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Friday, 31 August 2007

Comic Book Postal Auction News

The latest Comic Book Postal Auction is underway with bids now being accepted, the closing date is 8pm on the 11th of September.

Malcom Phillips has highlighted a few choice items...the Beano is represented by a near complete run of issues from 1940. There's also a Beano Book No 1 on offer in VG grade with no major defects and a good selection of 1940s Dandy and Beano Books as well with a rare Magic-Fun Book from 1942, along with a Rupert Annual from 1942, its Fine grade making it one of the best ever offered at auction. It's at lot 53.

The artwork section is bolstered by a rare Leo Baxendale board of Clever Dick from a 1972 Buster as well as Charlie Chaplin by Terry Wakefield, the front cover of Cracker No 1 by Alf Soporito in colour and Lion's Robot Archie by Ted Kearon. The usual Dudley Watkins stalwarts of Lord Snooty, Desperate Dan and Oor Wullie also star with the penultimate Broons board from the single owner collection selling out over the last three years.Cracker

Find all the details here

Comics Britania

There's been some interesting repsonses to the upcoming BBC4 series Comics Britannia on various comics boards.

As usual, anything like this is bound to be dissected and judged before it has even aired but in general, response seems positive, which bodes well for the series which will offer a general history of British comics and more.

I think those of us who have been involved in any way with TV production recently and in the past know that what we get on screen may well be at odds with the detail that we, as fans might hope for. But the very fact that the BBC commissioned something like this is great news. I also know that the team behind the series worked very hard finding the right people to talk to because they picked my brains often enough and I was pleased to be able to help.

If ratings are good, perhaps it will spur on further commissioning: more one-to-one interviews with top creators on both sides of the pond would be good; perhaps even a look at some of the European comics that have been a success here (or not, but are a success elsewhere that we should take an interest in).

We live in interesting times for comics. I'm having near daily chats with TV and animation people who are looking at the medium, keen to exploit its "short form" as a way to better deliver message on an increasingly more visual web, where despite the success of video, faster digestion of a message is seen as required (I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing, just that it's happening).

Some organisations are taking an interest in comics purely for their potential to exploit them in other media, but there does seem to be an increasing awareness that comics offer a good means to deliver campaign and advertising messages, as well as entertain and provoke.

Sweeney Todd from the Titan Squad

Titan Books has acquired the worldwide publishing rights for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the new Tim Burton movie slated for UK release on 25 January 2008.

The film, which stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter is based on the hit Broadway musical which tells the infamous (but fictitious) story of Benjamin Barker, a.k.a Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett.

Titan's companion hardback, slated for US release in December and UK release in January, will be written by Mark Salisbury, the only journalist on the movie's set and will include interviews with Burton and the cast and crew, extracts from the shooting script, over 200 photos, plus concept drawing and production designs.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street from
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street from

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Dalek Invasion of Earth Art Auction

Doctor Who and Dalek fans reading this blog might like to know I have just begun an ebay auction of Alister Pearson's original artwork for the 1990 Target Book and BBC Video Dalek Invasion of Earth.

The painted artwork measures 49 x 37 cm in frame. The art was originally used on the BBC Video release.

The "On Target" web site notes the art originally did not feature Big Ben, but BBC Video requested the famous landmark be added. Alister kindly gave this to me on my departure from Doctor Who Magazine but I no longer have a place to hang it. It was my idea to make the time on the clock (checked with Andrew Pixley!) the time of the screening of the original brodcast of the show.

And yes, that is my fridge.

Keanu plays Klaatu

The classic 1951 SF film The Day the Earth Stood Still is to be remade, with Keanu Reeves playing noble alien Klaatu.

Variety reports that Michael Rennie's distinct performance in the original is so revered that finding the right actor to take the role has been one of the chief reasons the 20th Century Fox remake has been in development for so long.

Production will most likely start in late autumn or early 2008, directed by Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) Derrickson with a script from David (The Last Castle) Scarpa. He has reworked the original screenplay, updating the Cold War premise which sees Klaatu arriving on Earth with an indestructible android with a warning that if Earth does not stop its warring, the intergalactic planets will be forced to destroy the planet.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

New broom at Doctor Who Magazine...

-- I'm sure the power won't go to Mr Spilsbury's head, after all it never affected me!

Young Indy on DVD

George Lucas' live-action series The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Volume One, the first of three, will finally make its way to Region 1 DVD from Lucasfilm Ltd., CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment on 23rd October, 2007, so assume a Region 2 release must be pretty simultaneous.

The release is surely the first stage in the run up to the new Indy film now in the works. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones first aired on TV in 1992.

The first volume is a 12-disc set which includes seven feature-length episodes and 38 documentaries produced by Lucasfilm's documentary unit, an historical overview, an interactive game and timeline.

The interviews about the series include chats with luminaries such as US General Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, and Gloria Steinem as well as Deepak Chopra among others.

Here come the Copyright Police!

It had to happen - while fuddy duddy Britain enforces copyright protection through dull sounding organisations such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the Chinese government has gone all 21st century and introduced animated copyright police characters that will patrol the web there.

From 1st September, animated beat cops will patrol thirteen of China's top Web portals in an effort to steer some 137 million internet users in the country away from illegal content.

Pictured here are is an image released by the Beijing Public Security Bureau who will soon begin patrolling the web using these animated beat cops which will pop up on a user's browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content and material "the Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening."

By the end of the year, the animated warning will appear on all websites registered with Beijing servers.

The Washington Post reports that China stringently polices the Internet for material and content that the ruling Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening. The government also routinely blocks surfers from accessing overseas sites and closes down domestic Web sites deemed obscene or subversive. But despite the controls, nudity, profanity, illegal gambling and pirated music, books and film have proliferated on Chinese Internet servers.

Designed by leading Chinese web firm and search engine Sohu, the male and female cartoon characters are meant to startle users and remind them that the government is monitoring Web
usage. Additionally, if surfers need police assistance, they can click on the characters, which link to the police authority's website.

JudgeIn a statement, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said, "We will continue to promote new images of the virtual police and update our Internet security tips in an effort to make the image of the virtual police more user-friendly and more in tune with how Web surfers use the Internet."

So, what would British copyright police look like? How about this Judge Dredd-inspired design from top illustrator Gary Hall, which he sent us earlier in the year?

Monday, 27 August 2007

Another Gaming Magazine bites the dust

icv2 reports Wizard Entertainment is ending publication of InQuest Gamer, effective in September. The most recent issue shipped was #149, which arrived in comic stores on 1st August.

This is another item of bad news for game magazine fans, suggesting something of a crisis in this niche of print publishing, reflecting a decline in sales.
Games Quarterly Magazine closed earlier this year and long-running Dragon, most recently published by Paizo Publishing, also closed recently.

InQuest was launched to track and cover collectible game card prices as Magic: The Gathering and other CCGs, then a new category, grew in popularity.

Virgin Comics Dan Dare, film to come?

(This post last updated 27/8/07, with thanks to Richard Sheaf and Derek Wilson): Information on Virgin Comics Dan Dare title due in November and news on a film project has begun to emerge.

The new Dan Dare comic will be written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Gary Erskine that, as downthetubes reported earlier in the year, sounds more in keeping with the character's 2000AD incarnation that the original Eagle character, operating in a world where post-nuclear warfare has destroyed North America and much of Asia, leaving the UK as the world's last remaining superpower.

Gary Leach will be providing covers to the first seven issues. (The PR image featured here is by Bryan Talbot).

Here is the press release from Virgin Comics in full:

Aviator and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson today announced that Virgin Comics ( will be bringing legendary super hero Dan Dare out of retirement and back into the outer reaches of the galaxy, with an all new Dan Dare comic book series. The new series will be published monthly beginning November 2007 and will be written by legendary comic author, Garth Ennis (author of Preacher, The Boys, Hitman, John Woo’s Seven Brothers and other acclaimed and best-selling titles).

Dan Dare has been an icon since 1950. Elaborate stories of his space travel and galactic battles defending people of the universe captivated post-War baby boomers. Dan Dare’s adventures burst to the forefront of pop culture, selling nearly one million copies each week in the pages of the Eagle Comic.

“Dan Dare is the quintessential British hero. He’s our Captain America, our Superman, our Batman, he’s all of them rolled into one. He’s the original and the best.” said Garth Ennis, recipient of several National Comics Awards for the best in UK comics and Will Eisner Awards for the best in US comics.

“Dan Dare is an heroic, thoughtful and fiercely independent character; I was an avid reader of his epic journeys. It is a pleasure for Virgin Comics to be involved with such a legendary character – one of the original great aviators” said Sir Richard Branson.

“Dan Dare is the real original Super Hero. In the 50’s, on the front page of The Eagle, he was selling one million copies a week. Today, his impact and appeal to readers across the UK and around the world can be even greater with Virgin Comics. This is a perfect partnership.” said Colin Frewin, CEO of The Dan Dare Corporation. “Superman, Batman and Spider-Man beware – Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future is back to protect us all.

Virgin Comics’ Dan Dare is set in the future, albeit not too many decades from the present day. Colonel Dare is still vibrant and courageous – but now he’s retired. His retirement is a self-imposed exile, the result of his disgust with politics and the post-nuclear warfare that has destroyed North America and much of Asia – leaving the UK as the world’s last remaining superpower.

Readers familiar with Dan Dare stories will recognize many of the original cast including a wiser and more experienced Digby; the innovative, brilliant and beautiful Professor Peabody; and of course the enemy of all that is good, the super-intelligent ruler of the Treens – The Mekon, together with a mix of galactic evil beings.

“Dan Dare and Virgin are a perfect combination – two iconic UK brands. We are thrilled to be working with Colin and Garth to redefine this quintessential character for a new generation of readers around the world.” said Sharad Devarajan, Virgin Comics’ CEO.

“Dan Dare + Garth Ennis = AWESOME,” explains Gotham Chopra, Virgin Comics’ Chief Creative Officer. “There’s not much more to say because this is a combination that doesn’t require hype – great comic heroes plus great comic writers equal a great time for all of us. Expect nothing less."
Additional plot info indicates that Dare returns as trouble musters in Deep Space. The H.M.S. Achilles is picking up strange signals when, suddenly, an enormous fleet of hostile ships ambushes the destroyer. As the crew struggles to stay alive, they realize with horror that the hostiles have brought a weapon of unimaginable power. Dan Dare, pilot of the future, has been called out of retirement.

Dare -- described by some US news sites reporting the story as "Britain's version of Buck Rogers" -- has long been a favourite of Virgin's Richard Branson (he's even displayed artwork from the Dare comic series in Virgin Atlantic Airways lounges), who led the effort to acquire the publishing, TV, movie and video game rights to Dare from Eagle owner Colin Frewin, whose Dan Dare Corporation created the recent animated version of the character.

Variety (subscription required) reports Virgin is in the process of finding the right director, writer, and producers to work on the film version of the project, with the Creative Artists Agency packaging the potential film and meeting with clients about the project.

Virgin Comics LLC is a character entertainment company creating original stories and epic myths for worldwide audiences. The company was founded in November 2005 by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Enterprises Ltd., alongside entrepreneurs, Sharad Devarajan, Gotham Chopra and Suresh Seetharaman. Among Virgin Comic's titles are new comics and graphic novels: Devi, Ramayan 3392 AD, Seven Brothers with John Woo, and Voodoo Child with Chris Weston and Nicolas Cage.

For those who played one of the Dan Dare computer games in the late 1980s may remember that they were made by... Virgin Games!

Commenting on the news, Dan Dare fan and downthetubes contributor Richard Sheaf says of the preview cover: "The knife and the (presumably) ammunition holders signify this may be a version of Dan who no longer uses the ol' paralysing pistol. A violent comic from Garth Ennis, who'd have thought it?

"The naval look to the ships is a new interpretation for the Dan Dare universe but looks fine. And the Mekon lurking in the background is an essential touch.

"I'm not clear whther this is an on-going comic or a mini-series (I assume the latter) but like the fanboy I am I'll be buying all the issues," he added. "The press coverage that this should generate for Virgin should raise their profile in the UK. Check out the papers tomorrow to see if our hero gets a mention (Dan Dare, not Branson!)."

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