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This blog is no longer being updated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!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

More comics from Lizz Lunney

Cartoonist Lizz Lunney, whose 'Burger Love' strip was shortlisted for the 2007 ROK Comics Humour Competition, has two new comics on sale via her web site (

Waiting For Sushi is a 32 page A6 comic with colour cover containing lots of mini cartoons with characters such as Hairy Midget Elf, Leaning Rabbit, Burger Love and The Boy with Living Ears!

"This first edition of this comic is now sold out," says Lizz, "but a second edition is now available. " This new version features three new cartoons - Melon Boy!, Fat Pigeon and Smelly Pigeon! and What to do if your Hair is on Fire!

Party Animals is a black and white 16-page mini comic featuring exciting little cartoons and ew characters such as My Mate Primate, Disco Rabbit and Troy the Talking Chair! This comic comes with a free random badge.

Hailing from Birmingham in the UK, Lizz studied Animation at a University "in a little town in the middle of nowhere.

"I soon discovered animators spend too many hours alone in the dark drawing the same picture slightly different millions of times with very little reward (except insanity) and so I developed an interest making fake taxidermy squirrels and puppet animation which is much more fun," she says. "
Since then I have concentrated on cartooning again,

Her next comic will be
Zine Arcade which she sells us which again features her characters, Smelly Pigeon and Fat Pigeon.

To buy either comic visit:

Friday, 19 October 2007

Spaceship Away #13 Now on Sale, License Renewed

Good news for fans of the ace Dan Dare magazine Spaceship Away - the title has had its license renewed so expect even more great issues of this labour of love from Rod Barzilay.

Issue 13 of the A4 sized full colour glossy magazine published three times a year is now on sale via

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 Hal Starr, created by Jeff Hawke creator Sydney Jordan, is another mainstay of the magazine, previously unpublished in English - or the UK, for that matter.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

Jazz Butcher on emusic

Have you ever bought an album for its cover? When it was released way back in 1984, Hunt Emerson's energetic, enthused art for Jazz Butcher's Scandal in Bohemia was what caught my eye, and persuaded me to hand it over to the staff in the (sadly long gone) Ear Ere Records store in Lancaster and ask for a listen.

I was hooked (the Emerson cover a definite plus). I followed Jazz Butcher via their albums through the 1980s and once caught them live at a gig in London when I was working there (somewhere off Euston Road, I think).

As a review of the band over on music download site emusic recounts, The Jazz Butcher was the vehicle of prolific singer/songwriter Pat Fish, described by them as an archetypal British eccentric whose sharp observational wit and melodic gifts navigated the group through over a decade of constant line-up shifts, stylistic mutations and even a series of name changes which found the band performing variously -- and apparently randomly -- under such titles as The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and the Jazz Butcher & His Sikkorskis From Hell.

But every time I mentioned Jazz Butcher when the matter of favourite bands came up, it was rare that anyone had heard of them (in fact, I think it was only Nick Jones at Titan Books who ever named one of their albums). Strange, considering they only disbanded in 1995.

Well, that's all going to change, surely, because not only is a lot of the Jazz Butcher's back catalogue now available via emusic, I've just found the band's official web site and JB Pat Fish's MySpace site. So, go check them out. And I still rate Scandal in Bohemia as a fab album!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Fancy a Coffee with your TV Hero?

Ever fancied a coffee with someone whose TV talents you really admire? Someone who could give excellent careers advice? Someone who might provide the inspiration you’ve been looking for?

Then join the queue. And join in. Because Northwest Vision and Media are organising a series of A Coffee With… sessions for creative types in North West England, linking new talent within the film and TV industry, to established professionals keen to pass on their knowledge and advice.

“We wanted to create a situation where trainees could network with someone who may be able to help them with work experience, training or careers advice, so A Coffee With… is the perfect place to do just that,” explains Daisy Ashton, Project Co-ordinator at Vision and Media, which works on behalf of the region’s TV, film, radio and digital content industries.

“The A Coffee With… sessions will be a wonderful way for new talent to be able to chat with someone who they wouldn’t usually get the chance to speak to, someone who may be inspirational or even directly help them with career development,” adds Daisy.

North West Vision have TV professionals lined up from ITV and BBC. To be in with a chance send your CV and a one page covering letter explaining which area of the industry you are interested in – drama, factuals or entertainment – and tell us why you should get the chance to meet your TV hero, then email your entry to Daisy Ashton at

Bid for the Anti Pesto Van!

Aardman Animations are auctioning Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park's Austin A35 van, which inspired the anti-pesto van in The Curse of the Were - Rabbit.

The car is being auctioned on eBay, with the auction ending 27 October 2007.

All proceeds will be donated to The Wallace and Gromit Children’s Foundation.

“I’ve always been a fan of Austins and this particular vehicle inspired me to come up with the Anti-Pesto van that was central to the plot and rehabilitation of the vegetable eating 'pests' in Curse of the Were-Rabbit," comments Nick. "The van needed to be big enough to transport Wallace’s invention the Bunvac 2000 while at the same time slick enough to go on high speed chases after the formidable Were-Rabbit, and the Austin was a perfect match.

"Good luck to everyone who bids and all proceeds will be donated to the Wallace and Gromit Children’s Foundation”.

The van was built in 1958 and was originally black, but there are no records about the history of the car prior to 1983 other than the factory record certificate which was obtained in 2005 (which will be given away with the van).

Aardman point out the van does not have an MOT and has been garaged since restoration in 2005. Restoration of the van included a full re-spray and reconditioning of the original engine. Although most parts are original, lights have been replaced and sills have been repaired during this restoration. The van has pop out indicators.

Aardman also say the van will have to be collected: they don't think it will fit in the post...

Markosia to unleash the Magpye

The Magype
Markosia Enterprises have signed a new four part mini series - The Magpye - from the critically acclaimed UK comic studio Monkeys with Machineguns (www.monkeys

Described by writer Chris Lynch as a "psychological supernatural super-hero-horror story", The Magpye will be solicited in late 2008.

"I’ve been watching the guys at MWM for a while now and have been impressed with their vision," says Markosia's Harry Markos on securing the deal. "When Chris Lynch got in touch a while back I told him that we were looking for new titles for late 2008 – early 2009, which led to the pitch for The Magpye and a couple of other exciting ideas which we’ll be discussing at a later date.

"The Magpye is just the kind of exciting property which we want to be associated with, and to develop further. I explained to Chris what we have in mind for the future and things developed into a full blown negotiation. Everything happened quite quickly, and we decided that the Birmingham International Comic Show would be a great place to seal the deal, which we did.

"I’m looking forward to seeing the story unfold; I think a lot of people are going to be surprised with what we’ll be putting out there!”

Established in 2005 by Chris Lynch and Stu.Art, Monkeys with Machineguns have become stalwarts of the UK independent press through their eponymous horror anthology; most recently described by Silver Bullet Comicbook's Regie Rigby as "a hugely entertaining, strangely haunting and dangerously thought provoking book"; as well as their 2005 charity anthology The Hammer of Time and their work for a range of other publishers both in the UK and America.

“We're delighted to be working with Markosia on The Magpye,” said Magpye co-creator and writer Chris Lynch. “They have all the tools to help us bring the story to as wide an audience as possible, and we're looking forward to a long and rewarding partnership”.

All About Thunderbirds documentary

Gerry Anderson with Thunderbirds puppet Alan TracyA quick update on the BBC4 Thunderbirds documentary we reported on recently. downthetubes has been in contact with the producer of the show and he tells us production is complete and is pencilled for broadcast on 4 January 2008.

In other Gerry (and Sylvia) Anderson news, Comics International will be running a series of features on the comics inspired by his various series from #205 owards, written by the Shaqui le Vesconte, compiler of the brilliant Complete Gerry Anderson Comics History site.

$10,000 Mobile Comic Winner Announced

ROK Comics has announced the winner of its first $10,000 humour competition as cartoonist Steve English, for an episode of his ongoing series "Madd Science".

Runners up in the competition, which ran on ROK Comics this summer and attracted hundreds of entries, were David Hailwood and Toshiro de Smeyter for and episode of their strip "Drink Like a Fish" and Paul Eldridge, who used the ROK Comics Creator Tool to produce a strip entitled "The Secret of Stonehenge".

Steve won the $10,000 overall prize while the runners up will receive 12 month subscription to ROK Comics.

After two rounds of short listing, thirty cartoons were considered by external judge Alan Digby, editor of the best selling British weekly comic The Beano, published by DC Thomson.

"The standard was very high, and the different approaches to a inherently restricted art form, such as the 'three picture' strip cartoon, were refreshing," commented Alan.

"I wouldn't be surprised if one of the contributors who made the shortlist managed to make a breakthrough into the world of cartooning - and it might not necessarily be the most obvious entrant who does."

As the Managing Editor of the ROK service, I have to say I've been hugely impressed by thethe huge range of entries we had to the competition, especially given this is a fairly new medium for comics. There was much umming and ahing in the office to get down to a shortlist.

Cartoonist Steve EnglishCommenting on his win, Steve English (right) said: "It's fantastic. The last time I entered a cartoon competition I only won a pizza!”

"It's nice to know that when you're staring at a blank page and banging your head against a wall waiting for an idea to drop out, sometimes something lands in your lap that makes others laugh too.”

"I'm torn between cashing in the cheque and framing it as proof that I made the editor of the Beano smile... No I'm not – a framed bank receipt will do the job just fine."

Shortlisted were Ian Alexander, Josh Alves, Vicente Aviles, Mike Carey, Paul O' Connell, Rich Diesslin, Mike Flanagan (Adult Themes, filtered), Lizz Lunney, Jack Noel, Howard Priestley, David Reddick, Kennedy Rose (Adult Themes, filtered), Paul Stapleton, Super Massive Studios and Dave Windett.

ROK Comics will be running more competitions in future.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Floods Charity Comic Planned

(Updated 21/10/07): UK indie publisher Adam Grose, who runs Clown Press, is working on a charity comic in aid of the Red Cross, to raise money for flood victims the world over.

Although initially prompted by floods in the UK during the summer, floods in other parts of the world continue to cause misery four thousands of people, and Adam was moved to try and inspire the comics community to create a collection of one page strips and raise funds for flood relief.

"The UK experienced some of the most horrendous weather, with a month's worth of rain falling in 24 hours," Adam explains. "During this time, many of our fellow citizens experienced flooding, unknown to many of us.

"I decided to put together a comic to help raise awareness of our changing world, the environment and the increasing floods and disasters, that seem ever increasing since the turn of the millennium."

Posting an appeal on the downthetubes forum, Adam has asked for writers and artists to band together, creating a one page strip cartoon or illustration, using the title of 'Flood'.

"This comic will initially be available as a download via Smallzone (," says Adam, "then as a printed book to help raise money for the Red Cross and victims of the floods. Hopefully, this will be available the world over and help to bring more awareness to our world community."

Some of the strips will also be adapted for the ROK Comics mobile format, with any profits from sales going to the Floods cause. (John Freeman has kindly agreed to do the adaptation work for any creators who would like to see their "Floods" strip in this format).

Contributors so far include Simon Mackie, David Hailwood, Team Sputnik, John Freeman, Mike Nicoll (panel from his strip above) and, of course, Adam.

If you are a writer and artist and you would like to get involved then please contact Adam via or through

• Web Link:

Deadlines and Format Information for submitting strips

Adam would like to get this out relatively soon, but he is also aware creators all have many projects on the go and various deadlines. A working deadline for the page would be by the end of November/ first week in December. His hope is to publish available by Christmas as a download, an alternative Christmas present, with the print edition available May 2008.

If you would like Adam to read through anything before it is committed to being drawn, then he is available to read through your idea. "Otherwise, I am sure you are able to use your judgement on this issue," he says.

"I don’t want to control what type of story you create, as I am not one for censorship, therefore giving you the widest possible of choices. Obviously there are certain things you may feel you can’t do, law-abiding, but if you are worried then please contact me and we can talk about it."

Technical Information
Please supply art as follows:

FILE: A4 29.7 x 21cms. Portrait or Landscape.
RES: 300 DPI
FILE FORMAT: ART - PDS is preferable, high quality JPEG also. WRITING - Word or PDF
STYLE: Up to the individual artist.
ROK COMICS STRIPS: If you want your comic to be adapted for mobile delivery by ROK Comics (

- Please supply the art as a layered photoshop file (only the lettering needs to be a separate file) or unlettered image file with your script.
- Lettering for mobile has to be 18 to 24 point for legibility.
- The mobile formatted strip will be submitted to you for your approval before publication on a special 'Floods' page of ROK Comics

Writers: Submit a 'Drabble'
Several writers have expressed an interest in contributing text stories, so Adam's suggested they submit 100 word 'drabbles' for the project.

"If you are a writer and you would like to create a drabble for this project then go for it," Adam says. "I know writers might have some difficulty finding an artist or would rather just write a short story of 100 words. The theme would be the same - FLOOD. I look forward to your contribution.

Send any drabble to Adam via

For more about Drabbles visit:

Monday, 15 October 2007

Marvel Heroes never die...

The new Captain America-- They just get reinvented. Way back in March I commented on the 'death' of Marvel Comics iconic hero Captain America and cynically suggested the character would not stay dead for long.

Well, the original Steve Rogers remains dead but now Captain America is reborn, with character designs by Alex Ross...

Here's some promotional hype for you to savour:
Six months after the death of Steve Rogers captured national attention, Marvel is proud to unveil the new Captain America as designed by renowned, award winning artist Alex Ross!

This bold new look... also serves as the variant cover to January’s Captain America #34, featuring the first appearance of this new Captain America!

After the death of Steve Rogers, and the climactic events of Captain America #33, there must be a new Sentinel of Liberty and now Ross, one of the industry’s most renowned artists, has created a dynamic new look for the seminal hero..."
The new Captain America stories are written by Ed Brubaker and Ross talks about the new design over on the official Marvel Comics web site, revealing that the costume redesign, which he and the rest of the creative team know will cause controversy (the original Captain America, like Batman, did not use a gun) and says he was inspired in part by the 1940s Captain America film serial in which the hero did carry a weapon.

So not only will someone other than Steve Rogers step into the Cap costume come January, they'll be armed with both a gun and a knife to go along with Cap's classic shield.

Reaction is sure to the new look will be loud and varied, and Ross knows it, even though America's National Rifle Association might be delighted. "I think in many ways we want people to react with whatever emotions that come to mind," says Ross. "The idea that Captain America would have an offensive weapon like a gun… if it's an upset feeling, we want it to be so. We want it to feel like, 'Oh, he's got a gun now. Captain America with a gun?!' You know, it should stick in your mind that that's something. This is not your father's Captain America, so to speak. It's a more brutish interpretation, at this point, for the modern age."

Yes, you read that right. The new Captain America is apparently a brute.

"I'm not worried about it that much because the costume design looks so cool I figure everybody [will] love it, but I'm sure that there'll be people who are furious about it," Brubaker says. "You know, nobody's really complained about it, but after nine months I think people will be glad to have at least somebody running around in a Captain America costume in the book."

"There are going to be some who'll love [the new look] and some who'll loathe it," says Captain America editor Tom Brevort. "But it does have the advantage that this isn't Steve Rogers, so what might seem right or wrong for his Captain America won't necessarily hold true in the same way for our new guy."

Marvel's PR department must surely be rubbing their hands with gleee at this news. A controversial new look for such a seminal character is another golden opportunity to stir up fan outrage is bound to ensure plenty of (free) coverage on comics blogs (look, even I've been suckered in, and this is usually a blog about British comics).

I can't help but think there's an element of reader manipulation going on, and my feeling is that it's a pretty sorry state of affairs that the sentinel of liberty has apparently been recast as some kind of brash thug (for some reason, I used to quite like Captain America - that 'out of place, out of time' aspect of the character resonated).

But given the way many beyond America regard American foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere, perhaps Brubaker, Ross and company are right on the money, and we'll be treated to a savage critique of the modern USA in January.

Hey, maybe the NRA won't be so happy after all.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

I went to the Birmingham International Comic Show and all I got was…

-- a fab day out seeing some great comics people, the chance to talk about ROK Comics, announce the winner of the $10,000 ROK Comics humour competition as judged by Beano editor Alan Digby and pick up some terrific indie comics, a copy of the new British comics magazine, Crikey, and get lost in Birmingham's three-tier shopping complex, the Pallisades, on the way to the thinktank where the Birmingham International Comic Show was held.

Apart from the single lift that was the only way to get out of the event, and the heat, BICS was great!

We hope to have a more detailed report on the event later from Leon Hewitt which will appear on the main site, but for me this was a great day out and it was just a shame my schedule didn't enable me to be there for the whole weekend. (Still, if I had been there the whole weekend I wouldn't have met the two ladies who were desperately trying to set to Southampton to board their transatlantic cruise to Barbados – I hope they made it – or the incredibly self-assured lady working away on notes for her appearances at Professional Beauty North in Manchester who proved a great travelling companion from Birmingham and diplomatically put up with my clumsy attempts to eat a pasty with decorum and dropping a picture frame on her foot).

But for me, the one day (Saturday) was good fun even if I was up at 4.45am to get there for the day's events. Dan Dare artist Gary Erskine was on hand to show fans some of the pages from the first issue of the new Virgin comic, which look great, a fine blend of Frank Hampson homage and modern storytelling techniques. I had a brief chat with Markosia's Harry Markos to talk over some ROK stuff and plans to add Lexian Chronicles and Eon to the ROK Comics service, and talk to Tony Bennett from Knockabout, who tells me sales of Yesterday's Tomorrows are going very well, driven of course by Rian Hughes great art and Grant Morrison's Dare story – I'm under no illusions that my Science Service strip is a strong reason to buy this beautiful collection of Hughes art.

I also bumped into John Reppion and Leah Moore, who are busy with several projects for Dynamite, Mike Collins, who I'm doing some commercial comic strip work with for a company called Cardium, Dave Windett, who's just done me some brilliant, fun designs for a new ROK project (and whose jaw dropped when I told him the potential extent of it!), Lew Stringer (trading views on the new BBC Robin Hood Adventures comic), the team from Classical Comics who have just launched their fantastic looking Henry V book, Daley Osiyemi and David Bircham, energetic creators of the soon-to-be-a-film Brodie's Law, and shared a break with cartoonist Steve English who I later announced as the winner of the ROK Comics Humour competition (press release later!).

I also shared a few minutes with the talented Andy Winter of Moonface Press, Andy Dodd and Steve Tanner of new indie Time Bomb Comics, Hunt Emerson, looking no worse for wear from what everyone told me was a great gig by his band at the opening party, Andrew Wildman, Phil Clarke and ooh, several others, not least of which was a modest Paul Eldridge who seemed bemused his "Secret of Stonehenge" strip had come third in the ROK competition.

As usual, the indie press were out in force. Pressed into my hands, in no particular order at the event were Ragamuffins #1 from Time Bomb – a finely printed first issue of a tortological time-tweisting tale I'm going to have to re-read to see if I can make sense of – but full marks to artist Andy Dodd for coming up with some amazingly psychedelic time travel scenes and Steve Tanner for creating a set of intriguingly weird characters battling to hold the universe together as time itself unravels.

Another gem from the weekend is the Judge Dredd 30th Anniversary Special, a special book from the creators of the 2000AD fan title Zarjaz. This is a gorgeous, fun collection of Judge Dredd tales spanning the future cop's entire career, wrapped in a cover by Boo Cook. Fave strips for me from this compendium of strips are The Zoove by Al Ewing and Oliver Redding – classic one shot Dredd comedy – and Time Trial by Colin J. Dinnie and David Gray, with te original Judge Dredd from early issues chasing a perp across time and encountering today's Dredd as portrayed in 2000AD. Ace.

The Judge Dredd 30th Anniversary Special, costs £3 plus postage of 50p: Send a cheque to: Zarjaz, 57a Langney Road, Eastbourne, BN21 3QD (Cheques payable to Underfire Comics), Or pay by Paypal to:

Another fun item you should try and find is Shiznit, published by Clamnut Comics, a full, free colour mini comic packed with some of the funniest strips I've read for a while, like Hate Extravaganza and Classic Joke Theatre. It's all wickedly funny and well worth seeking out.

The Shiznit is a free, full colour pocket sized comic magazine which aims to kickstart an indigenous comics industry in Eire. It's mainly available throughout Dublin City Centre and with a few outlets in Cork, Galway and Belfast or you can download copies from the Clamnut web site as PDFs.

The second issue of Crikey!, ( the British comics magazine (£3.99 from all good comic shops) comes with a free thunderclapper gift and is crammed with articles on classic British comics. This issue includes features on DC Thomson's The Broons, the TV21 Daleks strip, artist Ron Embleton and much more, lavishly illustrated and a must for any British comics fan.

If you were a fan of Ian Wheeler's Eagle Flies Again fanzine, and have fond memories ofr British comics of the past, this is a must buy.

Another nice item reflecting the enthusiasm and drive of British creators is Power Less, the product of Better Feelings Films -- #0 was on offer together with a live action version of the comic on DVD. The art looks great. More info at

I've barely scraped the surface of the indie titles at the event and not touched on the many panels and guest talks – I'll leave that to Leon – but it was great to catch up with so many creators and publishers and comics fans, however briefly (and yes, I know I've missed some folk out this time round).

Suffice to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my all too brief visit to the Birmingham International Comic Show and look forward to the 2008 event!

Silver Bullets to get makeover, new name

One of my favourite comics news sites is about to undergo a reavmap and name change, so be ready to update your book marks.

Since its creation in 2000, (SBC) has been one of the most frequented sites for comic book-focused reviews, commentary and features. In 2005, the site won an Eagle Award for “Favourite Comics-Related Website,” and hosts a plethora of entertaining columns such as “All The Rage” and Beau Smith’s “Busted Knuckles,” among many others.

In the coming months though, SBC will be re-launched as with a completely re-designed website.

“Nearly eight years ago we launched a site into the burgeoning field of comics journalism,” said SBC/Comics Bulletin publisher Jason Brice. "In that time, Silver Bullet Comics has become recognized as the pre-eminent site for comics criticism and has featured the writing of a huge number of fans and professionals. It’s axiomatic in many industries that any organisation must ‘change or die,’ and so to that end, we’re moving to the next step in evolution, with a new name, a new design, and a new approach to what we do best.

“I’m incredibly proud of the outstanding team of writers, editors, designers, and programmers that we have put together for this venture. I’m certain that the thousands of comics fans and professionals that witness our transformation into Comics Bulletin will be amazed at what we have planned and will witness a paradigm shift in the way our industry understands comics journalism. Comics Bulletin is the way ahead.”

It will be interesting to see how the new site develops and what new features will be added to an already-terrific web site. Good luck, folks!

Chap with wings...

Good news for fans of early Doctor Who: BBC 4 is to screen a classic Third Doctor story later this month.

Fan favourite The Daemons screens from Sunday 21 October at 7.00pm, with the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and trusty assistant Jo Grant up against evils unearthed by an archaeological dig at Devil's End -- and the Master. (Of course it's strange that this isn't being shown on BBC3, since the first episode predicted predicted the existence of that channel 30 years early!)

Quite apart from quotes like the Doctor's "Everything that happens in life has a scientific explanation -- if you look for it..." and UNIT Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart's "Chap with the wings there -- five rounds rapid!", this episode is perhaps one of the best featuring the UNIT 'family' up against the deliciously nasty Master played to perfection by Roger Delgado.

The story was shot in Aldbourne, Wiltshire in 1971. Its Blue Boar pub became the Cloven Hoof for the story and the destruction of its church proved such an effective visuyal effect for the time that some believed the village chuch had genuinely been destroyed during filming.

The Daemons has been the subject of a Reeltime documentary and the Daemons have appeared in many other Doctor Who spin-offs such as the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip.

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