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Thursday, 4 December 2008

Will Sci-Fi Star George Be King of the Jungle?

George TakeiSci-fi icon George Takei, Star Trek's Mr Sulu, is one of the finalists in this year's series of ITV's hit reality show I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

ITV viewers will discover tomorrow night whether George will beat the other two contestants to make it through to the final, tennis legend Martina Navratilova and former Eastenders star Joe Swash.

Aged 71, George has more than proved to be up to the physical challenges of the show, with his many and varied experiences including skydiving from a 'plane, falling down a steep drop and being taught a bawdy cockney song by fellow star Joe Swash.

Reality TV highlights a person's real character perhaps more than any other type of television show, and it's great to know that George has proved to be a real gentleman. He thoroughly deserves his success in becoming one of the last three from the original group of 12 celebrities.

Dark Inheritance by Roberta Leigh

Over on Bear Alley Steve Holland has put up two previously unrecorded dust jacket illustrations by Frank Bellamy. These are for romance novels, My True Love by Denise Robins and Dark Inheritance by Roberta Leigh, both published by the Valentine Romance Book Club in 1954.

Frank Bellamy of course is one of the best comic artists that Britain has ever produced having worked on Dan Dare in original Eagle, Thunderbirds in TV Century 21 and Garth in the Daily Mirror. His work has appeared in many more places that those publications and Norman Boyd's Frank Bellamy Checklist Blog is well worth reading for the more obscure items that Bellamy has produced.

Roberta Leigh is the professional name of Janey Scott, a novelist and painter who is perhaps best known to us here on downthetubes as the creator of two of the Gerry Anderson puppet series, The Adventures Of Twizzle and Torchy The Battery Boy, and the non-Anderson science fiction puppet series Space Patrol. Comic strips based on all three of these series appeared in various British comics in the 1960s. Twizzle appeared in TV Land, Torchy in Harold Hare's Own Paper and Space Patrol in both TV Comic and The Beezer plus two issues of Super Mag.

As well as writing novels Robert Leigh also wrote storybooks, both softcover and annual style, for children based on her TV series with at least four appearing for Twizzle and nine for Torchy. Due to their age, their intended audience and presumably low print runs, these are amongst the scarcest Gerry Anderson related books and pose a real challenge for collectors to find.

Roberta Leigh's website, which covers her paintings, can be found here while her novels, written under various pseudonyms, can be found here.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Martian Tripod Attacks Cardiff!

Where are Torchwood when you need them? (Probably at a John Barrowman concert.)

The touring version of Jeff Wayne's album The War Of The Worlds, complete with enormous Martian tripod, returns to British stages in June 2009 and they have just added concerts in Cardiff's CIA and London's O2 to their schedule. The tour will take in venues from Aberdeen to Bournemouth.

Based on the 1978 double album, the concert is a live performance of the story and music complete with CGI effects projected onto wide screen behind the orchestra plus an enormous talking head "hologram" representing the album's narrator, the late Richard Burton. For anyone who enjoyed the album over the last thirty years, the concert is both an impressive live recreation of it as well as providing a CGI prequel set on Mars itself.

More details of the tour are on the War of the Worlds website.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Tube Surfing: 2 December 2008

It is not often we would advertise cars here on downthetubes but take a look at this cutaway of a Honda Accord. The artist is Graham Bleathman, more familiar perhaps for creating cutaways of Thunderbirds or other Gerry Anderson creations. Graham turned the inside of the vehicle into numerous rooms with workers in them performing the functions that the car requires. These designs were then passed over to model makers and CGI animators to turn the concept into a 30 second Honda advert entitled All In One Place. More of Graham's designs for the car, and the finished advert, can be found on the Motion Theory website. Other examples of Graham's work can be found on his own website.

The London Evening Standard began reprinting Modesty Blaise strips as of yesterday. The strip is The Gabriel Set-Up written, as all Modesty Blaise newspaper strips were, by Peter O'Donnell with art by Jim Holdaway. This was the third Modesty story originally published in the London Evening Standard beginning in January 1964 and reprinted in the first of Titan's current set of Modesty Blaise softcover reprint books, itself entitled The Gabriel Set-Up. It is good to see a major newspaper printing an adventure strip, even if it is one that is readily available elsewhere, so let's hope that they get good feedback from their readers.
Meanwhile in the new Radio Times, the one with the Doctor Who Christmas special on the cover, artist Graeme Neil Reid has turned mild mannered reporter Andrew Marr into SuperMarr in a four image colour comic strip as part of the magazine's Review Of The Year. Graeme talks about the creation of the strip on his blog I Got No Work Done Today Because... and teases about a new secret project that he is working on.

The Western Fiction Review blog has an interview with Doctor Who cover artist Tony Masero on the subject of his numerous covers for western novels including the Edge and Adam Steele series. Masero produced covers for Target Doctor Who paperbacks as diverse as the first Doctor story The Reign Of Terror, the third Doctor story The Ambassadors Of Death and the sixth Doctor story Terror Of The Vervoids which do receive a passing mention in the interview.

Finally a brief piece of Commando Webbing. Commando and Panini Spiderman writer Ferg Handley is interviewed on the Commando Mag website using questions supplied by Commando readers. In the interview, which is spread over two parts, Ferg talks about his inspiration of writing the war stories and the amount of research that they entail, as well as discussing his recurring Commando characters, Ramsey's Raiders. While Ferg does not have a website or a blog he will be appearing at the Hi-Ex comics convention in Inverness on 14/15 February 2009. Part One of the interview is here, followed by part two here.

(With thanks to Katie Bleathman, Richard Sheaf and Steve Holland)

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