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Friday, 23 November 2007

Rennie's New Prescription

Judge Dredd and console game writer Gordon Rennie divulges trade secrets in his new column about writing computer game scripts.

Rennie, a former music journalist turned comics writer whose credits include strips for 2000AD such as Necronauts, Caballistics, Inc and Judge Dredd, and Warhammer novels, has been working more in the computer games industry of later, with comics writing becoming a sideline.

The BAFTA-nominated games writer has always maintained links with comics fans, and the blog offers some useful insights into the business from an insider's viewpoint, although it might not encourage some into the business when he reveals that although he writes comics for a living "unless you’re a character in a Kevin Smith movie, it's definitely not ever going to get you laid."

One reader has already responded with surprise, apparently under the impression comic creators were part of Britain's cultural elite these days. Poor, misguided, fool...

Friday Fun: Talking Cats

You may have seen the original "Talking Cats" ...

... but now someone has kindly provided a Babelfish provided translation for those of us who don't speak cat.

The original cats, Stina and Mossy usually fight instead of talk, so apparently this was an odd moment. They kept "talking" for about an hour, constantly.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Top Books of 2007

Publishers Weekly has posted a listing of the comics chosen for the print magazine’s "Best Books of 2007".

The books chosen for the Comics section include British creators Bryan Talbot's Alice in Sunderland and Nick Abadzis's Laika, along with Adrian Tomine's falling-out-of-love story Shortcomings, Rutu Modan's brilliant mystery-romance Exit Wounds, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman, Jason's I Killed Adolf Hitler, Nick Bertozzi's The Salon, Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, Taiyo Matsumoto's Tekkonkinkreet: Black and White, Osamu Tezuka's MW, and Eiji Otsuka and Sho-u Tajima's MPD-Psycho Vol. 1.

Also on the list is Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie's Aya, which as I commented earlier in the year, is a simply wonderful, beautifully illustrated tale of life in an African city with none of the Western stereotyping of the continent in sight. In Aya, lives are lived, hearts broken, romances kindled. There is no famine, no war, simply life as you'd expect on the streets of London or New York with all the complications that entails -- except the backdrop is the Ivory Coast, brought to vivid life by Clement Oubrerie's gorgeous art. Highly recommended.

One Dandy Of An Accident

Not your typical comics related news story but on Wednesday morning the flat bed trailer of an articulated lorry carrying steel beams crashed through the wall of D C Thomson's Guthrie Street printing plant in Dundee used for printing annuals such as The Beano and Dandy. Fortunately no one was hurt in the building or the car the runaway trailer clipped on its short journey down the hill.

The Scottish Television website has a video report on the aftermath while the crash itself made it onto the BBC and into The Scotsman newspaper. Thomson's themselves covered it in the Dundee Courier.

In Memoriam: Peter Haining

Award-winning journalist and author Peter Haining, perhaps best known for his Doctor Who books, has died suddenly at the age of 67, reportedly of a heart attack.

Haining, who lived in Suffolk, wrote a number of books about Doctor Who, starting with the 20th anniversary volume Doctor Who: A Celebration - Two Decades Through Time And Space in 1983.

Other titles followed such as The Key To Time: A Year-By-Year Record, The Doctor Who File, The Time-Travellers' Guide, Doctor Who: 25 Glorious Years and The Nine Lives of Doctor Who.

Haining, who won the British Fantasy Awards Karl Edward Wagner Award in 2001, also wrote about fictional heroes Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, Maigret and James Bond as well as editing many anthologies of horror and fantasy stories, and leaves a legacy of over 200 titles of various formats. (More credits here via Wordpress)

In an interview published on Crime Time, it's revealed he began writing at school and never stopped, moving from newspapers to magazines to book publishing, before becoming a freelance writer in the early 1970s. Enthusiastic and prolific in equal measure, he was considered by many a name to be reckoned with in the world of mystery fiction.

Peter Haining's most recent project was a series of World War Two stories based on extensive research and personal interviews such as The Jail That Went To Sea, The Mystery of Rommel's Gold, Where The Eagle Landed and The Banzai Hunters.

Describing himself as a writer for hire, he had a practical approach to coming up with new book ideas.

"I'm a great clipper and tearer of items out of magazines, and these I file away under subject," he told Crime Time. "I often find books grow out of those cuttings. I also believe that if you have an idea for a book and try it on two or three contemporaries and they say no, then fine, put it away and wait. Ideas have their own times, and certain ideas are appropriate for certain publishers. Quite often I will fire off an idea to a publisher I may not have dealt with before, and what's lost if they say no?

"I've always moved on from one thing to the next, and the ideas just seem to keep on flowing, or things keep on getting offered to me. I'm a writer for hire - that's what I've been doing for thirty years, and that's what I enjoy doing."

Peter Haining: Born Enfield, Middlesex, UK 2 April, 1940, died November 19, 2007

Update 3/12/07: Steve Holland has posted a detailed obit on Bear Alley

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Thor heading for the UK

Marvel's recently-revived Thor character (now being written with aplomb by J. Michael Straczynski) may be heading to the UK - but not in the comic.

The Daily Mail reports that after enjoying a successful British production on Neil Gaiman's Stardust, director Matthew Vaughn is hoping to keep the home-field advantage when production starts on Thor and is lobbying for a UK shoot for Marvel's god of thunder.

The film is scheduled for a 2009 release.

"It obviously bought us luck filming at home and I'm relieved that [Stardust] has performed so well in my own country," Vaughn said. "We have the A-list actors, designers, cinematographers and crew in Britain, so there's no need to make Thor among all that madness in Los Angeles."

Back in October, Comics2Film that an early script for the film (said to centre on the relationship between Thor and evil brother Loki and set entirely in the otherworld of Asgard) would have cost perhaps up to $300 million to make and was being revised, but Vaughn told Metro International "We’re trying to reshape it and get it down."

Based on the god of the same name from Nordic mythology and created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby, Thor first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 back in 1962.

In addition to the feature film, an animated Thor feature is in the works from Lions Gate Entertainment for 2009.

Yesterday's Hero Returns

Yesterday's hero is back. Everyone's favourite space adventurer, Dan Dare, returns this month in a new action-packed series from Virgin Comics and top creative team Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine. Matthew Badham caught up with the Ennis and Erskine to find out how they've interpreted Dare for the new millennium and what this very British hero means to them. Read the interview on the main downthetubes site...

Plus, courtesy of those fab folk at Virgin Comics, downthetubes has some nifty Dan Dare competition prizes to give away to some of our loyal readers and DD fans! Check out the same page

ROK buys Fun Little Movies

The ROK Entertainment Group, owners of ROK Comics, has announced it has acquired a 51 per cent controlling interest in Los Angeles-based Fun Little Movies.

FLM specialises in the development, production and distribution of original mobile-oriented comedy for global distribution such the very daft Love Bytes, featuring Babylon 5 star Claudia Christian and guest starring Star Trek: The Next Generation's Wil Wheaton. In its nomination for Best Video Producer at the 2007 ME Awards, Mobile Entertainment Magazine said FLM pioneered the advertiser-funded concept for mobile video.

More info over on the ROK Comics blog.

Hasselhoff returns in new Knight Rider

David Hasselhoff may reprise his role as Knight Rider Michael Knight in the new version of the cult 1980s NBC TV series.

Various sources report David Hasselhoff is in talks to appear on NBC’s Knight Rider in his role as Knight, with The Young & the Restless’s Deanna Russo to play the female lead and fellow soap star Justin Bruening in the role of the son.

The pilot for the potential new series will be a sequel to the 1980s hit, centring on Mike Tracer (Bruening) as Michael Knight’s son, who never knew his father.

Russo will play Sarah Kamen, the daughter of Charles Kamen, described as the man who invented the talking car named KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand). (I'm not that up on the original series but I thought KITT was the creation of billionaire Wilton Knight, played briefly by Richard Basehart?).

Sarah receives word from KITT that her father is missing, and the two must find Tracer, who is wasting away in Las Vegas with gambling debt, and recruit his help.

There's a review of the pilot script (warning: spoilers!) over on a new discovery, the Televisonary blog, which is compiled by a Los Angeles-based television development and acquisitions exec

The pilot will be directed by Steve Shill (The Kill Pit).

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

TV21 #4

With a little while to go before my initial sale of several issues of the iconic 1960s comic TV Century 21 and other issues ends, I've just put #4 of this great 1960s iconic comic up for auction on ebay.

In addition to the usual mix of strips - Fireball XL5, Stingray, The Daleks and more - the issue also features a rather nice half page black and white cutaway of Stingray.

There's still time to bid on #2 (with the free sticker badge given away with the issue), #79 with a Thunderbirds cover and #84 with a Stingray-related cover, and three Dalek cover issues: #28 (which includes several features on the Amicus Doctor Who and the Daleks film starring Peter Cushing) #36 and #50.

Monday, 19 November 2007

He's Just A Man With A Man's Courage...

Flash Gordon poster Who needs CGI for your spaceships when you can use fishing line and sparklers?

I can't resist another dip into Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh's Science Fiction Poster Art book, this time with a poster for a film serial based on a newspaper comic strip. Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe was the third and final Flash serial when it was originally released in 1940 and is still available as a three disc DVD set.

• You can view episodes of the serial on The Internet Archive and it is also available on DVD

Hammer Time at Memorabilia

The winter Memorabilia collectables fair ( takes place at the NEC in Birmingham (UK) next weekend (24-25th November) and among the attractions, including guest appearances by Heroes' Greg Grunberg and a number of Hammer veterans, including Barrie Ingham, Caroline Munro, Dave Prowse, Leslie Phillips, Madeline Smith, Geoffrey Bayldon and Georgina Hale.

Also attending are key members of the Beyond the Rave team (Hammer Films' new production), who will be doing a signing at the Gorezone magazine stand, including stars Matthew Forest and Leslie Simpson, production manager James Harris, and director Matthias Hoene.

Bridging the two is actress Ingrid Pitt, who will be on her Pitt of Horror stand, next to the HammerShop (

Memorabilia is the collector's fair of the year, bringing hundreds of stalls under one roof dedicated to film and television collectables, alongside a large number of special guests at star table signings.

Thumpculture hits the Web

Brilliant artist Neill Cameron, whose career I've followed for years, has been in touch to "casually mention" that he's finally had a chance to get back to stunning strip Thumpculture.

"I recently completed the first 'issue' online at, and before starting the second I'm in the middle of a week of daily updates where I'm posting various bits of character designs, background art, and general sketchbooky stuff," he says. "I thought it might be a fun peek into the creative process for people."

If you've been a Friend of The Thump in the past - some pages have appeared on ComicSpace and elsewhere then check out the site: the art is simply stunning. Neill's a talent whose work has been published in various UK magazines and I have no idea why he is not appearing regularly in 2000AD, or talent spotted by one of the US majors.

David Lloyd on Tour

Kickback and V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd has just dropped us a line to let us know he's embarking on a signing tour in Ireland later this month. The tour has been organised by comic shop Sub City, as part of an ongoing series of talks planned in Ireland featuring respected comic creators from all genres of the medium.

David will be visiting Dublin, Galway and Cork which should give most people a chance to meet with him. Admission to all events is free but in the case of Dublin and Galway (details below) it's a ticket affair so if you would like to come contact or phone 01 6771902, or just drop into the Dublin or Galway shop.

Dates as follows:

Tuesday 27 November
7.30pm: Talk and Signing, Central Hotel, Exchequer St, Dublin.

Wednesday 28th November
4-7.00pm: Signing, Chapters Bookstore, Parnell St, Dublin.

Thursday 29th November
8.00pm, talk and signing, The Roisin Dubh, Dominick St, Galway.

Saturday 1st December
12 noon - 3.00pm signing, Other Realms, Paul St Shop Centre, Cork.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Pow! Zowie! Braaak! It's (Still) Batman!

As an addition to the Batman trailer, here is the American poster for the 1960's re-release of the 1943 Batman and Robin serial, taken from Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh's book Science Fiction Poster Art published by Aurum.

Nourmand and Marsh have compiled a remarkable number of these poster books over the years, including the decade series of books running from the 1930s up to the 1990s, as well as Science Fiction Poster Art and Horror Poster Art. All are well worth a look.

It's Batman!

Here's a gem from YouTube: a trailer for the 1943 cinema serial. Batman uses a gun...

The poster doesn't think this is the original trailer that was shown at the time of its original release but from the re-release, back in 1966, when the Batman TV show was going great guns on ABC in the US, and cinemas showed the serial again to cash in on Batman's popularity. (I seem to recall it may even have been shown here in the UK, too?)

New UK Comic Creators Interviews

The fab comics site Read Yourself Raw has just been updated to include previews of new book, comic and manga releases for January 2008, a new essential reading list.

They've also drawn our attention to some UK creator interviews and related features on the web. Alan Moore has been discussing The Black Dossier at Comic Book Resources and Mania Comics (Part 1 and Part 2), while Jess Nevins continues his ‘approved’ annotations of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen series on his web site.

Meanwhile, with the relase of her new collection Tamara Drewe , Posy Simmonds has been chatting with The Daily Telegraph (revealing she's never happier when eavesdropping on a bus) and Paul Gravett.

Talking of Posy, she'll be making a rare public appearance and will be signing copies of her new book, Tamara Drewe, at Page 45 in Nottingham on 9 December 2007 between 1pm and 3pm. Further details from the shop's myspace site.

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