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Saturday, 26 April 2008

BBC’s Comedy Map Of Britain – Dundee

The BBC2 programme The Comedy Map Of Britain turned its attention to Scotland for the second programme of the second series. As well as taking Johnny Vegas back to the ruins of the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh and Doon Mackichan to Fife, the programme also visited the hallowed, and very shiny, halls of D C Thomson in Dundee.

Beano editor Alan Digby takes the camera into the Beano office where the late Ian Gray talks about writing for the comic and his creation of Dennis The Menace’s dog Gnasher.

Selected clips are available on the programme’s website. To view the clip from the Beano office select the Aviemore To Edinburgh programme and The Home Of The Beano clip.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Comic Creation As It Happens

Website NewTeeVee reports that the hugely popular online comics Penny Arcade and PVP have begun live-casting their cartoon artists as they create the sites’ Web comics.

Webcams pointed at computer desktops follow the process through the completed script. Each live stream, broadcast via via Ustream , has drawn about 1,000 visitors.

Penny Arcade creator Mike Karhulik says 70,000 people have watched the recorded version of his first livecast and the live streams (click screen right to view) have gotten about 1,000 visitors each. PVP's Scott Kurtz says he gets about 100-150 visitors on a regular basis to his stream but has hit 500-600 visitors when he makes more of an effort to alert readers to the show. Readers can also interact with the creators as they work using ustream's message boards.

Neither creator is making money out of the stream so far, but both Krahulik and Kurtz told NewTeeVee they genuinely enjoy doing the show for the interaction with the fans and plan on doing it weekly.

For those bemused at the idea of watching someone draw, Krahulik thinks he understands the appeal of watching him draw. “I like watching people do things that I can’t do,” he continued. “It’s interesting to watch someone make something out of nothing.”

Milligan on Mobile

The work of writer, poet, musician and comic genius Spike Milligan, who revolutionised comedy after the Second World War, is now available on the web and for mobile phone users through ROK Entertainment, the global mobile entertainment group, owners of British comics to mobile service ROK Comics, via

Norma Farnes, Spike's agent and manager for 36 years said “Ironically, Spike, born in India in 1918, distained all gadgetry, including radios that didn’t have just three knobs – one to turn it off and on, one for tuning and one for volume – together with cars that had automatic gears, computers and mobile phones, but he would have been delighted that his work was being made available to a wider audience”.

Spike is famous for founding The Goon Show which he wrote and then performed with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe. The Goons also appeared as a comic strip in TV Comic and was later turned into a puppet series, The Telegoons.

Spike’s work can be downloaded and mobile phone users can purchase The Goon Show tapes and songs as well as the hilarious seven volume War Memoirs including Adolf Hitler My Part In His Downfall, Rommel? Gunner Who? and Monty: His Part In My Victory as audio books.

Spike’s original drawings which were turned into Greetings Cards, the biggest sellers in the UK, are also available in animated form from and are priced at £1.50 per ringtone or realtone and £4.50 per audio book. The animations were designed by the team behind the ROK Comics site.

“Spike was a truly unique comedy genius and much of what he created is timeless,” commented Jonathan Kendrick, Chairman of ROK “so I’m delighted we’ve been able to work with Norma on creating this service for all his fans worldwide and to help showcase his brilliance to a whole new generation by packaging it for mobile and the web.”

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Being Human To Return

BBC Three has ordered a six-part series of the popular one-off drama, Being Human from Touchpaper Television, part of the RDF Media Group.

The intriguing pilot screened in February (as reported on downthetubes at the time), as part of the channel's drama pilot season and proved hugely popular with both viewers and critics peaking at nearly 450,000 viewers and gaining great reviews.

Starring Russell Tovey, Andrea Riseborough and Guy Flanaghan, the pilot of Being Human followed the lives of three flatmates; a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost in a witty, sexy and extraordinary look at the friendship between three 20-something outsiders trying to find their way in an enticing, yet complicated world.

Filming on the series, which will once again be written by Toby Whithouse, will start later this year for transmission in 2009.

"The pilot of Being Human gave us the opportunity to try something really unusual, and we were quite overwhelmed by the positive public response," said Executive producer for Touchpaper Television, Rob Pursey. "We're delighted that the BBC has given us the go-ahead for a full series."

"Of all our recent drama experiments on BBC Three, Being Human struck the most powerful chord with the audience," feels Danny Cohen, the Controller of BBC Three. "At its heart is a bold and adventurous concept and I'm looking forward to seeing how this is realised across a series."

Prince Caspian Game: Special Scenes Filmed

Although there may well be no more Narnia films after Dawn Treader is released in 2010, there certainly seems to be enough being filmed when it comes to the upcoming Prince Caspian, with ans of The Chronicles of Narnia will get to experience two unique film scenes only one way on their home consoles or Windows-based PC.

Disney Interactive Studios has announced that two original scenes for Disney/Walden Medias The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian video game were filmed exclusively for the product and appear separately from the film. The unique scenes link The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian stories, with Doctor Cornelius (played by Vincent Grass) telling Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) the story of how Narnia fell to the Telmarines hundreds of years ago. It's invasion is a sequence not featured in the books.

The scenes, directed by Andrew Adamson, the films director, were shot on the film set in Prague, Czech Republic, during principal shooting and feature dialogue revealing plot based on the events of the book, game and film and are part of 18 live action moments in the game, which include 16 excerpts from the feature film.

The special filmed content that is exclusive to the video game provides insight into Narnia and the events around the Prince Caspian story like nothing else, said Andrew Adamson. With movie fans enthusiasm for unique experiences in video games as well, these scenes are ideal to complement the Prince Caspian games action.

Traveller's Tales, the British-based game production and development teams, worked in cooperation with the London-based film crew and Andrew Adamson to assure the games overall accuracy to the film, with the new linking scene taking place at the castle of Cair Paravel, seen only as abandoned ruins the Pevensies discover hundreds of years later in the Prince Caspian film.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian for consoles and Windows-based PC will be available for Xbox 360, the Playstation 3 system and Wii; and the Playstation 2 system and Windows-based PC.

• For more information about The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian video game, log on to

Missing Believed Wiped

I don’t know if anyone caught ITV3’s affectionate documentary Those Were The Days about the Apollo 11 Moon Landing last night, with interviews and footage about the momentous event. (It's currently available on ITV's CatchUp service and to be repeated on 27 April).

The documentary was interspersed with interviews with others in the news at the time, including marathon runner Reg Hill, Miss British Isles beauty competition Pat Wheeldon, members of one hit wonder band Thunderclap Newman and Portsmouth's Leigh Park Six activists, who fought for the right to keep their local park’s admission free and were sent to prison for their protest.

Anyway, I just received a newsletter in which an anonymous poster relates that a lovely old chap at the BBC who'd been in charge of covering the first moon landing once told them that if the NASA mission had gone wrong, the only tape the Corporation had lined up to cut to was a Warner Bros Porky Pig cartoon!

On the plus side, I assume the BBC probably still have a copy of the cartoon, unlike the recordings of the studio coverage of the first moon landing, which, much to Sir Patrick Moore’s chagrin in the documentary, are lost! (Missing, Presumed Wiped?). How stupid is that...

Dan Dare at the Science Museum

Good news for Frank Hampson fans. The upcoming Dan Dare and the Birth of High Tech Britain exhibition at London's Science Museum, which opens next week, now includes murals drawn by Dan Dare creator Hampson back in 1977.

Talking of this new exhibition, the Science Museum includes some Dan Dare related items on its new "Object Wiki" and people are being invited to comment on the items. These include some Dan Dare art boards, such as this one by Don Harley, and an entry for a Frank_Hampson "Ideas Book"

The description for this intriguing item reads: "A great deal of study and background work went into the development ofeach Dan Dare story. New equipment, vehicles and spaceships were sketched and thought out in great detail before being drawn for thestrip. This album shows war machines featured in the story Rogue Planet during 1956."

Ther'es also an entry for Dan_Dare_Toys, but, like the "Ideas Book" no image has yet been posted.

Dan Dare and the Birth of High-Tech Britain runs from 30 Apr 2008 until Sun 25 October 2009 at The Science Museum, London. Bookings and Enquiries: 0870 870 4868

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Ewing and Holden Interviewed

Matthew Badham has just posted a great interview with 2000AD and small press creators Al Ewing and PJ Holden (who has also worked for Image Comics and Fantagraphics) on his Overspill blog.

"We were supposed to be talking about Dead Signal, their new series for science fiction comic 2000 AD, " says Matthew. "Instead, we rambled on like lunatics."

Lunatics they may be but the interview has some interesting points about creating an entirely "new" universe for a comic strip.
Al, who works mainly for 2000AD, although he has also written two novels, also talks about Tempest, his 'ninja judge' strip that has been running for the last five months in the Judge Dredd Megazine.

Both creators are pleased with the way their work has been received by fans. "
What really helps is my brother being proud of me," says Al. "That was a good moment when I heard that. Mum and Dad are very proud as well, but Tom's the person who got me into 2000AD and he really understands the significance of me managing to actually achieve what I've wanted to do all my life, whereas my parents are just glad I've made good with my foolish hobby."

"I'm amused at how about 80 per cent of the reviews of my work say 'this is his best work yet' or 'seems to have really improved since the last time'," says Holden, "Which means I'm either f****** great now, or I was really, really s*** to begin with! I'm proud of my reputation within 2000AD of the go-to guy for deadline crunches."

Read the interview

Saint Johns Church Edinburgh Easter Sign

Saint Johns Church Edinburgh Easter Sign 2008
Saint Johns church Edinburgh Easter sign - China and Olympics
Originally uploaded by byronv2

Following up on our earlier post about Chinese piracy, Forbidden Planet's Joe Gordon recently published this photograph of a thought-provoking poster outside Saint John's church on the corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road in Edinburgh, right in the shadow of the castle. He reports the picture has been vandalised at least twice with the monk defaced, and it's been the subject of a complaint from the Chinese consulate to the church.

The protest actually created more press attention than the original poster's appearance did, so this protest seems to have backfired somewhat!

No More Narnia?

Several entertainment web sites including Digital Spy are reporting that Disney may end its The Chronicles of Narnia franchise after the third film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is released.

Prince Caspian, the second film in the series of seven books, is scheduled for release this summer, with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader expected in 2010.

Rumours of the plan circulated some weeks ago but were denied by Disney but now First reports that producer Mark Johnson made an appearance at the New York Comic Con this weekend alongside Prince Caspian stars Ben Barnes, William Moseley, and Peter Dinklage.

Johnson specifically stated that they have "no plans" at the moment to continue on past Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The Christian themes of the books -- not perhaps evident to the casual viewer -- may well be one reason for a reticence in producing all seven films, with the final book, The Last Battle, perhaps the most obvious in terms of religious symbolism. But many cinema goers are totally unaware of the books' subtext, so commercial and financial considerations are more likely to be the reasons for concentrating on a trilogy. reporter Alex Billington indicates that any final decision will of course be dependent on the success of both Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader and box office is expected to be strong for both films.

Disney and Pixar are reportedly planning to replace the Narnia franchise with a trilogy of films based on the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Plans for such a series have been in the offing for several years.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Chinese Copyright Theft

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): Illustrator Darren Di Lieto and British artist Jonathan Edwards are just two of many creators on the warpath after discovering a Hong Kong-based publisher has illegally used illustrations and interviews conducted by Darren in a new book - and is charging a huge amount for copies.

The artists are urging interested buyers not to purchase , pointing out the book not only uses stolen images taken from web sites and blogs across the 'Net but includes on a CD of them in the back. "This seems to give the impression that all the featured images are clip-art or copyright free which is certainly not the case,” says Jonathan Edwards.

The images file-names on the CD have not even been renamed in any way, so you can see exactly where they were taken from.

Even the interviews are word for word from thefts from the Little Chimp Society web site, with all the original typos and switching between English and American grammar.

Earlier this month, China’s Cabinet, known as the State Council issued guidelines on a national Intellectual Property Rights strategy at an executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao. Variety reported the strategy includes greater efforts to crack down on IPR infringement, protect legal rights, strengthen international co-operation and stick closer to international practice, as well as try to raise public awareness. Action against pirates has been harsh - with some entire shopping malls closed down if pirate goods are found.

The International Herald Tribune reported this week that the European Union has started to become as concerned by Chinese piracy as the US. Violations of intellectual property rights, trademarks and patents held by EU companies and researchers will be high on the agenda when European Commission President Manuel Barroso leads a large delegation into two days of economic and trade talks in Beijing starting Thursday.

So, at a time when the Chinese government is taking renewed action against piracy, news of this book comes as a blow to all concerned - not just because of the potential loss of sales for the creators but in terms of the level of fraud involved, with the 'publishers' apparently doing their utmost to cover their tracks.

In short, do not buy this book!

Classic Cold War Visions

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): The Guardian reports on an upcoming exhibition at London's V&A Museum, featuring Sputniks, space suits, an early coupe form of the Trabant and a full-scale reconstruction of a futuristic inflatable building.

Cold War Modern, which starts in September, will also feature classic cold war images including Roman Cieslewicz's Superman 68, featuring rival US and Russian versions of the comic-book hero.

The show aims to chart postwar design as it developed along parallel lines on both sides of the iron curtain - in an atmosphere of frantic competition, but also under the shadow, for much of the period, of the fear of nuclear war.

Polish artist Roman Cieslewicz, who died in 1996, specialized in poster and display designing and worked as a book and magazine designer, for titles such as Vogue and Elle. He was also the artistic creator of Opus International and Kitsch.

Cold War Modern: Design 1945-70 is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, from September 25.

The V&A also hosts the National Art Library, and its Comics Collection forms part of the Library's Special Collections, to which access is restricted. For more information, see Registering to use the National Art Library. An appointment is necessary for access to the Krazy Kat Arkive at the Archive of Art and Design. 2000AD fans may be interested to know, however, that an electronic version of the catalogue for an exhibition held in 2001 of original comic book artwork from the comic is available online.

Do You Want To Kiss It Better?

Do You Want To Kiss It Better is a new charity comics anthology aimed at raising money for good causes. The first issue, Green, is on sale now from retailers such as Forbidden Planet Online and London comic shop Orbital Comics (on Charing Cross Road).

The 40-page comic features a colour cover from Phil Corbett and work from Shiro, performing wordsmith Scroobius Pip, Tank Girl and 2000AD artist Rufus Dayglo, London ska band The King Blues, and many other talented artists and writers.

The publishers will be donating all profits to the World Land Trust, which funds projects that help to preserve some of the most precious land in the world. (Since its foundation in 1989 the World Land Trust has helped purchase and protect over 350,000 acres of threatened wildlife habitats).

Reflecting the green aim of the title, the anthology was printed on 100% recycled paper with inks based on vegetable oil from a press powered by wind turbines!

"The work in Green was all contributed with the intention of making people think about goes on around them in the world in entertaining and real ways," say the publishers, who have been publicising the title at New York Comic Con. (If you were there, you may have spotted girl who looks quite a bit like Tank Girl selling it).

Green costs £2.50 + 75p for P&P via the Do You Want to Kiss it Better Myspace site

Another DFC Strip Revealed

Lazarus LemmingFollowing up on yesterday's post about Neill Cameron's strip for DFC, Mobot High, comes this image of Dave Windett's strip for the new British weekly, subscription-only title, Lazarus Lemming.

Dave's credits include Simpsons Comics, Korky the Cat for The Dandy, and The Wacky World of Animals, written by John Gatehouse, who is also writing Lazarus Lemming. His credits include the Cheeky Mouse & Cool Cat books and Shelltown.

Like Neill, Dave can't say much about the strip at this stage, but all in all the content of The DFC is shaping up very nicely with a huge cross section of British talent in the pages.

The DFC launches in May and ‘Early bird’ subscriptions are available now at

Monday, 21 April 2008

Mobot High joins DFC title

British comics creator Neill Cameron has just announced that his new strip Mo-Bot High, and will be appearing in The DFC, the brand new weekly subscription-only children’s comic being launched in May 2008 by David Fickling Books, an imprint of Random House.

Here's a teaser preview image of the four-page weekly strip to whet your appetite.

"I’m really excited about this strip," says Neill, who also self publishes the stunning Thumpculture and strips for Classical Comics. "It’s a lot of fun and I really hope you get a chance to check it out. That’s about all I’m allowed to say for now – look out for lots more DFC-related news on websites, newspapers and all over the place really in the coming weeks as we build up to the launch."

• ‘Early bird’ subscriptions are available now at

No Barcodes Event

Oli Smith has published this promotional video for No Barcodes, the Camden Comics Mini-Con from 10-6pm on Saturday 31st May.

The event features cheap food, glorious scenery (see video for more on this), sketching tables, entrance is free, and exhibitors a small fee. There's also an after-drinks event.

The No Barcodes mini-con is all part of London Underground Comic’s campaign of bringing comics back to the underground by making small press cheap, cheerful and accessible and is the first of two events planned over the summer.

An indoor area of Camden Lock Market has been set aside for the event and LUC plan to fill it with at least six or seven stalls. The whole event will work exactly as the LUC stall does -- with groups of people on different tables splitting the £30 rent between them equally. The rest is theirs. The whole event will cost no more than £7 per person exhibiting, and the more people come the cheaper it will be.

"We're looking for groups of people to man essentially themed tables, for example a web comics table, a caption table for Oxford creators and, say, an autobiography table etc.," says Oli. "Each table will be given a sketchbook at the beginning of the day to hopefully fill and at closing time each table’s book will be auctioned off to help pay for LUC’s expenses in printing banners, posters, fliers etc. any profit will be put towards the next mini-con.

"The point of the event is an excuse to bring comic creators from around the country together to socialise and sell comics to an unsaturated market without huge expense. Depending on how many creators wish to exhibit we also plan to put aside a separate table for visitors to sketch, as well as a rotating ‘featured artist’ who can charge for portraits."

The hall is situated in the heart of Camden amongst an indoor and outdoor market with a steady flow of tourists passing through. Entry to No Barcodes will be free. "This means that not only will there be plenty of room in the outdoor seating area to catch up with fellow creators, but we will also be selling to the comics-virgin tourists of Camden," Oli explains, "who will be wondering what the event is all about. I’m not even going to touch on the quantities of food and alcohol outlets around the area, most providing discounts for stall-mannees.

"Also, if you're lucky, once the market closes at six, we should have an entire pub laid on near Mornington Crescent tube station to host the after-con drinks."

LUC wants small press creators of any sort to get in touch with us via the facebook group or by emailing camdencomics AT telling them that you wish to take part.

More information on the LUC web site here
Facebook Event link

Confirmed Exhibitors So Far (Updated 30/4/08):

Sean Azzopardi
Sean is a writer illustrator who has produced over a dozen mini comics, and contributed to numerous anthologies. Publications containing Seans’ work include, Grey Sky, Twelve Hour Shift and Ed.

David Baillie
David Baillie leaps out of bed every morning burning with the fire of youthful enthusiasm. He writes and draws comics. He was recently interviewed as part of BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth show

• Gavin Burrows

Francesca Cassavetti
Francesca has been supplying cartoons and illustrations to a variety of clients for several years, from corporate communications through educational and children’s publishers to management consultants, all the while creating her own comic strips and stories. Characters like Fabian Carr, Bloke in a Dressing Gown and New Man had their 15 minutes in various magazines.

Helen Casey
"Cath Artic" describes herself as a "venomous little scribbler with poor social skills and a habit of eavesdropping. So watch your back."

Richy K. Chandler
Writer and artist on the much praised Delicate Axiom.

Jeremy Dennis
Jeremy is a female cartoonist (yes, Jeremy is a strange name for a woman, isn't it?) who has been drawing since she could hold a pencil, a comics fan since she started to read, and producing minicomics since she was shown how in 1989.

Do Better
Publishers of the new charity comic - see related news story

• Sean Duffield
Editor of the terrific anthology Paper Tiger

Marc Ellerby
Marc draws an ongoing comic series called Love the Way You Love, written by Jamie S. Rich, published by Oni Press

Josceline Fenton
Contributor to The Girly Comic (including Gutterbaby in #10) and illustrator.

Mr Frederick

Chris Getliffe
Publisher of Kitchen District Comics

jimi gherkin

Jake Harold
Eagle Award-nominated creator of Tales from the Flat and Tards

• Ed Hillyer
Better known as ILYA, Ed's work has appeared in publications from all the major US and UK comics companies.

Tom Humberstone
Tom Humberstone has been writing, drawing and self-publishing comics under the alias of Ventedspleen for three years.

• Ralph Kidson
Does he still draw Rodney the Radiator, I wonder?

Oliver Lamden
Publisher of Modern Monstrosity Comics

David and Martin Lander
Publishers of Decadence comic

Dan Lester
Cartoonist and film maker

Zarina Liew
Zarina Liew is a Cambridge based artist who specializes in comic art and illustration.
Using both digital and traditional processes, her work draws inspiration from
vintage fashion, Japanese printmaking and conceptual psychology.

Andrew Luke
Artist and writer who helps run Caption, the UK's longest running comics festival.

• Al Maceachern

• Terome McNally

• Trevor Mueller

Aaron "Smurf" Murphy

Paul O’Connell
Paul makes comic strips and books under the name of The Sound of Drowning.

Richard Peel

Check out his compendium of comics, Fights 'n' Wizards, or Skull Compound, a futuristic quasi-military installation in the wilderness.

Thomas Plaskitt
I'd tell you more about him but his NewThink site has apparently limited navigation
(that could be deliberate...)

Clare Power
Creator of Bogus Baby

• Rebecca Pott

Ben Powis
Ben's work has been printed in the Computer Arts Graduate Showcase, and the Digital Arts Showcase, August edition 2007.

• Emma Price

• Karen Rubens

Jon Scrivens
Creator of the macabre strip Little Terrors

Oli Smith
Comics writer, illustrator and founder of London Underground Comics.

Idil Sukan
A graphic designer and live comedy producer working in London. Idil production manage the live-arm of the Penny Dreadfuls comedy troupe. She also produces a lovely sketch night called Sketchatron.

• Mick Weller

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Galleon 43

Comics creator Lewis has just released the above video promo for his new comic Galleon 43, which will be on sale at the Bristol Comic Expo next month. Written by Lewis and illustrated by Jacob Phillips, Galleon 43 follows Chris Scullion as he is kidnapped by galactic pirates in the future.

"The book is almost complete now, with a cover by Tim Perkins and an introduction by Bryan Talbot," says Lewis. "Galleon 43 will be the first book I've ever seen through to the end. "

More importantly, here's another link, to the journal of the Martin Brady, one of two very mysterious characters aboard the Galleon 43 spacecraft Scullion finds himself imprisoned aboard. Martin's online journal while on board the Galleon 43 craft "has made it available to people of all time periods."

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