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Friday, 22 August 2008

It's Not Comics, But...

As a show of solidarity with the Dalai Lama and Tibet, 20 artists have come together to release a historic double album on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, The Art of Peace. These recordings - some original for the project and some acoustically driven recordings of previously released songs - express humankind's common vulnerabilities and experiences in pursuing happiness, peace and freedom. Collectively, the tracks represent a heartfelt message of support for the path of compassion and non-violence championed by the Dalai Lama.

Begun in May of 2008 and completed in two months, the outpouring of support from all corners of the world was unparalleled. Several well-known artists participated in the album (iTunes link), including Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Imogen Heap, Moby, Sting, Suzanne Vega, Underworld and others. It also includes a 15-minute talk by exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.

Funds raised from the album by the Foundation will go to support peace initiatives and Tibetan cultural preservation projects important to the Dalai Lama.

As the end of the Bejing Olympics nears, we applaud the athletes and the people of China in their accomplishment.

Unfortunately promises made by the Chinese Government to the I.O.C. have been broken over and over, including China's promise to remove the "Great Firewall of China" which blocks access to the internet and information. Today, the Chinese government blocked access to the itunes store that was selling the album - not just blocking the slae of that album but most of the store itself.

Journalists who are reporting on the Olympics are still being blocked and hindered as of today. Espionage has been taking place against Pro-Tibet Groups. We need to make a stand.

Murderdrome Comes to the iphone

Top British comic creators Al Ewing and PJ Holden have developed an iphone version of their new comics project Murderdrome. Find out more by watching the video below or visiting their blog.

While comics on phones are not a new idea -- ROK Comics has been bring the work of creators such as Keith Page, Rodrigo Ricci, Ian Gibson, David Fletcher and others as a WAP-based subscription service for over a year - because Murderdrome is on an iphone everyone has of course started wetting themselves about it...

Let's hope they get some good coverage. Generally, despite the huge number of web comics out there these days, I find very few comics news sites or magazines still seem to be ignoring the huge numbers of digital comics readers, noted in this piece in Publishing Week.

Alison Carroll is Tomb Raider

Meet Alison Carroll – actress, gymnast and arguably the greatest living embodiment of Lara Croft so far.

There have been several memorable real-life incarnations of England’s first lady of adventure over the last decade, but few have managed to capture what Lara embodies with quite so much gusto.

Carroll not only bears an uncanny resemblance to Lara, but by checking out this video you’ll also learn how she flawlessly embraces Lara’s attitude, physicality and bravado. A naturally confident speaker, her transformation to become Lara Croft is breathlessly captured in this exclusively behind-the-scenes exposé.

The next Tomb Raider rleases is Tomb Rraider: Underworld, which will have a blanket release on 21st November and will see Lara Croft storm all formats in similarly impressive fashion: Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system, PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, Wii, PlayStation2, Nintendo DS, and PC Games for Windows platforms.

• For more information visit:

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Exhibition celebrates cartoonist’s life

(with thanks to Jeremy Briggs): The life of cartoonist Robert T Nixon has been celebrated this summer with an exhibition of his work at the Kirkleatham Museum, near Redcar. The exhbition closes on 31 August so if you live nearby or are having a holiday in the area, why not give it a visit.

Nixon, who worked on comics such as The Beano, Dandy and Whoopee, died six years ago and his daughter, Catherine Nixon, says his family wanted everyone to enjoy his public and private work.

The exhibition includes examples of both his comics work and the landscape drawings he drew privately, along with his fantasy illustrations.

Born in South Bank, Nixon moved to Guisborough with his family in the early 1960s. He worked as a cartoonist for DC Thomson and Fleetway.

"My dad died six years ago and putting on an exhibition of his work was something he had wanted to do, but never got around to it," Catherine, who lives in Saltburn, told local paper The Advertiser. "We just thought it would be a nice thing to do.

"One of the things about my dad's work is that it's so diverse, so, hopefully, there is something for everyone to enjoy."

The exhibition runs until Sun 31st August 2008 at Kirkleatham Museum. Entrance to the Museum is free. Within the gallery is a Comics Workshop area where you can create your own comic strips and design your won comic characters. Or sit in the quiet corner and enjoy our collection of comics and annuals.

More details about No Boundaries: An exhibition of the work of Robert T Nixon on the Kirkleatham Museum web site
• More about Robert T. Nixon:
Lambiek profile of Robert T. Nixon
Robert T. Nixon obituary in The Guardian (2002) by Paul Gravett

TMNT: Back to the Sewer on its way to the UK

4Kids Entertainment has completed deals with several broadcasters, including CITV in the UK, for a new series based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year.

TMNT: Back to the Sewer will be launched at the TV festival, MIPCOM in Octoberr but CITV in the UK has already acquired 13 half-hour episodes and will premiere the series in the first quarter of 2009.

4Kids has also secured broadcast deals with RTE in Ireland and a number of other broadcastrs worldwide including DRTV (Denmark), MTV3 (Finland) and Indonesia's Indosiar.

The new series inspired by Eastman and Laird's classic 1980s black and white indpendent comic sees the Ninja Turtles back in present-day New York City. They're shocked to find that Master Splinter didn’t make it back with them in one piece but was digitally decompiled into hundreds of data bits, which were scattered through cyberspace. The Turtles must now save him.

“We’re delighted to be continuing our TMNT relationship with CITV, particularly as we build toward the 25th anniversary of the Turtles," commented Brian Lacey, the executive VP of international business for 4Kids. "TMNT has been a strong performer on CITV, and we’re confident that kids will be thrilled with their newest series of adventures.”

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their world premiere in May 1984, in a comic book created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman and published and distributed by Mirage Studios, one of the key supporters for the Comic Creators' Bill of Rights. Eastman is also publisher of Heavy Metal magazine.

A hugely successful TV series quickly followed, along with three successful theatrical films. In 2003, the Turtles were re-introduced to a new generation through a fresh animated television series, a CGI-animated theatrical movie and new merchandising program. Mirage, who launched an anniversary web site for TMNT at Comic-Con in San Diego this year, say the 25th year of TMNT will provide fans with, new, stimulating opportunities to experience the Turtles.

TMNT currently doesn't have a news stand presence in the UK: the Titan comic ceased publication earlier this year.

4Kids TMNT: Back to The Sewer Blog
TMNT Official 25th Anniversary web site
Cool TMNT fan news blog

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

In Memoriam: Pauline Baynes

by John Freeman

I've just been catching up with some recent email and read that Pauline Baynes, whose illustrations gave life to Narnia, as well as appearing in books by J.R.R. Tolkien, Mary Norton, Richard Adams and countless others, passed away earlier this month. Writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley pays tribute to her here.

For me, Baynes' Narnia drawings are integral to my enjoyment of the Narnia books, and my first reading of Lord of the Rings, as she provided the cover of the battered edition I still have. (I hadn't realized until reading Sibley's tribute that she also provided the art for the edition of Warership Down I read as a child, too).

I think some artists' work gets so linked with a certain book it's often a jar to see it visualised by someone else. Baynes' work on Narnia will forever be linked to that saga for me. She'll be much missed.

Pauline Baynes, artist and illustrator, born 9 September 1922, died 1 August 2008, aged 85

Read Brian Sibley's online tribute to Pauline Baynes
• Read Brian Sibley's full obituary to Pauline in The Independent
• Read David Henshall's obituary in The Guardian
• Read Charlotte Cory's obituary in The Telegraph
• Read the obituary in The Times

British Comics Sales Down Again

• Bad news for British comics publishers. As reported over on Bear Alley by comics expert / writer Steve Holland, sales are down on almost every title (see table compiled by Steve), as much as 16 per cent in some cases -- a decline in print sales reflected in other quarters such as mens magazines and others.

As cartoonist Lew Stringer says over on his comics blog, the results make for depressing reading. The Dandy, revamped as Dandy Xtreme last year in an attempt to ward off the decline, is now down 5,000 copies to 23,869. Even the high sellers Simpsons Comics and Doctor Who Adventures are down, with the latter suffering a massive drop from 154,989 to 93,791 in the last six months.

Steve Holland suggest the decline is often down to the fact that these days, most comics/pre-school magazines are based on licensed material." The initial hype surrounding a new series will give a new title a solid launch," he points out, "In the Night Garden being a prime example from 2007.

"Sales will, naturally, decline once the first set of free gifts has run out but remain bolstered by continual appearances on television over the next couple of years."

Lew Stringer suggest more practical reasons for decline publishers may not have considered in the rush to put a free gift on every issue of their title, bowing to the demands of supermarkets in this regard.

"A comic can have as many revamps as it chooses, but if the kids can't see the finished product it's not going to attract them," he suggests, posting a photograph of overcrowded shelves in a supermarket with comics strewn on the floor. "Comics are gaudier, glossier, and bulkier (with gifts) than ever before, but when crammed into the shelf display of supermarkets and newsagents it's hard for individual titles to stand out. The displays often soon become untidy, with comics sprawling in all directions and even spilling onto the floor. Unless one is looking for a specific title it's very difficult for a comic to uniquely grab the attention of a passing customer. How is a child expected to discover The Beano or TOXIC for the first time when comics are rammed into displays that are so overwhelming and unkempt? As retail giants charge a premium for front-of-shelf displays most titles are stuck at the back, in darkness in some cases!"

Read Steve Holland's Circulation Report
Read Steve' March 2008 round-up

Tube Surfing: 20 August 2008

• Comics artist Dave McKean was one of the guests at the very damp last night and despite the weather the event was sold out and went very, very well., according to Joe Gordon at Forbidden Planet International, who has Edinburgh Book Festa full repor on their blog. "I'm now looking forward to this Friday’s gig with Alan Grant, Bryan Talbot and Hannah Berry," he says. "It's only second year the world’s biggest book fest has had comics events and it seems to be going very well – staff are all very enthusiastic and it was again a good mixed audience, not just the comics folks, all very encouraging."

• Knockabout Books, in association with Gosh! Comics, are celebrating the release of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Omnibus with three UK signings by Freaks creator and counter-culture legend Gilbert Shelton. Mr Shelton will be making the following appearances:

12 September 2008:
OK Comics, 19 Thorntons Arcade, Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LQ – 3pm-5pm

13 September
Gosh! Comics, 39 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NZ – 2pm-4pm

14 September
Dave’s Comics, 5 Sydney St, Brigton BN1 4EN – Time TBC

The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Omnibus represents the definitive collection of the definitive underground comic: 624 pages (including 224 in full colour) for only £20. The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers themselves are legend; published in 15 languages, with world-wide sales of over 40 million comics and countless items of merchandise, it’s the seamless mix of slapstick and satire at the heart of these strips that have kept them so vital for the past 40 years.

Signings by the Paris-based Shelton are few and far between, so don’t miss this opportunity to meet a true comic (in every sense of the word) genius.

• In movie news, Tom Cruise has just attached himself to the comic book movie Sleeper, based on the Wildstrom/DC Comics title. The film is about an operative whose fusion with an alien artifact makes him impervious to pain. An intelligence agency places him undercover in a villainous organization where he falls for Miss Misery, a member of the group.

MGM Options British online comic for TV series

Seizing an opportunity to leverage the current wave of popularity and notoriety surrounding the new digital graphic novel sensation The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore, MGM Domestic Television Distribution has acquired an option to develop the Factory Publishing property created, produced and directed by British photographer and author Howard Webster as a possible television series.

"The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore is an exciting digital graphic novel that's creating quite a sensation abroad," said Chris Ottinger, MGM's Executive Vice President of Worldwide Television in announcing the company's option of the property. "We see this as a great concept that will make an exciting series for worldwide audiences.”

The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore is a trilogy of graphic novels designed for iPod and PC download, published by Factory Publishing in association with Triumph Motorcycles. The stories combine comic book illustration, with 3D animation, live action photography, newsreel archive and an original music score, pushing the boundaries of the graphic novel genre and , say Factory, creating an entirely new form of media and fan generated content in the process.

Nominated at MIPCOM 2007's Mobile and Internet TV Awards in the Best Short Form Mobile and Internet Drama category and an official honoree at this year's Webby Awards, the online trilogy is set in a time where the British Empire has never ended and America is just a virtual world hosted on a vast global game network.

When Jonas Moore (portrayed online by British film and TV star Colin Salmon -- Resident Evil, Die Another Day, Prime Suspect and the upcoming Punisher: War Zone, and Blood: The Last Vampire), a character personally created by the network's founder, becomes self-aware he is tagged by the network as a virus and goes on the run.

As he moves from one artificial game world to the next, his knowledge of the games and the real-world gamers spreads like a virus to the other game characters, freaks, creatures and monsters who live as slaves within the network - precipitating a revolution and fight for freedom against the murderously addicted real-world gamers.

A photographer, publisher, director and writer, Jonas Moore creator Howard Webster, who lives in London, founded Factory in 2002, a film and entertainment industry magazine exclusively for Hollywood insiders distributed in London, New York and LA. He spent the early years of his life between Lagos and Kaduna in Nigeria and Cheshire in the north west of England. He studied biology at the University of Durham.

Worlds Apart lead singer Steve Hart wrote the score for the production and also stars in the online version.

As well as a great looking comic (download as a PDF from here), The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore web site engages fans by inviting them to become part of the journey by downloading the Jonas Moore digital elements and animating their own stories or creating comic book adventures for Jonas Moore. Garage bands and musicians all over the world are also invited to strip out the music and send in their own soundtracks. The best fan-generated comic books, animations and soundtracks are posted on the site.

One recent competition winner was Birmingham-based Mick Trimble, currently working on the on spy-thriller Septic Isle, one of many ceators who has benefitted from the StripSearch scheme (a comics talent search ) who has had work published in several small-press comics and magazines and is part of the Midlands Comics Collective. Download his winning entry as a PDF here

The whole concept of The Worlds of Jonas Moore seems to be directed at involving as well as enthusing its potentiual audience with a great story. According to Webster, "Branded content and fan generated content is a vast, evolving beast with huge metrics emerging from the web. The business models that drove the revenue big media agencies and global advertising agencies is collapsing and the easy relationship between big media buyers and media agencies and the net and gross fees that earned them massive paydays is thankfully dying.

"It was, in my opinion, a snug cartel based upon suspect metrics that didn't actually take into account how people actually interact with media. All it favoured was a justification of the media spend on the part of the manager who sanctioned it and the fees.

"In an effort to reinvent themselves the global media agencies are trying to claim they are now somehow experts in the field of branded content; the new content digerati.," he continues. "They're not. In branded content terms they're the embarrassing father drunk at a wedding trying to look hip on the dance floor dancing to sounds of the 1980s. The global media agencies are simply trying to copy what teenagers and web-heads are already doing in their millions with content on the web and are attempting to charge brand directors huge sums of money to do it.

"The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore is a wake up call to the global community of content generators mashing up video, music and imagery," he argues. "Jonas Moore calls for web-heads and garage content creators to take back the content on the web; send your ideas to the global brand directors - they will be better than the big media agency's ones (ideas designed by committee and sanctioned by someone in a suit) - get the brands to give you the money to create great content. If you get them 5,000,000 hits a month for an idea they will come back for more and you will be saving them a great deal in agency fees. The average Mac has everything pre-loaded on it for you to go for it.

"Jonas Moore is also a wake up call to the global brand directors - realize that the media agencies are not experts on the web or its content. It's time for the brands to support the global community of creatives and say goodbye to the global media agency dinosaurs and their expense accounts."

• Previews for The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore digital graphic novel can be seen at and

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

ITV Announces Zombie Invasion

by John Freeman

ITV has announced a new one off zombie drama, Renaissance, which will star Kelly Brook (School for Seduction, Smallville) and Alan Dale (Ugly Betty, The OC, 24). The show is integrally linked to the second season of behind the scenes of TV production dramedy Moving Wallpaper, which returns this autumn - without its first 'linked' show, Echo Beach.

opens in London, in the present day with John Priest (Alan Dale) and his children flying home after a well deserved break. Upon arrival things take a dramatic turn for the worse as the plane is attacked by what can only be described as zombies...

In the panic John and his children are unwittingly thrown together with another passenger, a young woman called Samantha (Kelly Brook). As they escape the chaos surrounding the airport they find themselves questioning what terror has been unleashed on the country and what is the true meaning behind the sinister Renaissance?

is linked with some changes to ITV's Moving Wallpaper, returning for a six part series on ITV1 soon. That show picks up where the last series ended, with the hapless producer of Echo Beach, Jonathan Pope (Primeval's Ben Miller) and his team awaiting their fate at the hands of the merciless Head of Continuing Drama at ITV1, Nancy Weeks (Raquel Cassidy.

News comes in that Echo Beach has been canned (in the real world, Echo Beach was a ratings failure, but Moving Wallpaper was a success). However, a clause in Jonathan’s contract means
ITV must now offer Jonathan a pilot to produce – much to Nancy’s annoyance.

That show is Renaissance.

Brook and Dale will be joining Miller and Cassidy as part of the cast of Moving Wallpaper, along with james Lance (Teachers), Sarah Hadland (Peep Show), Elizabeth Berrington (The Office), Lucy Liemann (The IT Crowd), Dave Lamb (The Smoking Room) and Sinead Keenan (Trouble With Sex).

Will Jonathan’s complete lack of subtlety or tact but occasional genius be enough to make it work?

“I’m passionate about this project, I think it’s very special," says Pope. "I’ll be doing what I do best, setting trends and making sexy television. I’ll be taking the rule book and tearing it up. I’ll be boldly going where no television executive has gone before...”

Both Renaissance and Moving Wallpaper are produced by Kudos in Association with Red Planet Pictures. Tony Jordan, lead writer and story consultant for EastEnders, co-creator of Life On Mars and creator of Hustle executive produces both shows with Kudos’s Jane Featherstone and Alison Jackson. Howard Burch is the real producer of both shows.

Under the Eagle Returns

by John Freeman

Under the Eagle, a satirical play by comics writer and Torchwood script writer Andrew Cartmel, is to have another run in London.

LS1 Productions will be staging the much-praised show at the White Bear on Kennington Road from Tuesday 26th August — Sunday 31st August.Under the Eagle is a darkly humorous satirical drama exploring the nature of Britain's 'special relationship' with the United States. When stand-up comic Vi Hooper becomes the reluctant guest of the Prime Minister’s wife, she encounters the US President and gains an unexpected insight into the corridors of power.

Time Out described the play as “Bitingly funny” while Tanith Lindon of Extra! Extra!, said the drama was "Insightful and entertaining, a must-see."As well as a playwright, Andrew Cartmel is a screenwriter, television script editor and novelist. He has worked on Dark Knight, Casualty, Torchwood and, most famously, Doctor Who. His novels include Warhead, The Wise and Miss Freedom. His previous play, End of the Night was hailed by What’s On in London as an ‘entertaining, stylish intrigue’.

Claire Amias, Francesca Anderson, Angela Dixon, David Morley Hale, Jonathan Rigby and Eben Young form the cast of the play directed by Conrad Blakemore, who has worked in the fields of theatre, film and photography. His recent productions include The Lodger (Time Out Critics’ Choice), his own adaptation of Strindberg's Miss Julie, both at Pentameters Theatre, Roulette at the Finborough and Happy Christmas at the New End.

Under the Eagle by Andrew Cartmel
@ The White Bear Theatre
138 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DJ — Box office: 020 7793 9193. Only six performances
Tuesday August 26 — Sunday August 31 Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Sunday matinee at 5pm. No performance Mondays. Tickets £12 — £10 concessions.

“Andrew Cartmel must be reading the right runes. On the day David Miliband apologises to parliament for extraordinary rendition, Cartmel’s timely new play opens with anti-establishment stand-up Vi (Francesca Anderson) riffing on the mysterious role Britain played in the transportation of Uncle Sam’s dirty little secrets… Unfussily staged and soundly directed by Conrad Blakemore, allowing skilled actors to do a good job… Bitingly funny.” Robert Crowe, Time Out, 26 February 2008

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Garth Returns!

Sneaked onto the Daily Mirror web site with very little publicity is something pretty momentous for British comics fans -- the return of the adventure strip Garth!

Artist Huw-J called us earlier last week to tell us of its long-awaited arrival but this is the first chance I've had to report on it, so apologies to him and the team at Hayena Studios for the tardy reporting.

The new Garth project, revamping the often time and space travelling hero who first appeared in the Daily Mirror in 1943, has been in the offing for a while. (some readers will recall advertisements for the new Garth in Comics International many months ago. The Gold of Ragnorak, what will eventually be a 64-page story (which will be collected by an as-yet-unannounced publisher on completion), is now up and running, with Garth summoned to the Arctic for a mission of dangerous exploration.

Quite apart from the lack of fanfare -- unless it was noted in the Mirror itself -- publicity for the return of one of Britain's finest comics heros, previously drawn by the likes of Frank Bellamy and Martin Asbury, has been sadly lacking, so pass the word around and perhaps the Mirror will give it some better promotion in due course. The presentation of the strip is also a little disappointing but it's great to see the strip back. (The Mirror also offers online presentation of its other comics such as Andy Capp and Scorer).

The art for the new version of Garth is by Huw-J, who has his studio over at the Animation Art Gallery in the Movieum of London at County Hall, Westminster, also home of the Masterclass where he teaches the foundations of character and comic related art and storytelling.

Huw says he lives on a diet of old Edgar Rice Bourroughs, Arthur Conan-Doyle , Jack Kirby and an unhealthy dose of Silent Bob. "I draw everything with my 1 favorite clutch pencil and have a strange attraction to snow globes," he reveals via his MySpace site.

"One of my favorite comic book mini series was Hero Bear and the Kid by Mike Kunkle, because it took me back to the newspaper funnies and Calvin and Hobbes."

• Read Garth at:
Read other Mirror strips such as Andy Capp and Scorer
More about Garth on and more links on the downthtubes site

Tube Surfing: 17 August 2008

Warren Elllis notes the completion of the first book his ace online webcomic drawn by Paul Duffield, FreakAngels, which will be released as a nice cleaned-up print edition from Avatar Press in time for Christmas, in three flavours: hardback, paperback, and as a special limited signed edition.
FreakAngels is a free, weekly, ongoing comic. Drop by the Whitechapel Forum to discuss the week's installment.
You can also bu FreakAngels Tees and Tanks are here,

Garen Ewing has completed his "Garen's A-Z of Comic Strip Characters" project, as suggested by members of the Facebook group of the same name. You can learn more and view the completed gallery here. "This was remarkably well suited to a site such as Facebook, " says Garen, "where the network aspect attracted new people, the discussion board allowed for user participation, and the gallery presented the results. An actual useful use for Facebook!"
The baton has been passed on to Jonathon Dalton, who begins his A-Z earlier this month,. "It would be great if someone else took up the challenge when he's finished," Garen suggests.

• Titan Magazines hass just published a special Star Wars: The Clone Wars-focused issue of Star Wars Insider to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars in cinemas, the new CGI-animated film charting "a bold new direction for the Star Wars saga". Includes are interviews with Clone Wars writer Henry Gilroy is interviewed and there's a special feature on stars of The Clone Wars, plus take a trip behind the scenes of the amazing new video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The Star Wars Comic released earlier in the month also has an extended Clone Wars feature.

• Comics artist Jon Haward will be signing issue 1 of the new Wasted from Bad Press at Forbidden Planet London on Saturday 27th September from 1-2pm with Publisher/Editor Alan Grant, cover artist Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant Publisher and colourist /letterer of Tales of the Buddha which Jon draws. Alan Kerr, artist on Lusi Sulfura will also be on hand. (There will also be a Wasted signings at Edinburgh Forbidden Planet International – Alan Grant, Frank Quietly, Dave Alexander, Alan Kerr and Jamie Grant will all be there on Sunday 5th October from 2 to 3pm. More details here on the FPI blog.
Alan and Jamie's Wasted should not be confused with Philippines-based artist Gerry Alanguilan's comic book of the same name, which can be read for free online here.

• Talking of events, the FPI Blog notes that this year’s MeCon SF convention will be held in the Student’s Union of Queen’s University, Belfast from the 29th to 31st of August. The guest of honour is the brilliant Charlie Stross, one of the most innovative, clever and often pretty damned funny writers in science fiction at the moment. Among the other guests in Belfast will be some from the comics world, inlcuding John McCrea and PJ Holden. For more details check the official MeCon site.

• Several reports on last week's Caption event are now on line: as previously mentioned, Selina Lock's multimedia report can be found here on YouTube, while D'Israeli has two reports, one on his blog and photographs on flickr. Sarah McIntyre presents her take on what sounds like one of the best Captions ever here, and Jenni Scott has a short report on her LiveJournal. There are also pictures from Damian Cugley and Teacake, again also via their Flickr photostreams.

• Over on Facebook (membership required), Thomas Cochrane has just posted a set of production roughs and character studies by Alan Tanner for his The Fat Man charity comics project. The first run of the book will be a limited release (a thousand copie). If you haven't already pre-ordered a copy you might want to do so soon as they are being snapped up pretty quickly. Orders are through Paypal - and as an extra bonus to Facebook members if you add a note to say you are part of this group your copy will be signed and you will get an exclusive set of four cool postcards. Pre-order at

• Among others, comics artist and publisher Tim Perkins notes the passing of Argentinean comic book artist Carlos Meglia. He was only 50 years old. According to initial reports on the Internet, he was admitted to hospital after suffering from problems related to his heart. Meglia, who made his first artistic foray in 1974 as the assistant for the illustrator Oswal but is probably better known to American audiences for his more recent work on projects such as Adventures of Superman, Superman – Infinite City, Tarzan & Superman, Spyboy, Monster World and a brief stint on Marvel comics' Elektra. Read Tim's full post here

Star Wars invades San Francisco...

... literally, it seems. Thanks to Frank Garcia for the link (via Gizmodo, Current - the original source, I think - and presurfer among others)....

Informed by the Bush Administration that a Rebel base is located in the heart of San Francisco, Imperial forces surrounded the city in advance of a full-scale invasion. While Imperial Admiral Piett promised administration officials that the assault would commence only if the Rebel forces fail to surrender by 8PM PDT tonight, video reports on the ground reveal that Imperial fighters have already begun flybys and the Death Star battle station has moved into position above the city.

Admiral Piett assured Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that concerns the Death Star’s weapon systems would wreak havoc on much of the state were without merit, stating that damage to the city’s outlying areas would be minimal. Reached for comment from his bunker, Mayor Gavin Newsom pleaded to baffled reporters, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.” Rebel forces have yet to respond to demands for their unconditional surrender...

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