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Friday, 18 January 2008

New Horror Comic

Comic fans still mourning the loss of defunct UK horror comic Scream! might be interested in a new spooky comic, Locke and Key, coming soon from IDW, the US publisher responsible for the new Doctor Who titles. As it's an American title you won't be able to pick it up in newagents over here, but it should be relatively easy to find in comic shops.

Wriiten by novelist Joe Hill, author of best selling novel ''Heart-Shaped Box'', this new comic is drawn by Gabriel (Beowulf) Rodriguez. In July 2007, Hill explained that ''Locke & Key is a supernatural thriller about three kids who find themselves the custodians of an unlikely New England mansion called Keyhouse. Within the house are secret doors with transformative powers, the power to fundamentally change a person’s identity... they find themselves pitted against a thing that calls itself Dodge... There’s a terrible door within Keyhouse that Dodge would like to force open, and which my heroes have to keep shut at all costs.''

Expect to see this new title on the shelves in February.

Ferg Handley Signing In Edinburgh

Spider-Man and Commando writer Ferg Handley will be signing copies of the current issue of Panini UK's Spectacular Spider-Man at Deadhead Comics in Edinburgh's Candlemaker Row on Saturday 26 January from 2pm.

As previously reported here on Down The Tubes this issue features Peter Parker visiting Edinburgh in his European search for clues about the deaths of his parents.

Handley is interviewed by Liam Rudden in today's The Guide section the of the Edinburgh Evening News, which features a cover of Spider-Man in front of Edinburgh Castle by Andie Tong.

Spectacular Spider-Man Issue 162 is available at all good newsagents for £1.99 and comes with a free Spidey Target Game.

JLA Shelved

Media web site Digital Spy, Variety and others sources are reporting the highly-anticipated Justice League of America movie has been shelved indefinitely.

Warner Bros has allowed the cast's contracts to expire because of difficulties over the screenplay and taxation issues, according to Variety. Budget was also an issue, especially if the production doesn’t ultimately qualify for tax incentives in Australia, where the film was going to be shot.

E! Online reports producers have also agreed the script by Kieran Mulroney and Michele Mulroney needed some tinkering - something that can't be done until the Writers Guild strike is over.

Warner Bros had already begun to distance the project from other DC-related franchises, as we reported earlier this month.

Directed by George Miller, the film based on DC Comics superhero super team was rumoured to star former OC actor Adam Brody as The Flash, alongside Armie Hammer Jr (as Batman), rapper Common (Green Lantern), Megan Gale (Wonder Woman) and Scott Porter (Superman). Wolf Creek actress Theresa Palmer was also lined up to play Batman's love interest Talia al Ghul.

Cast members were reportedly already on location on Tuesday when they were informed that the movie had been put on hold. But they were assured that the studio had every intention of making it in the future, with the existing cast as its stars.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Spider-Man Controversy Makes UK Papers

[WARNING Spoilers for One More Day #4 released by Marvel 28 December]

Controversy surrounding Marvel's decision to separate Spider-Man's alter ego Peter Parker from his beloved Mary Jane thanks to a deal with demonic Mephisto to save the life of the superhero's Aunt May has been picked up by The Guardian.

The paper reports some Spider-Man fans are outraged that in a four issue story, One More Day, Marvel Comics has turned back the clock and dissolved the marriage of its wall-clinging superhero, which happened way back in 1987 in the comic. "While followers of the movie version know the character is single with a sweetheart, as far as comic book fans are concerned Spider-Man has been married to Mary Jane Watson for the past 21 years," the paper explains.

The change and some other major continuity reversals apparently reflects the fact that the marriage made life "difficult for [Spider-Man] writers and had been a source of regret" but comment by writer J. Michael Straczynski's about re-writes on scripts by Marvel Comics' editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada, have provoked plenty of online debate about the story.

Straczynski is particularly concerned that the changes in continuity have been explained away as magic. "There's this notion that magic fixes everything," he commented. "It doesn't. 'It's magic, we don't have to explain it.' Well, actually, yes, you do. Magic has to have rules. And this is clearly not just a case of one spell making everybody forget he's Spidey... suddenly you're bringing back the dead, undoing wounds, erasing records, reinstating web shooters, on and on and on.

The writer does not want the matter to become a "public pissing match" but feels the story changes were sloppy. "It violates every rule of writing fiction of the fantastic that I and every other SF/Fantasy writer knows you can't violate," he feels. "It's fantasy 101."

In a lengthy interview for Comic Book Resources Quesada, who has made it clear he was not a fan of the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, explained the reasons for the end of the marriage. "On one side, there is a contingency of fandom that wants Peter to age along with them and live life as they do. He needs to get married, have kids, then grandkids, and then the inevitable.

"On the other side, there are fans that realize Spidey needs to be ready for the next wave or generation of readers, that no one can lay claim to these icons, no one generation has ownership and that we need to preserve them and keep them healthy for the next batch of readers to fall in love with.

... "At the end of the day my job is to keep these characters fresh and ready for every fan that walks through the door ... while also planning for the future and hopefully an even larger fan base."

In a separate posting, Straczynski, while expressing regret at the changes made to the story which almost led to him removing his name from two issues of the series, acknowledged that despite his disagreement with Quesada, he was absolutely certain that "What Joe does with Spidey and all the rest of the Marvel characters, he does out of a genuine love of the character. He's not looking to sabotage anything, he's not looking to piss off the fans, he genuinely believes in the rightness of his views not out of a sense of "I'm the boss" but because he loves these characters and the Marvel universe.

"And right or wrong, you have to respect that."

New Airfix Doctor Who Kits

Airfix, the British model kit manufacturer, had many problems last year attempting to get the first of their new Doctor Who kits, Welcome Aboard, into shops in time for Christmas. The saga was even detailed on the BBC TV series The Money Programme.

Stocks of the kit, featuring 1:12 scale models of the Tenth Doctor, Martha and the Tardis, should now be more readily available.

Airfix have now announced their 2008 range and it includes two further kits for Doctor Who fans, Dalek Encounter, which will feature Dalek Sec with its casing open and, for Kylie fans, the Doctor and Astrid from the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned.

Buy Welcome Aboard kits from
Buy Voyage of the Damned from (Released 10 March 2008)

007 Exhibitions

With the Royal Mail's James Bond stamps already with us, the centenary of the birth of Bond creator Ian Fleming is continuing to be being celebrated with two separate exhibitions.

For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond will take place at the Imperial War Museum in London and run from Thursday 17th April to Sunday 1st March 2009.

The exhibition will look at the author and his fictional character in their historical context and examine how much of the Bond novels were imaginary and how far they were based on real people and events. It is described as exploring "the early life of Ian Fleming, his wartime career and work as a journalist and travel writer and how, as an author,he drew upon his own experiences to create the iconic character of James Bond that continues to have global appeal". An official book to accompany the exhibition will be written by Ben MacIntyre. More details can be found on the IWM London website.

Bond Bound: Ian Fleming & The Art of Cover Design will take place at the Fleming Collection in London from Tuesday 22nd April to Saturday 28th June 2008.

This exhibition will concentrate on each published Bond book, charting the role of artists and designers in creating and defining the Bond look. It will go beyond the Fleming novels to include Charlie Higson's Young Bond novels, Kate Westbrooks' The Moneypenny Diaries, and the new Bond book Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks.

More details of this free exhibition can be found in the Future Exhibitions section of the Fleming Collection website.

Talks are underway with Edinburgh City Council for this second exhibition to transfer to the Edinburgh City Art Centre from July to September 2008.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Comics Grow Up!

The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh will be putting on an exhibition on the historical development of comics and graphic novels from their earliest beginnings to their modern contemporary diversity entitled Comics Grow Up!

Running during April and May 2008, and building on the expected heavy local advertising of the new The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde graphic novel by Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy for the One Book - One Edinburgh reading campaign, the exhibition is described as revealing the vitality of the current Scottish writers and artists at work in the medium.

The National Library of Scotland purchased the original artwork that Cam Kennedy produced for the Kidnapped graphic novel in 2007 and it is anticipated that this will be on display.

• More information can be obtained from the National Library of Scotland's website.

One Book - One Edinburgh 2008

One of the most successful original graphic novels of 2007 was the Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped. This was created for the One Book One Edinburgh reading campaign in Scotland's capital in February 2007. The graphic novel, in which Grant used as much of Stevenson's original language as possible, was also published in modern English, Lowland Scots as Kidnappit, and Scots Gaelic as Fo Bhruid, thereby predating the similarly styled Classical Comics literary titles.

The Down The Tubes report on the 2007 Kidnapped graphic novel is here.

The success of the reading campaign in Edinburgh in 2007, and of the graphic novel in the wider world, inevitably lead to a follow up for 2008. This year we can look forward to Grant and Kennedy's version of The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which is, of course, set in Edinburgh.

A new version of the full text novel with an introduction by crime writer Ian Rankin, as well as the new graphic novel version, will be launched on Thursday 21 February at a special event at the Jekyll and Hyde pub in Edinburgh's New Town followed the next day by 10000 copies of the full novel version given away free to Edinburgh's citizens.
Both versions of the book will also be available for the wider world to buy through the normal outlets and again there will be four different text versions. Unlike last year with Kidnapped, this year's new version of the full original text novel will also feature a cover and interior illustrations by Cam Kennedy.

To tie in with the release of the new graphic novel, Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy will be attending the Book Launch and on Saturday 23 February they will be at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh for a talk on the creation of the book.

These appearances are in addition to Alan Grant's Edinburgh Lecture on Tuesday 29 January and both Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy's attendance at the Hi-Ex Comics Convention in Inverness on the weekend of 2-3 February.

Jeff Hawke Back Issues

Back issues of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos and one of the special editions are now available from the SF strip's fan club. These are as follows:

Volume 1: Numbers 1, 2, 3 available
Volume 2: Numbers 1, 2, available
Volume 3: Numbers 1, 2, 3 available
Volume 4: Numbers 1, 2, available

Hawke's Notes Supplement to strips in Volume 1, Numbers 1 and 2 Price £3.50p inc. p&p. are also on offer.

Lunar 10 available is available. This special bumper collection of Jeff Hawke strips and features costs £26 in the UK, including p&p Europe, £30.75. Overseas Postage: Australia, North America - paper rate, airmail = £36-51p, 192pp

The Martian Quartet second edition, to be published in Spring 2008. Price to be announced.

Payment can be by PayPal to or by International Money Order, IBAN in £GB only 9and cheque in the UK), made payable to: The Jeff Hawke Club.

Send orders to The Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD UK

Titan's Dan Dare books to continue

Contrary to reports on some web sites, the upcoming Titan Dan Dare book, Reign of the Robots, is not the last Titan collection.

downthetubes spoke with the head of Titan Books this morning and the company is all set to continue the range.

Late last year, publisher Orion laid claim on to being the new Dan Dare publisher in its promotion for Eagle Annual of the 1950s, a
claim they subsequently refuted when challenged but which has not been removed from the description of the book. This may have been where the rumour started.

As yet, there are no release dates for forthcoming books but we'll let you know if we hear anything more -- and welcome reports from our Eagle-eyed (sorry!) Dan Dare-loving readers!

The next major Dan Dare-related release from Orion is Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future: A Biography by Daniel Tatarsky in 2009, although we are puzzled as to just how he is going to speak to the original creators as claimed...

Monday, 14 January 2008

New Torchwood Magazine features official comic

The first ever official Torchwood comic strip debuts in the first issue of Titan's Torchwood magazine, on sale 24 January. Written by Transformers legend Simon Furman, and drawn by SL Gallant (Marvel Adventures), The Legacy of Torchwood One sees a figure from Ianto’s past reappear in Cardiff, causing fear and havoc for the entire team.

Torchwood Magazine editor Simon Hugo told downthetubes that over the next few months, the magazine will feature brand new adventures by a host of comics talent, including Ian Edgington (Scarlet Traces, 2000AD), D’Israeli (Judge Dredd, Scarlet Traces), Steve Yeowell (The Invisibles, Zenith, Sebastian O) and Brian Williamson (Doctor Who), "plus a few more surprise names along the way".

The strip pages are edited by Steve White, also editor of Titan's new Transformers comic and other comics titles at the company, which is probably originating more comic strip than many other UK comics publishers right now as well as reprinting DC Comics, Simpsons and other titles primarily for the UK market.

More from Moore-Reppion Duo

Hot on the heels of the release of Space Doubles #1 from US publisher Th3rd World Studios (a five-issue mini-series in a flipbook format, emulating the old Ace doubles paperbacks) and the Raise the Dead hardback from Dynamite Entertainment which should be coming early this year, British writing team Leah Moore & John Reppion have anounced a couple of other projects they'll be involved with over the coming months.

The Darkness/Eva - Daughter of Dracula is a four-issue mini series Dynamite has confirmed will continue its “Eva” property (though now re-named “Eva: Daughter of Dracula”) in March, when the character will crossover with Top Cow’'s computer game-inspired tie-in The Darkness, marking the two company'’s second such collaboration.

The project will be written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, with art by Edgar Salazar, and covers by Brett Booth, Salazar and Paul Renaud.

Image Comics has also announced Comic Book Tattoo, an anthology which will feature stories inspired by Tori Amos songs edited by Rantz Hosley and scheduled to be out in time for Comic-Con International. Leah and John will be collaborating with Y the Last Man artist Pia Guerra on a story for this mega huge book.

Read Yourself Raw Updated

The latest update of UK-based comics site Read Yourself Raw includes previews of new book, comic and manga releases for March 2008, including Kafka's The Trial, adapted by David Zane Mairowitz & Chantal Montellier and The Complete Terry & The Pirates Volume 3 (Paul Gravett talks about Milton Caniff here), and Titan's Dan Dare: Reign of the Robots.

Thunderbirds: End Of The Road

Redan's Thunderbirds comic has been cancelled with the current issue 89 being the last. The final issue comes with a free gift of a water pistol. With no repeats of the Thunderbirds series on British terrestrial television screens for some time, interest in the comic has obviously faded below an acceptable sales figure for Redan to continue with it.

The junior comic, with art by Graham Bleathman and Lee Sullivan amongst others, started as a monthly in November 2000 and has been reprinting its own comic strips for a while.

Ironically, the last issue of Fleetway Edition's Thunderbirds comic back in March 1995 was also number 89.

While we have lost the Thunderbirds comic, Doctor Who Adventures is going from strength to strength with BBC Magazines increasing the frequency of the title from from bi-weekly to weekly as of January.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Spider-Man: Agent of SHIELD

The latest issue of Panini UK’s Spectacular Spider-Man, #162, brings Peter Parker's search for information on his parents to Edinburgh. In Local Hero, writer Ferg Handley and penciller Andie Tong have Spidey swinging through the Edinburgh skyline trying to find a secret AIM base, while being diverted into a fight with Union Jack who is chasing a werewolf.

Since the title is aimed at late primary school age children, they would probably be unaware of the significance of the illustration of a werewolf with an X on her tunic on the cover (you can click here if you would like to know who it is).

Edinburgh based Handley has a few nice touches for the older readers with late running trains and a dig at the tabloids, while Edinburgh residents will get the reference to the AIM base being in a recently closed infirmary.

The issue also includes a two page spread of various UK based Marvel characters including of course Captain Britain and Psylocke, although it would probably be best to draw a veil over what readers in the Republic Of Ireland would think of the title colouring their country in with a Union Jack or labelling the Irish mutant Siryn as part of "The Brit Pack".

• Update 18 January 2008: Writer Ferg Handley, who is also still busy " hammering out Commando books" for DC Thomson, tells downthetubes the story will climax in London. "After the European/British stories, it's back to New York City for run-ins with classic villains (Spider-Slayer, Doc Ock, Electro, Vulture); then a two-part tie-in with Iron Man, followed by a Hulk two-parter (due to the movies that are coming out)."

Liam Michael-Rudden reported on the new issue for the Edinburgh Evening News on 16 January. You can read the article online here.

Spectacular Spider-Man Issue 162 is available at all good newsagents for £1.99 and comes with a free Spidey Target Game.

IDW Goes Junior

Perhaps taking a leaf from UK Publishers such as Titan and Panini, US comics house IDW, best known as a publisher of horror, action, and SF comic books including Star Trek and Doctor Who, is launching a kid's division titled Jonas Publishing and an imprint called Worthwhile Books.

In launching the new imprint IDW (owned by mobile group IDT) has inked deals with Hollywood writers and producers to pen kid's books, in addition to entering into a first-look agreement with Meadowside Books, the UK kid's publisher of titles such as Dig the Dog and DC Thomson-licensed titles utlising Dennis the Menace and The Bash Street Kids.

US writers on board include David N. Weiss, (Shrek 2, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and both Rugrats movies) and David Sacks, a writer/producer on The Simpsons, producer on Malcolm in the Middle, and writer on 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Worthwhile will be the exclusive US publisher of select Meadowside titles and will retain domestic film and TV rights to those properties. The first Meadowside title, of the 10 or-so books a year Worthwhile intends to publish, is Michael Recycle, written by Ellie Bethel and drawn by Alexandro Columbo, about an environmental hero will be published in March. More details here on the IDW web site.

Primeval: Less Pants

Primeval actress and and former SClub 7star Hannah Spearritt has put a stop to "panty scenes" in the show's second season.

The actress, who plays reptile expert Abby Maitland in the ITV1 drama (but spent much of the first episode in the new season knocked out as the team battled deadly raptors in a shopping mall), told the Daily Star she didn't feel the show needed any more of what appeared to be her character's constant underwear scenes.

"I thought the clips of me wandering around in my pants last year were a bit much," she told the paper. "The thing is, this was already in the script when I got the part and I didn't think too much about it at the time.

"We filmed the scenes [for the first season] all in one block," she revealed. "But the actual clips got spread across the series so it made it look like I was walking around in pants all the time. When we watched it back, we were quite shocked. I say 'less is more'. We don't need it for the show."

She added: "If you want to see hot naked flesh, then the lovely James Murray, who plays Stephen, gets his top off!"

Despite the change, Hannah still has an army of loyal fans delighted by her acting work rather than her pants. Good for them.

The new season has had a reboot explained by changes in the timeline (emphasizing the dangers of messing with the past), with the actress Lucy Brown, previously a Home Office liasion now a ruthless PR manager assigned to keep the activities of the Anomaly Research Team, which now has a nifty HQ inspired by the home of a well known Hammersmith-based publishing house, but still in the dark as to the cause of the anomalies that are dropping dinosaurs from the past into the present.

Next week's episode will see the PR guru locking horns with Cutter while Connor’s potential new love interest, Caroline (Naomi Bentley), gets Abby hot under the collar. But is her interest for real or does she have an ulterior motive?

As we reported a few days ago, the ratings success of the show and strong 100,000-plus Season One DVD box sets sales have resulted in early merchandising from the show. Titan Books are to release a series of novels, the first titled Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar (released on 21 March 2008), plunging Cutter and the team into the Peruvian rain forest for a thrilling prehistoric ride. A Primeval comic is also in the works, drawn by Neil Edwards.

Aside from some glaring continuity errors (particularly disappearing guns between scenes) this is a fun show and the reboot seems to have put the show on more solid ground and is setting up some strong character relationships. Let's see how it goes.

• ITV's Primeval web site:

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