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Saturday, 5 January 2008

John Dares

The fab comics blog Bear Alley reports that veteran Brit comic artist John Ridgeway is working on a new Dan Dare story for the semi-professional magazine Spaceship Away. According to Bear Alley the strip will...

...take Dan back to Terra Nova to continue the search for his father (who may not be dead, as was previously thought), thus carrying on the Terra Nova saga where Frank Hampson left off.

"There are a few strange facts in the Terra Nova trilogy that I'm utilizing -- whether they were there deliberately or by accident I don't know," say John."A lot of the work on the story will be using CGI - hopefully it won't offend too many dedicated Dan Dare-ites."

John Ridgway has drawn some of Britain's most popular comic characters including Dan Dare for Eagle, Doctor Who for Marvel UK and, currently, the Commando comics for DC Thomson, and producing the colour and 3D models for Hal Starr for Spaceship Away with Sydney Jordan. He also worked on Head Shot, an episode produced for the series Black Museum for 2000AD.

Dan Dare first appeared in The Eagle on 14th April, 1950. It has been relaunched several times, most recently by Virgin Comics and the creative team of Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Play Misty for Me

(news via Charles Ellis): Thanks to Egmont, copyright owner of popular 1970s girls comic Misty, you now have the opportunity to vote for your favourite Misty story to be printed again in full again online on the Misty comic fan site - which became the official web site for the title last November.

Voting will be open for one month, after which results will be totaled and the winning story reprinted in the Archives pages.

Head over to the pages and click "Vote" to register your request.

The site runners are also promising new features and updates to the revamped site, giving Misty fans - also known as "The Children of the Mists" an active part in what is seen on the website.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Farewell to Flashman creator

George MacDonald Fraser, author of the hugely entertaining Flashman novels, and is credited for the screenstory and screenplay on the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy, has died aged 82.

The Daily Mail, The Times and other papers report Fraser, whose fans included P G Wodehouse and Kingsley Amis, died after a battle with cancer.

The Flashman Papers was first published in 1969 after Fraser quit as assistant editor of the Glasgow Herald and detailed the adult life of Harry Flashman, the bullying schoolboy of the 19th-century classic Tom Brown’s Schooldays and becomes a roguish soldier in the British Army.

The first instalment of The Flashman Papers sees the fag-roasting rotter commence his military career as a reluctant secret agent in Afghanistan. Expelled from Rugby for drunkenness, and none too welcome at home after seducing his father's mistress, the young Flashman embarks on a military career with Lord Cardigan's Hussars. En route to Afghanistan, our hero hones his skills as a soldier, duellist, imposter, coward and amorist (mastering all 97 ways of Hindu love-making during a brief sojourn in Calcutta), before being pressed into reluctant service as a secret agent. His Afghan adventures culminate in a starring role in that great historic disaster, the Retreat from Kabul.

Murray Ritchie, 66, former political editor of The Herald has paid tribute to Fraser in the paper, revealing : "George Fraser went around Scotland with the other journalists to the outposts giving tuition and that's how I met him.

"In journalism, he was great in all respects. He was a great writer, great sub-editor, great layout man, great headline writer, he was just a very talented individual.

"He rose effortlessly to become deputy editor in the 1960s and when he went home at night he was writing for himself and he had this idea that he would write a sequel to Tom Brown's Schooldays and took the character Flashman and wrote the first of those novels.

"It was such an instant success that he made a lot of money. He had a choice - to bank his money or lose it to tax. So there and then he gave up his very glittering career on the Glasgow Herald.

"I do not think it pushed him away but it certainly kept him away. I do not think it had the same attraction for him."

The Flashman Society web site includes a free Flashman reader offering a rundown of Flashman's lurid career

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

Two universes collide... and the results are spectacular. First published back in July 2006 I believe, but no idea who did it. Admissions of guilt welcomed!

Dare versus Dredd

No, not a new comic from Virgin (although I'm sure it's been considered somewhere): this is the result of my first test opf, which offers a snapshot of web searches, comparing the number of search results for specific terms.

The results don't indicate just how many searches have been analysed, but it does let you know from where searches have been taking place. The snapshot above compares 2007 searches for "Dan Dare" with 2000AD's "Judge Dredd" and you can see Virgin Comics PR machine played its part in boosting the space hero's web popularity with launch of their new comic last month.

Of course, compared with the number of searches for Marvel characters our Brit heroes still have a long way to go, but as a general guide to what comics fans are looking for this new tool should provide hours of endless fun for marketeers...

-- and talking of marketing, just a quick addition to this: Virgin Comics is promoting their new Dan Daretitle with a free episode online twice a week:

How to make yourself really popular in Starbucks

Sometimes technology people come up with ideas that sound great on paper but in real life - and in the case of this bright idea from Apple, especially in queue-conscious Britain - they're likely to cause a riot.

Last month, Apple (makers of the iphone and Mac computers) applied for a patent for a system that would allow customers to place coffee, fast food or merchandise orders from a wireless device, then jump in front of those ordering in person when picking up their order.

You can just imagine how this will go down here. As someone who seems to end up regularly spending ages in post office lines at lunch time waiting for three counter staff when there are eight windows, the idea that someone could jump that line because they have a posh phone rather makes my blood boil.

I am now awaiting the first "iphone rage" news report... I'm sure it won't be long coming.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Dan Dare on CD

Voyage to Venus Audio CDThe first Dan Dare story, Voyage to Venus is to be released on CD on 1 May 2008 by Orion Audiobooks.

The Orion website claim this is "The first Dan Dare story to be created especially for audio." Well, it's certainly the first to be released on CD as the vesrion broadcast on Radio 4 in 1990 (and which is occasionally rebroadcast on BBC7) was never released commerically.

Priced at £9.99 and running at 2.5 hours there is no word yet on who will be reading the story.

The cover (show here) shows the ship that Lero uses to travel to Earth in the Man from Nowhere story, which was the, er, sixth Dan Dare story. Hey, ho.

Here's hoping the graphic becomes a bit more relevant to the story by the time it's published.

Thunderbirds Night on BBC4

It's official - BBC4 has gone scifi mad this week. As we reported back in October, BBC4 are having a "Thunderbirds are Go!" night tomorrow (Wednesday 2nd), followed on Thursday by a tribute to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Time Tunnel creator Irwin Allen.

This is what's on... (the highlight of which must be the brand new epiode of Stingray at 10.10pm but the documentary at 9.10 sounds great too).

7.00 pm: Thunderbirds – The Perils of Penelope
Lady Penelope finds Paris in the spring less than romantic when called to a secret rendezvous with scientist Sir Jeremy Hodge. [S]

7:50 pm: Thunderbirds – Sun Probe
A manned sun-probe runs into trouble... and so does Thunderbird 3's rescue mission.

8.40 pm: Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – The Mysterons
2068 AD. On a Spectrum Mars mission a Mysteron city is found. Captain Scarlet is overtaken by the Mysterons and killed, but then returns to life.

9.10 pm: All About Thunderbirds
Gerry Anderson, cast, crew and fans reveal how space travel and new technology promised an exciting future, as Thunderbirds captured the spirit of the 1960s. More information on the BBC4 website

10.10 pm: Stingray: The Reunion Party
A brand new episode of Stingray, specially assembled under the supervision of creator Gerry Anderson. The material used was put together from footage used to help generate international sales, all of it unseen by UK viewers.

10.40 pm: Mastermind
Specialist subjects are the life and work of Hunter S Thompson, Thunderbirds, Kenneth Williams and the history of the Academy Awards.

Monday, 31 December 2007

New Halloween Comic

February sees the release of a new comic based on the successful Halloween movie franchise. The comic will be called Halloween: Nightdance.

The first Halloween movie, directed by John Carpenter, was released in 1978 and the ninth movie, a remake of the original directed by Rob Zombie, was released earlier this year.

Written by Stefan Hutchinson and drawn by Tim Seeley, the comic sees the return of serial killer Michael Myers. This will be a four issue mini-series and issue one will have four variant covers including a glow-in-the dark version.

The original Halloween has recently been re-released on DVD with a stunning documentary, Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, which examines all the first eight Halloween movies

Alan Grant Speaks

Judge Dredd writer Alan Grant will be presenting a lecture called Writing Tomorrow Yesterday: How Fiction Became Reality in Edinburgh on 29th January as part of the Edinburgh Lectures.

Alan Grant first entered the comics industry in 1967 when he became an editor for DC Thomson before moving to London from Dundee in 1970. After going back to college, Grant found himself back in Dundee and living on social security. It was here that he met John Wagner and a writing partnership was forged. Together, they penned hundreds of Judge Dredd’s weekly adventures in 2000AD and Grant has been writing for the title for more than 25 years, with many of the predictions made in his SF stories having come to pass in the real world.

Grant is internationally acclaimed for stories featuring heroes like Batman, Robocop and Terminator (based on the blockbuster Arnold Schwartzenegger movies). He is also the co-author of The Bogie Man, Scotland’s best-selling independent comic, and the recent comic incarnation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped.

The Edinburgh Lectures were launched in 1992 as part of a programme of events celebrating the UK’s Presidency of the European Union which culminated in the European Summit held in Edinburgh in December that year. The Edinburgh Lectures were such a success they have continued every year since.

Each series addresses a range of major public issues in a national and international context. Over 179 high-calibre speakers from home and abroad, including Stephen Hawking, HRH The Princess Royal, Mikail Gorbachev, Jackie Stewart and John Simpson, have provided insightful and stimulating contributions

The Lectures are led by the City of Edinburgh Council and presented in partnership with The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Napier University, The Open University in Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, the Scottish Arts Council, Scottish Executive and The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The lectures take place throughout the autumn and winter and are open to the public.

• To book tickets for the lecture, go here.

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