stonking summer box office even if it is packed with sequels, including Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End and Shrek The Third.

Monday, 7 May 2007

David Beckham is... Ant Man!

Rumours of a movie based on Marvel's Ant Man have been circulating for years, but they took a hilarious new twist this weekend.

Genre fan Michael Gage decided the placement of an ad for David Beckham's new scent in the June edition of FHM opposite a full page feature on a giant South American ant (the scary-looking Gigantiops Destructor, since you asked) could only be a subliminal tip off that the former ManU soccer star, now living in Hollywood, was to play Ant Man, and proved it with this quick piece of photoshop.

A gem, but what other football stars might be in line to play superheroes?

If Ed Norton drops out of the new Hulk movie, do you think Wayne Rooney would be up for the role?

Early Captain Britain appearances for sale

Another eBay auction, this time Marvel Super-Heroes issues from way back in 1981 in 1982, when Paul Neary was editor in chief at Marvel UK the first time around.

The issues include one issue of Captain Britain written by Alan Moore. Several feature Night Raven text stories which, I suspect, are unlikely to ever be collected.

Details as follows, which I'm posting here in case any archivists want the detail for various comic reference sites:

# 377 Cover date September 1981: Captain Britain cover plus first new story by Dave Thorpe, art by Alan Davis. Avengers and X-Men reprints plus first part of a David Lloyd interview. Fair condition, no cover damage or missing pages.

#378 Cover date October 1981: Avengers cover. Captain Britain by Dave Thorpe, art by Alan Davis. Avengers reprints plus second part of a David Lloyd interview. Fair condition, no cover damage or missing pages.

#379 Cover date November 1981: Avengers cover. Captain Britain by Dave Thorpe, art by Alan Davis. Avengers reprint plus a feature on a new comic strip, Timesmasher, which appeared in Rampage. Fair condition, no cover damage or missing pages.

#381 Cover date January 1982: Avengers cover. Captain Britain by Dave Thorpe, art by Alan Davis. Avengers reprint plus interview with artist John Stokes. Fair condition, very minor cover damag, no missing pages.

#382 Cover date February 1982: Captain Britain cover plus Captain Britain by Dave Thorpe, art by Alan Davis. Night Raven text story written and illustrated by Paul Neary. Avengers and Dominic Fortune reprints plus feature on how Marvel Comics covers are created. Fair condition, no cover damage or missing pages.

#383 Cover date March 1982: Avengers cover. Captain Britain by Dave Thorpe, art by Alan Davis. Night Raven text story by Paul Neary illustrated by Mick Austin. Avengers reprint and a guide to the Marvel UK Bullpen personnel. Fair condition, no cover damage or missing pages.

#384 Cover date April 1982: Avengers cover. Captain Britain by Dave Thorpe, art by Alan Davis. Night Raven text story written and illustrated by Paul Neary. Avengers reprint. Fair condition, very
minor cover damage on edges, no missing pages.

#388 Cover date August 1982: Avengers cover. Captain Britain by Alan Moore and Alan Davis - Moore's third outing writing the character. Avengers and Doctor Strange reprint. Fair condition, minor cover damage, no missing pages.

#389 Cover date September 1982: Avengers cover. Night Raven text story by Maxwell Stockbridge illustrated by Steve Dillon plus a feature on Captain Britain by Alan Moore. Avengers reprint. Fair condition, no cover damage or missing pages.

Simpsons Comics on eBay

I've just added a small selection of UK Simpsons Comics to eBay. The lot includes #1, complete with poster.

Talking of eBay, a lot of comics artwork recently sold by IPC is now being offered by former Nostalgia and Comics owner Phil Clarke, the same dealer selling boards at various UK marts. Boards being offered include Robot Archie, Adam Eterno and the Steel Claw. Board prices seem to be around the £100 mark, by a variety of artists.

Latest News on

Contact downthetubes

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

• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials:

Click here to subscribe to our RSS NewsFeed

Powered by  FeedBurner