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Saturday, 22 November 2008

Tube Surfing: A Thought Bubble Comic Con Special

It's been a week since the Thought Bubble comic con' in Leeds and it seems that the fuss is only just beginning to die down, with many exhibitors and punters naming it as their con of the year!

"There was a great atmosphere to the day, loads of great exhibitors, a varied, chatty and interested crowd and events and talks aplenty," says Manchester-based cartoonist Adam Cadwell. "I had a brilliant day."

Meanwhile, for those who didn't make the con (or even those who did and want a different perspective on the event) a whole host of reports have sprung up online. Comics reviewer Richard Bruton, writing at his own blog Fictions and at the Forbidden Planet International Blog, calls Thought Bubble "...a triumph of a con." He also noted how much his daughter Molly enjoyed the day (she managed to pick up some great sketches from several ace cartoonists including Dave Windett, Oliver East and Simone Lia; said sketches are posted at Fictions here).

Writer Kieron Gillen also had a great time. He was a little worried that after he'd bigged up last year's event to all his comics mates, this year might prove to be a bit of a let-down. But, at least as far as he was concerned, it wasn't.

"It was just really fun," writes Kieron over at his blog. "The one day model struck me as perfect for England. You’d think the 2 day would be better, but with a country our size, it’s about all it can support. Also, it works towards creating a critical mass of people."

And what about downthetubes. What did our roving reporter, Matt Badham, make of the event?

"I hate cons," says Matt, "so imagine my surprise when I had a ball. It just had the best atmosphere, with cosplayers and small pressers and industry pro's all seemingly intent on pursuing one goal: having fun. Throw in some small press wrestling hi-jinks and an impromptu disco that took place at the after party (with the 'cooler people' preferring to drink and gamble downstairs in the main casino area) and the con completely defied my expectations by just being a blast. And the fact that the party took place in a porntastic, Ocean's 11-style casino that had to be seen to be believed was inspired!

"Even the official hotel screwing up my booking and then giving us a room with dirty sheets couldn't spoil the weekend," he added.

• Further Thought Bubble con reports and photos can be found at the following links from Ben Powis, Gronk Comics (who actually didn't have a good day), Cy Dethan, Darth Mongoose, D'Israeli, Francesca Cassaveti, Flying Monkey Comics, John Scrivens, Insominia Comics, Marc Ellerby, Leigh Gallagher, Oliver East and Rob Jackson.

Friday, 21 November 2008

British Zombies Boom!

A few months ago, up and coming British comics artist Paul Harrison-Davies promised a sneak peak of a comic he was working on before finding out sneak peaks were not allowed.

"Well, I'm told the comic's out so I guess I can talk about it," he announces on his blog. "The story is called 'Etc' and it's in Boom Studio's Zombie Tales #7. I've not had a copy yet, but you might be able to find it in your local comic shop.

"The script was written by Shane Oakley and I was happy to find Shane's scripts have the same dark over the top humour as his awesome artwork.

I'm not going to give anything away more than this first page shows, if you like it, track down a copy of Zombie tales to find out how it ends."

Shane, who has had his comp copies, also provided an alternate cover for the issue, which he's featured on his blog and also reveals of his script: "I scribbled it down in response to my increasing disenchantment with the ever-uninspiring glut of zombie movies/comics. The genre ran outta ideas a long time back, and really, the majority haven't moved past Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Same story, same idea, same stock characters. Stories that seem to take an age just to lead you nowhere, and stories that deliver nothing but a dreary sense of deja vu...

"i wanted to have some fun with the undead, play around, try to add a little invention to the genre, and do it quick (only six pages)!"

Tube Surfing: 21 November 2008

King Features Syndicate, the world’s premier distributor of comics (including Hagar the Horrible, Popeye and more), columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles and games to newspapers worldwide, is launching Comics Kingdom, a first-of-its-kind digital platform it says provides a revenue-driving business service to help local news web site publishers foster user engagement and attract marketers.

• Meanwhile, rival US didgital comics distributor UClick Digital Entertainment, considered America’s top provider of comics on mobile phones recently launched Jeff Smith's Bone, the first of many graphic novels planned for release on the iPhone. Uclick say they have tailored series like Bone and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles specifically for the iPhone, taking full advantage of the full-color LCD screen and Multi-touch display. Fans can move back and forth through stories with a simple swipe of their finger. To learn more Bone and other iPhone releases from Uclick, visit their store on iTunes

• Not all is good in the world of digital comics. Website Fleen notes the news from Comic Book Resources that Platinum Studios, owmers of the Druk Duck webcomics site, have entered into a deal to produce a Hero By Night TV show. If you you haven't heard of Hero By Night, it's a very successful web comic on the Drunk Duck service created by a guy named DJ Coffman... who, as of this writing, hasn’t actually been contacted by Platinum regarding said deal. Needless to say, it's made Coffman even nore upset about Platinum's antics than before, and that must have been really hard...

• Comics artist Rufus Dayglo has posted a report and pictures from the Opening Night of the Mutate Britain exhibition we plugged earlier this month. "You've got to go and check it out, he urges, enthusing about the exhibtion which is spread over four floors."It's on for a month, and is incredible." Mutate Button: Behind the Shutters takes place at Cordy House 87-95 Curtain Rd London EC2A 3BS More information about the Mutate Britain Exhibition on MySpace

• Gets Baking! To celebrate the impending release of A Matter of Loaf and Death this Christmas, the official Wallace & Gromit website has had a design "bake-over". Packed with information about the new film, brand new downloads and cracking recipes, make sure you visit the site at:

Warren Ellis has taken time out of comics writing to deny, utterly and completely, rumours that he has been asked to write for the Heroes TV series. "I don’t know where this has sprung from, but for the last week I’ve been fielding emails and MySpace messages asking me if it’s true that I’ve been asked to work on the American tv series Heroes as a writer," he says. "Even stranger to me is that when I dismiss it with 'I don’t even watch the show' or similar, that’s somehow taken (three times now) as cryptic assent.
"So listen. No, I haven’t been approached to write an episode of Heroes. In no way shape or form has there been any kind of contact from the Heroes production. I doubt anyone working there has even heard of me..."

• The next UK Comic Expo Bristol will be 9th - 10th May 2009. With the credit crunch biting and potential sponsorship on the wane, organiser Mike Allwood has announced the event will only take place in the Ramada Hotel.
The time it takes to organise the event is also causing probelms. "My spare time in the foreseeable future is going to limited owing to my real job," Mike told Terry Hooper, "and the Expo takes forever to put together. Rather than the show being less than the sum of its parts owing to my commitments we are taking a step back for 2009 and are co-producing with Fantasy Events for this one." For more information visit

Hine, Braithwaite on Brave and Bold

British creators David Hine and Dougie Braithwaite team up on DC Comics Brave and the Bold title for the next four issues, delivering a story which begins with a strange child channeling the Green Lantern oath and scrawls it on a wall, a summons from forces located in another galaxy.

A fantastic civilization that has its own Green Lantern requires immediate aid and their only chance for survival rests in the hands of Hal Jordan and the Phantom Stranger.

The comic is available from all good comic shops in the UK and the US.

"This is one I'm really proud of," David posted recently."If you were into Brave and Bold in the Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams period, that's the spirit we were trying to recapture. Like those old B and B stories, you can pick it up cold and enjoy it for what it is, a good old-fashioned story with a solid science-fiction background, plenty of drama and some very cool depictions of alien races and environments from Dougie."

The story was Dougie's last job before he signed his exclusive deal for Marvel Comics.

"I've known Dougie for many years," says David. "I actually inked one of his strips for Marvel UK back when Dougie was first starting out and we've been wanting to collaborate again for a long time, so we pitched this book at the beginning of 2007. It has actually been finished for a while but we had to wait for a slot on the Brave and Bold monthly.

Over on Newsarama, David explains both he and Dougie are both big fans of the body of work that Neal Adams produced for DC in the late 1960s and early '70s. "We wanted to recapture something of the excitement of those books: The Brave and the Bold, the Deadman series in Strange Adventures, the Green Lantern and Green Arrow series written by Denny O’Neil.

"If we’ve been successful, the story will recreate the appeal that DC comics had for Dougie and I when we were kids. While the Waid/Perez run on The Brave and the Bold is a tip of the hat to the Silver Age, we’re looking to acknowledge our love of the watershed era at the end of the '60s, when realism began to enter mainstream comics, spearheaded by Neal Adams. I guess what you’d call the Bronze Age, although I don’t like that term. It sounds like a poor third place after Gold and Silver. For me it’s the real Golden Age.

"We wanted to do a story we could really sink our teeth into and create a whole alien world as a setting. Dougie's art on this one is some of the best work he has done."

The story will run for four months, to be followed by J. Michael Straczynski as new regular Brave and Bold writer.

David is now busy with many other projects, while Dougie, whose recent projects have included Secret Invasion: Thor, continues with Marvel projects.

"Right now I’m concentrating on my writing for an upcoming vampire book from Radical Comics," David told Comics Bulletin recenty. " That’s a really exciting project. Radical have a rare enthusiasm and vision for the comic book medium. They look set to become one of the major players in the next couple of years.

"I'm also developing some things for Top Cow and Image. One of those will be a one-shot for Elephantmen, which I’m drawing as well as writing. Richard Starkings, the creator of Elephantmen is the only man who can persuade me back to the drawing board these days and he’s foolishly letting me loose on his pride and joy.

"I also want to do something with the genius of British comics, Shaky Kane. We’re still in the early stages of throwing ideas at one another. I’m pretty sure it will involve dead superheroes, a bulletproof coffin and a cave girl in a bikini.

• Click the box left to order Brave and the Bold #19 from sellers
Read an interview with David Hine about the story on Newsarama
Read an interview with David Hine about Brave and the Bold on Comics Bulletin

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Commando Webbing

The backroom boffins on the Commando Mag website have been adding to the site and trying a few new tactics to entice readers to enter on a regular basis.

The ongoing series of Commando cover wallpapers chosen by editor Calum Laird and taken from the original artwork have now reached Batch 14 which includes this RAF tail gunner defending his Lancaster from Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-88 night fighters. This artwork by Ian Kennedy is typically dynamic and accurate and also shows how the rightmost two thirds of the image becomes the front cover while the left third is wrapped around onto the rear cover.

Less accurate but just as dynamic are the printed covers from the original 24 issues of the title from 1961 and 1962. This is a new idea on the site with the covers appearing as pop-ups complete with their original back cover blurb - blurb that might be a little strong for more modern sensibilities when describing the enemy combatants. Most of these covers are the work of Ken Barr and the cover artist, interior artist and writer for each of the 24 issues are also listed. Hopefully this feature will be popular enough on the site to continue.

Finally, the third on-line Commando has begun. Buccaneer Bob, R.N. is a naval story originally published as issue 618 in January 1972 and reprinted as issue 1740 in October 1983. It was scripted by R.A. 'Monty' Montague with both the cover and interior artwork by Gordon Livingstone. Rather than a slide show of single images as per the previous two on-line stories, this Commando has not been reformatted and is presented as a series of original pages including the wraparound cover and so reads much more like the published version.

The official Commandomag website can be found here.

Name, Rank and Issue Number!

In 1992, Scott Montgomery was at the Glasgow Comics Convention listening to writer Alan Grant as he gave advice on how to get into comics. Today, Scott is chief sub-editor on DC Thomson's Commando comic, having previously worked on The Dandy and having written for as diverse companies as Rebellion, Marvel UK and BBC Radio.

Jeremy Briggs talks to Scott about the wide range of periodicals that he has worked on, as well as his radio work and his first novel, and finds out just what Alan Grant's advice at GLASCAC was... Read the interview on the downthetubes main site

Cartoon Art Trust Award Winners Announced

The 14th Cartoon Art Trust Awards were presented at an entertaining fundraising dinner at The Mall Galleries in London yesterday, an event which celebrates and coincides with the opening of Giles – One of the Family exhibition at The Cartoon Museum. Here are the winners...

Martin Rowson, Chairman of the British Cartoonists Association introduced the winners of the Young Cartoonist of the Year Awards and presented the Under 18 award to Emilia Franklin and the Under 30 award to James Hood, who was British Cartoonists’ Association ‘Young Cartoonist of the Year’ in 2007.

• Giles' Grandma (aka Libby Purves) presented The Joke Award, sponsored by The Daily Telegraph to Hove-based cartoonist Grizelda, whose cartoons and strips have featured in publications such as The Sunday Times, Private Eye, The Big Issue and The Oldie.

• Simon Hoggart presented the Strip Cartoon Ward, sponsored by Private Eye, to London-based cartoonist Stephen Collins, whose work appears in titles such as the The Times (which regularly features his caricatures), The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal and NME. Stephen specialises in contemporary caricature, general editorial illustration and cartoons. He is currently working on a longer comic, "more a graphic novel really", he reveals on his blog, "though I'm just dipping my toe in the water by contributing a five-page tester-section of it to an anthology of artists under the loose title of 'Landscapes'."

• Kenneth Baker presented the Pocket Award, sponsored by The Daily Mail, to Jeremy 'Banx' Banks of the Financial Times. Banx, who has been the FT's daily cartoonist since 1989, will perhaps best known to regular downthtubes readers for his contributions to the 1980s humour comic Oink, but his strips have also appeared in Private Eye, She, the Mail on Sunday, the News Statesman and numerous other newspapers. His books include The Dewsburys: Scenes from a Suburban Marriage... and The Many Deaths of Norman Spittal.

• Peter Brookes presented the Caricature Award, sponsored by The Times, to Nicola Jennings of The Guardian.
Nicola originally trained as a theatre designer and started her professional life working backstage and designing for opera. Her caricature work began with The London Daily News in 1987 and she has since worked for The Daily Mirror, The Observer and The Guardian, which publishes her work on its web site here.

• Kenneth Clarke MP presented the Saatchi Political Award to Nicholas Garland of The Daily Telegraph.
The Telegraph’s first political cartoonist in 1966, he has produced work for them ever since and his cartoons have also appeared in The Independent, The New Statesman and The Spectator. His long-running comic strip Barry McKenzie, co-created with Barry Humphries, ran in Private Eye from 1964 to 1974.
In 2005 he illustrated The Coma, written by his son Alex.
"One of the phrases that cropped up often when we were talking was 'Too much information – you don't need all that.'" he told the Telegraph on its release, "and there’s always this question of taking it out. And eventually, I get right down to what I think is the thing, and I show it to Alex, and he says 'You can take that out too'."
His work is just part of the massive additions being planned for the online version of the British Carton Archive at the Univeristy of Kent, announced earlier this month (see news story).

• Anita O’Brien, Curator of The Cartoon Museum, presented The Pont Prize for drawing the British Character to Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor of the Daily Telegraph for Alex. Recently 'Alex Masterly' and Clive's adventures have ranged from Narnia to that pest of modern City life - the Blackberry. The strip has run since 1987 - an outstanding achievement. Alex was 25 then (he is now presumably 46!).
Peattie, who studied painting at St Martin's School of Art, worked as a portrait painter in the 1980s, then as a freelance cartoonist and designer of greetings cards. He also produced (with Mark Warren) the legendary Dick cartoon in Melody Maker. As well as Alex, he's currently developing comedy scripts for a number of TV projects. Russell met Charles at a Christmas party in 1986. who had a commission for a strip for the financial pages of the incipient London Daily News. The result was Alex.
The Pont Award for drawing the British Character was set up five years ago in memory of Graham Laidler, whose brilliant series ‘ The British Character’ in the 1930s and 40s are still as wonderfully funny as when he drew them seventy years ago. He died tragically young aged 32 in 1940.

• Finally, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell presented The Lifetime Achievement Award to Raymond Briggs, who is widely admired as a cartoonist, illustrator and teacher.
The creator of the acclaimed books The Snowman, Father Christmas and When the Wind Blows, like Bryan Talbot he has been responsible for some of the earliest British ‘graphic novels’, long before the term or the form was generally known. He has been praised by Posy Simmonds for producing work which is ‘not only passionate but also tender and funny.’
Previous winners of the award have included, Ronald Searle, Gerald Scarfe, Fluck and Law and ‘Trog’.

• The Giles - One of the Family exhibition at the Museum, which runs until 15th February 2009, showcases the work of Carl Giles (1916-1995), the most famous cartoonist of his generation and creator of the much-loved ‘Giles Family’. Born during the First World War in Islington, he was the son of a tobacconist and grandson of a jockey who had ridden for Edward VII. He joined the Daily Express in 1943 where he would create his quintessentially British ‘Giles Family’ headed by the redoubtable Grandma. For many people his cartoons capture British life in microcosm, and perhaps for this reason Giles was voted Britain’s Favourite Cartoonist of the 20th century in a 2000 poll.

The exhibition of over 80 works includes wonderful colour covers as well as drawings never reproduced in the annuals. His studio is recreated complete with desk, drawing board, reference material and many of the dozens of toys given to him, some made by his fans. Also revealed are less familiar aspects of his career including his time as an animator, his propaganda work for the Ministry of Information and his work as cartooning war correspondent for the Express.

• More information about the exhibition at:

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Oliver Frey at ComICA

Exciting news just in: outstanding illustrator Oliver Frey, whose work includes The Trigan Empire has agreed to join the Great British Comics panel at ComICA next Sunday (23rd November), London to discuss his work, which is featured in David Roach's new artbook from Carlton, The Art of War.

Described as one of the most important artists working in the medium of commercial illustration, Frey worked on some of Britain’s greatest comic institutions -- the Fleetway War Picture Library, Dan Dare in Eagle, and The Trigan Empire in Look & Learn (as well as providing many stunning illustrations) following the departure of Don Lawrence. He also created the 1930s-style opening sequence for the film Superman: The Movie.

But for an entire generation of boys in the 1980s, it's Frey’s exuberant art on the covers of cult computer games magazines such as Crash and ZZap that came to express the sheer excitement of the games they played — heroes, space ships, villains and action!

Don't miss this rare opportunity to meet one of the legends of British comics art, who will be signing this book and his own, The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey, after the panel, 3.30-4pm in the ICA Bar.

The panellists at the Great British Comics event will be discussing how the comics of our childhoods stand up to today. Boyfriend, Eagle, Battle, Rick Random and more are being reappreciated thanks to a wave of compilations, artbooks and studies. Steve Holland, David Leach, David Roach and Frey examine the creators behind these wizard wheezes and ripping yarns.

In the second part, cartoonists Adam Brockbank, John and Patrice Aggs, Gary Northfield and Sarah McIntyre from new weekly The DFC compare notes on how to make comics appeal to 21st century kids.

• Tickets cost £6/£5 Concessions / £4 ICA Members.

Click here to book tickets for the Great British Comics event

DFC in Tescos Next Week!

The DFC, the weekly British comic until now only available on subscription is to be trialled in a major British supermarket next week.

The DFC is normally only available by subscription, but for one week only (26th November to 2nd December) it will be on sale in Tesco stores for just £1.99: a fantastic way to sample this top comic and get kids reading.

Packed with original stories, fantastic comic strips, games, puzzles, jokes and more, The DFC is created by the crème de la crème of British talent such as acclaimed authors Philip Pullman and Peadar O'Guilin as well as children's book illustrator Nick Sharratt and comic greats Dave Shelton, Sarah McIntyre and Neill Cameron. It has absolutely no advertising and is 36 pages of pure story.

"I think it's a great chance for anyone who's been curious about The DFC but hasn't yet jumped onboard and subscribed to check it out for themselves," says contributor Neill Cameron, who draws Mob-Bot High for the title.

News on the Tesco trial has met with mixed reaction from some comics fans and retailers. While welcoming the chance for The DFC to be seen by a wider audience, some have complained the publishers have side stepped the core comic audience that could be reached via specialist comic stores.

Personally, while I'm not a fan of all supermarkets' usual policy of "cherry picking" only the best selling book and magazine titles for their shelves, thereby threatening the sales of smaller busineses, I think these complaints are baseless. For a start, because of the way newstand comics are distributed in the UK, few comic shops stock them -- including best selling titles such as The Beano and Simpsons Comics -- so their customers would not necessarily expect to find The DFC in store.

Secondly, publisher David Fickling has already said he would be happy to explore that option (you can read his views on The DFC's subscription-only distribution here on the main downthetubes site) but so far, downthetubes has yet to hear of one comics disttributor or major comic stroe chain that has offered to stock it. (If they have, then we'll be happy to mention it on these pages).

• For more information on The DFC go to

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Tube Surfing: 18 November 2008

• Happy Birthday, Alan Moore. The comics legend and mage, writer of Top Ten, Lost Girls, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Swamp Thing, Doctor Who, Maxwell the Magic Cat, Watchmen and much, much more is 55 today.

• (via Kasterborous): Would you blink if you saw a Weeping Angel? If the answer is yes, then be careful when you pick up this week’s copy of Doctor Who Adventures. There are a couple of dangerous Weeping Angels on the cover – plus a free spinning Angel and stickers for you to play with. Inside the magazine, you’ll find a fact file about these lonely creatures, so you will be completely prepared if you ever run into one...

• Comics writer David Bishop reports that the planned six-episode series of Phoo Action destined for BBC3 has been canned. "It's emerged that the six-part series has been cancelled," he reports of the show co-created by Jamie Hewlett, "not long before filming was due to start. Six figure sums have been spent building sets and costumes, hiring actors and production staff. Reading between the lines, it seems developing good scripts from the slight source material proved too great a challenge. Someone took the brave step of pulling the plug, before more money was spent."

Tim Perkins wass among the first creators to offer a review of this weekend's Thought Bubble Comic Convention in Leeds. "It really was a fun event with lots going on," he reports. "I'm very much looking forward to attending next year’s event – maybe with a full-blown Wizards Keep stand. Nic Wilkinson from Insomnia also reports on the event here. "This is a fantastic show with a really great atmosphere," she feels. "It seemed more creator focussed than other cons and we met a lot of very talented people, all of whom had many unique and interesting ideas they wanted to talk to us about."
"Personally I thought it was an absolutely excellent convention," reports Richard Bruton on the Forbidden Planet International blog, adding to the accoladed for the event. "It had far fewer comic dealers and a much higher proportion of comic people there which helped to give it a fantastic buzz."

Den of Geek has published a list of 75 comics-inspired films currently in one or other stage of development for film. Those with British connections include The Leading Man (slated for 2011 release), described as, effectively, a combination of The Saint, Jason King and The Persuaders from Wanted producer Mark Platt; Mark Millar's Kick Ass (2009); Warren Ellis's 2003 thriller Red (2010), the first DC property to leave the fold for other producers; Ocean (2010), also from Warren, described as an alien thriller with a fresh take on the origin of man; and Gamekeeper, which was written by former 2000AD editor Andy Diggle.
The site also reports that the planned Tin Tin trilogy based around Hergé's 1930s gee-whiz reporter is apparently having trouble getting started considering that Spielberg and Peter Jackson are involved.

• Comics artist Dave Taylor has completed the art for the mammoth Judge Dredd Christmas 2008 story and posted a few more tantalising panels on his blog. "It seems my days of not inking are over!" he notes. "I've really enjoyed inking this strip and have decided (for now) to continue to work in this way. I'm sure a job will come along at some point that I'll decide would look better just in pencil, but for now I'm sticking with my trusty Pilot Fineliner!

Jason Kingsley, owner of 2000AD and its parent, games company Rebellion, was recently interviewed by about the future for the company. He notes the rise of console digital distribution is "a real challenge.
"It's fascinating - what do clients want?" he asked during an interview at Game Connection in Lyon."We've been looking at digitally distributing 2000AD, and that's worked quite well as an experiment. It's made us some money, and we want to do more around that."
Kingsley also discussed the possibility of a Massive Multyiplayer Game based on Mega City One. "It's not impossible," he mused. "The MMO market is really intriguing, and we keep looking at it and thinking, 'Bloody Hell, that's potentially fantastic.'
"And given that we've got quite a lot of intellectual property, an MMO of maybe Mega-City One might be fascinating, with Judges and Perps and all that sort of stuff - it might be a perfect opportunity," he opined. "But getting to grips with it, it's a fairly specialist area, and it's higher risk than making ordinary games. We're just not in the market for taking that kind of extreme risk yet. Yet... But who knows, stuff changes." Read the full interview

• Talking of interviews, John Freeman, keeper of downthetubes and writer of Ex Astris for Spaceship Away was recently interviewed by his local paper, the Morecambe Visitor, who did British comics proud with a two page spread that even included a plug for local comic shop, First Age. You can read the interview "Comic Book Heroes are Fighting Back" online. (We're aware that the sales figures for The Beano are wrong...)

• Along with the latest sales figure for British graphic novels on, Steve Holland has just posted a super collection of book covers that have graced the work of EE Doc Smith on Bear Alley. "Starting with The Skylark of Space, I lapped these up when I was 14 and 15," he notes. "Along with novels and stories by Jack Williamson and A. E. Van Vogt, these were my first real exposure to American pulp fiction, which led to reading about the old pulps and, in particular, a fantastic set of books called The History of the Science Fiction Magazine by Mike Ashley." Steve is currently working on Sci-Fi Art: a Graphic History, due for release in January 2009.

Billy the Cat Collectable

If you're looking for something a little bit special for the British comic fan in your life this Christmas, how about one of these limited edition Beano & Dandy figurines from Robert Harrop?

Billy the Cat, Cuddles and other characters have joined the figure range from the company, which recently moved into The Mill Building at the old Jackfield Tile Works in Shifnal, Shropshire.

The new works are not only more suitable for the figurine producing company whose licensed products also include characters from Thunderbirds, Stingray and The Clangers, but now Robbert Harrop has a history spanning well over twenty years, the company felt being part of a Shropshire heritage site is also "most appropriate".

While their collectable figurines are available from stockists worldwide, Robert Harrop will be opening and on site shop to one and all at The Mill Building on the 29th November, offering their complete catalogue available to view and purchase.

"This we feel is incredibly necessary in a world where many of our collectors do not get the chance to see our efforts in the flesh," said a company spokesperson. "It will also give you the opportunity to discuss personally your own wishes for future releases."

The company hopes to have a substantial number of their archive pieces on permanent display as a catalogue of all the figurines we have produced for over two decades from April 2009 onewards at the store. "This will take many months to complete and will constantly evolve, establishing a vital source of information for both existing and prospective collectors alike."

• More information at:

Kev's Comic Art MasterClass: 2009 Dates

Beano comics artist Kev Sutherland has been in touch to say he has a fair cluster of his Comic Art Masterclasses in 2009 that will be open to the public, rather than just being in schools and colleges.

Wednesday 18th February - New Milton Library. Tel: 01264 353063
Thursday 19th February - South Ham Library. Tel: 01252 516458
Saturday 21st February - Chipping Norton Theatre. Tel: 01608 642350
Saturday 21st March - Quay Arts Isle Of Wight. Tel: 01983 822490
Sunday 5th April - Norden Farm Park, Maidenhead. Tel: 01628 682565

Book your places now. "If you want to have me come to an art centre, library, or school near you, just ask and I'd be glad to," says Kev. "I cost little more than a supply teacher for the day. I can work with two groups in a school day, up to 30 in each group, any age from seven (year 3) upwards.

"By the end of each session the group has produced a comic containing a strip by every single one of them, a copy of which they take home, plus I've drawn a caricature of every one of them (I
can even draw all the staff if there's time).

• You can see examples of Kev's workshops, and videos of him in action (including my recent appearance on BBC1's The One Show) at

Creature Comforts USA Released on DVD

Creature Comforts USA: Complete Series 3 has just been released on DVD in the UK by 2Entertain, offering more unscripted voices of the great American public hilariously brought to life with animated animals and wildlife.

Based on Aardman Animation's original Oscar-winning short and the hit UK TV show, the seven episodes featured on Creature Comforts USA Complete Series 3 have yet to be broadcast in the UK and are exclusive to DVD.

The series first aired on CBS in the US, but the network pulled the show after just only three of its six episodes aired, much to the dismay of many Aardman fans in the States. All of the episodes, including the unaired ones, were then aired on Animal Planet earlier this year.

Animals again give their insightful opinions on some seriously funny subjects in seven brilliant episodes from the show, including views on Pets At The Vet, Winter and Fears & Phobias.

The cast of native American animals who fit the voices include Paul and Glenda the house cats, Jordi the Penguin, Jared and Hannah the Mule & Horse, Mogabe and Tokombu the Street Dogs, Heather the Hippo and Robin the Angel Fish.

• Aardman are currently working on a new Wallace & Gromit film, Trouble At’ Mill, set to air on BBC1 this Christmas. In the new half hour story, Wallace and Gromit have a brand new business: baking bread, with 62 West Wallaby Street now a granary with ovens and robotic kneading arms. Huge mixing bowls are all over the place and everything is covered with a layer of flour. On the roof is a ‘Wallace patent-pending’ old-fashioned windmill. The transformation is perfect.

But, although business is booming, Gromit is concerned by the news that 12 local bakers have ‘disappeared’ this year – but Wallace isn’t worried. He’s too distracted and ‘dough-eyed’ in love with local beauty and bread enthusiast, Piella Bakewell, to be of much help.

While they enjoy being the ‘Toast of the Town’, Gromit, with his master’s life in jeopardy, must be the sleuth and solve the escalating murder mystery - in what quickly becomes a ‘Matter of Loaf and Death’.

Creature Comforts USA Complete Series 3 is on sale now

Star Trek XI Official Trailer

... do I need to say more?

Response as always is mixed so far from fans but it looks superb...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Ken Barr Prints On Sale and comics artist Ken Barr have jointly pubished a limited edition art print, "Para Sarg" painted by Ken.

The release is the first of a planned series of limited edition prints based on great British regiments and landmark battles and campaigns. The next planned print in this series will be based on the Long Range Desert Group.

Ken Barr is an internationally renowned graphic artist with over 50 years' experience, who has worked for publishers such as D C Thomson, Marvel Comics, DC, Warren, Random House, and many others. He is probably best known in the UK for his classic images on the covers of many of the early Commando comics, including issue No. 1.

Ken is also highly regarded for his accurate portrayal of military aircraft scenes, many of which graced the covers of early Commando comics.

Future print releases will see work featuring Ken Barr military aircraft paintings: a series of Battle of Britain prints is planned for 2009.

"Para Sarg" is a high quality A3 size print on 350 gram art paper, strictly limited to 275 prints, with each edition individually numbered and signed by Ken Barr.

• The print retails for £29.99 plus post and packing direct from
• Ken Barr's official website:

Lloyd in London - New Exhibition Announced

The work of Kickback and V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd will feature in an exhibition in London in December.

"Kickback - An Exhibition of the Dynamic Sequential Art of David Lloyd" runs from 4th until the 23rd December at the New End Gallery in Hampstead and features art from Night Raven: House of Cards, Marlowe, The Territory, The Horrorist, War Stories, Aliens: Glass Corridor and his acclaimed crime graphic novel Kickback.

All original art pages are for sale.

• The New End Gallery is at 27 Carnegie House, New End, Hampstead, London, NW3 1JE Tel: 020 7443 5557 Web Link:

Gaiman's "Coraline" Strangest Film Ever?:

(with thanks to Chris Taormina): FilminFocus, an editorial site on film culture recently launched by Focus Features, has published an article on the upcoming animated adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novella Coraline, which was adapted into a graphic novel by Craig Russell.

The article, Coraline and the other Imaginary Worlds, offers an overview of the world of Coraline and other famous dreamscapes such as Alice in Wonderland and Narnia.

The site also includes an overview of Neil's career, drawn largely from various interviews.

In Coraline, the eponymous heroine discovers a new world by accident. Having just moved into a new house in a new neighbuorhood, the inquisitive 12-year old girl is hungry for adventure and friendship -- neither of which her busy self-employed parents can give her. All they have time for is work, leaving Coraline free to explore her curious new home, which contains in one room a strange doorway whose entryway is bricked up. Late at night, she returns to find the brick wall gone and in its place an open portal to another world, a universe that seems almost a reflection of her own.

Produced by Laika Entertainment, director and screen writer Henry Selick’s new 3-D stop-motion animated feature based on Coraline is due for release in February 2009 in the US. Dakota Fanning provides the voice of Coraline who encounters oddball counterparts of her real friends and family such as the morbidly funny Miss Forcible (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Spink (Dawn French), and a counterfeit mother (Teri Hatcher) who attempts to keep her.

Ultimately, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home.

Selick (whose credits include James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone) was in New York recvently with footage of the film and gave a brief Q&A, alongside producer Bill Mechanic, lead animator Travis Knight and costar Ian McShane, as reported on ComicMix.

Selick mentioned how well he and Gaiman communicated often and positively on the project and that Gaiman was often on the set and all of his notes were “easy to fix and completely justifiable”.

Gaiman himself has described the film as "3-D stop-motion extravaganza".

"It's the biggest, most strange, expressive, peculiar, enormous stop-motion film I think that's ever been made," Gaiman told in a video interview. "Everything is created, everything is handmade."

D3Publisher will release a video game based on the film for Nintendo DS, Wii and Playstation 2 consoles, scheduled to be released on 27th January, in close proximity to the film's theatrical release in the US. A musical is also on the way.

• Official web site:
• Mystery site: (password protected)

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