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Thursday, 14 August 2008

Scalpel! Glue! Paint! Coffee?

In the last few years the revitalised plastic kit manufacturer Airfix has been re-releasing some of their classic kits in addition to creating new ones on such modern subjects as Wallace And Gromit and new Doctor Who. After some years in foreign hands Airfix is now owned by Hornby which also owns other well known British hobby brands Scalextric, Humbrol and Corgi.

Traditionally Airfix used paintings on their box covers to illustrate the subject of the kit and one of their hardest working artists was Roy Cross. Back in the 1960s Roy Cross worked for Eagle and Swift comics as one of the cutaway artists on Eagle and as a cover artist on Swift signing his work mainly as Cross. His box art for Airfix includes images so familiar to model kit enthusiasts as the B-17 Flying Fortress "A Bit O' Lace" (named for a 1944 Milt Caniff illustration) dropping bombs over Germany or Polish ace Jan Zumbach's Spitfire Vb taking off from a grass airfield.

After many of his Airfix illustrations were included in the excellent art book Celebration Of Flight: The Aviation Art Of Roy Cross, Airfix have begun producing drinks coasters with many Cross paintings included in their slowly expanding range. Cross subjects include a Short Stirling heavy bomber and a Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet rocket fighter as well as both the B-17 and Spitfire mentioned above. These coasters cost £2.50 from the Airfix web shop which currently has a buy four get one free deal running on them.

A full list of the coasters available can be found on the Airfix website.

Celebration Of Flight: The Aviation Art Of Roy Cross is available from Amazon.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Festival Time In Edinburgh

As the Edinburgh Festivals kick into full swing for August 2008, there are several UK comics related items worth mentioning.

After gingerly dipping their toes into the flood of graphic novels last year, the Edinburgh International Book Festival have made graphic novels a much larger part of their programming for this year. On Thursday 14 August comics historian Paul Gravett, artist Robert Deas and publisher Emma Hayley will be discussing Manga Shakespeare, while the next day the newest Dan Dare artist, Gary Erskine, will be discussing his work in Want To Draw Comics? On Tuesday 19th artist and designer Dave McKean will be talking about his work while on Friday 22nd writer and artist Bryan Talbot will be giving a Masterclass on creating graphic novels beginning at 11am. Later the same day Bryan will discussing graphic novels with writer Alan Grant and writer/artist Hannah Berry. Posy Simmonds will be talking about her work on Sunday 24th while artist Barrie Appleby will be talking on Monday 25th about his work on The Beano.

Bryan Talbot's Masterclass and the Dave McKean, Gary Erskine and Barrie Appleby talks are already sold out which should bode well for similar comics and graphic novels programming being included in next year's Festival. Details of the events can be found on the BookFest website.

Meanwhile at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival another Beano artist, Kev F Sutherland, will be giving two helping hands to the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre. They will be at the Gilded Balloon until 24th August and details can be found at the Gilded Balloon website.

'Watchmen' Races Towards The Top Of The Amazon.Co.Uk Book Chart

WatchmenAlan Moore and Dave Gibbons' ground-breaking Watchmen has raced towards the top of the book chart as sales rise by over 3000% and excitement builds around 2009 film release.

Its trailer is currently running before screenings of The Dark Knight and it's already being tipped as the must-watch film for 2009. Now, despite the misgivings of creator Alan Moore about film adaptations of his work, the excitement around the cinematic release of Watchmen has seen sales of the original graphic novel rise by over 3000% in the last month to claim the number four position on the bestsellers book chart (as of today, it's at Number Six).

It is only being held off the top spot by the Collector’s Edition and Standard Edition of JK Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard and cookery title Chinese Food Made Easy which accompanies the hugely popular BBC TV series.

"We have never seen a graphic novel at the top of the bestsellers list before but we would expect Watchmen to hit the top spot at some point before the theatrical release of the movie, said Kes Nielsen, Head of Books Buying at

"Who knows, if the sales continue to rise at this rate, it may even topple The Tales of Beedle the Bard over the coming weeks, which would be an incredible feat."

Watchmen, set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, is the only graphic novel to appear in Time Magazine's ‘100 best English language novels’ list and remains one of Alan Moore's most-praised works, and has had a huge influence on superhero comics since its initial publication back in the 1980s.

"We have seen significant increases in the sales of graphic novels over the last few years, spurred on by the many films that have been adapted from them," continued Kes Nielsen. "There has, however, been a real step change over the last month or so which must be credited in some part to the success of The Dark Knight.

"Now, with the growing excitement around ‘Watchmen’, we are certain to see the success of graphic novels hit even greater heights."

The Watchmen film will hit cinemas in March 2009. Visit the official web site
• Buy Watchmen from

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Revamp Vampirella!

Get ready to Vamp it up as Project: Rooftop, where cartoonists and illustrators bring their costume design skills to task in tribute to the superheroes and villains they’ve grown up with, joins forces with Harris Comics for their newest drawing contest focusing on Vampirella entitled Vampirella ReVamp.

For the first time, Project Rooftop is partnering with the publishing company of Vampirella for an unprecedented contest, open to professionals, amateurs, vampires and aliens: redesigns the vivacious Vampirella.

In addition to the Rooftop's staff roundtable review, there will be three special guest judges for the finalists: Trina Robbins, who created the original Vampirella costume design, Joe Jusko, who's done some of the most memorable art in Vampirella's history, notably his distinctive covers and work in the fully painted book, Blood Lust; and Dan Brereton, the cartoonist & creator of The Nocturnals, who'sworking on a 2008 Vampirella Quarterly Halloween Special.

Harris Comics has provided three incredible prizes for this Revamp Competition. The Grand Prize winner will see their winning entry appear as a pinup in a future issue of Vampirella, and receive two comics, signed respectively by Joe Jusko and Dan Brereton. Second Prize is a Vampirella wall poster illustrated by Jose Gonzalez, and the runer up will also receive two comics signed respectively by Joe Jusko and Dan Brereton. Third Prize is a Vampirella T-shirt illustrated by Stephen Segovia, and two comics also signed respectively by Joe Jusko and Dan Brereton.

In addition to these prizes, the finalists selected by the judges will also be up on a fan poll at for the "Fan Selection" prize of a limited edition Vampirella print.

• To enter, Send in your Vampirella redesigns to, with the subject line: "ReVamp" Include your full name, age, website and mailing address for prize shipment. International winners may be responsible for prize shipment. All the usual P:R Guidelines apply. All entries must be received by Monday, September 8th, 2008.

Rare Anderson Comics up for auction

Copies of Lady Penelope -- the comic created by the publishers of the best-selling TV Century 21 but aimed at girls -- are just some of the rare items up for auction from British company Compalcomics this autumn.

Bids will be accepted until Tuesday 2nd September at 8.00pm UK time.

There are 358 lots in the company's latest catalogue, the star of this auction probably a fine copy of The Dandy Book No 1, amongst the highest graded ever offered by Compal for sale.

Continuing their Beano and Dandy war years collection the focus is on 1942 -1945 along with Dandy complete years of 1946 and 1947 at lots 79 and 80. Earlier decades are also well represented in their bound volume collection where Sexton Blake and Union Jack titles have found recent heavy bidding. Film Fun, Radio Fun, Hotspur, Skipper and Wizard also abound but the girls are not left out with The Schoolgirl and Schoolgirls' Own having several complete years on offer.

The 1960s are also stronger; copies of TV Century 21, WHAM!, POW! (Spider-Matic Pistol at the ready!), Fantastic, It's Terrific are all on offer, some in complete runs, but Lady Penelope is set to overtake them all with a Rolls-Royce run on the outside. The comic featured strips such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Marina, all with the same high quality art that was a hallmark of TV Century 21.

The 1970s also look good with high grade No 1s of 2000AD, Misty and Spellbound, each with their free gifts intact. Original artwork from the same decade heralds a Christmas Faceache by Ken Reid, Clever Dick by Leo Baxendale and Frankie Stein by Robert Nixon - but watch out for the Toad-Creatures in Journey To The Stars by Ron Turner.

The US section of the austion promotes a cents copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1, Avengers #1 and Silver Surfer's classic issue 4. There's also a high quality House Of Secrets #92 and Iron Fist #14, which join 1970s and 1980s runs of Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men, Batman and Detective Comics.

Tube Surfing: 12 August 2008

• (via Forbidden Planet International): The Observer, ComICA and Jonathan Cape have teamed up again this year for a second graphic short story competition following the success of the first such endeavour last year (which was won by Cathy Brighton’s Away in a Manger - see here for links to PDFs of the winners).
Entries are now being sought for this year’s competition for a short graphic story, with the winner down to receive £1, 000 pounds and publication across two pages in the Observer, while the runner-up will receive £250 and publication on the Guardian’s website. The closing date for entries is 17 October 2008: check here to download the full terms and conditions.

2000AD artist Matt Brooker (aka 'Israeli) has posted pictures from the Caption 2008 indie press event on his blog and flickr, and included a Selina Lock's vodcast CAPTION report in the blog post. (Pic left of comics feature writer and magazine editor Jenni Scott at Caption by 'Israeli)

• No conection with comics whatsoever that we can think of right now, although his rle as Chef in South Park is probably one, and Shaft (and his music for the film) surely influenced the development of characters such as Marvel's Power Man, but we're sorry to report the death of music legend Isaac Hayes, aged just 65.
“Theme From Shaft” exploded on the pop and R&B charts in 1971, putting him on the map as an artist and icon. The rat-a-tat of that lone high-hat, that cultural-shifting kick of the wah-wah pedal -- no other piece of music signalled the true end of the 1960s, ushering in the gritty 1970s. The song won him not only a Grammy but two Oscars, for “Best Song” and “Best Score” in 1972. Concord Music Group president and CEO Glen Barros says of the man: “We are all very fortunate to have worked with a visionary who changed music in indelible and profound ways. His talent was matched only by his kindness of spirit."

• There's a new episode of Darryl Cunningham's Super Sam over on the Forbidden Planet International blog

• The ever busy Steve Holland has posted a list of The Children's Newspaper authors on Bear Alley. The paper ran from 22 March 1919 to 1 May 1965, a total of 2397 issues. Over its 46-year history, it published dozens of original stories and serials, as well as reprinted classics such as Robinson Crusoe, Don Quixote, Westward Ho!, The Count of Monte Cristo, David Copperfield, Gulliver's Travels, Pinocchio, etc. The list covers only the authors of text stories and serials who include famous names such as Anthony Buckeridge and many more.

Forbidden Planet International notes a BBC News report that scientists in the US have announced that they are a step closer to bringing a long-cherished science fiction (and fantasy for that matter) device to reality - an invisibility cloak. "It would be very handy for Banksy as he goes about his anonymous stencil art in public spaces," suggests the ever mischievious Joe Gordon...

• Again from FPI (they are busy!), news that the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which launched at the weekend is offering special prices on tickets for some of their graphic novel events, with special discounts on the Hannah Berry, Alan Grant and Bryan Talbot event on Friday 22nd and the recently-added ‘Want to Draw Comics’ event with Gary Erskine this Friday (15th). Check out the Film Fest site

Resonance FM Stands Up for Comics

(via Bugpowder): On Thursday 14th August at 5.00pm, Resonance FM will broadcast "Stand Up Comics: Music and Performance by Small Press Artists and Writers" as part of the weekly comics programme, 'Strip'. Tune in for poetry, stories, music and dialogue, featuring Matthew Thurber of Ambergris and creator of 1-800 Mice, Steven Tillotson, creator of the fab Banal Pig Comics; Daniel Locke, Green Comics; Mystery Dick; Sylvie Winn, The Director of Tall Buildings, Gareth Brookes, Appalling Nonsense, Dan Lester, Monkeys Might Puke and Jimi Gherkin

• You can hear the show by tuning into Resonance FM 104.4 on an old fashioned radio (in London) or at

Monday, 11 August 2008

IndieReview Revamped

IndieReview, the UK indie comics and manga portal has had a new revamp, focusing on sharp dynamic content with lots of great images and up to date news from the world of comics. The team behind the site have also introduced a new 5-star rating system to let people know what they think of a comic straight away, and are continuing their dissection of the webcomic world with the regular Webcomic Mole articles.

In addition to a good-looking "presentation" area on the home page for comics, they've also introduced a great new service for all indie comic creators, the ability to host your own WordPress blog on IndieReview (with a complimentary email address of course)!

IndieReview, the UK indie comics and manga portal was established in late September 2007 and covers all things small press in the UK from the latest news to reviews of latest small press comic offerings.

• You can keep up to date with new features by visiting the IndieReview blog and the main website at

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