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Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

The final Christmas cover and a cover that just screams Seventies at you.

Since the cover date was 25 December 1977 Look and Learn Plus Speed and Power went all out with this gem from artist Ron Embleton. Having presumably finished his rounds, Santa enjoys a trip on what many young children must have also been playing on that Christmas, a skateboard. Not, of course, one of the long wooden and heavily illustrated boards of today but one of those small garishly coloured plastic boards with their brightly coloured wheels that we all spent more time falling off than staying on that Christmas.

Merry Christmas for 2008.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas: 1 Day To Go

After the less than peaceful image of yesterday our Christmas covers look to their feminine side.

Ian Kennedy is the artist once again but from DC Thomson's long running "For Girls" title Bunty and a far cry it is from Kennedy's more traditional DCT duty providing war covers for Commando.

By Christmas 1990 Bunty had moved away from DCT's tradition newsprint onto higher quality paper which allowed for full colour rather than four colour covers. Here we have Bunty favourites The Four Mary's caroling in front of their St Elmo's school.

From all the team here at downthetubes, "We wish you a Merry Christmas".

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Primeval Greetings!

Card and wrapping paper company Gemma International are to launch a range of greeting cards inspired by top ITV show Primeval in January.

LicnesingBiz reports the collection will consist of age cards for six to nine year-olds, a no-age card, a sticker card, a moving picture card, a pop-up card, male relations and gift wrap.

The range will launch in January to catch the start of the third season of Primeval, which is due to begin broadcasting from February on ITV.

With all this interest in the show, can a comic-magazine be far behind from some savvy publisher?

Eagle Times Vol 21 No 4 Now Available

The Christmas issue of the fanzine devoted to the original Eagle comic, Eagle Times, published by The Eagle Society, is now available.

Volume 21 Issue 4 includes articles on artists Tony Weare and Ian Kennedy, the first part of a series of features on Frank Bellamy's Heros the Spartan, beginning a review of Eagle's popular 1960s sword and sorcery strip.

The issue's "I was there" feature covers the launch of Denis Gifford's Ally Sloper Magazine in 1976 and there's more onthe title's 2nd issue dummy, including Norman Thelwell's Pop Milligan and Frank Hampson's The Great Adventurer.

Joan Porter's recollections of the Bakehouse Studio in the 1950s also feature, as does Part two of The Career of Ian Kennedy from the eighties to the new millennium.

Membership of The Eagle Society is via Annual Subscription to Eagle Times magazine, which is published four times annually. The Subscription rate for 2009 is UK £22, Overseas £34 (paymenst must be in £s Sterling, please)

To join, apply by mail to: Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2UA United Kingdom. Enquiries:

More information on the new issue via the Eagle Times blog

Merry Christmas: 2 Days To Go

Two days to go to Christmas and a slight cheat on our Christmas cover today in that it is the cover of an annual rather than a weekly title. That said Christmas covers on war comics are few and far between and it is an Ian Kennedy painting on the Warlord annual for Christmas 1984.

It is set forty years before in Christmas 1944 and Royal Marine Union Jack Jackson is fighting the Germans in post D-Day Europe. By this point in the stories he was still attached to the US Marine Corps but by his own choice rather than by circumstance.

The idea of Santa charging with a fixed bayonet is certainly one of the more unusual Christmas covers.

Hinton Memorial Anthology Released

Shelf Life, the tribute anthology dedicated to Doctor Who author Craig Hinton, who sadly died two years ago, is now available.

The memorial anthology, edited by Factor Fiction's Jay Eales, David McIntee and Adrian Middleton is an unofficial collection of illustrated fiction inspired by the Doctor Who fiction of Craig Hinton, who passed away suddenly in 2006 and is dedicated to his memory. All profits will be donated to the British Heart Foundation.

Craig, who passed away on 3rd December 2006, was best known for his Doctor Who spin-off works, which included the novels The Crystal Bucephalus, Millennial Rites, GodEngine, The Quantum Archangel and Synthespians, as well as the Excelis Decays audio play.

Such was the love and affection felt for Craig in the world of Doctor Who that many of his friends and fans felt the need to do something special to remember him by. The result of that need has now been realised in the form of Shelf Life, which contains stories and illustrations from people all around the world, writers and ordinary fans alike.

The list of contributors is enormous, featuring stories by a huge number of SF and Who authors, and includes illustrations by several British comics creators such as D’Israeli, Vince Danks, Jay Eales, Garen Ewing, Laura Howell, Tim Keable, Lee O’Connor, Graeme Neil Reid, Dave Windett and others.

With so many contributions, and so many breakthrough writers, and with each story accompanied by full-page artwork, the editorial team explain it has taken the best part of two years to bring this project to fruition. With slipping deadlines fluctuating between his birthdays and the anniversaries of his death, they're finally in a position to make our tribute available.

Shelf Life is currently available in the following formats via the project's web site:

  • A low resolution .PDF file (9.19MB) available by email (The Shelf Life team are not currently able to provide this in downloadable form). Price £5. Please ensure that your email host has the capacity to receive files of this size.
  • A high resolution electronic .PDF file (49.8MB) burned onto CD. Price £5 + £1.50 post & packaging. Please note high resolution .PDFs cannot be despatched until after Christmas.
  • A 624-page hardback book. Price £18 + £4.40 post & packaging.

To buy any version of the book or for overseas see rates visit the Shelf Life web site:

• Parents of younger Doctor Who fans should note that while none of the content in Shelf Life could be considered offensive, this anthology is aimed at an older readership, and as such may not be suitable for younger readers. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at

Monday, 22 December 2008

New Thunderbirds Merchandise in 2009

It's just been announced that Gerry Anderson's classic puppet series Thunderbirds has been re-licensed to Sci Fi Channel UK.

SCI FI has renewed its license for the 32-episode show, for launch in the spring, and has also taken two additional Gerry Anderson series: all 30 half hour episodes of the junior spy adventure series Joe 90 and the earliest Anderson colour series, Stingray.

New Gerry Anderson series-related merchandise inspired by Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and Stingray is also in development, for release next year.

The three series will broadcast from spring 2009 as part of the network’s primetime line-up.

Meanwhile, BBC Two will re-air Stingray: The Reunion Party at 4.00pm on 28 December, a special compilation episode first shown earlier this year utilising footage found in Japan.

The screening will be followed by the one-hour documentary All About Thunderbirds also screened earlier in 2008. In it, Anderson, together with the show's cast, crew and fans, reflect back on the series and its legacy. The documentary will be followed by a screening of the Thunderbirds episode Attack of the Alligators.

Both Thunderbirds films are set for early morning showings on Channel 4 on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th, with another chance to catch Attack of the Alligators on New Year's Day on BBC2.

The British TV activity comes as ITV Global gears up to relaunch the Thunderbirds consumer-products campaign next year and launch new products for Joe 90 and Stingray.

"Thunderbirds has been entertaining the world for decades and the trusted brand continues to deliver new and dedicated fans to all it touches, including consumer products -- which currently features fashion, toys, Blu-ray DVD and gaming," said Giles Ridge, the head of brand and product development at ITV Global Entertainment in a press release. "We're looking forward to developing new and exciting licensing partnerships with Thunderbirds for 2009."

As we reported earlier this month, the new merchandise includes collections of strips from the classic 1960s comics TV Century 21 and Lady Penelope, which are being published by Reynolds and Hearn in the UK.

Thunderbirds fans may be interested in joining Fanderson, the Gerry Anderson fan club. More info:

Merry Christmas: 3 Days To Go

Just when you though that there couldn't possibly be any Christmas covers that Lew hadn't used in his mammoth, and excellent, coverage of Christmas comics over on Blimey, let us bring you just a few more in this countdown to Christmas (and Doctor Who and Wallace and Gromit).

With three days to go, a big step back in time to Christmas 1936. The Gem was one of the story papers published by Amalgamated Press that pre-date the more modern style of picture strip comics that we are more used to. While its cover image does not appear to tie-in to Christmas, its logo has the inevitable snow and it even goes as far as adding holly into the top corners.

The Hidden Hand was a 19 page text story of Tom Merry and the schoolboys of St Jim's which did take place during the school's Christmas holidays - "Thrill follows thrill throughout this gripping Xmas yarn of Tom Merry & Co on holiday".

The most interesting advert inside is for the batch of AP annuals with 1937 cover dates complete with its schoolboy in double breasted jacket, tie and slicked down hair. "Packed with stories of thrilling adventures, this Annual is splendid value. Its hundred and ninety pages of specially selected fiction provide many hours of wholesome entertainment for the healthy boy of today."

Well it was a different millennium.

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