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Saturday, 22 December 2007

Dan Dare Times Two, Exhibition in Southport

(with thanks to Stuart Roberts): Local Southport paper Champion reports the town, once home to his creator, Frank Hampson, can now boast two Dan Dare statues.

Two busts are currently being stored at Atkinson Art Gallery in Lord Street. A second statue was made for an exhibition, which is due to go on display at the Botanic Gardens Museum while the "real" Dan - a bust created some time ago which had been located at Cambridge Walks Arcade but had been vandalised - will be put in Wayfarers Arcade.

“Dan Dare is a massive part of the town’s history," Eagle Club member and local councillor David Tattersall says. "Everyone who knows about the Pilot of The Future should be able to see the bust in Wayfarers and share their memories.”

Meanwhile, the Southport Visiter, which regularly reports on Dan Dare because of the town's connection with his creator, has a feature on the new Dan Dare comic, reporting on the first issue's strong sales.

Colin Gould, of the town's Planet Eater comic book store in Union Street, told the paper he can’t sell his supply of the new comic quick enough.

He told the Visiter: “A lot of the regular customers have been coming in and asking for it, many are people who read the original Eagle in the 1950s.

“It is selling really, really well and the suppliers have had to order another shipment from America."

The paper also reports a collection of Dan Dare memorabilia, loaned by Frank Hampson’s son, Peter, is currently on display at Churchtown Botanic Gardens Museum.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Dead Zone, 4400 Cancelled

Ausiello reports that the USA Network has cancelled The Dead Zone and The 4400, both
of which have aired their last episodes.

4400 creator and Executive Producer Scott Peters confirmed the cancellation on a message posted on the official 4400 Web board, repeated on TV Guide's Web site, telling loyal fans "The 4400 has been cancelled. We've had a great time bringing you this story and submersing you in the lives of all these incredible characters.

"I just spoke to Joel [Gretsch, who played male lead Tom Baldwin] and we had a great talk about what we all accomplished and how much we'll miss our family that is our crew and our cast... and our fans. But at least we got to go out with a bang! I had an awesome time directing the last episode. I think I got to make almost every single cast member cry (on camera). How much fun was that?!"

The Dead Zone was an impressive hit for the USA Network in its early seasons but the show was revamped for its sixth season and the re-formatting proved unsuccessful.

The 4400 IMDB Entry

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

More on those Dan Dare sales figures...

Earlier today, I posted news of Dan Dare #1's strong sales in the UK and a round up of just some of the reviews I found about the title (which have apparently astonished some Dan Dare fans who didn't like the book).

Hopefully, my blog post makes it clear that the strong sales are UK sales -- there was no claim in Virgin's press release that Dan Dare sales are as strong in the US. Indeed, recently published Diamond orders suggest to me that retailers there were basing their orders for Dare on their orders for other recent revamps of British characters.

Most Virgin books don't sell big numbers but Diamond orders for Dan Dare #1 are much higher than for some of their other titles -- 9,434 according to trade site ICV2.

If you look at Diamond orders for September 2006, orders for Albion #6 were 9,465, compared with 18,791 for #1 back in June 2005. Battler Briton #3, another Garth Ennis title, had orders of 9,985 in September 2006, more than for Albion #6.

Some downthetubes readers have sugested UK retailers may have under ordered Dan dare #1 and been caught out. I'm not sure if the ICV2 figures include UK orders -- I don't think they do -- but I would think that UK retailers would perhaps order more copies of a comic featuring such a big UK hero by a top 'Brit' writer, but it's clear they haven't ordered enough - we've had lots of people asking me where they can get copies.

It will be the orders for #2 and 3 that will be telling, but of course, those will have been placed before the sales of #1 were known.

Virgin is of course not dependent on the English language versions of its comics -- I assume there will be a translated edition of Dan Dare in the works for India, where they also sell, and perhaps Hong Kong, too, where theire John Woo book has apparently done very well (and was one of their best selling titles).

In Space No One Can Hear You Build...

If the Forbidden Lego book hasn't sparked your imagination for something to do with the kids' Lego once they have become bored with it after Christmas, maybe this website will give you a few ideas.

Lego Sci-Fi has Lego representations of the Tardis and Daleks from Doctor Who and the Liberator from Blake's 7. US TV isn't left out either with the Galactica from the original series of Battlestar Galactica and a Starfury from Babylon 5.

Even Lost gets the Lego treatment with a brick and minifig version of the excavation of the first hatch.
The challenge with building from scratch with Lego is to see the pieces as something other than what the Lego designers intended them to be.
From this website my favourite piece of lateral thinking has to be the use a circular Lego tree as the green engine dome of the Liberator.

Dan Dare UK Sales Success, Review Round Up

** Warning! Potential spoilers in the comments on this post!**

UK sales of the first issue of Virgin's new Dan Dare have made the title one of the most requested and most difficult to find in the run up to Christmas.

Specialist comic shops have done brisk business on the first issue of the new title and Virgin reports some disappointed fans of “The Pilot of the Future” have been paying five-times the UK cover price to have copies flown in from the USA.

One downtheubes reader told us London comic shops had been visited by fans of all ages trying to track down the book by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine, which pits a jaded but still idealistic Dare against a renewed Treen menace threatening Earth.

“We’ve posted a list at of retailers with copies of Dan Dare on their shelves,” said Larry Lieberman, Chief Marketing Officer of Virgin Comics. “By the time fans arrive at the comic shops they all seem to be sold out.”

Forbidden Planet, the UK’s largest comic retailer, is using FedEx to send more copies of Virgin’s Dan Dare to its stores in time for Christmas.

Comments on the the first issue from reviewers include "a modern comic book take on the classic British kids' comic character, filled with well-executed modern comic book things" (Comic Reporter), "a solid effort" (ComicMix). Over on PopCultureShock, which also features a short review with Ennis, Ernie Estrella gives the book an "A" rating and declares "the first issue of Dan Dare doesn’t bog down the reader with any unnecessary recap of who the protagonist is, instead Ennis places us behind the wheel of a great adventure -- but he’s steering. Whether you’ve read Dare as a child like Ennis, or you’re meeting him for the first time, you’re instantly comfortable and confident in Dare."

"[Garth Ennis'] new version of Dan Dare from Virgin will undoubtedly hit the right nostalgic notes for long-time Dare fans," feels Tim Janson over on Newsarama, "and (thanks to the writer and updated storyline) pull in new readers as well. It's definitely worth checking out."

Kurt Amacker, reviewing the first issue for, concurs, also giving the book an "A" rating. "Ennis and Erskine have effectively carried Hampson’s character into the 21st Century, with subtle commentary on current events that proves both touching and even-handed – a pleasant surprise from the usual hammer blows Ennis drops on things he dislikes."

"The art has a timeless, independent feel," feels ComicBloc's Doug Zawisza. "While I may not be steeped in the legend of Dan Dare, I found myself able to jump right in, comprehend what was going on and enjoy what I read."

"I really, really liked it," commented Forbidden Planet International's Joe Gordon on his blog The Woomaloo Gazette. "I enjoyed it; I liked Ennis’ take on him, I like the way he has set it years after Dan and Digby’s ‘glory days’ as the prime minister refers to them so we can maintain links to the original but still have something new... Will I be picking up the second issue now? Oh, hell, yes!"

Variety's Bags and Boards is a little more cautious, with Tom McLean praising Erskine's art but adding that "It seems unlikely that die-hard fans of the character will be doing backflips over this first issue — it’s just too heavy on the exposition to really tell how the space stuff everyone wants to see will work out over the next six issues."

On IGN, Dan Dare failed to impress Richard George who gave the book just 5.1 out of 10. "The concept of a disillusioned hero isn't a bad one," he acknowledges. "Ennis pulls off a [end of issue] revelation with great effect, but it's basically the only remotely interesting scene in the entire issue. Due to his isolation, Dare doesn't have much of a supporting cast. Nor does he have much of a personality aside from his hostility at life. It works on some levels but grows old and I honestly don't care to read about a bitter, dull hermit."

"There’s nothing I particularly disliked about this book," writes Wizard's Associate Editor Andy Serwin, "but there wasn’t anything in this ish that made me stop and say, ‘Holy crap! That was awesome!’"

While many seem to have enjoyed the opening issue response from older readers, who grew up on the original Dan Dare in the Eagle, has been mixed, with some prefering the new story featuring the "classic" Dare being published in the quality, licensed fanzine Spaceship Away.

Doubtless the shortage of the new Dare might have readers walking from comic shops sensible enough to stock it with this great magazine instead.

Read our interview with Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine

Monday, 17 December 2007

My Wife Left Me...

Before the sublime Doctor Who: Blink, before the gory Jekyll, before his two consecutive Hugo awards for new Doctor Who episodes, before even the four seasons of Coupling, Steven Moffat wrote two seasons of a little gem of a sitcom called Joking Apart.

Hidden away on BBC2 it told of the tortured love life of a stand-up comedian and starred Robert Bathurst before he moved on to Cold Feet. The first season of the show was released by Replay DVD several years ago and they have just announced that the second series, plus the original pilot episode, will be released on DVD on 17 March 2008.

Craig Robins of Replay says "It will be a two-disc set this time and the extras include commentaries on all episodes featuring Steven Moffat, Robert Bathurst, Fiona Gillies, Tracie Bennett, Paul Raffield, Andre Ptaszynski (producer), Bob Spiers (director) and Stacey Adair (Production Manager); the 1991 Joking Apart pilot episode (one of a series of pilots that were shown under the umbrella title of 'Comic Asides'); a complete set of scripts in pdf format; 'Joking Apart in the Studio' pdf article; plus a colourful companion booklet."

The DVD is available to pre-order now direct from Replay. You can buy Series 1 from

In Review: Cosmogenesis

Just released by Clown Press and available via, Waterstones and other good bookshops is Adam Grose and Tony Suleri's epic Cosmogenesis, a fully revised and updated version of the sprawling, magnificent space epic these two British creators have been promoting at various conventions over the years.

Cosmogenesis is not, I have to say, for the faint hearted. The 500 plus-page collection starts with a number of story strands which may appear confusing at first (other critics have commented on the bizarre sequencing of the original version), but for those determined to make sense of it, Cosmogenesis soon settles into a generally understandable yet no-holds-barred (if still, at times, bewildering) galaxy-spanning tale featuring a tale of 'good' versus 'evil' and how such concepts affect the man (or in the case of central character, Quongo), the intelligent ape on the street (or in a spacecraft).

The book charts the rise of simian Quongo from unwitting adventurer to possible messiah. Using the galactic setting, the narrative explores the writer's interest of grand cycles of time, numerology, and the recurring motif of mythological lone saviours prevalent in many cultures.

"The story is set within another time and place, in a galaxy not so far removed from our own, yet resides in a higher dimensional reality," says Adam of the story, which will give you some of idea of what to expect. "The premise comes from an idea that there are many civilisations out there in the Milky Way, yet we can not see them, because our reality is on a lower plane of vibration.

"... The whole story reveals a galaxy coming to the end of a great cycle of time. A time which would bring about a shift in consciousness in each individual and bring about the return of 'Those of Many.'"

I warned you it might blow your mind. It's difficult to really describe Cosmogenesis without making the obvious references: think Planet of the Apes meets Star Wars, with all kinds of things Joseph Campbell perhaps never even thought of thrown in.

Mix that with the detailed, painstaking art style of Tony Suleri and you will understand why I'm advising some caution before going in cold (you might want to check out some of the various promotional videos Adam has created to get a taste of what to expect and a feel for the core characters).

It's to Adam and Tony's credit that they've re-worked their original, tidying up a number of typographical errors that detracted from the initial pubications, and striven to give this collection a little clearer in terms of narrative. It's still a very dense tome, embracing and developing many ideas and concepts dear to the creators' hearts, and, is a far cry from many of the simpler comic tales you may enjoy on a regular basis. But if you're looking for thought provoking, mind-boggling storytelling then give this a try.

• Buy Cosmogenesis from

One for those of us working in publishing...

- and advertising, marketing, promotions etc. etc.

For the record, we of course don't know any pubisher or anyone in advertising who behaves like this. (Do you?). This mashup was conceived, written and produced by World Wide Wadio ("an All-Star team of writers, directors, producers and sound designers... from all facets of the advertising, entertainment and Internet industries.")... who apologise to (and much admire) the original source material (from "It's a Wonderful Life", in case you didn't know. And if you didn't, go play in traffic).

Sunday, 16 December 2007

For More Action And Adventure

While former Commando editor George Low continues with the Carlton (and SevenOaks) Commando reprint books, new Commando editor Calum Laird has made his mark on DC Thomson’s official website for the comic.

The site has be given a revamp with more regular updates, artwork features derived from the title's inside covers including of course Ian Kennedy's aircraft illustrations, and wallpapers based on various Commando covers. There is also the beginning of an online adaptation of one of the stories, Wall of Death, originally published in 1966.

In addition, and unfortunately a little late for this Christmas, there is now a range of merchandise including mugs and adult sized T-shirts with the Commando logo and a range of illustrations covering combat on land, in the air and by sea.

The Commando website can be found at

Daily Telegraph Doctor Who Story

Paul Cornell's Doctor Who short story for Christmas, The Hopes and Fears of All the Years will be appearing in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 22 December, and then on the Telegraph's website,

"There are some lovely illustrations by Doctor Who Magazine comic artist Mike Collins," Paul tells us. "I hope you enjoy it."

Rumble in the Jungle!

Commando: Anzacs at War Commando True Brit The 12 Toughest Commando Stories Ever

(Report originally posted by Richard Sheaf) Two of Carlton's Commando collections currently available have now been produced in alternative covers by Ian Kennedy. Fetaured here are the two Anzacs at War and the True Brit covers...

Rumble in the JungleThere's also a new title from Carlton in the offing next Summer entitled Rumble in the Jungle and described as featuring the 12 best jungle fighting episodes of Commando ever.

"Stories set in the jungles of Malay and Burma are, like all other Commando comics, packed with action and adventure," Carlton announces via "But there is something about these plots that really get the writers in top gear and they pull out all the stops. Who couldn't get enthusiastic about ambushes, impenetrable undergrowth, mysterious caves, deep river gorges flooded by monsoons, samurai swords, slithering snakes, fiendish fevers, strange cries in the night, menacing idols, dangerous insects and animals added to the usual threats from bullets and bombs?

Featuring such stories as "Jungle Madness", "Grudge Fight", "The Black Pagoda", "Halt - or Die!", "Danger Everywhere!" and "Jungle Sniper", this carefully selected anthology will transport you into a world of sweat, swamps...where our ever invincible allied heroes battle bravely and honourably to victory."

We've edited out the blatant racism from the book description, and we suspect Amazon or Carlton will too once they have a better look at it...

Rumble in the Jungle on (May 2008 release)

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