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Saturday, 19 May 2007

In Memoriam: Angus McBride

I've just heard that one of Britain's best loved and one of the world's most respected historical illustrators, Angus McBride, died on 15 May 2007 from a heart attack. He was 76.

Angus McBride was one of the world's most respected historical illustrators, who contributed to more than 90 titles for publishing company Osprey over three decades, Look and Learn, Middle Earth illustrations for Iron Crown Enterprises games (sample, left) and much, much more. (Warriors and Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride, published in 2002, is packed with fine examples of his stunning illustrations).

Born in 1931 of Scottish Highland parents but orphaned as a child, he was educated at Canterbury Cathedral Choir School. He worked in advertising agencies from 1947, and after national service, and emigrated to South Africa where he lived for several years before relocating to Ireland.

Osprey are currently preparing a fitting tribute to Angus and his work have set up an e-mail for people wishing to send tributes: They say they will do their best to publish a selection of them.

There's a small tribute to McBride on the Look and Learn blog, and of course, as Steve Holland reports over on his Bear Alley blog, some 500 images by McBride that the Look and Learn team have on their website... and there are many more to follow.

Update, 27 May 2007: The Guardian published a full obituary to Angus on 26 May, written by Steve Holland.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Rian Hughes Interview

With the imminent arrival of Yesterday's Tomorrows in bookshops, collecting, among other things, Dare by Grant Morrison - a chilling reinterpretation of the Dan Dare story - and The Science Service by John Freeman (who?), Kenny Penman has been working on a huge interview with comics creator and font designer Rian Hughes and the first part has now gone up on the Forbidden Planet International blog (with more to follow).

There's some nice touches on Brit comics history throughout, and Rian supplied FPI with lots of very cool pics and art - more, blog head honcho Joe Gordon tells me than they could fit into the blog piece (he even had the receipt for selling his self-published Zit comics to Paul Gravett back in the 1980s). Those extra pieces of art have been uploaded to the FPI Flickr site

Yesterday's Tomorrows is a real labour of love: i spoke with Knockabout publisher Tony Bennett in Bristol and he told me how he'd been comparing the cleaned up art Rian has delivered for the book with the original published pages, and there's a huge difference to the quality of them. I know Rian's spent over a year tracking down original art from collectors to scan from and although the final hardback costs and arm and a leg, I think it's going to sell fast.

Pre-Order it from
Pre-Order it from

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Frank Miller to write, direct 'Spirit'

Variety reports that Lionsgate has acquired US and UK distribution rights to a live adaptation of the classic Will Eisner comic The Spirit. Frank Miller wrote the script and will direct.

The deal marks the start of a multipicture pact under which Lionsgate and Odd Lot Entertainment will co-finance and co-produce together. Odd Lot partners Gigi Pritzker and Deborah Del Prete are showing a finished script by Miller and will broker overseas territories during the Cannes Festival, which has just started this week.

I have to confess I'm more of a fan of Eisner's later work such as A Contract with God than The Spirit, but it's a series that's grown on me down the years, and meeting Will at Raptus in Norway in 2003 was one of the highlights of my time in comics.

The Spirit
originally ran from Sunday 2 June, 1940 until Sunday 5 October, 1952, as a weekly feature, created by Eisner.

Miller says "Will was a dear friend, a mentor, and translating his vision to the screen will be a labour of love." Lionsgate Theatrical Films president Tom Ortenberg feels Frank Miller's "vision is perfectly matched to that of Eisner.

Let's hope so: while I'm personally enjoying Darwyn Cooke's updating of the character, I'm aware the book has come in for a lot of flak in some quarters.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Eagle Award Winners 2007

Sourced via Joe Gordon's Forbidden Planet International's fab blog, who found them in turn over on the US comics news site Newsarama...

Favourite Comics Writer
Warren Ellis
Darn, I wish I kept all those fanzine he used to churn out in the 1980s…

Favourite Comics Writer/Artist
Mike Mignola

Favourite Comics Artist: Pencils
John Cassaday

Favourite Comics Artist: Inks
Paul Neary
Well, that's a result. Paul was editorial director for the latter part of my time at Marvel UK and odd though he may have been, he taught me a hell of a lot about comic creation. Nice one.

Favourite Artist: Fully-Painted Artwork
Alex Ross
Well, no surprise there!

Favourite Colourist
Laura Martin

Favourite Letterer
Chris Eliopoulos

Favourite Editor
Matt Smith (2000AD) - It pays to be green.

Favourite Publisher


So you can kill off top characters and still be popular. Quick, let's make a list.

Favourite Colour Comic Book - American
All-Star Superman

Favourite Colour Comic Book - British
2000 AD

Favourite Black and White Comic Book - American
The Walking Dead

Favourite Black and White Comic Book - British
Hero Killers
Congratulations to Andy Winter - well deserved. I gather he was a bit gob-smacked about winning.

Favourite New Comic Book

Favourite Manga
Blade of the Immortal

Favourite European Comics
Asterix and the Vikings

Favourite Comics Story published during 2006
Nextwave - by Warren Ellis

Favourite Comics Cover published during 2006
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Favourite Original Graphic Novel
Pride of Baghdad

Favourite Reprint Compilation
Absolute Sandman Volume 1

Favourite Comics Character

Favourite Comics Villain
Dirk Anger (from Nextwave)

Favourite Magazine About Comics

Favourite Comics-Related Book
Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels by Scott McLoud

Favourite Comics-Based Movie Or TV

Favourite Comics-Related Website

Favourite Web-Based Comic
Penny Arcade

Roll of Honour
Warren Ellis

Bristol Expo

Bristol provided its usual mix of weird weather (wet) and entertainment (Star Wars storm troopers, Batman a gorgeous Black Cat and a determined Batman who wandered from the main hall to the hotel despite torrential rain in costume).

I don't know exact numbers yet but Saturday was incredibly busy, making it all the more difficult to catch up with a huge number of creators and publishers. Indie press reported some brisk trade and Bryan Talbot sold all 60 of his copies of Alice in Sunderland at the event - complementing the sellout success of his fantastic new graphic novel. The Blink Twice and Brodie's Law teams seemed on fine form, and there was much fun on the Panini stand thanks to its Dalek (not, as far as we know, a regular member of the Doctor Who Magazine staff).

After hours gatherings were equally crazed and as usual the hotel bar was packed and pretty raucous thanks to Eurovision parties taking place. The Eagle Awards went more smoothly and there was good news for Moonface Press who won an award for Hero Killers - congrats to them.

There's a feeling that the event might be beginning to outgrow the railway shed it takes place in, but it seemed all right to me. Great to see, as usual, such a great mix of both pro publishers (Titan, Panini, Cinebooks, Markosia etc), indies and the manga contingent.

Special thanks to Mike Allwood and the team for a great weekend!

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