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Thursday, 2 October 2008

Tube Surfing: DC Thomson Style

Ian Kennedy may be the pre-eminent Commando cover artist over the course of the title's long history but it had been running for nine years by the time he did his first cover. Before that Ken Barr was the standout cover artist before he moved to America. There he continued to create comic covers including covers for the American format Dan Dare reprint comic Dare The Impossible. His last new cover for Commando was for Evil Ace issue 3047 in 1997, but he has now re-enlisted with Britain's last war comic and has produced the cover for issue 4138, Blood Red Battle, written by Alan Hebden with internal art by Olivera. More details of Ken Barr's work can be found at his website.

Sticking with Commando, editor Calum Laird and Gordon Tait from DC Thomson's syndication (i.e. merchandising) department discuss the choices they made to select the twelve illustrations for the 2009 Art Of Commando calendar at the Commando website. There is also a tease at the end of the piece suggesting that something Warlord related may be in the works from Unique Comic Collectables who published the calendar. In the run up to Christmas could it have anything to do with a certain Royal Marine in a Santa outfit?

On a much less war-like and rather more feminine note, after our mention of Beano products from Boots it looks like DCT's syndication department having been talking to Marks and Spencer as well. M&S have a 1000 piece jigsaw featuring a selection of covers of DC Thomson girls annuals such as Jackie, Bunty, Judy and Mandy available for Christmas. Anyone hoping for a similar one featuring Warlord, Hotspur and Victor will be disappointed as the closest male alternative is a jigsaw of The Dangerous Book For Boys.

Perhaps the M&S Christmas TV advert will have Twiggy, Myleene and the girls doing the jigsaw by a roaring fire...

Futurequake 11: On Sale Now

(via David Hailwood's new blog): The latest issue of the twice Eagle Award nominated Futurequake will be available to buy at the Birmingham International Comic Show this weekend. Preview images can be viewed on the messageboard of the comic's website at and comics can also be purchased online.

Included in the issue is Spare Parts by Dave and the ever fabulous Tony Suleri, a tale about a scavenger who gets a little more than he bargained for when he ventures into the sewers).

The complete line up is as follows:

Cover Art : Neil Pettitt
  • Collectors Piece (writer) Dan Hill, (art) Tim Twelves, (letters) Bolt-01
  • Dulce Et Decorum Est (writer) Paul Glasswell, (art) Neil Roberts, (letters) Bolt-01
  • Field Trip (writer) Dan Hill, (art) Chris Fenoglio, (letters) Bolt-01
  • Imaginary Friends (writer) Dan the Emperor, (art) Neil Pettitt, (letters) Bolt-01
  • Infinity Battle (writer) Chris Stiefvater Thomas, (art) Panos Kamaoulakos, (letters) Bolt-01
  • Last Squad (writer) Rob Spalding, (art) Brett Buckle, (letters) Bolt-01
  • Lazarus Falls (writer) Kevin McHugh, (art & letters) Caroline Parkinson
  • Rank and File (writer) Mike Moreci, (art & letters) Keith Burns
  • Spare Parts (writer) Dave Hailwood , (art) Tony Suleri (letters) Dave Hailwood
  • Superhero Shorts- The Audition (writer) Mark Smith, (art) Owen Watts, (letters) Bolt-01
  • Waste of Time (writer & letters) Dave Hailwood, (art) Tony Suleri

Small Press Week at FPI

Joe Grodon writes to tells us Richard Bruton, who write the Propaganda reviews for the Forbidden Planet International blog is posting a pile of themed reviews this week, all on British small press comics creators ahead of the Birmingham International Comic Show. You can view them at:

ROK's Hard Place Competition Winners

Hot on the heels of announcing David Fletcher as the winner of it 2008 Humour Competition (see story), British web and mobile comics publisher ROK Comics has revealed that the winner of its ROK and A Hard Place Comics Competition, run in association with the Birmingham International Comic Show, is British comics artist Ian Stacey.

Ian’s entry, titled “Noah and A Hard Place” was a stand out winner for the BICS team and wins him a Nokia 95 mobile worth almost £500.

The BICS judges also spoke highly of John Maybury’s “SpaceBabe” entry and Ian’s other shortlisted entry, “Crossroads and A Hard Place”.

You can view all the winners at here on

Working in partnership with BICS (, ROK Comics threw down the challenge to creators to create a comic revealing a life changing moment.

“The Noah strips works on every level,” felt James Broxton, who judged the winners from a high quality shortlist along with indie comics distributor Shane Chebsey, owner of Smallzone Comics, and also a BICS organiser. “It’s a nice job, and Ian is a deserved winner.”

“It’s fantastic news,” said Ian on learning of his win, “Thank you very much and thanks also for finding my work a new home.”

Freelance cartoonist and illustrator Ian Stacey had already won high acclaim for his ongoing strip Wet Paint before taking the plunge and bringing it to ROK Comics for web and mobile distribution. “There’s some very funny material that made me laugh out loud,” says Monty Python team member Terry Jones, while top comic creator Alan Grant has described Ian as “an exceptionally funny cartoonist.

“He aims at just about every target under the sun, from genetic modification to Batman, and hits the mark in every case.”

Ian recently began offering a collection of many of his Wet Paint cartoons for sale via his web site (, with all proceeds going to the Big Issue Foundation.

“When we first discussed the idea of a competition to tie in with BICS we were determined to stretch comic creators from the get go,” says ROK Comics Managing Editor John Freeman. “The cartoonists rose to the challenge, with some great entries.”

“We wanted comics with someone telling the story of a difficult choice they've had to make in their life,” said Shane. “It certainly made a change from superheroes.”

"We at BICS love the way that ROK Comics is so accessible to both creators and readers,” Shane adds, “and feel that working together we can help to bring the wonderful medium of comics to a wider readership. Mobile phones are now the most widely used method of communication in the world, so it seems the perfect way to present new comics to more people than ever before".

ROK Comics delivers the means for both comic publishers and creators to reach a worldwide audience by delivering comics to mobile phones, either by WAP subscription of Pay Per Download via Multi Media Messaging (MMS).

Creators publishing professionally via ROK Comics will receive up to 50% of the available revenue on every sale, with full access to sales statistics, viewings and more.

• The Birmingham International Comic Show takes place this coming weekend, Saturday – Sunday 4 -5 October 2008 at the ThinkTank, Birmingham.

In Review: Robots

Review by David Hailwood

If you haven’t already picked up a copy of British independent publisher Accent Press’s 2008 anthology Robots, then you’ll get another chance this weekend at the Birmingham International Comic Show.

A 200 page beast of a collection, with over 50 creators from around the UK, the anthology clearly highlights Dave West and Colin Mathieson’s continued dedication to showcasing the work of both professional creators and new talent.

Although many of the strips revolve around common themes, such as slavery, eternal life, matters of the soul and the nature of existence, each story is handled in a vastly different manner. Some, like Daniel Merlin Goodbrey’s Robot Heart (about a man with a heart that can transform into a robot jetfighter, with unforeseen side effects), play it strictly for laughs, whereas others like Paul Harrison-Davies' MY Robot (also viewable as a ROK Comic) take a more emotional route.

Benjamin Dickson looks to philosophy for inspiration, and presents an interesting dilemma when a man is confronted over breakfast by a talking toaster that believes itself to be God.

What is Life? by Kieren Brown and Kevin Mullins tells a well written and beautifully illustrated story about a society of robots attempting to decide whether a five year old human poses too big a threat to their society to be allowed to live.

Regular contributors Leah Moore and John Reppion stick to familiar Hammer Horror territory with The Cabinet of Doctor Diablo, a well crafted tale about an 18th century automaton master criminal.

Dave West proves he’s as talented a cartoonist as he is an editor with a number of amusing offerings (my favourite being Over Engineered – a one pager about a scientist who creates an intricate robot so he can use it to microwave his dinner).

There are, of course, many more gems to be found inside the issue - far too many to list here (but we have in our trail for the book earlier this year). Fortunately there are very few duds; perhaps two or three strips that could have done with a little more clarity in the story telling. With 40 strips on offer inside, that’s not a bad average.

One section of the comic that could quite easily be overlooked is the gallery at the back, containing a vast range of robotic characters that ooze personality and beg to have stories written about them. Particular highlights are Mo Ali’s grizzly hanging robo-corpse, Andy Bloor’s highly amusing Metal Detectives, and James Gray’s Crash Test Dummy revolt.

Accent UK’s Westerns anthology is nearing completion, and you’d be well advised to look out for that one next year. In the meantime, why not give Robots a try? The variety of strips means there’s pretty much something inside for everyone (unless you’re Robophobic, in which case this probably isn’t the one for you).

Robots is available for £8.50, and can be ordered from the Accent website at

ROK Comics Humour Competition Winners Revealed

ROK Comics has announced that the overall winner of its 2008 Humour Comic Competition is David Fletcher, for his strip featuring Crumb, his crazy, ever-hungry blackbird character.

David’s entry, titled Pitter Patter was a stand out winner for the editorial team at top Egmont comic TOXIC, who were the external judges for the competition which ran through August this year on the ROK Comics web site, and wins him a Nokia 95 mobile worth almost £500.

TOXIC editor Matt Yeo describes the strip, which stars Crumb and his rat friend as “A punchy quick-fire gag, with simple yet effective illustrations!”

Runners up were ClownoSaurus by Peter Coupe (“The ancient tale of a bizarre clown-based dinosaur. What’s not to like?!” says Matt) and Meteoro by Puerto Rican comics creator Vicente Aviles (“Classic euro-art, backed with madcap energy!”) starring El Profe.

Vicente, who has been publishing strips to ROK Comics since it started last year, originally published the strip in English, but has recently added Spanish versions at the suggestion of the ROK Comics team, and this entry qualified for consideration for the competition.

Responding to Matt’s comments, Vicente says “I'd say that I always liked the European comics style, and is the style which I've always trying to emulate, so... I have accomplished it! I wish someday I have the opportunity to publish a comic book.” (you can read more El Profe for free at

Crumb is just one of top New Zealand-based cartoonist David Fletcher many cartoon creations. David’s cartoons are published in over 30 newspapers worldwide including New Zealand’s top-selling TV Guide (which has some 800,000 readers a week), the New Zealand Herald and the Australian Daily. The strip is now available in Chinese and through the whole ROK Comics mobile and online distribution network.

“It's great to have all the long hours slaving over a graphics tablet recognised by someone of Matt Yeo's standing,” says David. “My fourteen year old son's eyes lit up at the thought of getting his hands on the Nokia. No chance! Crumb's become very much part of my life and I'm still hoping one day he'll be able to support me into my old age.”

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Eagle Times Vol 21 No 3 Available

The latest issue of Britain's longest running comics fanzine, Eagle Times, is now available.

After downthetubes contributor Richard Sheaf's article on the newly discovered dummy issue of Eagle number 2 in the last issue, downthetube's contributions to the 54 page A4 fanzine continue with the first part of Jeremy Briggs' major article on artist Ian Kennedy which covers his career from the 1950s to the 1970s and so sets the scene for his work on new Eagle's Dan Dare in the 1980s.

The new issue also features more on the Eagle issue 2 dummy as well as articles on artist Tony Weare, who turned down the offer to work on Dan Dare, Ron Embleton's Heroes of the West series for Kellogg's cereal boxes, and Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson's time working at NESCOT college. Reviews include the Virgin Dan Dare comic and the Orion Dan Dare audio book Voyage To Venus Part 1.

Eagle Times is published quarterly and is available from the Eagle Society. Current subscription rates are UK £22, overseas £26. More details are available on the Eagle Times Blog.

Revamped Vampirella Winner Revealed

The results are in, and the Project:Rooftop/Harris Comics "Revamp" contest (plugged here back in August) is now complete.

With over one hundred entries recieved, the Project: Rooftop staff and guest judges Trina Robbins, Joe Jusko and Dan Brereton poured over all the entries before deciding on who is the top of the heap in redesigning Vampirella.

ThatGrand Prize winner is Leipzig-based comics artist Ralph Niese, whose upcoming pro work includes inks for Image Comics' Noble Causes and who also had a strip in Image's recently released 400-plus page graphic collection Popgun, a diverse and sophisticated spectrum of work sure to attract new readers and infect mainstream pop culture with comics.

Receiving a composite score of 93 (out of 100), Niese's design of a race-car driving Vampirella and a night-creature alter ego give this the edge. Veteran comics creator Dan Brereton gave this a 10, saying "So easy to give this a 10. This is my pick for winner." Original Vampirella designer Trina Robbins agreed.

As grand prize winner, Niese will have his illustration featured in a future issue of Vampirella and will also received two comics signed respectively by Joe Jusko and Dan Brereton.

"I realize this is kinda of a departure for the character," says indie artist Dean Trippe, co-creator of the Project Rooftop site, "but there really is nothing more fun in this contest than race-car driving Vampirella and her night-creature alter ego (demonstration illo here!). Holy smack, I’d buy this comic two times a week. Ralph has ditched a single uniform in favor of a red/white style theme and a scary/sexy (scary-sexy?) demon-bat alter ego. Extra points for the Vampimobile. Wow."

The other winners were Joe Quinones (second prize) and Jemma Salume, artist on Dean Trippe's web comic, Butterfly.

"Generally, the character is wearing very little in terms of clothing," says Joe of his entry, "so I did my best to make the costume slightly more modest (and functional), while still alluring. I was also kinda thinking Audrey Hepburn as I was drawing it.

"There were a ton of great entries," he adds, "including the brilliant grand prize winner by Ralph Niese, as well as runner up entries by Ming Doyle, Adam Cadwell and many more. Certainly check out Maris's super cute runner up Vampi design, as well as Liz Prince's good humoured, Count Chocula revision of the character."

"Niese and Quinones are rock stars and really deserved first and second place," says Jemma, "and I'm really proud to be up there with them! There's some outstanding runners-up, too, be sure to check them out."

• Project: Rooftop and Harris Comics would like to thank everyone for submitting their work for this contest. View the winners on the Project Rooftop web site

Vworp! Vworp! Comic Book Stars Celebrate Doctor Who

Legendary comics creator Dez Skinn, founding editor of what is now Doctor Who Magazine, is the latest big name to join the guest list for Vworp Vworp: Comic Book Adventures in Time and Space which takes place in one of Manchester's most popular pubs on Saturday 18th October.

Working for Marvel UK in the 1970s, Dez was the founding editor of Starburst magazine, Doctor Who Weekly, and the classic Warrior comic book (which helped to launch the careers of some of the UK’s finest writers and artists).

Joining Dez will be artist Martin Geraghty and writer Scott Gray, regular contributors to the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip for over 15 years.

One of Manchester’s most popular and iconic pubs, The Lass O’Gowrie on Charles Street, (just off Oxford Road, and opposite BBCTV), will stage this day-long event celebrating the world of popular Sci-Fi heroes in the comic books.

Taking the form of a mini convention, a variety of star guests will explore the challenges involved in creating comic books based on popular characters in tv and films.

Held as part of The Manchester Literature Festival, there will be Question and Answer panels, autograph signings, and a series of powerpoint-based artist showcases promising an entertaining and informative day for all ages. There will also be merchandise on sale, and a chance to meet some of the comics industry’s biggest names.

Guest MC for the day will be Manchester-based actor and comedian John Cooper.
Doctor Who will be well represented, with the likes of artists Adrian Salmon (whose work is currently on display in The Lass O’Gowrie’s ‘Snug’), D’Israeli and Lee Sullivan and writers Ian Edginton (2000AD, Marvel, DC Comics, etc), John Freeman (Doctor Who Magazine, Spaceship Away), John Ainsworth and Tony Lee (Doctor Who, Starship Troopers, etc).

The Time Lord’s fans will also be able to chat to one of the series’ most popular television writers, Paul Cornell and the man behind Doctor Who’s animated adventures, Jon Doyle (the winner of two BAFTA awards).

And last, but not least, Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood script editor Gary Russell will also be in attendance.

An auction of original scripts, autographed books, (and a few surprise items) will be held to raise money for MIND (the mental health charity).

Once the pub reopens to the general public, the event will continue upstairs with after show stand-up provided by Charlie Ross, hot from his 4 star rated sell out Edinburgh Festival Show! Please note, additional charges are likely to apply for Charlie’s show.

• Ticket prices are £9.00 for adults, and £6.50 (Concessions/Under 16s), with a total of 80 tickets available. Tickets are available by phone on 0870 428 0785 or online at

• For more details, please contact: The Lass O'Gowrie, 36 Charles Street, Manchester M1 7DB
T/F: 0161 273 6932 E:

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Quick Tube Surfing: 30 September 2008

• It seems to be interview central for this round up, but this one's a goodie: Pádraig Ó Méalóid has been busy following up his epic interview with Alan Moore on the Forbidden Planet International blog by chatting with Todd Klein. It went up on the FPI blog this morning.

• Podcast Geek Syndicate has been taling to Smallzone's Shane Chebsey, also one of the three organisers of the upcoming Birmingham Internation Comic Show taking place this coming weekend and as the largest Comic Con in the UK. "The most important lesson we learned [from last year's evnt] was that we were far too cheap," starts Shane. "The goody bags alone were worth at least three times the price of entry." Read the interview

• Writer Tony Lee has been interviewed by Jen Contino of The PULSE, and they've just put up the third of a three-part interview. This time it's talking about The Prince Of Baghdad, the serial Tony's writing for The DFC with Dan Boultwood. You can read the interview here.

• And finally: over on Newsarama, Chris Arrant has interviewed Warren Ellis about his weekly webcomic FreakAngels. The first book’s worth of episodes have finished and a print edition is on its way, and Book 2 has just launched, prompting Chris to ask Warren how the title was going. "Well, " Warren replied, "now I understand why all the British comics writers from the 70s and 80s who worked exclusively in weekly comics had those deep lines all over their faces and those eyes that pleaded silently for death..."

DFC on YouTube!

Top artist Neill Cameron kindly dropped us a line to point us towards his rather exciting animated trailer for Season 2 of Mo-Bot High, his strip for The DFC comic, which is now up on Youtube and embedded above.

There's also a new DFC channel on YouTube, at where all the trailers and promos etc. produced so far for the subscription only comic are available to view. Neill says fans should keep an eye on it "as I believe a bunch more stuff including creator interviews will be appearing there shortly."

Neill, by the way, now has a new blog, at, which he is keeping up to date with all the current exciting developments in the world of, um, Neill. Well worth a visit.

Orang Utan Slams into Birmingham

Fresh from the success of Eleventh Hour Volume 1 hitting the number one spot on e-publisher site WOWIO, British indie Orang Utan Comics Studio have announced an exciting new addition to the creative team of The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley as they prepare to take the Birmingham International Comics Show by storm this weekend.

The adventures of the space adventurer, Slam Ridley, were previously set to be illustrated by the highly talented Simon Wyatt. However, Simon and the OUCS team felt that his vast talents would be better suited to some of their other upcoming projects, including the Viking tale Valhalla, written by Peter Rogers, and further adventures of the unfortunate medieval hero, Danick Drakesbane.

This, of course, left a huge hole to be filled in the creative team on what OUCS hopes to be one of its flag ship titles. Thus, the search began for a new artist to take on the task of illustrating the adventures of the rugged hero, Slam Ridley, and his robotic companion Dan.

Now Orang Utan Comics Studio has announced that the new artist on The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley will be the immensely talented Craig Yeung, who is probably best known for his inking work on various Marvel Comics books, including Runaways and X-Men: First Class, and is also a highly accomplished penciler.

“While we're sad to see Simon leave the book, and want to publicly acknowledge the huge amount of time and effort he put into helping us develop the world of Slam Ridley, we couldn't be more excited about having Craig on board as the new artist," says series creator and plotter, Ian Sharman.

"We drew up a wish list of artists which included a lot of very talented people who were all working for the big two publishers. To be honest, we weren't expecting any of them to say yes. Craig was right at the top of the list and we were stunned when he accepted the job.”

“Craig seemed to 'get' the idea behind The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley right away," feels series script writer, Peter Rogers, " and instantly understood the look that we were going for. I'm really looking forward to working with him.”

Orang Utan Comics Studio made the announcement about the artist change to coincide with their attendance at the Birmingham International Comics Show this coming weekend (4th-5th October) at the Think Tank in Birmingham. Co-founders of the studio, Peter Rogers and Ian Sharman will be on hand all weekend to sign copies of their critically acclaimed anthology Eleventh Hour, answer any and all questions about the studio and review portfolios.

Several of the studio's artists, including Simon Wyatt and John Charles can also be found at the OUCS stand throughout the weekend, signing comics, sketching and giving advice to aspiring artists.

Visit the Orang Utan Studios Web Site

BICS Exhibitor Floor Plan Now Online here

Gothic Gasoline!

Top London and New York-based independent publishers Merrell -- well known for their art and graphic design books and more -- have announced the forthcoming release of Gasoline, an entrancing graphic novel by cult illustrator and musician Dame Darcy describes as a gothic story with a timely ecological message.

Gasoline is set in a post-apocalyptic world where petrol has become more precious than gold, survivors have had to adapt to life without technology. The Armbusters, a family of orphaned witches, are among the few survivors of a fiery apocalypse that struck at the height of society’s corporate greed and corruption. Recycling and inventiveness – which had been overlooked in times of relentless materialism – have become essential to survival.

The Armbusters have created a utopian commune where they grow their own food, make their own clothes and exchange goods and services rather than use money. They own the only remaining working car, and their search for precious fuel for it takes them from the safety of the Karoi Utopian Survivalist Compound and pits them against the sinister nihilists who lurk in the decaying urban sprawl below.

"Gasoline is a gothic fairy tale of danger and suspense, heartbreak and redemption, and, above all, the perseverance of magic and love," Merrell's publicist explains. "It’s also a thought-provoking story about society’s changing priorities and about man’s relationship with the earth and its limited natural resources.

"Although nature had been coaxed into flourishing in Karoi, there had been centuries of damage before the founding of the community, and everyone was suffering the repercussions. The erratic weather was incited by the nuclear disaster of long ago or by the depletion of the ozone layer; the cause didn’t make a difference now, only the effect: storms."

The magical characters are brought vividly to life by Dame Darcy’s detailed and intensely atmospheric illustrations, a graphic artist, cartoonist and musician based in Los Angeles and New York. Her comic book Meatcake has been published by Fantagraphics since 1993. Her other publications include Frightful Fairytales (2002), Dame Darcy's Meatcake Compilation (2003) and The Illustrated Jane Eyre (2006). Darcy also sings and plays bass in the group Death by Doll.

Pre-order Gasoline from
Pre-order Gasoline from
Visit Dame Darcy's official web site
More from Merrell Publishers

Barry Gray Centenary Concert Update

The organisers of this event have asked me to help plug the Barry Gray Centenary Concert (which Jeremy Briggs trailed here back in July). After watching a few classic (and, admisttedly, some not-so-classic) Thunderbirds episodes on SciFiUK over the past few days and being a life long Anderson fan, I'm more than happy to do so!

Here's the latest information, in full, including links to two new promotional videos (the Parker movie is fab!)...






Barry Gray bequeathed to generations of TV viewers a creative legacy whose technical brilliance and inspiring creative sweep has become an enduring and integral part of our popular culture. From the child-like innocence of 'The Adventures of Twizzle' and 'Torchy the Battery Boy' to the epic excitement of ‘Stingray’, 'Thunderbirds', ‘Captain Scarlet', ‘Joe 90’, ‘UFO’ and ‘Space: 1999’, the musical ability of Barry Gray has subtly enriched the history of both the entertainment media, and our own personal recollections.

The one element that links all these programmes is one of Britain’s, and indeed the world’s most famous television producers: Gerry Anderson. Over a period of eighteen years Barry Gray scored music for a total of twelve of his television series, and four feature films. Gerry Anderson will be attending the concert as guest of honour, along with members of Barry’s family.

The programme will be performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, which was founded in 1945 primarily as a recording orchestra, and is resident at Southbank Centre. It is made up of more than eighty musicians giving around forty concerts in London and over sixty concerts a year at its residencies and other venues around the UK. It is the world’s most recorded orchestra with over a thousand releases to its credit. Guest musicians will include composer-pianist Crispin Merrell (‘Space Precinct’, ‘Lavender Castle’ and ‘New Captain Scarlet’), Hammond organ player Harry Stoneham (‘UFO’) and from Paris, Pascale Rousse-Lacordaire (ondes Martenot).

Compere for the evening will be one of the country’s best known and highly respected actors: Brian Blessed. Brian has featured in three Gerry Anderson productions. He was the lead in ‘Into Infinity: The Day After Tomorrow’ and guest-starred in two episodes of ‘Space: 1999’. Brian’s more recent work has included his roles of ‘Duke Frederick / Duke Senior’ in Kenneth Branagh’s film version of ‘As You Like It’. He has also filmed a guest role in ‘The Royal’ for ITV. Other recent work includes his role of ‘Cardinal Piccolomini’ in the feature film ‘The Conclave’ and ‘Lord Francisco del Ruiz’ in ‘Day of Wrath’.

Ralph Titterton, restorer of the Barry Gray archive, co-producer of the Barry Gray original soundtrack CDs, Cathy Ford, Barry Gray librarian; researcher and biographer, and film composer and conductor Francois Evans have joined together to produce a concert to celebrate the centenary of Barry Gray’s birth. A percentage of gross income from the concert will be donated to the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, registered charity number 1099660. In 1979 Barry Gray was invited to arrange and guest-conduct some ten minutes of his own compositions for the annual ‘Filmharmonic’ Concert of Film Music, the proceeds of which benefited the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund. The organizers of this special evening felt it fitting to continue Barry Gray’s association with this Charity.

’Providing care behind the scenes’, the CTBF is the trade charity of the British film, cinema and commercial television industries including cable and satellite. It encourages the next generation by supporting young talent, welfare services for those who have fallen on hard times, owns and manages its own residential care home: Glebelands, which aims to provide comfortable accommodation in a caring environment set in its own grounds.

Tickets can be obtained from either Southbank Centre’s ticket office Tel. 0871 663 2500, or online at: priced from £10.00 - £45.00, concessions 50% off (limited availability).

New online Quicktime videos, advertising the event, are available to view.

2’05 Promotional Concert Video:

3’06 Mini Documentary on Composer Barry Gray (1908-1984):

• For updates on the concert see:

No Heroics Claire Keelan Interviewed

Quickly following up on their interview with Drew Pearce, the creator of ITV2's new off-duty superhero comedy No Heroics (see news story), top British comics podcaster Geek Syndicate now offers an exclusive interview with actress Claire Keelan, who plays Sarah (aka Electroclash), who has the ability to control machines with her voice.

Claire's film and tv credits include British comedy movie A Cock and Bull Story starring actor and comedian Steve Coogan and, most recently, the thriller Hush, the comedy TV film Perfect Day, the BBC drama Sorted, sitcom How Not To Live Your Life and The Bill.

Talking about the appeal of the show for her as an actor, Claire told Geek Syndicate she took the role because she felt it was unlike a lot of other things out there.

"It seemed to me to be more of a parody of our celebrity culture," she says. "I’ve always enjoyed superhero films and was obsessed with Superman as a kid. Electrolash is a great female character to play, as she’s so healthily irreverent in a world of skewed values."

Of her character Sarah, Claire says that on the surface she appears quite cool, "although there are ripples going on underneath, issues with her parents etc, In spite of this she manages in the main to keep it together.

"What you see is what you get with Sarah," she reveals. "She makes no apologies for who she is. She has a healthy cynicism of the world around her, this is a trait I would say I shared although it’s never led me to ignore a man being shot because of a preoccupation for muffins and ciggies!"

Listen to the interview with Claire Keelan
Visit the official
No Heroics web site (now with spoof trading cards created by Sam Gibley - Electrolash above)

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Insomia Seeks Submisisons

Edinburgh-based Insomnia Publications , publishers of titles such as Layer Zero and the upcoming CancerTown, are accepting submissions from both writers and artists.

Incoming Creative Director Nic Wilkinson tells us: "Insomnia are currently inviting submissions from both writers and artists (pencillers, colourists and inkers).

"We will be at the Birmingham International Comics show and will be hosting portfolio review sessions throughout the weekend. Times will be up on the table, so come over, talk to us, show us your stuff - art, writing or both.

If you cannot make the show this year, or would like to send submissions in advance for discussion on the day send me an email to "nichola [at]" but please do not send any files over 8Mb or they will bounce."

Crawford Coutts, the MD, will write up the "official guidelines" for the Insomnia Publications website in the next couple of days, but for now the company has revealed the books they have in progress at the moment cover a wide variety of subject matter.

"It is originality and quality that Crawford is looking for rather than any specific genre," says Nic. "We would rather have something unusual, challenging, inventive, creative, inspired, literate, thought provoking (you get the idea!) than another version of something that is already out there. You can get mainstream works from many places, that is why they are called mainstream."

Here's what they want from writers: tell them about the story - proposed length, how much (if any) is complete, about the characters, the setting, What happens, Why it happens, – all of that not just a 10 word high concept "idiot pitch". "That tells me if you are good at formulating snappy high-concept pitches," says Nic, "not what your scripting, structuring and storytelling are like.
"Samples are good if you have them but not required at the pitch stage
"We do not care if you have the right script formatting software or fonts at this stage, we want your talent, not your technical know how."

For Artists, Insominia is looking for pencillers, inkers or all three. "We would like to see sequentials as well as pin ups," Nic reveals, "Unless you want to be purely a cover artist - which is fine, but let us know that. Tell uas what formats you work in - traditional media, digital etc., and whether you work in Colour or black and white.
"If you are submitting to be an inker or colourist then we need to see copies of the underlying pencils as well as your work.
"If you have been published before or have self published in print or online and can show us a portfolio, that is fantastic. However Insomnia is all about new writing, new art and new concepts and we certainly welcome submissions from new talent.

"Finally one of the most important things for both writers and artists is to let us know the length of story to which you feel you can commit," Nic adds. "We have an anthology title for people who want to do short stories through to complete graphic novel series of hundreds of pages.

"We also appreciate that many creators are showing incredible dedication by working on their comics alongside day jobs and other commitments, but if we like your work enough to publish we will work with you to agree a schedule that suits all parties.

"Many of us at Insomnia are/were creators ourselves and we appreciate that making submissions can be difficult and nerve-wracking," Nic says. "We will look at everything we receive, although it may take time we will respond to everyone. The important thing to remember that your work may be great, and we may even personally love to read it, but it sometimes will just not what we are looking for right now.

"We are also interested to hear from games designers, animators, and model makers as we often need to call on such services.

As for what Insomia plan for their titles, "In most cases we will look to put our books out as albums or 'instant trades' so that they can be sold in bookshops and online as well as through comic shops."

• If you would like to see examples of Insomnia books to get a feel for the type of material they publish then you can see previews of two forthcoming Graphic Novels and a selection from their Anthology title online at MyeBook

Graphic Novels:
Cancertown - by Cy Dethan and Stephen Downey
Cages - by Xander Bennett and Mel Cook
Layer Zero Anthology Selection

Birmingham Show Goodies!

With the Birmingham International Comic Show just a couple of weeks to go, it seems like a good idea to bring readers a small sampling of just some of the indie press titles on sale at the event. (And we do mean small -- the number is likely to be huge!)

While the event is going to be packed with creators working in the mainstream and will play host to stands from several top publishers including The DFC, the event is also going to be packed with indie creators selling their wares, trading ideas and generally pushing the British comics industry further forward.

• First, a plug for Bulletproof #2, published by Bulletproof Comics (, the brainchild of TOXIC editor Matt Yeo. The 80-page issue, 33 pages in full colour includes contributions from Dave Hailwood & Tony Suleri, Jim Alexander & Jon Haward, Paul Harrison-Davies, Bulent Yusef & Dave Thomson, Alan Grant & Alan Burrows, Stuart Giddings, Lee Langford & Klaus Belarski, John Freeman & Mike Nicoll, Rik Hoskin, Thomas Crielly & John Doran. Check the Bulletproof web site for more details, web comics and more.

Daniel Fish's latest Minicomic will be making its official debut at the Show in Birmingham. For a sneak peak and some info go to

• Lee Thacker has two new books that will be on sale at at BICS and can also be purchased online at The first is his response to the Holocaust, Yellow Stars. The other is the first annual Raw Shark anthology which includes work I've been doing for other people, including indie legends The Wedding Present. Look out too for the first issue of Succubus. (His 800-page graphic novel One For Sorrow, introduced by Dave Sim, and other titles by Lee are also available from Page samples can be found at

TimeBomb Comics, headed up by Steve Tanner, will have its second title, Dick Turpin And The Restless Dead drawn Andy Dodd on sale. (They have several more projects in the works, too). When notorious highwayman Dick Turpin stumbles across a deserted village following his latest highway robbery it seems the ideal place to hide out. But the village is not as empty as it first appears – and Turpin soon finds himself surrounded by hordes of rotting, hungry zombies! You can read the first five pages of the strip in their ComicSpace gallery.
“This release is our take on the zombie comics bandwagon that’s been steadily trundling through the last few year,” explains Steve, “and after the time-bending mind-twister that was our first comic Ragamuffins: Stitches in Time, Andy and I both readily agreed that our next one-shot should be something completely different, if only to prove to ourselves we weren’t a couple of lame one-trick ponies.
“I fancied doing something historical, Andy wanted to draw horses, but something extra needed to be added to the mix., he adds. "The missing ingredient came from my catching sight of a one-off promotional piece that Andy had done a few years ago featuring a zombie infested sewer, and the realisation that not only could Andy draw zombies – he could draw great zombies.
"The comic is a real historical romp which features all what you’d expect from a comic featuring the iconic legendary highwayman: Black Bess, highway robberies, Flintlock pistols, the immortal line ‘Stand and Deliver!’, and zombies. Lots of zombies!”

• Indiemanga, a group of artists and a writer based in the UK and Ireland will be launching its first book, Origins, at the Comics Expo: this is an anthology of comics as well as one prose story. "It features several manga which got to the finalist stage of Tokyopop's Rising Stars of manga," says group member Azure, "as well as all new material." More information from the Indiemanga web site.

• Keep a look out for Tim Perkins, whose Wizards Keep project is the culmination of many years spent working in Comic Books, Children's Books, Theme Park Conceptualisation, and Animation Conceptualisation. Check out the stunning Worlds End Ashcan here.

As I said above this is a handful of what will be available at BICS. If you miss any of the great independent comics on sale at the event, you can always almost certainly find copies via Smallzone, read by BICS co-organiser Shance Chebsey. Visit their main website at

In Space No One Can Hear You Build, Again

Way way back we pointed you in the direction of some SF related Lego, specifically a Tardis and Blake's 7's Liberator, so we are overdue for some more.

MOCpages is a Lego fansite which allows Lego builders to put up photos of their own creations and some are remarkable. Ron Haller is a Gerry Anderson fan who is building his way through some of his favourite Anderson vehicles in Lego. Not the obvious Thunderbird 2 or Spectrum SPV for Ron, instead he has recreated some of the UFO, Space:1999 and new Captain Scarlet vehicles.

From new Captain Scarlet come several versions of the Bison moon rover and an impressive Druzynik battle tank. From Space:1999 comes the Alpha Moonbase moon buggy and my favourite of his creations, a set of SHADO mobiles from UFO.

He is currently working on a Space:1999 Eagle and based on the section of Eagle pod that is previewed on the site it will be a truly impressive model. We wish him luck with it.

Eagle Cutaway Art

Following on from our review of The Eagle Annual Of The Cutaways we present a little more information on the cutaways themselves.

It was not uncommon for some Eagle artists to change their art as they worked on it and some would go to the the length of painting new sections, cutting them out and gluing them onto the original board to cover the sections that they were not pleased with. There are many examples of Dan Dare art boards with entire panels replaced in this way.

Cutaway artist Leslie Ashwell-Wood also used the method. In fact his Gannet anti-submarine aircraft cutaway in Eagle Vol 3 Number 44 has almost the entire sky and a good section of the sea replaced in such a way. At least a third of the art is a separate section glued down onto the original board. Unfortunately this is not the kind of information that is contained in The Eagle Annual Of The Cutaways which is a pity because the art used in the book does show an example of this occurring.

On pages 62 and 63 the book reprints Ashwell-Wood's painting of a Thornycroft 31 foot cabin cruiser crewed by a family of four in which the father relaxes at the stern of the boat overseeing his son's steering of it. This illustration is one of the eighteen that the book also reproduces at the front and back from the original art boards. The original art board of this cutaway shows the figure of the father incomplete and presumably the final version of the figure was an additional piece glued down to the board which has since separated again.

One of the more juvenile sections of the book is the "Men Of The Cutaways" section where the author invites the read to identify which cutaway a dozen or so male figures came from including the cabin cruiser father. What a pity the pages couldn't have been used instead for the rather more informative purpose of showing us differences between the original art boards and the final printed version.

There is no readily available listing of all the cutaways in Eagle but this website by Wake Carter lists almost half of them and the issues of the comic that they were in.

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