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Friday, 30 May 2008

Turn Your School Magazine into a Comic Book

Former Marvel Comics UK editor Tim Quinn will be holding storytelling and comic book creation sessions at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax on Saturday 5 July 2008 from 9.00 am through the day, as part of the line-up for the Calderdale Festival for Young People run by the July Project, sponsored by the Halifax. All ages welcome.

Quinn, a veteran comic book scriptwriter, editor, publisher and cartoonist for titles as varied as The Dandy, The Beano, Buster, Whoopee, Spider-Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Bunty, My Guy and Doctor Who Magazine, will instruct each class on both script and art techniques. Over the past two years he has been working with schools and students across the UK to produce school magazines of a professional standard.

For details contact:

Abadzis In The Times

Clearly not content with taking over The Guardian with the wonderful Cora's Breakfast (see news story), Nick Abadzis reveals The Times will be serialising his new graphic novella The Trial of the Sober Dog, serialised in The Times every Monday from 2 June 2008 for the next six months.

The story centres on the person everyone knows or knew: the person at school who was thought most likely to succeed. A chance encounter at a private view sees friends Marco and Petra encounter their old school rival Joe Chase again after many years. It seems he has indeed lived up to his potential… but things aren’t always what they seem. No matter how it seems to observers, nobody can have it all…

Told through observations, anecdotes, flashbacks and musings by different narrators, each episode shows a different aspect of Chase and multiple reasons why he might still be nicknamed The Sober Dog…

The Times relaunch on 2 June features The Sober Dog as its new T2 Monday strip in full colour. Every episode will be available to read online, the day after publication at

"Graphic novels – comics – in The Times?" says Nick. "It’s all true. Follow the exploits and observations of the Sober Dog and his “friends” every week!"

Here's a trailer for the first episode:

In the run up to the launch of The DFC there was a bidding war between various British newspapers for the rights to serialise Philip Pullman's new strip from the title, The Adventures of John Blake.

It seems that a knock on effect of that, and the raised profile of comics in newspapers spearheaded by The Guardian (who won the bidding war for the Pullman strip) might well spell a resurgence of interest in newspaper comics, albeit in longform rather than the traditional three to four panel strip. And not before time!

DFC Issue One is a Doozy!

The first issue of The DFC - Britain's first, subscription-only weekly comic, combining humour and adventure strips in one smashing package, has just arrived in the post -- and it's a terrific start for the new title.

While an anthology title is always going to engender favourites and not-so-favourites, I'm mightily impressed with the comic as a whole -- and when I say comic, I don't mean the kind of thing you generally find on the UK news stand masquerading as such, with three comic strips and the rest of the title full of cheap features and puzzle pages. The DFC is the kind of comic I grew up with -- pretty much cover to cover comic strip action, combining some great looking adventure material with equally enjoyable humour pages. Where there are "puzzle pages", they're all geared to encouraging drawing, which is definitely a good thing.

The DFC never forgets its audience, either -- two of the initial strips, The Boss (by John Aggs and his mum, Patrice) and Mo-Bot High (Neill Cameron) are set in schools, while the adventure stories set up or feature young protagonists, including the eagerly-anticipated Philip Pullman story The Adventures of John Blake, which is a really stunning looking first chapter. Neither have the editors forgotten this is a weekly comic, even though it's inevitable many of these strips will be collected into books at a later date -- all important "cliffhanger boxes" are used to talk up next week's episode for example.

As a long time fan of James Turner's Beaver and Steve webcomic, I was delighted to discover he's one of the contributors, delivering a hilarious one page Super Animal Adventure Squad, who are starting out on a mission to prevent the "Teatime of Doom". David Shelton's Good Dog, Bad Dog is another lively gem.

Some of the strips are inevitably slower than others, such as Kate Brown's gorgeous looking Spider Moon -- but that said, it provides a "breather" sandwiched between strips that are positively frenetic in comparison.

The editorial also comes with a sense of fun, including a challenge to readers to come up with what DFC means (this issue it's Dracula's Favourite Cardigan). There's a frisson of excitement to the introduction that definitely reflects the excitement I'd hope readers will have on receiving their copy.

My criticisms are really, really minor as an editor: the designer isn't using the "I" in the comic font editorial pages correctly and I think the strips should perhaps have more of a border to them than they do at present as there's a danger the pages can merge into one.

For someone who grew up reading comics that combined humour and adventure strips it's great to see that format being given another try in The DFC. I'd say it is well worth while signing up for a subscription, especially when they're offering quite reasonably priced "starting points".

Oh, and the web site is one of the best complements to a print comic so far, and titles like The Beano and TOXIC have set that bar quite high.

With so much incredible British talent packed into its pages you'd be mad not to give The DFC a go -- so subscribe now!

Visit The DFC web site
Subscribe to The DFC Comic
Interview Feature: Alex Fitch presents a special report on the new kids’ comic The DFC published by Harper Collins / David Fickling Books, including David Fickling, Nick Abadzis and Philip Pullman’s speeches about the comic, recorded at the launch party for the periodical. Part One here; Part Two here

More Reviews...

Comics Bulletin
"To people who don’t take an interest in such things, well, The DFC looks no more impressive than the sort of thing my mates have put together. As a pertinent example, the Etherington Brothers used to put significantly more impressive looking stuff together back in their totally independent days when literally everything they did was hand produced. And when they did it cost less than The DFC." Read the full review

Review by Kenny Penman on Forbidden Planet International
The DFC is not a cheap comic: it’s subscription scheme only circulation seems to me to be something that will surely stand in its way of building an audience, and it’s quality, whilst good, is a little variable and sometimes not as exciting as a kid’s comic should be. Given it has many continuing strips which probably need time to build tension I’m happy to forgive that for now (but will kids? Reportedly many in the test marketing found the fact the strips continued rather than resolved in a single issue a bit hard to understand) and wish it well." Read the Full Review

Artist Simon Guerrier
"All the stories are very different, which should mean there’s something for everyone here. It's a shame they're all part ones of ongoing series; it’d be nice to have an anthology series of one-off stories so that each issue offers something complete. And some of the part ones did feel a bit too prologuey, so it's hard to judge the strips just yet. But this is a bold and exciting comic, and very much worth supporting." Read the full review

John Moore's Guardian Blog
"The new DFC comic is a work of art, conceived with the noblest intentions - to entertain children without trying to sell them anything."

Jenni Scott
"For the older readers who perhaps are buying this remembering their own weekly comic, there are noticeable differences. [The DFC] is not gendered or particularly age-streamed - so it's not a typical boys or girls comic of yore, and it certainly isn't likely to fall into the formulaic stories of war or wee slaveys. The pace is rather more generous than the white-heat of the seventies, where commercial needs meant constant and even ridiculous cliffhangers." Read the review in full

Writer and Broadcaster Brian Sibley
"I’ve always believed that comics and graphic novels can provide a stepping-stone to books. As child, I was a voracious reader consuming the Eagle, Mickey Mouse Weekly, The Children's Newspaper and Blyton and Buckeridge alongside Dickens and other classics. I hope The DFC will be part of many of today's children's reading - throwing wide the windows of their youthful imagination and possibly even encouraging them to prise open some of the locked doors of literature..."
Read the full review

Review by cartoonist Lew Stringer
"Overall, The DFC is a quality product. If it can be seen by enough kids, I'm sure it could work, but I do have reservations. The subscription-only method is an excellent way to circumvent retail giants and avoid their spiraling charges for shelf space. However it does make the comic invisible unless one chances across the website or hears of it through the media. I hear that publisher Random House are committed to it though, so hopefully it won't go the way of similarly-ambitious Nineties weekly Triffik! and suddenly have the plug pulled leaving contributors in the lurch." Read the Full Review

"Mr Fickling certainly has an eye for a good book (here's a great one they publish). So we can be pretty certain he knows what makes a good comic. The talent he's roped in for the project includes the likes of genius author Philip Pullman, John Aggs, Dave Shelton, James Shelton, Kate Brown, and the remarkable Garen Ewing." Read the Full Review

Feature: Paul H. Birch on The DFC in the Birmingham Mail

Factor Fiction on Facebook

ViolentFactor Fiction, the publishing brainchild of Jay Eales and Selina Lock, now has a Facebook group. Check it out here if you're a Facebook member

As previously reported, Factor Fiction's The Girly Comic and Violent! are now webcomics.

Both web comics will debut new strips, threaded alongside their ongoing project to put the entire Factor Fiction strip archive online.

Check them out at:

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Gaiman Causes "Nerdgasms"

Well known celebrity gossip newsletter PopBitch has turned its attention to comics and book author Neil Gaiman this week. The newsletter, whose stories are often picked up by the tabloids and celebrity magazines like Heat reports that “Comic fans are having a collective nerdgasm about fantasy superstar Neil Gaiman writing Doctor Who for 2010."

It also adds the tidbit that Neil once resigned from Britain's Today newspaper when asked to write a story on Dungeons & Dragons converting British children to Satanism.

Neil, whose TV SF credites include an episode of the brilliant Babylon 5, recently noted that David Tennant will be appearing in Hamlet in July and lots of people are going to be doing Doctor Who in Hamlet jokes, so he decided to get it out of the way early, to avoid the rush... Hope he doesn't mind the re-posting here:

"To be, or not to be, that is the question. Weeelll.... More of A question really. Not THE question. Because, well, I mean, there are billions and billions of questions out there, and well, when I say billions, I mean, when you add in the answers, not just the questions, weeelll, you're looking at numbers that are positively astronomical and... for that matter the other question is what you lot are doing on this planet in the first place, and er, did anyone try just pushing this little red button?"

(David Tennant will be playing Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company and tickets are on sale now. You can book online at or call the box office on 0844 800 1110).

No Barcodes: More Interviews

A new batch of promo interviews with creators attending the No Bar Codes this weekend in Camden, London, is now online:

• Josceline Fenton, has had her work featured in The Girly Comic as well as her own Circle and elsewhere, is on the Forbidden Planet blog

• Ben Powis, who draws Turtle Guitar, is interviewed on Overspill

And at Fabulous Balloon, David Baillie interviews Dan Lester, Andy Luke and Francesca

• No Bar Codes is a one day indie comics event taking place at Camden Lock Market this Saturday. Click here for more info.

• David Baillie is over at and the awesome new hardback edition of his fantasy adventure Tongue of the Dead debuts at No Bar Codes. Click here for an exclusive discount voucher redeemable on the day!

Dan Dare Cap Badges, Dredd Buckles Released

Following the sell-out success of its Judge Dredd badges, Termight Replicas has announced two new licensed products available for pre-order. Both are full-sized props, with the same gold-plating as the Dredd badge, but this time combining it with coloured hard enamel.

The Dan Dare cap badge will be 4.5cm in diameter and costs £9.95. The concept art is by Chris Weston, based on Frank Hampson’s original design.

The Judge Dredd buckle will be 12cm wide by 9cm tall, and costs £39.95. The concept art is by Michael Carroll, based on Cliff Robinson’s design and input.

• Both items can be pre-ordered by cheque or PayPal post-free worldwide from the Termight Replicas website:

Judge Dredd © 2008 Rebellion A/S. Dan Dare © 2008 The Dan Dare Corporation Ltd.

Copyright Theft: A New Weapon?

We've on occasion reported on some blatant copyright theft of comic artists' work, but a new specialist search engine could help creators track down culprits a bit more easily.

MicroStock Insider, a guide blog to selling stock photography on the web, reports on TinEye, a visual search engine which allows you to search for your images by submitting an image for it to analyse. It returns a series of hits which are pages where it thinks it has found a match for your images. It works by comparing the pixels and shapes in the images not by searching for meta tags or matching file names. (Meta tags, for those who don't know, are information you can add to an image to describe it using photo applications such as Photoshop -- surprisingly, few artists seem to do so).

TinEye is in beta development and there is currently no charge for it: you need to request a membership. Test results were very good, according to MI, and the engine also offers a Firefox plugin which it makes it as simple as navigating to any page (e.g. one with your images on them) right clicking and selecting Search Image on TinEye.

This makes checking your images much easier if you have a gallery of them online at a reasonable resolution that Tineye can access.

Due to the limited size of the current image index it's not really possible to use Tineye to perform any sort of license enforcement checking or measure how frequently used your images are used, but this could be a useful tool as it expands its search parameters. TinEye also cannot do facial recognition or find similar images, it can only find the exact same image, but it's worth bookmarking, I think.

Top technology site TechCrunch has also just posted their review of TinEye, making the point that there are other ways the technology could be applied. If Idée can figure out a way to seed the images it finds with tags, or combine its approach with a text-based index, it could create an image search engine that is really good at finding exactly what you are looking for.

Interest in TinEye has been understandably huge and has bowled over the engine's development team, Idée, who develop a range of advanced image recognition and visual search software, who say TinEye has now had hundreds of mentions on blogs, forums and websites around the world.

Iron Man Art Auction to help Gene Colan

Top British comics artist Jon Haward has pitched in on efforts to raise money to help veteran comics artist Gene Colan who is very ill and has no medical insurance (see news story).

Up for sale via eBay are the pencils for the cover of Panini UK's Marvel Pocket Book Invincible Iron Man Volume 1: The Tragedy and the Triumph. The title has just been published in the UK.

There are only three days left to bid on the cover and Jon, who cites Gene Colan as one of his all time favourite artists, hopes the art will raise a good sum for this very worthy cause.

Click here to bid on the cover on eBay

Auction organiser Clifford Meth also has several other piece of art on offer to help raise money for Gene, which currently include an unpublished page of Gene Colan art inked by Neal Adams, a page of Superman art by Ernie Chan, plus work by Walt Simonson and more.

Click here to see all the current auction items on ebay

For more information on this auction and Gene Colan visit

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

No Barcodes: Sean Azzopardi Interview

In the second of a series of creator interviews to mark the upcoming NoBarCodes event next Saturday in Camden Lock Market, London, David Baillie talks to Sean Azzopardi, creator of Twelve Hour Shift and one of London Underground Comics' success stories.

Since being one of the founder members of the Camden Stall six months ago he's gone freelance and has a book deal with a top flight indie company

downthe tubes: I've known you pretty well for a couple of years. I've read and loved your comics for longer. But how would you introduce yourself and your work to someone who has never even heard of you? (For example, perhaps someone showing up at NoBarCodes event next Saturday in Camden Lock Market)

Sean Azzopardi: Hi, I'm Sean, and I'm a cartoonist (room responds with, hi Sean). I make mini comics - Ed, Twelve Hour Shift - and contribute to various anthologies. I like like to write autobiographical comics, or material that focuses on the ordinary aspects of the everyday.

downthetubes: You've been exhibiting yourself at the weekly version of NoBarCodes - the Saturday stall - for the last six months. How has that been for you, and has it changed anything in terms of work or your life as a cartoonist?

Sean: It's been a fun packed experience filled with thrills and spills. being around other talented cartoonist has made me work harder.

downthetubes: What are you looking forward to most next Saturday?

Sean: Meeting new people who make comics, and going to the pub.

downthetubes: Anything you're dreading?

Sean: Getting a job.

downthetubes: And finally - any message for the people out there, reading this, wishing that they too were a young, cool and sexy comics creator?

Sean: You have to love it, because you will be spending a long time sitting in isolation, and wondering why you never have any money. Then things start to take off, and it becomes a mad and exhilarating experience.

downthetubes: Thank you very much, Sean Azzopardi!

• No Bar Codes is a one day indie comics event taking place at Camden Lock Market this Saturday. Click here for more info.

Sean Azzopardi can be found at and No Bar Codes next week. His Twelve Hour Shift trade paperbacks have been flying off the shelves, so bag yourself one as soon as you get there or face disappointment! You can read another downthetubes interview with Sean by Matthew Badham here.

• David Baillie is over at and the awesome new hardback edition of his fantasy adventure Tongue of the Dead debuts at No Bar Codes. Click here for an exclusive discount voucher redeemable on the day!

In Memoriam: Beryl Cook

Artist Beryl Cook, a painter with a cartoonists’ sensibility for accurate observation from life, has died aged 81.

Her official biography on her web site indicates she was born in 1926 in Surrey, one of four sisters. She left school at fourteen, showing little talent for painting and worked in a variety of jobs. Moving to London in 1943, she became a showgirl in a touring production of The Gypsy Princess and also worked in the fashion industry, which inspired her life-long interest in the way people dress and how they look.

In 1951 she and husband John and their son moved to Southern Rhodesia, which was to prove a turning point for Beryl. One day she picked up some paints belonging to her son and started a picture. She enjoyed it so much she could not stop. She painted on any surface she could find, scraps of wood, fire screens and most notably a breadboard, as can be seen from her famous early painting of Bowling Ladies.

In 1963 the Cooks returned to England to live in Cornwall where Beryl began to paint in earnest, then moved to Plymouth, Devon where in the summer months they ran a busy theatrical boarding house. Beryl loved the town: a thriving, lively seaside town full of pubs, fishermen and sailors. In the winter, she concentrated on painting, recreating her personal views of Plymouth in vivid oils on wooden panels. Eventually an antique dealer friend persuaded her to let him try and sell a few and, to her surprise, he sold them very quickly.

Bernard Samuels of the Plymouth Art Centre became aware of this ‘local phenomenon’ and in 1975 he finally convinced her to have an exhibition which was an enormous success and gained national publicity that resulted in a cover and feature in the Sunday Times Magazine followed by a swift phone call from London’s Portal Gallery. In 1976, Beryl had her first London exhibition, another success. and her work has been exhibited by Portal ever since.

Influenced by English visionary artist Stanley Spencer and Edward Burra (and, some would argue, postcard art genius Donald McGill), the appeal of Beryl Cook’s paintings is their directness, exuberance and the instant laughter they create. Her characters are always enjoying themselves to the full and it's no wonder she was once described by comedienne Victoria Wood as ‘Rubens with jokes’.

Tiger Aspect made two half hour animated films of Beryl Cook’s irrepressible women who meet at Plymouth’s Dolphin Pub, Bosom Pals, broadcast in 2004 on BBC1, which received great critical acclaim won several animation awards.

The BBC has a slideshow of some of her best known paintings here
Beryl Cook's official web site
The World of Beryl Cook - available on

Pratchett Fights On

The Times reports on an interview on BBC Breakfast today, revealing how the onset of Alzheimer's disease has started to affect the writing of Terry Pratchett's best-selling fantasy Discworld series.

The author vowed to carry on writing despite having the disease diagnosed last year but revealed that his spelling had become erratic and his typing was no longer as fast - but he says he is trying to be philosophical and remains hopeful that researchers could come up with a means of combating the disease.

“I used to touch type as fast as any journalist does and my spelling was pretty good. Now I hunt and peg and my spelling is erratic," he said.

In March Pratchett gave half a million pounds to the Alzheimer's Research Trust to help to find a cure for the disease. Pratchett's donation inspired an internet campaign where fans hope to 'Match it for Pratchett', by raising an equal sum or more for research.

"I have had Alzheimer’s now for the past two years plus," he states on their web site. "It’s a nasty disease, surrounded by shadows and small, largely unseen tragedies. There's nearly as many of us as there are cancer sufferers, and it looks as if the number of people with the disease will double within a generation. It's a shock and a shame to find out that funding for research is three per cent of that which goes to find cancer cures."

In April, the BBC began working with him to make a documentary series based on his illness.

Read the full story on The Times web site

Match It For Pratchett web site

• A signed "Monquee" figurine is being auctioned off by Forbidden Planet to raise money for Alzheimer's Research as part of the "Match it for Pratchett" campaign:

Hewlett's Olympian Task

Comic artist Jamie Hewlett and Blur band member Damon Albarn are to provide visuals for BBC Sport's marketing campaign and titles for the forthcoming Olympic Games, based on the traditional Chinese folklore Journey To The West.

The campaign, which will air in late July, will include animations and music especially produced by Hewlett and Albarn. with BBC Sport Executive Producer Jonathan Bramley describing the project as "a really exciting collaboration.

"To work with such renowned artists as Jamie and Damon is a real plus for BBC Sport," he said. "Their treatment of the trail and titles will kick start our Olympic coverage in a really different, energetic way."

London-based Hewlett (perhaps best known to comics fans as the co-creator of Tank Girl and the band, Gorillaz) worked with Albarn alongside the BBC to adapt Journey To The West, an epic quest for enlightenment, into the Olympic trail and titles, developing the animation and music especially for the BBC.

The BBC says campaign will feature the characters of Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy using Olympic sports on their journey to Beijing and the Bird's Nest stadium. The sports represented include gymnastics, hammer, sprinting and diving.

"The idea is that you tell the entire story of Journey To The West in a two-minute opening sequence," expalined Hewlett, "which is basically them on their way to the Olympic stadium, the Birds' Nest stadium."

The Beijing Olympics marketing campaign will feature promotional activity across TV, radio, online, mobile and interactive, and will also play throughout the Beijing Olympics programming via title sequences, in programme graphics and set design.

BBC Sport Marketing worked with retained agency RKCR to develop the strategic direction and creative realisation of the idea while Red Bee Media produced the trails and title sequence with Zombie Flesheaters (you've got to love that company name!) and Passion Pictures.

The aim is to target younger audiences through high profile websites such as Facebook, Bebo, MSN and social networking sites as well as mobile activity.

• The Journey to the West folklore is based on characters taken from the story of Monkey King, one of the four classic novels written by Wu Chen-en during the Ming Dynasty (1500–1584). The story has many layers of meaning and may be read on many different levels such as a quest, fantasy, personal search for self-cultivation, or a political/social satire.

The myths have also inspired comics, manga, anime and games. but in the West, its best known modern interpretation is probably the 1970s TV series Monkey, translated into English by the BBC. You have to wonder if they'll repeat it. (The complete series was released on DVD in 2004).

In 1986 Chinese Central Televsion made Journey to the West, noted for its faithfulness to the original novel and considered by many as a classic. The SciFiChannel made The Monkey King in 2001, also called The Lost Empire.

The story is an account of a monk, Xuan Zang (602-664), who went to India in the 7th Century to seek Buddhist scriptures to bring back to China.

Pig Brother

Legend of Bill Begins

Cartoonist David Reddick has unveiled his new webcomic and labour of love, Legend of Bill.

"It's a series set in a realm of swords, sorcery and stupidity!," says David, who I've known for a while now since my time editing Star Trek Magazine for Titan.

The series centres on Bill, a man who tires of his 9 to 5 office job as a file clerk intern at the local castle. So he quits and sets out on adventures with Frank, his faithful lil’ blue dragon friend. But no one said it was going to be easy...

"Bill and Frank are a couple of characters fed up with their everyday existence and desiring something more out of life," says David. "Something I think we can all relate to in one way or another."

David Reddick is a professional cartoonist and creator who, in addition to Legend of Bill, also draws "The Trek Life" for the official Star Trek web site, "Gene's Journal" and "Rod & Barry" for, and is a staff cartoonist at Paws, Inc., where he works on the Garfield comic strip.

His work can also be seen worldwide in newspapers, magazines, on products and Websites for clients like CBS Studios, Paramount Pictures, Roddenberry Productions, Nickelodeon Magazine, Star Trek Magazine, New York Times UpFront, NCAA, Canson, Inc, CBSMobile, ROK Comics and Artizans Syndicate to name a few.

• New strips will be published on the Legend of Bill every Tuesday and Thursday.

Enter the Vort

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): This week's 2000AD contained an announcement that 'Israeli's latest project, The Vort, will be one of the slew of new stories staring next week in the UK's weekly SF comic.

Over on his blog, 'Israeli (ala Matt Brooker) has posted several designs for the story and reveals the strip is a double first. "It's a full-colour series for 2000AD," ge explains, "written by newcomer G. Powell (in other words, it's not black and white and not written by Ian Edginton. The scar where they had to separate us surgically is still smarting!" he says.

"The Vort is also a departure from my usual 2000AD subject matter. It's a future war story set on a bizarre alien planet made entirely of water, and permeated by a powerful electromagnetic field that prevents electronics from functioning. This means that all the technology on the Vort is either ultra low-tech (manual typewriters and hand bells for sounding the alarm) or "genekit" (biological rifles and sensor devices). Imagine Apocalypse Now with set dressing by H.R. Giger and you have a rough idea of what we're aiming for."

Pictured: The enigmatic Crispy from the forthcoming series The Vort. © 2008 Rebellion Developments/2000AD
The Vort created by G. Powell & 'Israeli.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

DFC Arrival Imminent!

(With thanks to Garen Ewing): Just a quick reminder that the new weekly comic The DFC comic will be pushed through thousands of letterboxes this Friday and here's a couple of links to keep you going until then...

• A long piece on The DFC from The Birmingham Mail written by Paul H. Birch, noting the title marks a return to the type of anthology comic that features a variety of genres, both in the adventure and humour mould. "In other words, something that offers the literary equivalent of flicking through the channels on the TV remote control. Only this time kids will actually be reading so educationalists have no reason to complain."

The Guardian website features an article by Philip Pullman about his John Aggs' strip, John Blake (pictured right), including a PDF preview of the first instalment.

"I'd long toyed with the idea of writing a story in comics form," he reveals, "but I didn't begin seriously until my publisher created The DFC and found an artist for me to work with. I can draw only things that keep still, and comics are full of movement, so my story would have to be a collaboration. A good thing, too: I couldn't possibly draw the scenes I've asked John Aggs to draw, and the story is all the better for his part in it."

Finally for now, Nikki Gamble interviews David Fickling about The DFC at Write Away and check out an interview with fellow DFC contributor Sarah McIntyre.

• The publishers of The DFC are offering early subscribers a free trial of four issues. To subscribe, go to or call 0844 848 8840. If you still haven't subscribed, go and grab it while the 25% offer is still going!

No Barcodes: Oliver Lambden Interview

In the first of a series of creator interviews to mark the upcoming NoBarCodes event next Saturday in Camden Lock Market, London, David Baillie talks to Tales from the Flat artist Oliver Lambden...

downthetubes: Hey Oliver! Hope you're well! Now I've known you for some time. In fact - I haven't said this before, but these months we've had together - they're the happiest of my life. But how would you introduce yourself and your work to someone at NoBarCodes next Saturday in Camden Lock Market who has never heard of you before?

Oliver: I'm Oliver Lambden and I draw Tales From The Flat, which is written by my good friend Laurence Powell (currently adventuring away in Thailand). It's part autobiographical, part fantasy and all round kickass. It's about a group of very close friends who share a flat in a fictional city. They go through the usual flat sharing malarky but also fight demonic kebab shop owners and chav ninjas, things like that. It's good fun and should be read by everyone.

downthetubes: You've been rocking the Camden Stall on a Saturday for some time now - how's that been for you?

Oliver: Cold but getting warmer! It's been great seeing guys like you on a more regular basis and getting our comics out to "regular" people as well. I love being part of it, it feels special, every weekend it genuinly feels like we're doing something really damn cool.

downthetubes: What are you looking forward to most next Saturday?

Oliver: No Barcodes is going to be like every Saturday at Camden Market but on a much bigger scale. My wallet's going to take a beating. I'm very much looking forwards to seeing what's on show and meeting some lovely new people and it'll be nice putting faces to some familiar names.

downthetubes: Anything you're dreading?

Oliver: Rain. Please Jesus, don't let it rain...

downthetubes: What are your (comicy) ambitions - where do you want to be this time next year?

Oliver: It would be nice if Tales From The Flat was legally the only thing anyone could ever read. All other reading materials would be burned and TFTF would be on every bookshelf and next to every toilet in the land (as reading material, not loo roll substitute preferably).
On a more realistic level? I've no idea. I want to draw more comics working with different writers, trying new things, making myself better. All that jazz.

downthetubes: And finally - any message for the people out there, reading this, wishing that they too were a young, cool and sexy comics creator?

Oliver: Anything is possible. I was once a wreck of a human until I started making comics. Anyone can be as cool, hip and sexy as I am with a little effort. The best way to start out would be to actually buy the first Tales From The Flat Collected Edition (available from Forbidden Planet International) and you'll find you'll be a little bit sexier because of it. It's the truth.

downthetubes: Thank you very much, Oliver Lambden!

Oliver: No David Baillie, thank you!

• No Bar Codes is a one day indie comics event taking place at Camden Lock Market this Saturday. Click here for more info.

• Modern Monstrosity can be found at and No Bar Codes next week. Tales From the Flat has been nominated for so many awards at this point in the game it's the small press equivalent of Manchester United. Except everyone loves it.

• David Baillie is over at and the awesome new hardback edition of his fantasy adventure Tongue of the Dead debuts at No Bar Codes. Click here for an exclusive discount voucher redeemable on the day!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Bryan Talbot Signings Etc...

Alice in Sunderland artist Bryan Talbot will be signing with Steve Dillon at Books Etc., 421 Oxford Street, London on Saturday 14 June at 2.00pm. More info at 0207 495 8507.

He and Mark Stafford have also been talking with James DeCarteret about their graphic novel Cherubs! in a podcast with Bryan and Mark. Released last year by Desperado Publishing, Cherubs! is described as "a totally irreverent, fast-paced supernatural comedy-adventure that's heaven-sent and hell-bent!

"Put in the frame for the first murder in Heaven, the outrageous celestial rugrats chase the renegade archangel Abbadon to New York on the eve of the Apocalypse! Befriended by Mary, an exotic dancer, and pursued by unstoppable Seraphim terminators, they join battle with Frankie Dracula and his vampire horde as the Devil prepares to stalk the earth once more! Demons! Vampire Hunters! Fairy hookers! Fart jokes! What more could you possibly want?"

Bryan has several other appearances coming up: he's speaking with Paul Gravett and Hannah Berry at The Ipswich Literary Festival Tuesday on 1st July and with Alan Grant at the Edinburgh International Book Festival at 8.30 on Friday 22nd August. He will also be signing and sketching at The San Diego Comicon 24 -27th July.

He's recently been regaling fans with crazy stories about comics over on the Quality Communications Yahoo Group from his brilliant book The Naked Artist, released last year. Well worth signing up: it's well moderated by group controller Dez Skinn of Warrior fame.

• More Info:

Nice To Have A Friend

Comic artist James Nash has a new comic available called It's Nice to Have a Friend Such as Yourself, collecting all the diary drawings that he did in 2007.

James started a diary strip "just to explore the idea that the subjective language of comics could communicate something as objective and personal as a person's diary," he says. He's been doing his comics diary fro about four years. "I began putting the drawings together as a collection and, along with some friends similarly interested in comics, began exploring the idea of self publishing our work and distributing it via the small press community.

Copies of It's Nice to Have a Friend Such as Yourself are available from Gosh! in London, Dave's Comics in Brighton and Platform Clothing in Birmingham.

Alternatively, if anyone would like to recieve one directly from the artist, then please contact James direct via jamesnash61 AT

James will also be running a diary comics workshop and have copies available at the V&A Museum as part of the Bad Idea exhibition and anthology launch at the end of this month (May 2008).

Visit James Nash's MySpace Site

Ipp, Ipp Hooray for Classical Comics!

Classical Comics all-British graphic novel Henry V has been awarded a Silver Medal at the 2008 Independent Publishers Awards (the “IPPYs”) in America.

This year’s contest attracted a total of 3,175 entries and saw the Original Text Henry V, which was released in November 2007, drawn by Neill Cameron, win runner-up in the Graphic Novel/Drawn Book- Drama/Documentary category. (Gold went to Shortcomings, by New Yorker magazine illustrator Adrian Tomine, published by Drawn & Quarterly.

“The quality of this year's entries has been totally amazing and judging was difficult, as we saw better designed books, read higher quality writing," commented Independent Publisher on announcing the awards. "We were also exposed to a more sophisticated concepts."

"I’m absolutely delighted with the news!" artist Neill Cameron told downthetubes. "The only thing I can think of to add is that whilst it’s very gratifying to see oneself referred to as an award-winning illustrator, I think an equal if not greater share of the credit should go to Bambos Georgiou (inks), Jason Cardy and Kat Nicholson (colours) and Nigel Dobbyn (lettering), my enormously talented fellow artists on the book."

Equally delighted to win an award with their first book is Clive Bryant, Chairman of Classical Comics. "To see this dream become a reality, and then to gain recognition for our books has been a truly emotional experience," he says. "In fact, we’ve had such a positive response to both Henry V and Macbeth that we’ve increased the number of titles in production”.

Classical Comics’ pioneering multiple text versions of well-loved literature have proven to be a success around the globe, particularly with students and teachers, who welcome this vibrant, colourful way of introducing the classics. (You can read the downthetubes review of Henry V here)

Two further adaptations, Frankenstein (drawn by Declan Shalvey) and Jane Eyre (drawn by John M. Burns), are due to be published in September this year; with another five titles being released between October 2008 and January 2009.

Graphic Novel/Drawn Book – Drama/Documentary - The Winners in Full
Shortcomings, by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly)
Silver: Henry V - The Graphic Novel, by William Shakespeare (Classical Comics)
Bronze: Images from the Neocerebellum: The Wood Engravings of George A. Walker (The Porcupine’s Quill); Strangers in Paradise – Pocket Book 6, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio); Lost Raven, by Darren G. Davis (Bluewater Comics)

Other "Ippys" of interest to downthetubes readers were:

For Fantasy/Science Fiction
Gold: Virtual Evil, by Jana G. Oliver (Dragon Moon Press) and The Oblivion Society, by Marcus Alexander Hart (Permuted Press)
Silver: The Starfish People, by Leann Marshall (Xlibris)
Bronze: Brian Froud’s World of Faerie by Brian Froud (Insight Editions); Sharlie, by Lynda Johnson (Swansea Music); The Key, by Pauline Baird Jones (L&L Dreamspell)

Graphic Novel/Drawn Book – Humor/Cartoon - The winners in full:
The Adventures of Jasper: Lost in Skookum Valley, by Glen Lovett (Lovett Pictures)
Silver: Kitty Nirvana: The First Ginger & Shadow Collection, by Barry Corbett (Corbett Features)
Bronze: The Opposite Sex, by Sam Grant Jr. (Sam Grant Design); Captured by Pirates (Twisted Journeys #1), by Justine & Ron Fontes, illustrated by David Witt (Graphic Universe/Lerner Publishing Group)

Gold: The Portrait, by Joseph Barron (iUniverse)
Silver: Something Bad, by Richard Satterlie (Medallion Press)
Bronze: Cluck: Murder Most Fowl, by Eric D. Knapp ( BookSurge); Heart of Scars, by Brian Easton (iUniverse); A Dark and Deadly Valley, edited by Mike Heffernan (Silverthought Press).

Web Links
For more about Classical Comics visit the official web site
Buy the Original Text edition of Henry V from
Buy the Plain Text editin of Henry V from
Buy the Quick Text edition of Henry V from

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