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Friday, 13 February 2009

Garen Ewing Interviewed

Forbidden Planet International has a very special treat for you today, as Matthew Badham sits down for a good, long chat with The DFC and Rainbow Orchid artist Garen Ewing, looking back to what drew him into creating comics, his early work in fanzines, self-publishing and then moving into being a professional write/artist.

Garen has been drawing for fun ever since he could hold a pencil. Since 2003 (-ish) he’s made his living full-time as a cartoonist and illustrator. Read the full interview on the Forbidden Planet International blog here

Hi-Ex in the Highlands This Weekend

Hi-Ex 2, currently Scotland's only comics festival, will be "bigger and better" this weekend when it opens in Eden Court, Inverness, tomorrow.

Organisers Richmond Clements and Vicky Stonebridge are determined to make Hi-Ex and annual event, even though bad weather and heavy snow forced some of the event's star guests to call off their planned appearances last year, the response from the public easily justified the return of the festival for 2009.

"Even with the bad weather, we were surprised by the number of people through the door," Clements told the Inverness Courier this week.

"We had no choice, but to do it again."

While pressure of work and other factors have forced some comic creators who intended to come to the Eden Court event to cancel their appearances, there are still some top guests to entice fans to the Highlands event, including appearances by Strontium Dog writer Alan Grant and artist Frank Quitely.

There will also be a major charity auction which includes signed art from Charlie Adlard and Simon Coleby, workshops and more.

While there have been some guest cancellations, almost a dozen artists and writers who cannot make this year's event have pledged to come to Hi-Ex 2010 if possible.

"We don't want it to get too big," Clements told the Courier, which features a full schedule for the event.

"It's a family event and we want to keep it that way. A lot of big festivals can become a bit impersonal."

The details of the items in the Hi-Ex charity auction are available here.
More details of the convention and its guests are on the Hi-Ex website.
The downthetubes reviews of Hi-Ex 2008 are here and here.

Shades of Milligan

(with thanks to Reuben Willmott): Yesterday, we gave passing mention to Peter Milligan's new project for DC Comics' Vertigo crime line, The Bronx Kill, working with James Romberger.

Coincidentally, Milligan, whose past work includes 2000AD's Bad Company and Shade: The Changing Man and is currently wirting Hellblazer for Vertigo, has just been interviewed on Standard Attrition, the group blog for Vertigo creators.

There, he enthuses about his other new Vertogo title, Greek Street -- a creator-owned title which Vertigo has been developing for six-to-eight months with Milligan and David Felice, which Milligan describes as an "edgy, violent, very sexy re-imagining of some of the classic tales of ancient Greek drama seen through the prism of a tough modern-day London."

Featured here is a promotional image for the book which Felice drew for the New York Comic Con but was not used during the Vertigo panel where the series was announced.

Milligan also talks his approach to writing comics in the short interview and, in passing, about the controversy caused by his Marvel project, Xstatix, remarikng "...I was disappointed with the people higher in the food chain when the uproar about the Princess Diana story broke, and we had to f*** around with it. I thought, you Americans had a revolution so you didn’t have to worry about what our insane and largely inbred bunch of Royals thought..."

Read the interview by G. Willow Wilson
The first issue of Vertigo's Greek Street will be oversized and cost just one dollar. Davide Gianfelice (please note, this blog is in Italian and features adult images), whose credits include Northlanders, will draw the series. "It's fantastic art," Milligan said during a panel at the New York Comic Con

Doctor Who: The Anime

(with thanks to Frank Garcia, via Topless Robot and Japanator): Expect this stunning piece of work to go hugely viral -- and if BBC Worldwide don't pick up the phone to Sheffield-based artist and animator Paul "Otaking" Johnson and offer him a job, they're mad.

Paul is in the process of writing a Doctor Who-inspired anime short -- "It's taking me b***** ages," he says -- and has posted some progress footage from it on YouTube, including the penciling and inking process. The sequences so far feature the Third Doctor roughing up some would-be muggers with a bit of Venusian karate, meeting scantily-clad anime girls, and getting caught in a battle between Daleks and Cybermen.

Anime site Japanator notes Paul tried to create a stir a while back about fansubs -- the practice of creating a fan-produced translated, subtitled version of an anime program, which began back in the 1980s -- with his own brand of animation, and this taster, which also features The Master looks great to us, especially the climactic fight between the Doctor and the Master atop the Tokyo Tower.

The work as it progresses can be seen, as always, on Paul's "Mightyotaking" Deviantart page

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Seventh Doctor's Adventures Collected

Panini, the publishers of Doctor Who Magazine, will release the first volume of the Seventh Doctor's collected adventures in May, compiling eleven stories under the umbrella title A Cold Day in Hell, the comic strip adventure written by Simon Furman, with art by John Ridgway, that pitted the Time Lord and diminutive shape-changing companion Frobisher against the Ice Warriors.

Digitally re-mastered and collected for the first time, also featured are the Doctor's encounter with the original Death's Head in Crossroads to Time, the robot bounty hunter lifted from Transformers universe and sent on his way to his new home in the early Marvel US-styled title, Dragon's Claws.

The full list of strips featured -- every Seventh Doctor strip from Doctor Who Magazine Issues 130-150 inclusive is as follows:

• A Cold Day in Hell by Simon Furman, pencils by John Ridgway, inks by Tim Perkins
Ice Warriors on the rampage! The last regular Frobisher story
Redemption by Simon Furman, pencils by Kev Hopgood, inks by Tim Perkins
The Crossroads of Time by Simon Furman, art by Geoff Senior
The Seventh Doctor has a brush with the original Death's Head
Claws of the Klathi by Mike Collins, pencils by Kev Hopgood, inks by Dave Hine
Victorian adventure
Culture Shock! by Grant Morrison, art by Bryan Hitch
Keepsake by Simon Furman, art by John Higgins
First published in Issue 140, John Higgins also delivered a stunning painted cover for the Magazine, with Sylvester McCoy helping out in its final look by posing on scaffolding during recording for The Greatest Show in the Galaxy at Elstree to nail the final version
Planet of the Dead by John Freeman, art by Lee Sullivan
Every Doctor from the classic series features in this special story -- or do they?
Echoes of the Mogor! by Dan Abnett, art by John Ridgway
First appearance of Dan's Foreign Hazard Duty, a futuristic version of UNIT
Time and Tide by Richard Alan (Richard Starkings) and John Carnell ; art by Dougie Braithwaite & Dave Elliott
Follow that TARDIS! by John Carnell, art by Andy Lanning, Kev Hopgood, Dougie Braithwaite and Dave Elliott
The Sleeze Brothers and the Time Meddling Monk feature in this zany 'jam' strip featuring a plethora of Marvel UK talent
Invaders from Gantac! by Alan Grant, pencils by Martin Griffiths, inks by Cam Smith

All the early Seventh Doctor strips were edited by Richard Starkings, now better known, perhaps, as First Tiger of Comicraft and as the creator of Elephantmen, who gathered a wide range of upcoming and established British comics talent to work on the Doctor Who strip at the time.

Panini told downthetubes a second volume of Seventh Doctor is planned, but is unlikely to be scheduled for this year. If (and when) it’s published, it’s intended that the stories will continue to be released in order (starting with Nemesis of the Daleks featuring Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer).

A third volume, featuring strips from the Storybooks, Hulk Comic and later issues of DWM may follow.

Buy A Cold Day in Hell from
Buy A Cold Day in Hell from
• Note: cover featured here is the original 'dummy' cover used for solicitation purposes. It has not been updated deliberately.

Adrian Tomine on Strip!

Continuing Indie comics month on the radio show and podcast Strip!, Eagle Award winning writer and artist Tom Humberstone will be talking to American comic book creator Adrian Tomine who writes and draws the comic book Optic Nerve, originally self published and now serialised by Drawn and Quarterly. Collections of short stories from the comic, entitled Summer Blonde and Sleepwalk, have recently been published in the UK by Faber and Faber.
Adrian is also the editor of a series of collections of the work of underground manga creator Yoshihiro Tatsumi, including Abandon the old in Tokyo and The Push Man and other stories. Tom and Adrian talk about working in comics, Adrian's artistic influences and interests, his graphic novel Shortcomings and his involvement in bringing Tatsumi's work to the attention of a new generation in the West.
• Strip! airs at 5.00pm on Thursday 12 February, repeated 11.30pm Sunday 15th on Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / extended podcast at More info on Tom's work at

Tube Surfing: 12 February 2009

• Former Star Trek actor Wil Wheaton, now an ardent campaigner for internet rights and longtime blogger has a new short collection of his favorite pieces from his books and blog called Sunken Treasures, including a production diary from his 2008 role in Criminal Minds. We mention it here -- quite apart from the fact that it's sure to be an enjoyable read -- because the cover design is by 2000AD creative D’Israeli. Two editions are avalable: a US Edition and a World Edition both from

• Talking of D'Israeli, the consummate colourist holds his hand up to past mistakes in an honest post on his blog, revealing where his career as a 2000AD colourist jumped the shark. "One of the drawbacks of being a commercial artist is that your mistakes are as public as your triumphs," he notes, on discovering that this month's Judge Dredd: The Megazine is accompanied by a reprint volume of Pussyfoot Five. Read the tale here

• The latest issue of The DFC contains FRONTIER Part Six: 'The Greedy Ground' with art by Andrew Wildman, script by Jason Cobley. Weird goings on down in the mines as Mitch meets the eveil Mr Winchester and Daisy meets the amazing 'Mother'. Who is 'Mother'? Well you will just have to get hold of your copy.

• More news from Jim Boswell: he's drawing a football strip for KiCK! magazine, which is aimed at 6 to 12 year olds. "It's been a lot of work, but surprisingly fun, too," he says. "The editor has been fantastic, sending through a tonne of good ref photos and links to youtube clips of the actual match I've been drawing. These have been invaluable, as they're very keen to get the players' likenesses spot-on."

• In the run up to Christmas, author Iain Rankin was doing the rounds plugging his new book, Doors Open. During the interviews he always mentioned his John Constantine graphic novel featuring the Hellblazer anti hero published by Vertigo, even saying he had finished it. Well, it seems something has changed because when Vertigo's line of crime-driven comics and graphic novels was discussed at last week's New York Comic Con, Constantine did not feature in the Rankin-penned Dark Entries, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera. Comic Book Resources reports that Rankin, a longtime comics fan, did initially pitch a Hellblazer story, according to the line's editor, Will Dennis, it was more a detective story that fitted well into their ideas for the crime line that centres on a private detective hired as a mole on a reality TV show called Haunted Mansion. Something of a locked room mystery, things outside the producers’ control start to affect the contestants. Dennis said that the book has supernatural elements and though it’s not a Hellblazer story, Constantine fans should enjoy it.

• Former 2000AD creator Peter Milligan, currently writer of Hellblazer and Greek Street, is also involved in the Vertigo crme line, working with James Romberger on a book called The Bronx Kill.

Sean Azzopardi has just published an interview with critically acclaimed artist Oli Smith, the London based self publisher whose work include titles such as Hazy Thursday, Summer Ball and Weekend friends. He has also written for Doctor Who and illustrates and paints the odd canvas. (Check out Oli's own web site here). Sean, no slouch himself when it comes to cretivity, reports he has just found out that a four page strip he submitted has been accepted for Side B, a music anthology.

• This "Tube Surf" complied with help from Matthew Badham and Reuben Willmott

Southsea Goes Sequential

(with thanks to Darren Morrow): News reaches us of an over 18s only comics event in Southsea in April. Taking place at the Festing Hotel on Albert Road, The Annual Review of Sequential Endeavours (Facebook Link) invites all comics makers. artists, animators and enthusiasts to enjoy a day of workshops, live comic creation, mass collage and, of course, some beers and "a bit of blether".

The first minicon event organised by Portsmouth Independent comic creators and enthusiasts, creatives already involved include No Refund Comics and other local comics creators, but it's already attracting the interest of artists and writers from further afield.

"The aim is to provide a varied selection of small press for free, swap or to sell," say the organisers. "Producers and artists are encouraged to bring their work." Animation creators are also very welcome.

The event kicks off at mid-day on Saturday 4th April until 8.00pm.

Festing Hotel: Location (via Google Maps)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

downthetubes On The Air!

downthetubes editor John Freeman was interviewed on Lancaster's Diversity FM this morning, the show repeated at 6.00pm tonight (Wednesday 11 February).

The interview was the latest by local writer Jomar de Vrind as part of his "Imaginary Friends" series for the community radio station, which is based in the town's YMCA building.

Past interviewees have included local writers, musicians and other local figures.

Complemented by some specially selected music, John talked about his career as a magazine and comics editor and writer for companies such as Marvel Comics UK and Titan Magazines, his volunteer work for local web site and current comics freelance projects suh as Ex Astris.

• You can listen to Diversity FM live on 103.5FM in the Lancaster area, or streamed via the station's web site:

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

In Review: Watchmensch

Out in early March, Lying in the Gutters' Rich Johnston's Watchmensch, a parody of a certain major DC Comics-published comic series, soon to be a major movie (at least that's what a lot of film people and DC Comics are hoping) is a deliciously wicked attack on the US comics industry and its long-held attitudes to creators' rights.

In Watchmensch, after one of them is murdered, a team of lawyers who have had dealings with the comics industry must band together again against a conspiracy. But who is trying to kill Nite Nurse, Spottyman, Silk, 1700 Broadway Manhattan and Ozzyosbourne? And what is the cloned creature about to be dropped on New York City?

With a barbed script dripping with the kind of knowledgeable in-jokes you'd expect from the man who writes the comic industry's longest-running gossip column, with splendid Dave Gibbons-parodying art from Simon Rohrmuller, Watchmensch offers a savage take on US comics, laced with a decent amount slice of humour and visual gags.

Alongside the story, however, Watchmensch holds up a mirror to the chequerd history of US comics publishing when it comes to creators' rights and what's refelcted isn't very pretty. While things have slowly changed down the years, there's still a long way to go before many comic artists, writers and other contributors to a successful comic can honestly say they have secured a good deal for their work, in comparison with book authors and other creatives.

Accompaying the comic is a short essay on the history of Alan Moore's experience of working with both DC Comics and creator rights in general which makes for some sobering reading. Try and track down a copy if you can.

• Comprising 24 pages B+W with full color covers, to order Watchmensch from your local comic shop see Diamond Previews Order #: JAN094081ISBN: 9780615234182

Watchmensch will be available in comic shops everywhere in March 2009. Visit the Brain Scan Studios website for more information. For sample pages, a list of stockists and other info, visit the book's official web site:

In Review: Dangerous Ink

After we plugged the alternative arts magazine Dangerous Ink recently, editor Tom Green very kindly sent downthetubes copies of the most recent issues -- and I'm very impressed.

Quite aside from the comics-related interviews -- which include 1960s Batman actor Adam West and 2000AD and one time Jane artist John M. Burns -- there's a smashing number of comic strips and illustration included in the magazine, of which Jenny's Weird Friend by Shug (which first featured in Reet! magazine back in 2004) and Batmook by James Howard are my favourites. (Just as an aside, Volume 1 Issue 4 features a double spread of Kreepy Kat, a strip well worth traking down online).

Balancing the comics with alternative art are interviews with pop surrealist Leslie Ditto and illustrator Andy Hixon, and a creepy comic by Spyros Verykios that balances between the two 'halves' of the title.

Melding comics with alternative art may seem a weird combination for a magazine but it works. The design is excellent, with plenty of space given over to stunning and, on occasion, thought-provoking visuals. The writing is succinct and enjoyable, and the choice of comics from a variety of quarters affords their creators a print platform they might not otherwise have enjoyed.

This is a great looking, well put together title that's well worth tracking down and giving a try.

• Dangerous Ink is available from selected newsagents, comic shops and the Dangerous Ink web site.

Fly Me to the Moon, Forties Style

Manchester-based comics artist Jim Boswell, whose credits include Markosia's Starship Troopers and more, has begun posting some of his designs and pages for Project: Luna 1947, his latest project for the company.

Written by
Martin Hayes, who Jim worked with recently on the "Intergalactic Bank-Robbing Aliens" story for Futurequake, Project Luna: 1947 is an 88-page graphic novel that looks like it's going to be great retro-fun, mixing 1940s post war austerity with spaceships, spacesuits and adventure.

"I won't give away too much of the plot," says Jim, "I'll just say it will be awesome! Martin is a fantastic writer and we're going to have a blast doing this."

Jim plans to post more teaser panels and pages on his blog as the project develops.

"Jim’s a great artist and I’m really looking forward to seeing his pages as they come in," said Martin of the project late last year, who is still busy contributing to the Futurequake project. He's recently written a five-page story called Bad Static for an upcoming issue of indie publiser's horror anthology Something Wicked, which is being drawn by John Cahill.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Tube Surfing: 9 February 2009

• The animated feature based on Neil Gaiman's Coraline is now on release int the US and seems to be doing well both critically and at the box office. "A lot more people than anyone expected are going to see it," Neil notes. "...Which is good for Coraline, and good for Laika, and good for the Portland animation world, and good for [director] Henry [Selik], and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't good for me."

• IDW has announced it to publishe a new ongoing Doctor Who title by Tony Lee, which will launch in July from IDW. The first two issues will be set in 1920's Hollywood.

• Fans of US comics will adore the concept behind Covered, a blog where people redraw famous comic covers. The results are mixed but have prompted Paul Harrsion-Davis, one of the artists involved in the upcoming TOXIC Comic Supplement (see news story), to come up with his own interpretation of a Blue Devil cover.

Graeme Neil Reid is finishing his illustration work for The Dangerous Book of Heroes, a new follow up to The Dangerous Book for Boys that became a massive hit for the authors Conn and Hal Iggulden back in 2006. There will be around 100 of Graeme' s illustrations in the book and Graeme has posted a marketing sampler for the new title on his blog.

• Talking of books, Lee O'Connor has posted his latest book cover commission, Short Stories from a Troubled World, soon to be published by Iconoclast Publishing. The book is a collection of the beautiful thoughts of one Tony Paul "who takes 'a Humorous, yet heard-hitting swipe at some serious issues. Among the book's targets are Ruling Elites, Globalisation, Dumbing Down, Think-Tanks and the unholy alliance between government, Big Business and the media," Lee notes. Check out the cover on his LiveJournal and if you can guess who all the personalities are in the drawing " you get a fictional prize!"

Wilson's Star Wars Project Revealed

We've previously mentioned in passing 2000AD artist Colin Wilson's upcoming Star Wars project for US publisher Dark Horse, but now details about Star Wars: Invasion, which launches online in May, have been officially announced.
The series, set 25 years after the Battle of Yavin (when the first Death Star was destroyed, as seen in the original Star Wars film), kicks off in print on 1 July from Dark Horse.

The series features an older Luke Skywalker and other long established characters.

"Although Tom [Taylor]and I have been working together on a variety of projects over the last couple of years, this is the biggie, and we are both giving this new series our best shot," says Colin via his blog. "Invasion introduces the readers to the Galfridian family, and the peace-loving planet of Artoria. Unfortunately the Yuuzhan Vong are about to arrive..."

"The Vong are a real challenge," Colin told Comic Book Resources, "because so little is known about them. But early on I realized that this was also a huge advantage, as well.

"Once I got a good visual handle on these guys, I could pretty much do what I want with them, at least visually. The important thing I’d like to retain about the Vong is their aura of mystery. With these guys, anything can happen, and usually does. Big, bad, threatening... what else does a comic artist need?"

• For more details on the Invasion project, check out the Comic Book Resources New York Comic Con coverage here, and online interviews on CBR with Tom Taylor and Colin Wilson.

Star Wars: Invasion launches on in May with an eight-page preview web-only issue, followed by a second eight-page preview web-only issue in June.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Haward's Tempest Set to be Another Classic

Comics artist Jon Haward has shared some stunning samples of Classical Comics adaptation of Shakesepare’s The Tempest, which goes on sale in May in all good bookshops across the UK.

Set on a mysterious island, The Tempest, possibly the last play Shakespeare wrote, centres on the banished sorcerer Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, who uses his magical powers to punish and forgive his enemies when he raises a tempest that drives them ashore.

In total, he and the art team on the book -- Gary Erskine delivering inks, Nigel Dobbyn providing the colouring -- will be providing some 125 pages of comic art on the project, plus two covers. The book also features educational background notes on the play from the Classical Comics editorial team.

“I’m now on the last 25 pages of pencils,” Jon told downthetubes, who has been working on the book for about a year -- since, in fact, we last interviewed him -- if you include development time, character and scene design.

There were some specific challenges when it came to this adaptation, compared with his earlier Classical Comics work, Macbeth.

“As this is William Shakespeare's last play and classed as a masterpiece, I wanted the book to have a beauty about it,” Jon says, “but at the same time, [publisher] Clive Bryant's brief was to make it exciting for the children who'll read it in libraries and schools.

“This book has been more of a challenge than Macbeth in some ways, as there are more characters, if you include the creatures, goddess's and sailors,” he continues, “plus the main characters. There’s also the details I needed to research for the 15th century styled costumes.

“Clive helped with the ships and flags and I checked out a lot of art books from that period to get the costumes looking right.”

“Where Macbeth, which I drew, and Frankenstein, which I art directed, are dark and brooding, I wanted The Tempest to look magical and beautiful," he expands. "At the heart of the story is a romance, with young Ferdinand and Miranda.”

While there's still some pages to complete, Jon’s delighted with the final work. “I think this book will appeal more to girls than boys,” he enthuses, “although saying that, the boys should like the humour in the play and the creatures such as Caliban and the Harpie, and the creatures that rise out of the ground later in the play.”

“It"s been a really hard job but immensely rewarding,” says Jon of the book. “It’s been a joy working with Clive and Jo, and great working with Gary and Nigel, who have been fantastic.

“Of course, as I said, we’re still working on this book, but it’s near the end now and I can say that, to me, it's really looking a beautiful production one that I'll always be proud of.

Working on the Classical Comics has also been something of a welcome learning exercise. “I've gotten better at character acting working on these books,” he reveals.

“What I mean is, drawing superhero stuff, you work on the dynamics of the action and pace of the story and you try to make it as bombastic as you can for the reader. With Shakespeare, there are pages just of people talking so I've learned more about body language, faces, drawing hands to indicate sadness, joy, fear… It’s almost being like a actor or director drawing the play. It’s been a lot of very hard work but I think it works. When you see the finished book there are loads of small moments that make the whole.

“This book has it all – love, hate, revenge, joy, friendship… it's a great play and story, and I've enjoyed getting to know all the characters.”

As well as his work for Classical Comics, Jon has just completed some work for an animated US TV commercial, “and I’ve been drawing some new characters for a weekly online comic strip which I hope will have universal appeal, which should be launching in a few months.

“I'm also pitching for my next big job -- whatever that will be!” the award-winning artist laughs. “So if there are any publishers out there that would like to use my skills who pay a decent page rate than please get in touch. I’m open to offers...”

• The Tempest will be available from all good bookshops including and
• Comic shops can order the books direct from as the book will not, sadly, be available through Diamond
• Jon Haward’s web site is at:
Read our March 2008 interview with Jon

• All art shown is copyright Classical Comics Ltd 2009 and is shown with permission from the publisher

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