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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Foss First for Compalcomics Auction

2000AD cover art by Chris FossRare triptych cover art by acclaimed science fiction illustrator Christopher Foss for 2000AD is just one item in the Winter 2008 auction of London-based Compalcomics that also includes Dan Dare and Desperate Dan art and a number of first issues of early US Marvel Comics, some featuring the first appearances of characters such as Spider-Man and Iron Man.

The gouache Foss art is bound to attract plenty of attention from 2000AD fans, which formed the covers of three consecutive issues of the weekly comic back in 1995 (Issues 953, 954 and 955). Featuring Judge Hershey and Judge Dredd against the backdrop of a Mega City skyline, all three main images are signed separately.

Christopher Foss is a renowned British artist and science fiction illustrator whose futuristic visions have adorned many book covers, including Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, The Demon Princes series by Jack Vance and E E Smith’s Lensman. His film work has encompassed Dune, Alien and Superman and this triptych is his only known cover artwork for 2000AD and Compal believe it is the first piece of his artwork ever offered at auction.

Magic ComicThere are 449 lots in the auction overall with other British highlights being a dummy issue of The Broons Book 4 from 1949 - publisher DC Thomson's unique pre-print run copy.

Also on offer are some rare DC Thomson Magic comics along with The Dandy No 1 Flyer, an eight-page mini comic in its own right. A large number of 1960s Gerry Anderson-inspired comic TV Century 21 are also on offer.

Bound volumes include collections of Schoolgirls Own, Sexton Blake, Union Jack, Champion and Thriller titles plus artwork from Desperate Dan by Dudley Watkins, lassoing a Christmas tree for the poor kids party; Oor Wullie - finding oot that everybody has a wee lassie except hi'self; The Broons twins, fed up wi' lickin' envelopes fir Christmas cards; and a page of Journey to the Stars art from tan issue of Speed comic by Ron Turner; and a page of Dan Dare original front cover artwork by Desmond Walduck for Eagle Vol 5: No 5.

The bumper US section highlights a high grade single owner Amazing Spider-Man collection in 133 lots, all cents copies from #1 with 25 issues CGC graded. The main Silver Age section includes Amazing Fantasy #15 featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man, Journey Into Mystery #89 re-telling the origin of Thor, Tales To Astonish #27 featuring the first appearance of Ant Man, Tales Of Suspense 39 featuring the first appearance and origin of Iron Man, and first issues of Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Daredevil, Hulk, Iron Man and X-Men.

The Golden Age is represented with Batman #6 and #31, Human Torch #5 and Marvel Mystery #14 and #30. Also offered is artwork from The X-Men #43 by Werner Roth featuring Cyclops, the cover of Witching Hour #65 by Louis Dominguez and a superb page of Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four #95 featuring Medusa, Crystal and the Human Torch.

Compalcomics holds four auctions a year. Bids will be accepted until Tuesday November 25 at 8.00pm UK time.

• To go directly to the main page for the catalogue, click here:

Friday, 7 November 2008

In Review: Watching the Watchmen

Fans of the seminal graphic novel Watchmen, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, first released in 1987, are sure to enjoy this new celebration of the series just released by Titan Books.

Watching the Watchmen by Dave Gibbons tells the story of the making of the science fiction comic first published by DC Comics, set on a world where the existence of superheroes re-shaped the world we know into something far more sinister.

In the original story, to be released as a film next year, super heroes have been outlawed. Once the self-appointed saviours of mankind, the men and women that kept the streets safe have hung up their capes and returned to the anonymity of their secret identities. All except one: Rorschach, a half-psychotic vigilante whose name still evokes fear on the city’s streets. After the suspicious death of one of the old team, Rorschach must convince his middle-aged, retired ex teammates, that he has uncovered a plot to murder the remaining super heroes – along with millions of innocent civilians. But even reunited, will the remnants of the Watchmen be enough to avert a global apocalypse?

The comic, voted among Time magazine’s 100 Best Novels from 1923 to the present, a perennial bestseller over the past twenty years, proved a means for the creators to reflect contemporary anxieties and deconstruct the superhero concept.

Watching the Watchmen focuses on Gibbons’ memories of the making of the ground-breaking novel, described by Time as “a heart-pounding, heartbreaking read and a watershed in the evolution of a young medium.”

Alongside his memories of the creation of the saga, from initial concept as a means for DC to make use of superhero characters the company had acquired from Charlton Comics but morphing into something far more momentous, Dave Gibbons has collected almost every visual he has that went into the making of the project, from initial character designs to layouts, promotional art and covers for foreign language editions.

Some niggling design issues inside -- who decided to use such small type for captions and use blue lettering on a black background on some pages? -- for Watchmen fans, Watching the Watchmen offers a gorgeous companion to the comics masterpiece, revealing excised pages, early versions of the script, original character designs, page thumbnails, sketches and much more.

Also included is a fascinating insight into the colouring of the story written by the artist who provided it, John Higgins. It’s interesting to see how much has changed in the way this much undervalued aspect of creating a comic has changed since the 1980s with the advent of digital colouring, something Higgins was able to take full advantage of in the re-mastering of the material for the 2005 Absolute Watchmen release.

While the volume is light on examples of Alan Moore’s dense words for the series – the first issue’s script alone rolled in at 91 dense pages of typescript - Watching the Watchmen offers a joyous celebration of the peerless comic series described by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof as “The greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced.”

Gibbons deliberately skirts around the controversy that ensued the publication of Watchmen, which ultimately led to Alan Moore refusing to work for DC Comics because of royalty and character ownership disputes. While saying he's not averse to scandal, the consummate artist prefers instead to celebrate the work and its ongoing success, saying he’s had a great time re-visiting the very beginnings of Watchmen and “unearthing material I haven’t set eyes on for many years.

“As a fan myself, this is the kind of stuff I eat up and I’m sure the many devotees of the graphic novel will do the same,” says Gibbons.

This coffee table book is indeed a beautifully packaged, well-designed celebration of the Watchmen that not only deserves high sales in itself but may also serve as inducement for fans to revisit the original work and see its pages and storytelling in a whole new light. Recommended.

Watching the Watchmen, published 24 October 2008 by Titan Books. ISBN: 9781845760413

Buy Watching the Watchmen from Forbidden Planet
• Buy Watching the Watchmen from
• Buy Watching the Watchmen from

Catch up on the Clone Wars Comic

With the latest issue of Titan Magazines' Star Wars Comic firmly moving to Clone Wars mode (it's a giant-sized issue with two cover variants available, coming with a free Star Wars sweatband), Star Wars fans might also be interested in some all-new Clone Wars web comics exclusive to, which are released prior to broadcast of each new Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode and "fill the gap" between the animated stories.

Located here on the official Star Wars web site, each comic is five to seven pages in length and every installment contains a side or bridge story that ties in directly to that Friday's episode.

Here's a recap of the tales that have been told and a preview of future installments:

• "Prelude" -- A tie-in to the premiere episode, Ambush, this story features the clones that
accompany Yoda to the moon of Rugosa -- Rys and Jek -- as they are given their assignment. It
also debuts Skytop Station, a Separatist listening post that now, a month later, will begin to be
featured in the episodes.

• "Shakedown" -- Before the Republic definitively discovered what General Grievous' new secret weapon was in "Rising Malevolence," many warships fell to the experimental ion cannon. This comic story depicts an ill-fated mission.

• "Procedure" -- Anakin is determined to do something about the threat of the Malevolence, and
his characteristic reckless initiative takes him to a Republic military testing facility where he secures the weapons he'll need in the episode "Shadow of Malevolence".

• "Agenda" -- When Padme Amidala emerged from hyperspace right into the path of a Separatist
warship in Destroy Malevolence, she was on her way to a diplomatic mission. In this tie-in comic, she not only gets this crucial assignment, but also has to shuffle priorities in a busy day-in-the-life of a Galactic Senator, even if it means ignoring a plea for help from an old friend.

• "Mouse Hunt" -- In Rookies, Clone Captain Rex and Clone Commander Cody have finished an
inspection tour of a tracking station on Pastil -- this comic tells that story. A Separatist spy droid is discovered on Pastil, and the clone officers mobilize the troops to stop it.

• "The Fall of Falleen" -- In Downfall of a Droid, we learn that the Separatists have been enjoying a string of successes, including the conquest of Falleen. This comic documents Asajj Ventress' role in that victory.

Other stories coming up include "Discount," wherein droid dealer Gha Nachkt brokers a shady sale for a Separatist leader. In "Transfer," Anakin dispatches Ahsoka Tano on a personal errand despite the wishes of the Jedi Council. And in "Departure," a simple attempt to prep a ship for transit ends up in a nightmare when C-3PO and Jar Jar Binks are involved.

In the first issue of the new British Star Wars: The Clone Wars comic, Asoka goes back to her roots for thrills and explosive spills in the awesome debut of the Clone Wars comic strip.

More about the UK's Star Wars Comic on the Titan Magazines' web site
• All-new Clone Wars episodes air on Sky Movies, Saturdays at 5:30pm in the UK. Click here for more details.

Crikey! to Continue

(via Forbidden Planet International): Crikey!, the comics magazine devoted to British comics of yesteryear and today, is set to continue, despite rumours to the contarary.

In a posting on the Forbidden Planet International blog, editor Glenn B Fleming has announced that some of the original staff of the title, now on its eighth issue, have left for other pursuits, leaving him to take the magazine forward.

"This is a new area of publishing for me and I am looking forward to the challenge," he says.

"Crikey #8 is in full colour and for that to continue we will need the sales. That’s over to you! As a teaser, Issue 9 brings an exclusive chat with Modesty Blaise artist Badia Romero - watch out for that one!

"I believe the next issue will be the best Crikey! yet," says Fleming. "We can finally see our great artwork the way it was meant to be - in full, glorious colour."

Fleming says that other plans for Crikey! are in the pipeline and hopes readers will continue to give the title their support!

• More info at:

Two Chance to Meet the author of Nemi

Norwegian superstar comic creator Lise Myhre will be signing copies of her new book Nemi Volume 2 on Thursday 13th November in Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Ave, 6-7.00pm and on Saturday 15th November in Borders, 120 Charing Cross Road, 1-2.00pm.

Nemi Montoya, the cool, romantic, strong-willed, cynical, sexy and all-too-honest twenty-something goth, returns to share more frank and hilarious moments in the new Nemi release now on sale from Titan Books.

Featuring an exclusive introduction by singer-songwriter Tori Amos, this brand new hardback collection from artist Lise Myhre gathers together some of the hilarious highs of the strip. Hang out with Nemi and her mates, including her best friend, the blue-haired Cyan, as they deal with love, friendship, inebriation, sex... and the other really important things in life!

Created when Myhre “set out to find an imaginary friend” and named after Italy’s ancient (and supposedly enchanted) Lake Nemi and fictional hero Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride (one of Myhre’s favourite films), Lise Myhre’s Nemi Montoya is a goth-tinged heroine for the modern twenty-something, tapping into all the fun, fervour and frustrations of the 21st Century woman. Already a superstar in Europe, Nemi’s first volume has reprinted multiple times.

“In my opinion, Nemi is a mix of how we are, how we wish we were, and how we're glad we're not,” says Lise Myhre.

Nemi © 2008 Lise

Mine's A Paul Temple!

Crime novelist and detective Paul Temple made his first appearance on BBC Radio in 1938 and went on to appear in novels, film, television and a daily newspaper strip. Now, there's even a cocktail named after him...

Created by Francis Durbridge, Paul Temple inhabited a sophisticated world of chilled cocktails and fast cars, where the women were chic and the men wore cravats – a world where Sir Graham Forbes, of Scotland Yard usually needed Temple’s help with his latest tricky case.

The Paul Temple newspaper strip, which appeared in the London Evening News, was published between 19 November 1951 and 1 May 1971 and was drawn variously by Alfred Sindall, Bill Bailey and John McNamara. On the continent, two short-lived comic-series by the Aachener Bildschriftenverlag and the Luna-Kriminalromane are rare collector's items. (More information and sample strips here).


To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the first Paul Temple radio series, Edward Viita, Manager of the Artesian Bar at London's prestigious Langham Hotel, has created a new cocktail: The Paul Temple, which will feature on the Bar's new autumn menu from October.

The cocktail is whisky-based to reflect Paul Temple's drink of choice and is a variation of the classic whisky cocktail 'Blood and Sand', originally created for the 1922 film of the same name and reflective of the Paul Temple era.

The Paul Temple

• 30ml Scotch Whisky (for best results use a smooth slightly smoky scotch)
• 20ml Dubonnet Rouge
• 20ml Crème de Peche
• 20ml White Peach Puree
• 20ml Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

• Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

• Rub a short sprig of rosemary between your hands (to release the aromas)
and lay it as a garnish over the drink

The Paul Temple radio serials proved so popular that their creator Francis Durbridge was inspired to write a series of novels featuring the character. On 13th November, BBC Audiobooks will release News of Paul Temple read by Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merlin), in a story which centres on Temple meeting vivacious actress Iris Archer at a cocktail party. After agreeing to write a play for her, he is most surprised when she suddenly decides to pull out of the lead role days before the play is due to open. He is even more surprised when he glimpses her in the Scottish hotel where the Temples are holidaying – after she had told him that she was going to the South of France.

Does her sudden appearance have anything to do with the mysterious letter passed to Paul Temple by an excitable young man, with explicit instructions to deliver it to John Richmond? What does the enigmatic Doctor Steiner have to do with events? And, most importantly, who is operating under the codename Z4? It is up to Paul Temple to find out...

News of Paul Temple follows on the heels of the July release of Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery, a re-recording of the drama starring Crawford Logan and Gerda Stevenson, based on the scripts for the original production first broadcast in 1949.

The BBC Scotland Drama team tracked down the original Paul Temple scripts and went into meticulous detail to re-record Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery in an authentic vintage style. Producer Patrick Rayner explained that old pieces of recording kit, including period microphones were dug out and dusted down for a faithful recreation of the detective series and the team were able to retrieve period recordings of sound effects such as motorboats and the original incidental music to stay as true to the original dramas as possible.

In the story, the Temples enjoy the company of their fellow passengers on an ocena liner returning to England from America, only to find one of them dead the next morning – and when Paul and Steve get home to London, Sir Graham Forbes is waiting to plunge them into one of their most thrilling and dangerous adventures, the pursuit of a ruthless international gang of counterfeiters. As knives fly and bombs explode, the key to the puzzle seems to lie in a coin on the end of a watch-chain…

• Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery is available now. ISBN: 9781405678124
Duration 4 Hours on 4 CDs Download ISBN: 9781405608572

• News of Paul Temple will be published by BBC Audiobooks on 13th November 2008
ISBN: 9781405676960 Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes on 2 CDs
Download ISBN: 9781405679329

Dan Dare part of new London Exhibiton

(With thanks to Richard Sheaf): A new exhibition organised by London-based Chris Beetles gallery featuring work by Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson - which is also for sale - opens next week.

The Illustrators: The British Art of Illustration 1800 - 2008 is described as the world’s largest selection of original illustrative artwork for sale, with a display of over 1000 pictures detailing over 200 years of this nostalgic and cultural significant artform. Included is art by Mabel Lucie Attwell, Giles, Frank Hampson, Mirror editorial cartoonist Sir David Low and many others.

The Dan Dare pages are taken from the first 'Venus' story that ran in Eagle and command a substantial asking price of over £6000.

The Chris Beetles Gallery in St. James. London, has been famous for promoting the art and history of illustration and specialises in over two centuries of English art. Chris Beetles who owns the business has been dealing for 25 years.

Accompanying the exhibition is a sumptuous 140 page catalogue containing biographies, notes and 342 illustrations it is available from the gallery for £15 + postage (£2 UK, £5 Europe, £10 Rest of the world).

The gallery has also produced a special Illustrators 2008 Poster printed on 400 gram art paper, it is available from the gallery for £20 + postage (£1 UK, £1.50 Europe, £2 Rest of the world).

Opening Times:

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 November 2008
10.00am – 5.30pm

Exhibition continues until 3 January 2009
10.00AM – 5.30pm Monday - Sunday

• More info:

Baillie debuts in 2000AD

Comics artist and writer David Baillie, creator of indie strips such as Writer and Monkey and already a contirbutor to titles such as Judge Dredd: The Megazine, Tripwire and Accent UK’s anthologies Zombies, Robots and Westerns, has his first ever story in 2000AD this week, and tells downthetubes he is "completely over the moon."

In fact, as a longtime 2000AD fan, he's so delighted he's written what he loosely describes as a "bit of a love letter to the comic" on his blog.

"I can chart most of my life through 2000AD," he reveals, "and remember exactly what I was doing and what was going on when any given story was running. Rifling through my back issue collection when I visit my parents is like picking up and dipping into the diary that I never wrote."

His Future Shock for Issue 1611 is drawn by another relative newcomer to 2000AD, Nick Dyer, whose past credits include strips for the 2000AD comics fanzine Zarjaz.

David's most recent book projects include Heart Sense for Heartshield Ltd. and illustrations for Net Media UK’s Sleep Therapy. His latest comics are Tongue of the Dead and RocketBoy.

Elsewhere, animator David Hailwood has animated a couple of Baillie's Zombies Interviews strips from Accent UK's Zombies book published last year. "I think they're really cool, and I believe the plan is to do a couple more, possibly with some UK Indie celeb voices," says David.
They also feature on Baillie's blog here.

Finally, David's autobiographical comic The Belly Button Bubble Chronicles is trundling back to life after a break of a few weeks. "I'm hoping to finish it off before the year is out," says david, "meaning (fingers crossed) I'll have drawn 52 episodes in 64 weeks."

• New updates at

Peanuts for Free

(with thanks to Norman Boyd): Web site Drawn! reports United Features’ website has gone free to view, including 50 years of Peanuts.

Taking a nod from the webcomics world and in response to the declining sales of newspapers the syndicate has, like GoComics and ROK Comics, begun to offer all of its content (including years of archives) at online for free.

Drwan! also notes that not just that, but its RSS feeds which once only contained links, now contain the cartoons themselves.

Signing up for an account allows you to create your own custom RSS feed or homepage featuring whichever features you’d like. Drwan's Olly Moss recommends strips such as Dave Coverly’s Speed Bump, Jerry Van Amerongen’s surreal Ballard Street, Darby Conley’s Get Fuzzy, and editorial cartoons by Pulitzer-winner Mike Luckovich.

DFC's Kate Brown Interviewed

This interview with Kate Brown, creator of The DFC's story Spider Moon, is the latest of several items being published by The DFC team via YouTube.

Kate, who lives in Oxford is a comic book artist and illustrator who says she loves music such as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie and whose favourite books include Demian by Hermann Hesse, and Peter Pan and Wendy by JM Barrie.

It's been rumoured that, apparently, every sixth leap year, her atoms transport themselves to the moon for thirty-nine seconds.

Kate Brown Web Links:

Danse Macabre

No Script for Preacher

American Beauty director Sam Mendes has revealed that his big screen adaptation of comic book series Preacher has no script.

Mendes, who signed up for the project after Columbia Pictures picked up the rights after a View Askew movie and a proposed HBO series previously fell through, recently told film magazine Empire: "Basically, they should have written, 'Mendes in development with Preacher'.

"What I'm doing is, I've got to find a script. I've just got to get it written."

Despite the lack of screenplay, Mendes told Empire he's excited about adapting the comic series created by Garth Ennis, which centres on man who journeys across America to find God, who has abandoned Heaven, after being possessed by the spawn of an angel and a demon.

"There's so much of [the story] you couldn't possibly fit it all into one movie," says Mendes. "It's just about what you keep and what you leave out, and how you structure the story," he said.

"But just to have that toy set again, being able to paint on a big canvas and to say: 'I am gonna do crazy crane shots and massive action sequences again because I want to.' It's exciting."

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Jeff Hawke Art for Sale

Offered from downthetubes via ebay is a piece of Jeff Hawke newspaper strip original art, signed by creator and artist Sydney Jordan.

The art from the Daily Express strip "Jeff Hawke" is identified as strip H3387 featuring mysterious aliens from the story "A Helping Hand". This story was first published between 12 December 1964 and 3 March 1965 in the British newspaper The Daily Express. (The full run is identified as H3328 - H3395 in a note on the back of the art by Syd Jordan). In the strip a racing driver, Cordway, is given an artifical arm by an alien race, but his experience does not go unnoticed...

This is an opportunity to own a piece of art from one of the most highly regarded science fiction newspaper strips ever published in Britain. Jeff Hawke still has a loyal following worldwide.

Art measures 43 cm by 14 cm on stiff white art board. Signed on the front by Syd Jordan with notes by Syd, also signed, on the back.

Oli Smith's Weekend Life Premiere

Following the success of London-based Hectic Peelers recent night of Raindance Shorts, the group is presenting another night of renowned short movies.

The main attraction is the portmanteau film Civic Life, a septet of short films showing life around the UK by the film making duo Desperate Optimists, namely Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, whose first feature film Helen is currently showing at the London Film Festival.

Each part of Civic Life varies in genre from murder mystery to comedy and drama but all are made up of a single uncut take of between five and 17 minutes and were filmed with the help of local people across the length and breadth of the country. A Desperate Optimist will be in attendance to introduce the film and do a Q&A afterwards.

In addition, award-winning comic book artist Oli Smith (creator of Hazy Thursday) will introduce the theatrical premiere of his first short film Weekend Friends and will be available to answer questions and sign copies of his comic book prequels to the short film at the bar.

• Roxy Bar and Screen, 128-132 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB 7.30pm, 11th November 2008 More info at:

Panel Borders Podcasts this week....

(with thanks to Alex Fitch): Here some details on the current and upcoming schedule for the comics podcast “Reality Check” which features on and “Panel Borders”, which is broadcast as part of the show “Strip!” on Resonance 104.4 FM and podcast at

On the air: Strip!: Incredibly Strange Comics

In the first of two belated Halloween specials, Alex Fitch talks to sequential art expert Paul Gravett about his new book The Leather Nun And Other Incredibly Strange Comics which looks at the weirder and more lurid examples of the genre, and to Australian artist Ben Templesmith about his career so far, drawing comics such as the neo-noir title "Fell", the Matrix inspired "Singularity 7" and the popular vampire serial "30 Days of Night" which was adapted as a movie last year.

Airs at 5.00pm 6 November 2008
Repeated 11.30pm 6 November 2008 on Resonance 104.4 FM (London)
Streamed at Podcast at

I'm Ready For My Close-Up: OSS-117, Licence to Kill

Massively popular in France but fairly unknown in the UK are the adventures of OSS-117, a cold war secret agent who has appeared in 40 books over the last half century and half a dozen movies.

With a new (spoof) version of the Gallic James Bond about to hit our screens, Alex Fitch talks to the director Michel Hazanavicius and Bonisseur girl Bérénice Bejo of Cairo: Nest of Spies / Le Caire Nid d'espions. Although his code number and name seem strangely familiar, apparently 117 predates 007...

Airs at 10.30pm 6 November 2008
Repeated 11.30pm 6 November 2008 on Resonance 104.4 FM (London)
Streamed at Podcast at

Coming soon: Strip!: The art of Jill Thompson

In the second of two belated Hallowe'en specials and in partnership with Gosh! Comics, Alex Fitch talks to Jill Thompson, the artist and writer of spooky graphic novellas for

all ages: Magic Trixie and Scary Godmother as well as the illustrator of a popular and acclaimed ten issue run of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (collected as Brief Lives) and its spin offs At Death's Door and The Dead Boy Detectives.

Airs at 5.00pm 13 November 2008
Repeated 11.30pm 16 November 2008 on Resonance 104.4 FM (London)
Streamed at
Podcast at

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Obama Wins

Even before the US election was over comics fans had cast their vote, with sales of IDW’s Barack Obama biography comic beating those of the John McCain by a 59% to 41% margin, according to an IDW spokesperson. reports the numbers are based on sell-in to direct market comic retailers, which can serve as a close proxy for actual sales to consumers.

That margin appears to be wider than the popular vote percentages, which may reflect a different political composition for comic fans than for the American population, or just the desire of comic fans to collect the comic biography of the presumptive winner.

The comics were serious biographies of the candidates, and shared trade dress and cover design. The Obama comic also seems to have been the one most widely pirated...

• More info at:

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Mark Millar in Dunblane

Wanted creator Mark Millar, Dr Mel Gibson, Ivor Davis of Red Hot Comics in Glasgow and staff from graphic novel publishers Classical Comics and Metromedia UK will be discussing graphic novels in Dunblane, Scotland, later this month.

Organised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland the one day event, titled Get To Know Graphic Novels, takes place at the Dunblane Centre on 20 November is not free (£60 for non-members of the Institute) but is sure to be of considerable interest to educationalists, library staff and, perhaps, graphic novel sellers.

Mark Millar has written some of the most successful English-language comics of the last few years and has, for six years running, been the best-selling British writer working in America. His current projects are Ultimates 2 with artist Bryan Hitch, Ultimate Fantastic Four with artist Greg Land and Marvel Civil War with artist Steve McNiven.

Mel Gibson is a UK based comics scholar and consultant who has run training and promotional events about comics and graphic novels for libraries, schools and other organizations since 1993 and also runs training events on manga, working with young adults in libraries, working with picture books and the links between children's books and the Internet.

• More information at

Monday, 3 November 2008

British Cartoon Library Gets Face Lift

(with thanks to Matthew Badham): The British Cartoon Archive based at the University of Kent is about to get a major facelift that includes, at last, the digitisation of the archive of the late, great Express cartoonist Carl Giles.

Ronald Giles - nicknamed “Carl” - worked for Reynolds News between 1937 and 1943, and for the Daily Express and Sunday Express from 1943 to 1991. He was self-taught, but became the most famous cartoonist of his generation, and had a considerable influence on the style of British social and political cartooning.

Giles died in 1995, but is fondly remembered, and a collection of his work is still published each year. In 2000, Giles was voted Britain’s favourite cartoonist in a public poll, and in 2005 the Press Gazette chose him as one of the forty journalists in its Newspaper Hall of Fame.

The Giles Archive, comprising some 6,500 original cartoons dating from the 1940s to the 1990s, but also image files and filing cabinets of business correspondence with the Daily Express and Sunday Express and others, and of “Studio Correspondence” with readers and admirers, has never been open to research. During Giles’ life he maintained close control of his originals and documents, and very little was open to outsiders and in the years since his death the material has been in storage, and the Giles Archive has remained totally inaccessible, the majority of the collection boxed, just as it was put into storage in 1995.

Now, tthanks to a grant by the Joint Information Systems Committee the BCA has begun to digitise the archive, perhaps the single most important archive of British newspaper cartoons, and a key resource for British political and social history.

The BCA's web site will also be relaunched on 5 November 2008, offering improved accessibility, usability and teaching-related resources.

All the existing content will be moved to when the site is re-launched. In addition, Over 12,000 new images from the Giles archive will also be available on the new site with more material and functionality being added in the months following the launch.

The existing database will remain for the time being, although content will not be updated after the end of October 2008.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Starblazer Sale and Game News

One downthetubes reader has been in touch to tell us he's offering a number of Starblazers via eBay, including the first three issues of this collectable SF comic published by DC Thomson. He tells us all of the comics are in excellent condition with no rips or tears.

Given interest in the title from our readers we've offered to plug the sale here. (Please note, downthetubes has no connection with the seller).

Talking of Starblazer, a new official blog about the comic is in development and we'll have more information on this soon.

We're also pleased to report that new content, free downloads and previews of the Starblazer Adventures game are now available over at Cubicle 7.

Published by DC Thomson, Starblazer was the home to some of the best British science fiction space opera first published in April 1979 with its last issue released in January 1991. Featuring some stunning art and classic space opera stories, comic creators such as Grant Morrison and John Smith, artists Enrique Alcatena, Mike McMahon, Cam Kennedy, John Ridgway, Alan Rogers, Jaime Oritz, Ian Kennedy, Colin MacNeil and Casanovas Junior helped bring the fantastic 'spacefiction adventure in pictures' to life.

The Starblazer licence was picked up by British games publisher Cubicle 7 Entertainment, who also publish SLA Industries and Victoriana and the core release utilining the FATE rule system will include three detailed settings from the very best of Starblazer, detailing recurring characters, organisations, empires and aliens such as the Fi-Sci (the Fighting Scientists of Galac Squad), The Star Patrol, The Suicide Squad, The Planet Tamer, Cinnibar the barbarian warrior of Babalon and galactic cop Frank Carter to name just a few.

As well as the FATE rules system, you’ll find maps, galactic histories, stories of civilizations spanning thousands of years, technology from across time and space, details of the equipment and starships of the human civilisations and their alien neighbours. Cubicle 7 has also created some big picture gaming rules that will allow you to lead an armada or Star Empire, plan a network of secret bases, thwart a galaxy wide conspiracy, invoke ancient treaties and inspire politicians from across the universe or hold off hordes of terrifying creatures with hundreds of marines.

The official Starblazer Adevntures website features updates on the action, and releases, backstories, development news, comments from previous writers, excerpts from original scripts and will also feature exclusive interviews revealing some of the hidden treasures of the Starblazer stories.

Planned for the site are downloadable accessories, excerpts of comic strips, rules supplements, adventures, a fan community and much more bringing the Starblazer universe to life and giving you the tools to extend the gaming experience.

Starblazer Adventures will be released later this year. Join the RPG.Net discussion to follow the development process or find them at Live Journal. They also have a MySpace page

downthetubes Starblazer Features:

Blazing through the secrecy
Jeremy Briggs ponders DC Thomson's secretive nature about its creators diown the years, and explores the secrets of its science fiction title Starblazer, whose creators included a young Grant Morrison and artist Ian Kennedy...
A checklist of every issue, including known creator credits
Starblazer Abroad
A checklist of known foreign language reprints of the title
Behind the Lines

Writer Ray Aspden reveals his approach to writing Starblazer

Armistice 90

Commando Issue 4150November is a particularly important month for all war veterans and this year will be even more significant, marking 90 years since the guns fell silent over the many battlefields of the First World War.

To mark this moment in history, one particular war veteran -- DC Thomson's Commando -- has produced a series of eight stories based on the events of the Great War.

With stories from the trenches of the Western Front to the skies over Mesopotamia, Commando's heroes will struggle to overcome the odds and arise triumphant.

First published in 1961 and described variously as being the “ideal size for the pockets of combat trousers” and a “training manual for officers” by members of the armed forces, Commando soldiers on. It's a veteran in terms of publishing, having long outlasted rivals such as War Picture Library and others.

Recent special editions of classic stories published in conjunction with Carlton Books and the limited edition Commando Ammo Box, containing three of these collections plus a recreation of the very first issue of the comic, have all helped bring the Commando back into the public eye, and it continues to attract readers of all ages.

Commando Issue 415211th November -- Armistice Day -- marks the the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the guns of the Western Front of the First World War fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. Germany had signed an Armistice.

Apart from Russia*, in Allied countries the day is marked with wreath laying at national First World War memorials and at the grave sites near epic battles, as a sign of respect for the roughly eight million who died in the war, as suggested by Australian journalist and soldier Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper in 1919.

Very few First World War veterans are still living today, but include 112-year-old Briton Henry Allingham, born 6 June 1896, who is currently the oldest living verified veteran.

The total human cost to Britain and the Empire of the First World War was 3,049,972 casualties, including 658,705 dead. Overall, an estimated 10 million men lost their lives on the battlefield, another 20 million were wounded, and there were some 10 million civilian deaths. The heaviest loss of life for a single day occurred on 1 July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, when the British Army suffered 57,470 casualties.

“We are hoping that our special stories to coincide with Armistice 90 will reawaken ex-readers’ interest in a title many of them will have thought no longer existed," explains Editor Calum Laird, "and awaken an interest in younger readers looking for action and adventure stories in a format less intimidating that a full-length novel.

“If our stories give an authentic taste of kind of experiences the people who will be honoured this month went through, we’ll be very pleased”

• Four of the special Armistice 90 books go on sale on 13 November, the other four on 27 November 2008.

Read an interview with Commando editor Calum Laird
Visit the official Commando web site
Visit the Poppy Appeal web site
Armistice 90 at the Imperial War Museum
BBC Guide to Remembrance Sunday events in the UK

Covers of Commando Issue 4150 and Issue 4152 courtesy and © DC Thomson.

* Russia doesn't observe Armistice Day because for that country the war ended in March 1918 with the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

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