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Thursday, 4 October 2007

Save Kids TV campaign - Petition the PM!

Pact has set up a petition on the Number 10 website to highlight the plight UK kids TV is under, highlighted by the Save Kids TV campaign who have a comic about the issue on ROK Comics, republished below. To add your voice to the petition click here.

Ofcom this week reported on the issue of kids TV, and its findings essentially support the SKTV position that something needs to be done to replace the loss of UK-commissioned output.

"In the end it’s our kids who will suffer, from lack of choice, lack of their own stories on TV, lack of their own voices and lack of a perspective which helps them understand the society in which they live," argues SKTV. "For the past year we’ve been saying that a country which fails to tell its own stories is a country which could just quietly fade away. Our kids deserve the best TV – from everywhere – and that includes from the UK too."

Ofcom’s report backs up this concern with real figures. For the full detail you can download the short version of the report here:

New Dennis the Menace animation in the works

Beano character Dennis the Menace is being updated in a new animated version for CBBC.

Trade magazine Broadcast and other sources report DC Thomson is working with animation company Red Kite to deliver the 52 x 12-minute Dennis & Gnasher by autumn 2009. Further co-production partners will be announced shortly.

The cartoon, revolving around Beano star Dennis and dog Gnasher, will have a modern look and contemporary storylines aimed at five to 10 year-olds.

The series is currently in pre-production and will aim to retain Dennis's classic streak of schoolboy naughtiness and charm.

"The BBC said it was really interested in a new series but wanted the format to be more compact and exciting," Benjamin Gray, DC Thomson's executive manager, revealed, referring we assume to shows such as the 1996 Dennis and Gnasher animated series, which ran to 25 minutes per episode. "We feel we have got that with this new series."

DC Thomson is also showcasing two new animation properties at TV trade fair Mipcom.

Wendy, the comic strip charting the adventures of a teenage girl and her horse, based on DC Thomson's shared property (with Egmont) created in English but published in Germany, is to be made into a 26 x 26-minute animation series, aimed at pre-teen girls. This could potentially mean the title may finally see UK publication, with DC Thomson already publishing Bratz Magazine for girls.

Marvo the Wonder ChickenAnother animated show, Marvo the Wonder Chicken ("The world's most accident-prone daredevil"), based on the Dandy strip of the same name, is also on offer at Mipcom, described a 52 x 2-minute comedy shorts series in the tradition of Looney Tunes and Tex Avery.

Happy Birthday Sputnik!

SputnikSpace flight is 50 years old this week and although the space race may well have been borne by the desire to develop bigger and better nuclear weapons - according to the accounts of Russian scientists reported in USA Today - the actual exploration of space, which began with the launch of Sputnik on 4 October 1957, continues to capture the imagination of many.

For me, it continues to inspire new writing - I'm working with ace artist Bill Storie on a new SF series, Ex Astris, which you can read via ROK Comics.

• There's more information on the project at

New Scientist magazine has a special web section on the legacy of Sputnik here

Wallace & Gromit Return

Huzzah! Variety reports Aardman Animation's Wallace & Gromit are back at work, with a new film to be shown on BBC1 at Christmas next year.

Trouble at' Mill, co-written by Nick Park and Bob Baker, sees Wallace and Gromit open a bakery but Wallace again becomes sidetracked by a love interest, Piella Bakewell. With his master distracted, Gromit is left to solve a murder.

The film, which is the same length as productions such as The Wrong Trousers goes into production at Aardman's Bristol base inin January and will run for 30 minutes and

"I love making films for the cinema, but the production of Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit were virtually back to back, and each film took five years to complete," Park told the BBC. "Trouble at' Mill will be so much quicker to make, and I can't wait to get back into production.

"It's nice to be out of that feature film pressure now. I'm making this for myself again and the people who love Wallace and Gromit."

• There's an interview-style short film about the new project on and Aardman will be delivering regular video blogs from the Aardman crew as the production progresses.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Jeff Hawke - Lunar 10

The Jeff Hawke Club have released their Cosmos special, Lunar 10. This 192 page softcover book collects 10 different complete Jeff Hawke stories set on the Moon.

It includes Time Out Of Mind, originally published in the Daily Express in 1959, in which the strip predicts the first man would walk on the Moon on 4 August 1969. It was only 14 days out.

The book includes new introductions by Hawke creator and artist Sydney Jordan for each story plus detailed Hawke’s Notes by Duncan Lunan giving background information on various aspects of each of the 10 stories.

Lunar 10 is only available through the Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds, LS17 7RD.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Titan Magazines' new DC title

Titan Magazines recently launched a fourth comic licensed from DC Comics. DC Universe Presents Batman Superman follows on the heels of Superman Legends, Batman Legends and Justice League Legends to the UK news stand.

Featuring stories and artwork never previously published in the UK (although available as imported titles), the 76-page comic uses the smash-hit superhero stars Superman and Batman to take readers on what Titan describes as "a dizzying tour of the captivating DC Universe".

Each issue of DC Universe Presents contains three fantastic stories, written and drawn by some of the greatest comic superstars, featuring superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Supergirl, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League.

The first six issues include the epic The Brave and the Bold (written and illustrated by comics legends Mark Waid and George PĂ©rez) featuring Batman, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, and the Legion of Superheroes and a cast of thousands.

Heroes and Lost producer Jeph Loeb reintroduces the smash-hit character Supergirl to Earth. Follow her struggles as she encounters the teams and heroes that make up the rich tapestry of the DCU — before going toe to toe with the infamous Lex Luthor.

The comic also features Superman and Batman facing the strangest and most fearsome extraterrestrials the universe has to offer in the Superman/Batman team-up story, ‘The Enemies Among Us’!

With reader interaction all the rage these days, DC Universe Presents will enable them to have their say in which fantastic DC characters will be introduced next – with the Teen Titans waiting in the wings! "Fans can have a say on which of their favourite characters they’d like to see more of by writing to the comic’s letter column, where all ideas will be considered," explained a Titan spokesperson. "Teen Titans follows the trials and tribulations of the next generation of young superheroes and features Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash, among many others.

If that isn't enough for even the most die-hard DC comic fan, the comic will also include news on DC merchandise and exciting competitions.

Issue 1 is on sale now, 76pp, four weekly, priced £2.60 from all good newsagents. Issue #2 on sale 18 October.

New Eagle Times

(with thanks to Richard Sheaf): The latest issue of Eagle Times, the quarterly journal of the Eagle Society (the Society is dedicated to the memory of Britain's national picture strip Weekly - Eagle) has just been published.

Volume 20, issue 3 is 50 plus A4 pages and includes articles on Frank Hampson's pre-and post Dan Dare work (featuring loads of never seen before artwork), a PC49 story (and his appearance in Radio Times), Keith Watson's work on Dan Dare, 1950s pop music and the films of Dick Barton and more.

20 pages are in full colour, including a gorgeous Frank Hampson cover.

Annual subs are £22 for 4 50+page issues of the journal (rates vary if overseas). Cheques should be made payable to Eagle Society should be sent to Keith Howard, 25a Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2UA.

Moffatt on Tin Tin

(with thanks to Jeremy Briggs) The Hollywood Reporter and Empire Magazine reports that Steven Moffat, acclaimed writer on Doctor Who and Jekyll, is to write the trilogy of Tintin films being overseen by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.

The directors will each make one of the films, with a director for the third still to be announced. Steven Moffat will write the screenplay for all three.

Moffat wrote the Hugo Award-winning episode The Girl in the Fireplace and the recent Blink episodes of Doctor Who.

The first film is set to be filmed with motion capture technology and will be simultaneously released in 3D.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Book Palace British Sale - and Mart News

(with thanks to Richard Sheaf): The Book Palace has finally started listing some of their
extensive stock of British comics and annual online.

The next "ABC" show will be on Sunday 7th October from noon, in London. It's the best comics fair in the country if you're into British comics. More details here, or on the main downthetubes site's comics and sf convention page.

Spaceship Away #13 counting down

Issue 13 of ace Dan Dare magazine Spaceship Away -- a stunning A4 sized full colour glossy magazine published three times a year -- is due for release at the end of October, but a teaser image of the cover is now available for review over on

As well as featuring all-new adventures of the original Dan Dare, Spaceship Away also features that other classic British science fiction story, Journey into Space (reprinting strips originally featured in Express Weekly comic). Hal Starr, created by Jeff Hawke creator Sydney Jordan, is another mainstay of the magazine, previously unpublished in English - or the UK, for that matter.

Spaceship Away costs £6.99 per issue for UK residents and £10.00 per issue for international subscribers. The difference is due to postal costs.

• Click here to subscribe to Spaceship Away or get more information via
• Or write to: Spaceship Away, 8 Marley Close, Preston, Weymouth, Dorset, DT3 6DH, England UK

Miss Moneypenny Dead

We were sorry to hear the news that actress Lois Maxwell died at the weekend.

Best known as the actress who starred as M's long-suffering secretary Miss Moneypenny in fourteen James Bond movies, she appeared in over 50 films (her uncredited first film role in A Matter of Life and Death earned her The Most Promising Newcomer Award at the Golden Globes in 1947) and also guest starred in episodes of shows sushc as Danger Man, The Saint and The Persuaders!. But she will also be remembered by genre fans as the voice of Atlanta Shore, the oft-disappointed would-be girlfriend of Troy Tempest in Gerry Anderson's Stingray.

Maxwell (also known as Lois Ruth Hooker), who died as a result of cancer on Saturday aged 80, near her home in Perth, Australia, apparently once predicted her obituary would start with ‘Miss Moneypenny Dead.’

The actress, who all but retired in 1989, gained the role of Miss Moneypenny after her husband, TV executive Peter Marriott, developed a heart problem.

“I had a husband who was desperately ill, with two small children and no money, so I called producers I had worked with before and said ‘help me’,” she revealed in an interview broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2005.

Although she had to provide her own clothes and was paid just £100 a day for her appearance in Dr. No (according to the Bond book Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), Maxwell instantly made the most of an essentially cameo role and was still getting fan mail from Bond lovers up until her death.

"She was always fun and she was wonderful to be with," recalled Sir Roger Moore. "She was wonderful, absolutely perfect casting. It was a great pity that, after I moved out of Bond, they didn't take her on to continue in the Timothy Dalton films. I think it was a great disappointment to her that she had not been promoted to play M. She would have been a wonderful M."

Lois Maxwell: Wikipedia Entry
Time Obituary 1 October 2007
Lois Maxwell Obituary on MI6

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