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Saturday, 18 October 2008

Commando Webbing

A new interview with Commando and Dan Dare artist Keith Page has been posted on the official Commando website. In the interview Keith, who is currently working on his 144th Commando issue answers questions posed by Commando readers on his background, his work for the DC Thomson title and offers advice for aspiring artists.

Keith lists his artistic influences as Dan Dare's Frank Hampson, unsurprising for anyone who reads his Dan Dare prequel Rocket Pilot published in Spaceship Away, as well as Joe Colquhoun and Geoff Campion, perhaps best known for their war strips Charley's War and Battler Britton.

As a bonus, at the end of the interview is a breakdown of how Keith creates a Commando cover with the cover to Cold War!, issue 3669, shown as a pencil sketch, the finished artwork and the printed version, as well as being available for download as a PC wallpaper.

October is the traditional time for Commando to put their cover price up and this year the increase is only 5p bringing the cover price to £1.30. The increases in the price of Commando over its long history were covered this time last year on Bear Alley.

If the credit crunch is biting a little too deep for you to be able to afford a copy then the current of the free online e-Commando stories has just been completed on the Commando Mag website. They Flew By Night was originally published as issue 516 in December 1970 and with art by DC Thomson stalwart Gordon Livingstone. While you may not recognise the name, if you read any DC Thomson boy's comic during the 1960s and 1970s you will recognise his style of artwork.

e-Commando They Flew By Night begins here.

The Commando interview with Keith Page is here.

Free Hunt Emerson Comic

Following up the recent downthetubes piece on Hunt Emerson and his work with Phil Stamp Covers, Emerson fans may like to check out the comic that he has produced for the BBC RaW adult literacy campaign.

The 16 page full colour glossy US sized comic is entitled Tips For Storytelling and is written and illustrated by Emerson. The tips for reading stories out loud to children are passed on from one father, Errol, to another, Keith. Errol explains how to involve a young child in the story telling and maintaining their attention. As well as giving tips on reading for adults, the comic effectively provides aspiring humour artists with tips on drawing a wide range of expressions as Errol explains to Keith how funny voices and faces can add to the experience of the story for the child. For that reason alone it is worth looking for a copy.

The BBC RaW Tips For Storytelling comic is available free to UK residents from the BBC RaW website.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Jon Haward Interviewed

Artist Jon Haward, who is busy working on the superb Classical Comics books as the series Art Director, has been interviewed by Terry Hooper over on

"The photo of me was taken in Mark Burrell's studio," says Jon. "The portrait of me [titeled “Big Jon and the Bubblegum Gods”] was painted by Mark and is now on show at the Norwich Castle Open Art Show till 23rd November."

The interview talks a lot about Jon's youth and different things i'he's drawn and shows a fair bit of art /different styles. "I guess I adapt as I go along!" Jon told us.

• Read the interview on
Read an earlier downthetubes interview with Jon here

The Art of War

On sale now in all good bookshops is the simply gorgeous The Art of War by David Roach, featuring almost 1000 fabulous full-colour artworks created for the covers of Fleetway/IPC’s classic War, Battle, Air Ace and War at Sea Picture Libraries published from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The beautifully illustrated book comes with a foreword by Top Gear presenter and war comic book aficionado James May.

From the 1950s to the 1970s Fleetway and its successor, IPC, was the world's biggest comic-book publisher and its line of digest-sized Picture Libraries was the jewel in their crown. The most popular and longest lasting titles were War, Battle, Air Ace and War at Sea, which ran for a combined total of over four and a half thousand issues. This is a collection of over 400 of the finest covers, digitally remastered from the original archived artwork in a lavish format with the finest quality reproduction.

Over on the Today's Inspiration blog, David - an artist, illustrator, writer and historian with 20 years experience in the comics industry whose credits include Doctor Who, Batman and Star Wars - has written a series of posts (listed below) tying in with the launch of the book, and this post, "A warehouse full of art - dear God!" by blog owner Lief Peng outlines how, back in 2005, David and Rufus Dayglo uncovered a treasure trove of some 26,000 comic book pages from British girls and boys comics published by IPC, as well as about 10,000 Nursery pages, which they proceeded to catalogue*. Around 1400 war covers had survived, the best of which are in David's books.

"Rufus... has said on several occasions that it was the best summer of his life," David told Lief, "and you can bet the same goes for me - I was in heaven."

David's first post outlines the history of the comic and the art of Giorgio DeGaspari (already a legend in Italy by the time he started work for the UK market), with subsequent posts featuring the work of different artists: Pino Dell’orco, Allessandro Biffignandi, Jordi Penalva (who also drew covers for US titles such as Eerie), and, finally a round up of other artists who worked on the books such as Nino Caroseli, Graham Coton and Ian Kennedy.

Buy The Art of War from

Art of War Features on Today's Inspiration - Direct Links:

A Warehouse Full of Art
The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 1 (Overview)
The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 2 (the art of Pino Dell’orco)
The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 3 (the art of Allessandro Biffignandi)
The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 4 (the art of Jordi Penalva)
The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 5 (the art of various artists)

* Unfortunately, in my opinion, while these war covers have been scanned for posterity, IPC made the decision to sell off the archive before digitally scanning much of it, meaning many of the pages are now scattered across the globe. Given the huge interest in these comics, this seems unwise as it would have made for much higher quality collections of archive Fleetway and IPC comics material and reduced the need for extensive digital restoration work on pages scanned from printed comics.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Emerson Stamps His Mark

Cartoonist Hunt Enerson has been busy updating hiw website, and has added somne some news about his band The Hound Dogs, and added a new Phil Stamp Gallery featuring his First Day Stamp Covers.

"Phil Stamp Covers are colourful cartoon First Day Covers for [the UK's] Royal Mail postage stamps," he explains. "First Day Covers are printed envelopes that carry the stamp sheets, with special franking by hand stamps, and are produced in limited editions for collectors.

"Phil Stamp Covers have produced covers for a number of years, based on cartoons by J. Edward Oliver (Jack), a great cartoonist who sadly died in 2007. I remember Jack's work in the old music paper Disc; I admired and copied his work when I was a teenager. The Phil Stamp logo on this page is Jack's drawing. So when I was asked by Steve Oliver, Jack's cousin, who runs the business, to be first a guest cartoonist, and then to take over Jack's position as House Cartoonist, I was both delighted and honoured. "

• Colouring on Hunt's work is being done by Steve Oliver. To see the full range of Phil Stamp Covers, including J. Edward Oliver's and those by a wide range of guest cartoonists, visit the Phil Stamp Web Site.

Tube Surfing: 16 October 2008

Orang Utan Comics have begun to serialize Young Gods on ROK Comics. You can read it on ther web site or via WAP subscription (

• Talking of phones: the iphone, which is beginning to feature more and more comics applications, is not a passing fad: at least not according to author Charles Stross who reveals in a blog post titled "How to tell the difference between a trend and a standard" that "90% market dominance is all very well, but when half the cars destined to be sold in the USA in 2009 offer iPod connectivity it's a fair bet that the iPod isn't going to die out in a time frame of less than a decade.
"It's the new cassette tape, and that lasted for nearly four decades," he argues, "even taking into account the faster turnover of technologies I reckon being built into cars means it's going to be around for another 5-10 years minimum — one to two generations in the automotive world."

• The first issues of Warren Ellis' Doctor Sleepless have been collected and the book's now available from "better comics stores and bookshops".

• (via Chris Weston): 2000AD cobver and strip artist Cliff Robinson, creator of hundreds of iconic Judge Dredd covers for the Galaxy's Greatest Comic, now has his own blog at

• (via Forbidden Planet International): the Irish Comics Wiki has moved from Wiki to Wikia, which uses similar software but is apparently easier to use and register with. You can access the new version here.

SciFi Pulse has published a handy round up of Star Trek movie pictures.

• (Via FPI): Top British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has received a CBE from the Queen. “It’s slightly strange since I’ve spent most of my life being rude to people that I should receive this," he said. "It came completely out of the blue, I had no idea - but naturally I’m proud."

Neal Hefti, a Big Band trumpeter, arranger and composer of themes for the film The Odd Couple and the Batman television series, has died. He was 85.
Links: Daily Telegraph obituaryLos Angeles Times

Matthew Craig just uploaded my new Trixie Biker novella, Attack of the Sixty-Inch Pixie, to The Matthew Craig web site. "Sixty-Inch Pixie is the longest Trixie Biker story to date," he says, and sees the unconventional superheroine contend with frantic fairies, superhuman hermits and a threat to both her peace of mind and her secret identity, in the form of the sister that leaves this superhero in the shade." Matthew very nearly sold out of his initial print run at the Birmingham International Comic Show, but anyone who would like a copy of Sixty-Inch Pixie (and can't wait for Thought Bubble) should get in touch with him via my website. The print edition costs £1.75, including postage.
His other new comic, Bostin Heroes - For The Black Country And Beyond, continues apace, over at

Templesmith joins MCM Expo Line Up

(via Tony Lee): Comics artist and writer Ben Templesmith has joined the massive line up of guests attending the MCM London Expo on 25-26th October in London's Docklands.

Ben, whose credits include 30 Days of Night and Fell, and who has received multiple nominations for the American comic industry’s top prize, the Eisner Award, has just published his cover to issue #6 of Doctor Who: The Forgotten over at his blog, as well as one of the first pencil sketches he did of the page.

Ben's cover will feature in the guide for the Expo, part of an eight page comic preview which also includes the six page 'Third Doctor' part of Doctor Who: The Forgotten #2 by Tony Lee and Pia Guerra. Tony will also be at the event, doing signings and judging the Cosplay together as well as appearing on panels.

In addition to a host of media guests such as Ben (Prince Caspian) Barnes, artists and writers at the vent include John Aggs, Dan Boultwood, Kate Brown, Svetlana Chmakova, Paul Duffield, Marc Ellerby, Kieron Gillen, Charlie Higson, David Hine, Frazer Irving, Sonia Leong, John McCrea, Jamie McKelvie, Andie Tong, Lee Townsend, Kev Walker and Antony Johnston.

In The Forgotten, the Doctor and Martha find themseleves stranded in a strange Museum that's dedicated to the Time Lord - and with no TARDIS in sight, the pair must make sense of their surroundings, hindered by one small fact - the Doctor has lost his memories of every one of his previous incarnations! With items relevant to each Doctor in their possession, The Doctor must try to use them to regain his memories before it's too late, starting with his earliest incarnation's memories, involving Susan, Barbara and Ian. This all-new series is written by Tony Lee and features artist Pia Guerra in her first monthly comic since Y The Last Man.

MCM Expo Web Site
More about The Forgotten on Tony Lee's web site

Monday, 13 October 2008

Lee Sullivan Interviewed

Doctor Who and Transformers comics artist (and muscian) Lee Sullivan has just been interviewed by Ian M. Cullen over on, talking candidly about how he got into the business and his work on comics such as TekWorld and his strips for Doctor Who Magazine, Battles in Time and more.

The hard-working artist reveals he got into drawing comics almost by accident. "I was already an illustrator," he recalls, after "four years at Further Education College on a vocational wildlife and technical illustration course and five years at British Aerospace as a graphic designer. When Doctor Who Weekly (as it was then) appeared, I thought - that’s the job for me! I was a big fan of Doctor Who on TV and comics since they started. I laboured mightily to produce two or three pages of samples but I didn’t have any real idea of showing them to anyone. They took me ages to do - scenes I transcribed from the first Who novel, Doctor Who and The Daleks.

"Then I met David Lloyd who was producing backup strips (Abslom Daak was one of them) at the time at a Who convention and found out the timescales and rate of pay. It seemed impossible for me that I could ever work fast enough to earn a living."

Lee offers several insights into his approach to his work and the world of comic creation, revealing that some time ago, he assembled a ‘writer/artist guide for comic-book work’ which is on his website.

"It's various luminaries thoughts [on the subject] plus some of my own," he says.

"I think one of my least favourite situations is when a writer asks for action and consequences to happen in the same frame; for example: first guy comes through door, second guy hits him and first guy crashes into table. You might get away with the last two actions combined, but you can’t really show them combined with the first. That’s another panel! Also to avoid ‘cross-talk,’ by which I mean first guy speaks, second guy replies, first guy speaks again. That really reduces the vertical space on any panel and can just as easily be carried through to the next panel."

Read the full interview here on scifipulse

Lee Sullivan will be one of many guests at this weekend's Doctor Who Comic Book Convention which is being held at The Lass O’Gowrie In Manchester on 18 October 2008. If you have an interest in attending this event - and if they have any tickets left you can book via

Gears of War Prview Online

From news blog
(via Digital Comics News): The Gears of War mini-series from Wildstorm Productions, drawn by top British artist Liam Sharp has preview pages online for those of you still foolish enough not to go out an buy a comic drawn by a seven foot giant who could cut you in half with his little finger if you fail to obey.

Written by Gears of War 2 game writer, Joshua Ortega and illustrated by Liam Sharp, the mini-series bridges the end of Gears of War with the upcoming Gears of War 2 game release.

Download the Sneek Peek from the official web site

Panini Launches Marvel Heroes

Available now in all good British newsagents is the first issue of Panini's Marvel Heroes, which launched last week. The first issue kicks off with two new stories featuring the Hulk and Iron Man respectively.

The title's editor Ed Hammond has given downthetutbes the lowdown on the creators behind the originated strips in the new title. On the Hulk, this time up against Kraven the Hunter, the script is the work of the fevered imagination of Al Ewing, with pencils from John McCrea, inks by James Hodgkins, coloured by Andrew Elder.

Scott Gray, highly acclaimed for his mind-blowing scripts on Doctor Who Magazine, has delivered the Iron Man strip which sees Iron Man battling Dr Octopus. penciled by Carlos Gomez with inks from Gary Erskine, coloured by James Offredi.

"It's 36 pages of explosive Super Hero action in the unmistakable mighty Marvel manner," enthuses Ed, "and features two seven page comic strips each issue. The rest of the issue is packed full of fact files, pull-out posters and other games and activities, plus a news section on all the coolest Marvel merchandise hitting the shelves this month."

For those of you not already persuaded by the top talent working on the title, it comes with a free mean, green Incredible Hulk mask - perfect for Hallowe'en, we say.

"As Smilin' Stan would have it - face front, True Believer, and look for the bagged rubber face of the Ever-So-Slightly-Incredible Hulk at your local thrill-merchants now!" urges Hulk writer Al over on his blog. "Who says this isn't the Mighty Marvel Age of doing much better at writing the Hulk than Jeph Loeb? Red Hulk. schmed Hulk - does he fight Robot Snakes controlled by Kraven the Hunter? I think not, pilgrim!

"And just wait until you eyeball the awesome ending to this seven-page epic of war, woe and cartoon deers whose names have been changed just enough to avoid copyright dispute!"

Tube Surfing: 13 October 2008


• Radio 4 will be airing four 15-minute programmes on comics and cartoonists with Phill Jupitus, broadcasting on the back of a favourable response to his previous comics programme. The first one with Doonesbury creator Gary Trudeau went out last Tuesday and is available on Listen Again and has also got its own permanent link. the three to come include one with Bill Griffith and Alex creators Peattie and Taylor – again will be on the Listen Again after broadcast for seven days but Radio4 say they hope to do permanent links for them like the first one too at some point. More deatils from the Forbidden Planet International blog. "It's nice to see them following up on the earlier ones and their reception, feels FPI's Joe Gordon. "Between this, Comics Britannia and some other radio spots the Beeb has been fairly nice to the comics community this last year (and we have their SF drama series early next year on the radio too)."

Here's the line up:
• Tuesday 14th October at 0930 - Cartoonists with Attitude (Mikhaela Reid, Brian McFadden, Jen Sorensen, Masheka Wood)
• Tuesday 21st October at 0930 - Charles Peattie/Russell Taylor, creators of Alex
• Tuesday 28th October at 0930 - the great Bill ‘Zippy the Pinhead’ Griffith

Mangaquake, sister title to top UK indie title Futurequake, is now available yo read online from the Futurequake press web site. All the strips from Mangaquake 01 have now been formatted to be read individulally.

BBC Birmingham has published an interview with Moseley-based creator Andy Johnston about Zine Arcade, available throughout the UK and as far a field as the USA and Japan. The title brings together writing, poetry, drawings, artwork and more into one magazine and features many of Andy's contemporaries as well as his own work.
The first issue of Zine Arcade featured material by twenty self-publishers from Europe, North America and Australia. More info from the Zine Arcade web site.

In future there will be a new issue from FQP available each month! Next month it is the now legendary FQ06.
• 1980s small press fanzine Critical Wave, later sub-titled "The European Science Fiction & Fantasy Review", is to return. Published and co-edited by Steve Green and Martin Tudor, the original Critical Wave ran from October 1987 until the summer of 1996. Last month, Steve and Martin decided to relaunch Critical Wave as an electronic newszine, published monthly via eFanzines. The first edition is scheduled for mid-November, to coincide with Novacon 38.

• The small press event UK Comix Web Thing is to return in March 2009. More details from the offcial web site, although depending on your entry point there are currently conflicting dates listed for the event.

Kickback and V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd will be in New York on the weekend of November 14-16 for the Big Apple Con at the Pennsylvania Hotel. "My last visit to one of those shows was in '06, at which I had a terrific time, and the organisers have now been kind enough to ask me back for another."


• More bits of Doctor Who news over on Digital Spy. First, as widely reported, Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate will go head-to-head at this year's National Television Awards. Lead actor Tennant and Who newcomer Tate, who played The Doctor's companion Donna Noble, have both received a nomination in a new Outstanding Drama Performance category. However, they face competition from Ashes To Ashes star Philip Glenister (Gene Hunt) and The Bill's Alex Walkinshaw (Sgt. Dale Smith).
The web site also offers an overview of Doctor Who movies, as rumours fly about a possible big screen outing for the Time Lord.

Variety reports US broadcaster NBC has ordered four more scripts of its new SF series Knight Rider from Universal Media Studios. The original series was a popular strip in weekly comic Look-In, often drawn by Barrie Mitchell who now draws Wendy for DC Thomson.

• In mobile media news, the BBC is now allowing television programmes to be downloaded to mobile devices capable of playing back content protected by Windows Media digital rights management. Among the supported devices are the Sony Walkman E and S series and Archos' Internet Media Tablet. The Windows Media DRM-protected TV shows join DRM-free radio programmes and podcasts among the BBC's download offerings.


SciFiWire reports Fox 2000 has acquired rights to Joe Haldeman's 1974 classic SF novel The Forever War, and Ridley Scott is planning to make it into his first science fiction film since he delivered back-to-back classics with Blade Runner and Alien, Variety reported.


• Digital Spy has also just published a handy potted history of the adventure game, the genre that achieved market dominance in the 1980s and 1990s. meanwhile, games publisher Bungie has confirmed that there will be no more Halo 3 add-ons after the upcoming Recon.

• Compiled with thanks to Matthew Badham, Joe Gordon and others. Cheers!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The Seven Doctors

The Seven DoctorsVarious news sources are reporting that BBC Children in Need will be featuring a special Doctor Who episode this year featuring all seven surviving Doctors. Here's what the Telegraph has to say about it:

"The actors are getting together for the BBC charity Children in Need in a programme to be broadcast on November 14.

"An insider at the BBC said: 'It's a pretty ambitious idea and it's still being finalised. Everything is being kept under wraps but Doctor Who fans are in for a big treat.

"The first of the 10 actors to take the role was William Hartnell in 1963, followed three years later by Patrick Troughton and then by Jon Pertwee but all three have since died.The seven survivors include Tom Baker, now best known as the voice of the comedy series Little Britain, who played the role for seven years from 1974. He was followed by Peter Davidson (sic) from 1981 to 1984, whose daughter Georgia Moffett has also featured in the programme and who is now dating the current doctor, David Tennant.

"The others are Colin Baker, from 1984 to 1986, Sylvester McCoy who had two stints from 1987 to 1989 and re-appeared in the role in 1996, Paul McGann, who took over the role in 1996 and Christopher Eccleston who reprised the series in 2005."

downthetubes is unable to confirm anything further at present but stay tuned!

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