downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...

This blog is no longer being updated

The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013.

Hop over to for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Century 21 Cover Revealed

(Updated 2 March 2009): Publishers Reynolds & Hearn have just released the cover of their second volume of reprints from the classic British comics TV Century 21 and Lady Penelope, which will be published in limited hardback editions at the end of March.

For fans of classic British comics, both volumes are a must, comprising work by some outstanding creators. For fans of the Gerry Anderson TV shows, the stories take the characters and series to new heights, many stories far better than some of the TV episodes. The strips have been selected from across the whole run of the titles, TV21 first published in 1965 (or 2065, according to the covers).

Here's a rundown of the strips that will feature in both volumes: please note, story titles were not used in the original comics.

Century 21 Volume 1

• Fireball XL5 - The Astran Assassination (art by Mike Noble)
Stingray - The Haunting of Station 17 (Ron Embleton)
Stingray - Superjunk (Gerry Embleton)
Thunderbirds: Chain Reaction (Frank Bellamy)
Thunderbirds - The Devil's Crag (Frank Bellamy)
Thunderbirds - Starburst (Brian Lewis)
Lady Penelope - The Luvenium Affair (Frank Langford)
Zero X - Planet of Bones (Mike Noble)
Captain Scarlet - The Football King (Mike Noble)
Captain Scarlet - Leviathan (Don Harley)

Buy Century 21: Classic Comic Strips from the Worlds of Gerry Anderson Volume 1 from

Century 21 Volume 2

Fireball XL5 - Giant Ant Invasion (Art by Mike Noble)
Fireball XL5: Planet of Fire (Mike Noble)
Stingray - Monster Weed Menace (Ron Embleton)
Thunderbirds - Curse of the Elastos (Ron Turner)
Thunderbirds - Secret of the Iceberg (Frank Bellamy)
Lady Penelope - The Androids of London Affair (Frank Langford)
Zero X: Prisoners of the Eye Leaves (Mike Noble)
Captain Scarlet - Formicide (Don Harley)
Captain Scarlet - The Beginning of the End (Jim Watson and Mike Noble)

Buy Century 21: Classic Comic Strips from the Worlds of Gerry Andserson Volume 2 from

Paper X Needs You

Illustrator Sandy Christie is putting together another Paper X collection, following up on the success of the first which was sold at the first Glasgow International Artists Book Fair.

Paper X is a new zine experiment where anyone can submit. Ass with the planned but unrelated Alternative Press Anthology (see news story),the aim of the project is to "get a flavour of what's out there and bring it together as one.

"The blank paper x source books can be drawn, painted, written in, stuff stuck in etc source books will be rotated to spur random collaborations."

There are a couple ways to submit: the first is by email, sending jpeg at 300dpi; the second is to to locate the paper x source books. These are contained in protective zip tuff bags, around Glasgow such as the Collective gallery and Deadhead Comics Embassy gallery.

Sandy is looking for contributions in any medium
-- paintings, drawings, photos, collage, or writing. "Anyone can submit from anywhere," she says. The first deadline is 15th March 2009

"This will be an excellent platform to show your work," feels Sandy. "These books somehow get everywhere, so make it count your piece must register truthful and be contemporary: same rule as before, no dull stuff, keep it fresh and take a risk.

• For more info visit:

Tube Surfing: 20 February 2009

Ben Templesmith has donated some art from IDW's Doctor Who - The Whispering Gallery book to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund which they are currently auctioning off on eBay. The aution ends later today (Feb-20-09 15:00:00 PST) so now is the time to get in there and bid. As of writing this item, the current bid stood at over $360.

• Fancy winning a signed copy of Titan Books' Schoolgirl Milky Crisis, a new collection of nearly two decades of articles, speeches and interviews by Jonathan Clements on anime, manga, and Asian culture? Well, now's your chance.
The book's official blog (yes, even books have blogs these days) reveals that Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is described as ‘A stupid name for a generic anime show, made up to protect the innocent in Jonathan Clements’.
To win a prize, all you have to do is come up with your own stupid name for a generic show in the style of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis. It can be anything you like and feel free to submit multiple entries (though we would advise that you avoid profanity!). There is no need to include a synopsis of your imagined show as this contest will only be judged on the title itself!
To enter this contest, all you need to do is simply email your entry to

Faz Choudhury's latest contribution to online webjam strip Huzzah!! is up. "It's been a huge amount of fun doing these but that doesn't mean to say I'm not daunted by the setting, it's not the kind of thing I'm used to drawing," he says. "And that's all the more reason to take part, being pushed out of whatever comfort zone I may have!"

• The officially-recognised site, devoted to the 1970s girls' comic Misty, is looking for artists to illustrate some tales of horror and intrigue for the next Mistycomic Special. They already have several strips "in the bag" but there have been some drop outs and delays to promoised material, so release of the special has been put back.

Thrill-Powered Thursday, put together by "Grant, The Hipster Dad", has a new home, prompted by concerns about changes at LiveJournal. It's a weekly look at the world of 2000AD, prompted byt Grant's re-reading of his collection of 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, one issue an evening, and once each week for the foreseeable future.
Grant also complies Reprint This, a blog offering suggestions for collections of long gone comics, a theme which has been taken up recently by Chris Mautner over at Comic Book Resources in a new column Collect This Now!

• Script writers out there may be interested in this article in Script Magazine, offering advice on "How Not to Annoy a Reader". While it's greared toward film scripting writing, comic strip writers may find this passage particularly pertient: "Don’t assume I know what you’re talking about. This problem is especially popular with writers of sci-fi and fantasy scripts, scripts based upon highly technical or academic premises, or those featuring characters with highly specialized knowledge or abilities." Writer ray Morton also opnines that, as a rule of thumb, script writers should "Assume your reader is a dolt who needs everything spelled out for him. But spell it out dramatically, using action, character and behaviour."

Tim Pilcher, author of the two volumes of Erotic Comics published by ILEX, has been interviewed by Chicago-based journalist Steve Bunche. The interview is online via Steve's blog, but may later show up on Publisher's Weekly Comic Week.
Exhaustively researched and approached with an enthusiastic and scholarly eye, the two handsome hardcover Erotic Comics editions chronicle the evolution of erotic comics and gives readers intimate looks at the lives of the pioneers and legends in the field. Volume 2 is released in March: Mature Readers Only...

Ronald Searle Tribute Find

For those of you unfamiliar, Ronald Searle was an accomplished British cartoonist whose credits included Punch, but he's better known as the man who created the girls of St. Trinians and anarchic 1950s schoolboy Nigel Molesworth.

The Ronald Searle Tribute blog is compiled by several Searle experts, headed up by freelance artist Matt Jones, who works in the animation industry in France. Most recently he's been storyboarding on BiboFilms' A Monster In Paris.

This is a another of those great finds you come across completely by accident on the web, with details of new releases, art samples, exhibition news, uself Searle links and much more.

Check it out at:

The web site offers this potted bio of Searle, whose work has surely influenced many a British comics artist:

"Searle was born in Cambridge in 1920 and was educated there at the Cambridge School of Art. On the outbreak of the Second World War he left his studies to serve in the Royal Engineers and in 1942 was captured by the Japanese at Singapore, then held by them for three and a half years.

"He is a hugely successful graphic artist and pictorial satirist. As well as his collaboration with Geoffrey Willans on the Molesworth books and his invention of St Trinians, his work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions across the world and appears in several major American and European collections.

"He moved to Paris in 1961 and then, in 1975, to a remote village in Haute-Provence, where he still lives."
More Searle Links: • Official web site: • Ronald Searle Art and Prints for Sale:

Pat Mills Zarjaz Special Planned

Zarjaz, the high quality 2000AD-inspired fan-magazine, has announced their next issue, due for release in May, will be entirely dedicated to the work of 2000AD co-creator Pat Mills.

Wrapped in a stunning Slaine cover by by Dave Kendall, whose first professional work was Psycho Killer for the 1980s version of TOXIC!, written by Pat Mills, creators for the special issue include Al Nolan, Mike Carroll, Nick Dyer, Richmond Clements, Mark Woodland, Andrew White, Ben Byrne, Bolt-01 and more.

"Being prepared for this issue are strips featuring Slaine and the ABC Warriors," the editors have revealed via the Zarjaz and Dogbreath fanzine blog, "though who knows what can happen in future…"

Marking the news, the Zarjaz team have published a short interview with Pat, who remains optimistic about the future of the weekly comic, which he helped launch back in 2000AD and whose creations include ABC Warriors, Nemesis the Warlock and the recently-arrived Greysuit, drawn by John Higgins.

"In recent years, the comic is very much 2000AD once again," feels Pat, "the various threats to its identity have faded away, and I think that makes all of us who care passionately about the comic feel great." Read the interview

Zarjaz Issue 7 will be on sale at the Britiol Comics Expo
Zarjaz Issue 6 is still on sale via the Futurequake Press Shop

Dogbreath Issue 19 is still on sale via the Futurequake Press Shop

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

New Watchmen In-Film Clips Released

Three in-film clips from Watchmen featuring Night Owl have just been released on YouTube...

"We Can Break Into the Pyramid" featuring Night Owl and Rorsharch:


-- and, finally, "Attention Citizens": a chance to see the Comedian in action...

Watchmen is released in the UK on 6 March. Official web site:

Britsh Comics Art on EBay

Artwork from Steel Claw from Valiant, Robot Archie from Lion and Black Bow from Eagle is currently on sale on eBay, more work that was sold off by IPC a couple of years ago when it cleared its archives.

The offerings are all being auctioned by Blase Books as being from the Peter Hansen Five Star Collection IPC Archives, with a stamp of authenticity on the back of the art.

The Steel Claw page by Jesus Blasco, which shows anti-hero Louis Crandell "dematerializing", is taken from the Valiant dated 25th July 1964.

Also on offer for just a few more days is a page of Black Bow by Frank Humphries from Eagle; a page of Kelly's Eye art by Solano Lopez from a 1973 edition of Valiant; and a page of The Spider, fighting Spider-Boy, from Lion by Reg Bunn.

While IPC considered itself within its rights to sell the comic art back in 2007, some surviving artists have hotly contested their claim to ownership of the physical art featured in many past comics, arguing the company only holds rights to publish not ownership to the art. There has been no test case, we believe, as to the ownership of the physical art but we believe it's only a matter of time before there is.

However, it should also be noted that some publishers in the past demanded a fee from the artists for the return of their art. In an upmcoming interview a Misty comic special, veteran girls comic artist John Armstrong indicates this was the demand of Fleetway when he worked on that title.

Rich Johnston then noted in his Lying in the Gutters column for Comic Book Resources that artist Pura Campos was battling to have IPC recognize her ownership of Patty's World, which featured in Princess Tina in the UK but was reprinted in several other countires and still has a massive following in Pura's home country, Spain.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Missing in Action: Off the Frame

One casualty of the delayed publication of Comics International was a special "Off The Frame" cartoon by John Freeman and Paul Harrsion-Davies, the brief to note news of a proposed Weerewolf by Night film project and tie in with issue's Captain America feature.

Something of the moment, it's unlikely it will now feature in the magazine, which is particularly disappointing since Paul, to his credit, turned the art around to a tight deadline, only for the title to fall into a publishing void for some months. Such is life in publishing sometimes...

With that in mind, I'm happy to publish it here for your (hopeful) enjoyment... Comments welcome!

Tube Surfing: 17 February 2009

• Veteran 2000AD artist Cliff Robinson just posted this specatcular Judge Death illustration on his blog...

• Talking of 2000AD, on Saturday 21st March between 1 and 2.30pm, the Forbidden Planet Mega Store in London is having its 30th Anniversary Signing. Artists and writers lined up include Dan Abnett, David Bishop, Simon Davis, Rufus Dayglo, Al Ewing, Brett Ewins, Henry Flint, Robbie Morrison, Tony Lee, Matt Smith and Simon Spurrier. "It'll be a cracker!" says Rufus. Indeed - and you should be able to pick up the paperback edition of David Bishop's Thrill-Powered Overload, too. Click here for the latest info from the Forbidden Planet web site

• Had enough of the Watchmen movie yet? No? Well, you'll be pleased to hear (via Geek Syndicate) that the World Premiere date has been set and it will be in London's Leicester Square on 26th February. No info as yet as to who’s going to be attending in terms of cast and crew but if a very large man sporting a very large beard with firey eyes turns up, we advise anyone in the crowd to run away very quickly...

• We haven't mentioned Steve Holland's brilliant Bear Alley blog in a while, so with a Gerry Anderson feature proving one of the highlights of the latest Comics International, it's somewhat fortuitous that he's come across a behind the scenes article from 1965 reporting from the set of early Supermarionation series, Stingray.

• Another British comics archivist has been quiet, too, Lew Stringer pretty busy with all sorts of projects. But he's sprung back with a terrific post profiling the early career of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen artist "With the publication of the next League volume, Century:1910 due in a few months, I thought it might be appropriate to take a rare glimpse into the early days of this extraordinary artist," says Lew.

• (via Forbidden Planet International): And finally, Paul Gravett has posted up his choice of ten (living) British comics creators who have been most innovative and influential in the comics medium both here and worldwide. "Not an easy job given how many British writers and artists have achieved a great international reputation," notes FPI's Joe Gordon. "I’m sure some some will wonder why their favoured creators aren’t in the list, but as with any such shortlist it’s open to debate and these are Paul’s personal choices, I’m quite sure he’d be more than happy to hear other names suggested... but the problem is its hard to think who from Paul’s list I would cut to make room for some I was considering... I’m sure it will get some debate - what do you think?"

Battling MS: Here's Johnny

2000AD artist Johnny Hicklenton features in a documentary on More4 tonight about his lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis, which we reported on last year.

Johnny lives in an increasing state of immobility and frustration, escaping the confines of his front room through his artwork. Here's Johnny follows the seven years of his life since he was diagnosed with MS, a moving expression of his thoughts and feelings as well as artistic interpretations of key moments in his fight against the disease.

John cannot move without a wheelchair and is often confined to his west London home. He talks candidly about his problems in the film, but also with great humour; at times he has relied utterly on that to see him through some very bleak days.

The Daily Telegraph
reported last year that when the British comic artist, perhaps best known for his brutal, visceral work on 2000AD characters such as Judge Dredd, learnt that he had multiple sclerosis, the news was delivered with a brutality that stuns him still - nearly seven years later.

"The doctor, a locum, just stared at her computer screen," he told the Telegraph, "and never once looking at me, said: 'You've got MS. You'll be dead in 12 to 15 years.' Just like that." Her remit, he says, was presumably not to become emotionally engaged.

Johnny's is the opposite, and is now passionately involved in a fight against what he terms "this terrorist illness".

Now virtually bed-bound, John talks candidly about his illness in the documentary, made by Animal Monday and funded by the Channel 4 British Documentary Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

Here's Johnny Official web site
Heres's Johnny on More4
Johnny Hicklenton: Me and My Career Q&A
MS Society Helpline: 0800 800 8000

(With thanks to Paul O'Connell)

Update: John died in early 2010. Pat Mills, who often worked with John, looks back at the career of an extraordinarily talented artist here on the downthetubes main site, a version of his feature for Judge Dredd: The Megazine which has also appeared elsewhere online.

Into the Whispering Gallery

US publisher IDW release a special one-shot Doctor Who title later this month. Titled The Whispering Gallery, superstar artist Ben Templesmith tackles his first full Who project, alongside comic book writers Leah Moore & John Reppion.

In The Whispering Gallery, the TARDIS lands in a maze-like gallery filled with thousands of talking pictures, and the Doctor and Martha discover they’ve come across a planet where showing emotion has been outlawed. The inhabitants have good reason for their supression, but it wouldn’t be like the Doctor to leave them in fear of truly living.

Leah and John have been fans of Doctor Who for nearly as long as they can remember, and pitched IDW Publishing on their story idea for the after Leah had a dream about a two-page spread one night.

While that may prompt riotous laughter from those who get the answer to "Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?" as "It Came to Me in a Vision," Leah says the couple had a hard time initially thinking up an original storyline.

“Everything we could think up had already been done, or was not the right kind of story. We went off to bed one night after brainstorming fruitlessly for hours, and I went to sleep worrying that we’d not be able to think of anything and miss out on writing it altogether.”

After the dream, Leah says she woke up knowing clearing what they would do for Doctor Who, and got the story turned around very quickly after that.

Moore and Reppion became involved in the project after being approached by artist Ben Templesmith, an admirer of their work and whose credits include Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“Ben actually approached Leah via the modern miracle of Twitter and asked her if we’d be interested in pitching for a Doctor Who one-shot with him as the artist,” explains John. “Naturally, we were thrilled and said yes immediately. Ben is a fantastic artist and we both really admire his work, so it’s great to be able to work with him on such a brilliant little project."

John has some strange memories of Doctor Who from his youth. In an interview about The Whispering gallery project for Comic Book Resources, he revealed his earliest Who memory was an inflatable version of the TARDIS. “It may even have belonged to one of my Uncles before me, I'm not sure,” Reppion said. “Doctor Who is just part of the fabric of UK mainstream culture, really; it's like being asked when you were first exposed to cowboys or something like that. Doctor Who has always been there so far as I remember. The Doctor of my youth was Sylvester McCoy.”

John also has fond memories of the Marvel UK Doctor Who comic book crossovers with the likes of Death’s Head, which as we recently reported, is to feature in a new collection of Seventh Doctor adventures from Panini UK, A Cold Day in Hell.

Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery goes on sale in the US and Canada on 29 February from IDW Publishing. Diamond order code: DEC084084. The title is not officially available in the UK

Ben Templesmith's Blog
Leah Moore & John Reppion's New and Improved Web Site

John Barrowman's Comic Strip Adventure

As we reported yesterday, Issue #14 of the official Torchwood Magazine goes on sale on Thursday and plays host to an all-new and exclusive Torchwood Comic strip adventure penned by Captain Jack himself - John Barrowman.

Written in collaboration with his sister, Carole E. Barrowman, this new story promises the same intrigue, adventure and chills that have become synonymous with the hit TV show.

The story, titled, 'Captain Jack and the Selkie', sees Captain Jack facing a deadly threat on a remote Scottish island, where people are disappearing one by one...

To his horror, Jack starts to suspect he may know who – or perhaps more specifically what – is responsible...

Here, John Barrowman discusses the strip in a special interview conducted by his sister, Carole...

CB: Ready to chat about our Torchwood Magazine comic?

JB: Wait. Shouldn’t we have some sound effects if we’re making this read like a scene from 24?

CB: Do you even know how to write sound effects? You’re the worst speller.

JB: I blame the Doctor for that, because when I was a kid I’d stay up late on Sunday nights when the classic Doctor Who was on WTTW in Chicago so I’d never study for my Monday morning spelling tests. Add the sound effects later.

CB: Do you remember when we first got the idea to collaborate on a Captain Jack story?

JB: The summer when we were working together on Anything Goes. We were on location for Torchwood in a warehouse in Cardiff. I was filming the “Meat” episode.

CB: Wasn’t that the same shoot where the pigeon pooped on Jack’s shoulder? Now that was hilarious.

JB: That was good luck... the shoot was taking forever. Lots of green screen shots. I think I started making up ways that Jack could end the scene and we could all get home. Now that I think about it, we came up with some funny stuff... I still think we should do something someday with the idea of Jack and the–

CB: Shush!!... Can we tease shamelessly like that?

JB [laughing] I think we just did. Anyway, I remember the endings we made up got more ridiculous the longer we all sat in that cold damp warehouse.. you and I kept playing on the way home in the car.

CB: I’d forgotten about that... do you remember what we called the game?

JB: “What Would Jack Do?”... but the actual comic didn’t really take shape until Comic Con last summer in San Diego when we met Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring.

CB: It was the ‘Face of Boe’ poster that did it.

JB: Yes, that poster they created, of Jack superimposed on the ‘Face of Boe’ still amazes me when I look at it. I framed it as soon as I got back to London. It’s on the wall in my office and I think it’s the best illustrated characterization of Jack that I’ve come across... until our comic is released that is.

CB: And you see a lot of images of Jack.

JB: Oh, yeah . . . so after Tommy, Trevor and I signed a batch of the posters, I asked them if they’d ever be interested in working with us on a graphic novel about Captain Jack.

CB: We had a graphic novel in our head because we had both recently read Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602. You’d bought it to send home with me for Turner [my son], but we each ended up reading it first.

JB: Was that the one where the X-Men face the Spanish Inquisition?

CB: Uh, huh... they’re in Elizabethan England. Very clever stuff.

JB: Trevor and Tommy thought a collaboration sounded like a great idea and on the way home from Comic Con I knew that if we didn’t pursue the idea of the four of us working together right away, we’d all get busy with our individual work and it would never happen.

CB: Torchwood Magazine didn’t necessarily have a comic in mind did they?

JB: I don’t think so... but given that we’d just hooked up with two of the best artists in the comic world, as far as I was concerned, it made sense to pitch a comic... and then later when you and I were brainstorming on a story, I remembered you’d written something before about the myth of the selkie, and I thought it’d be a perfect plot to adapt for what, in my head, I was already calling a “Captain Jack Tale.”

CB: Except that my story had nothing to do with Torchwood or Captain Jack.

JB: Not then it didn’t but we worked that out between us... I’d always wanted to do something that put Jack in Scotland and your original story was set on an island off the Orkneys. Plus, we’d already agreed to tell a story that showed a side of Jack and a part of his history that hadn’t been explored too much in other media... I wanted to give fans something original about Jack.

CB: What side of Jack do you think our comic foregrounds?

JB: I think we see Jack’s compassion... maybe his guilt. Plus his wicked skills with a harpoon!

CB: You’ve always been a comic fan, haven’t you?

JB: Oh, yeah. Love Spider-Man, Batman, and definitely Captain America... I think it has something to do with when we immigrated to the States in the late 1970s and I was trying hard to be an American kid. Couldn’t get enough of comics and Captain America... but I also love Superman – all the Justice League heroes for that matter.

CB: Do you remember the first mint condition comic you ever bought me when you could afford one?


CB: You haven’t got a clue, have you?

JB: A Tin Tin comic... plus a bunch of first edition ‘Noddy’ books.

CB: Nice save... so what do you think of ‘Captain Jack and The Selkie’ now that you’ve seen the finished product?

JB: I’m astonished. It’s brilliant work. The panels with the selkie are completely breathtaking . . . and Jack looks so damn good.

CB: When Tommy and Trevor sent the first coloured panels, I just stared at them in stunned admiration.

JB: Tommy Lee, Trevor, John Workman on the lettering, Martin Eden at Torchwood Magazine, everyone worked really hard, but Tommy Lee especially, given the tight deadlines and budget constraints.

CB: Are you game for another one?

JB: !bOng! !bOng! !bOng!

• Torchwood Magazine Issue #14 UK
On sale in the UK and Ireland 19th February
UK Official page:

• Torchwood Magazine Issue #14 US
On sale in the US 17th March
US Official Page:

Torchwood Magazine Facebook Page

Monday, 16 February 2009

Comics International #207 - On Sale At Last

Much delayed, Comics International #207 is now on sale, offering a variety of comics features, reviews and news items covering comics on both sides of the Atlantic (and beyond).

Alongside features on the new Watchmen movie, out next month, Marvel Apes (released last year), DC/Wildstorm's recently-launched Gears of War (launched last October), Joe Kubert's Unknown Soldier, Captain America and the new El Diabolo title (launched last September) are several features of interest to British comics fans.

Jim McCarthy talks candidly about Ominbus Press's Sex Pistols: The Graphic Biography, drawn by Steve Parkhouse, published last year, while Shaqui le Vesconte continues his engaging history of comics inspired by the TV shows of Gerry Anderson, which includes spreads by Frank Bellamy and Don Harley, and rare early drafts from The Complete Thunderbirds project by illustrator Andrew Skilleter.

Also in the issue is an interview with Jason Wilson, co-creator of the controversial Smuggling Vacation graphic novel.

While some of the issue's coverage of the comics world is perhaps a little dated by force of circumstance -- those circumstances not explained in the magazine, which is sure to puzzle subscribers and others -- downthetubes is assured the team fully intend to make certain #208 is not6 so long a wait, and two Comics International Specials are even now close to completion to complement the Magazine. (More news on those soon).

Comics International is available now from comic shops and the official web site

Torchwood Strip on Watch Web Site!

Titan Magazines, publishers of Torchwood Magazine, have partnered up with UK digital channel Watch to offer an exclusive Torchwood strip on their web site, as part of their promotion for the screening of Torchwood Season Two.

The strip has been written by Brian Minchin, a Script Editor and Assistant Producer on Torchwood and drawn by Adrian Salmon, whose credits also include Doctor Who, Judge Dredd: The Megazine and many more. He also co-created Image Comics’ The Faceless graphic novel, starring Terry Sharp.

The strip is lettered by John Workman, one of comics’ most famous letterers, who has worked on comics by Walt Simonson, Grant Morrison and others.

In other Torchwood-related news, a quick reminder that Issue 14, on sale this week in the UK, will feature an original comic strip written by none other than Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman, and his sister, and regular collaborator, Carole E. Barrowman (see earlier news story).

The story, entitled Captain Jack and the Selkie, drawn by Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring, sees Captain Jack facing a deadly threat on a remote Scottish island, where people are disappearing one by one... To his horror, Jack starts to suspect he may know who – or perhaps more specifically what – is responsible...

"It looks beautiful," comic editor Martin Eden told downthetubes, also revealing special promotional posters for the issue will soon be displayed in Forbidden Planet stores.

Torchwod Magazine Web Site (UK Site)
Torchwood Magazine Facebook Site
More about Torchwood Series 2 on Watch

Something Useful from the European Union...

-- Well, sort of... it's in beta at present but the European Union is assembling a huge online digital resource, which includes imagery from publishers as well as museums at: www.europeana. eu/portal

You can search for subjects etc and results are broken down into all results, text, images, video etc.

I did a quick search for comics and cartoons and got some interesting results, although some are postage stamp size so not much use. However, it does include imagery from the British Museum, for example, and I'm sure it will grow in its usefulness as organisations get their act together. DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano etc. are among the first on board, although there don't appear to be any of their comic strips available through this service just yet.

Photo Review: Hi-Ex 2 - From Inverness, With Love

by Jeremy Briggs

Last year's inaugural Hi-Ex comics convention, held on the first weekend in February, was besieged by snow leaving many guests and potential attendees unable to travel to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The downthetubes review of the event is here. The Christmas card sent last year by organisers Richmond Clements and Vicky Stonebridge even made light of the weather with a comment about it never snowing in February. Of course on the first weekend in February the snow that last year had only blanketed Scotland, this year blanketed the entire country but fortunately for everyone Hi-Ex was the second weekend, Valentine's weekend.

That said the drive from central Scotland up to the Highlands early on the Saturday morning began in darkness and drifting fog but as the sun rose it revealed the mountains in their snow covered glory. While the area around the ski resort of Aviemore retained the heavy snow of the previous week, the roads were clear and traffic was flowing normally.

As with last year's event, the convention was held in the bright modern surroundings of the Eden Court Theatre and Cinema complex on the banks of the River Ness in the centre of the town.

In a layout change to last year, due to the greater numbers of guests and dealers involved, the old dealer's room became the Artists and Writers Room while the dealers moved into the gymnasium sized One Touch Theatre, which gave everyone plenty of room to spread out.

The guests room benefited from the large windows of the section of Eden Court that was the old Bishop's Palace which gave the attendees a bright room to patiently queue in as they waited to talk to the guests. All Star Superman artist Frank Quitely, DFC artist Dave Shelton and Bioncle artist Leigh Gallagher were at their first Hi-Ex while Dan Dare artist Gary Erskine returned after the previous Hi-Ex and was rewarded by long queues for his sketches .

Manga-wise, artist and writer Asia Alfasi chatted away to her young fans...

...while at the other end of the very happy Manga table, Chi-Tan and Inko were kept busy providing sketches of their fans.

Writers Alan Grant and Al Ewing of 2000AD (and many others), Ferg Handley of Panini's Spiderman and and DC Thomson's Commando, and Michael Carroll of The New Heroes novels were on hand for autographs since, fortunately, fans don't normally ask writers to dash them off a quick paragraph to take home as a memento.

Meanwhile artists Al Davison, who is now working on the latest IDW Doctor Who comic, and Graeme Neil Reid, who is illustrating the latest Conn Iggulden Dangerous Book For Boys, set up their stalls in the dealers room to allow them to sell as well as talk to and sign for their fans.

The dealers room was almost at the other end of the complex from the guests room which lead to some confusion amongst those attendees that had been there the previous year but signs soon went up to help everyone out. Perhaps next year a map in the programme showing were each room was would help everyone but, that said, the staff at the Eden Court who were checking badges for the convention rooms were always helpful about where to go and very friendly at the same time.

Once found, the dealers room was very obvious as it was guarded by the imposing figure of Judge Minty promoting the fan film of the same name. The dealers ranged from the obvious FPI and Inverness' own comic store Heroes For Sale, via Cinebooks and Waterstones with a big selection of Viz Media and Tokyopop titles, to the small press stalls of Murky Depths, Melody Lee, Omnivistascope, Time Bomb Comics, Semiotic Cohesion and last and definitely not least Futurequake Press. The small pressers at Hi-Ex will be covered in another blog.

Mark Stevens was also in the dealers room showing off an impressive display of his scratch built SF vehicles. This was a new departure for the convention, and for Mark, which seemed to work well if the number of admiring looks the display attracted were anything to go by.

As with last year the Imperial forces of the 501st Garrison turned up to patrol the event turning heads both inside and outside the venue, sometimes in bewilderment and sometimes in nervousness, depending on the age of the viewer.

They were not the only costumes there since anyone turning up in costume was given free entry. This resulted in an array of Jedi and Manga girls walking around whilst the much younger attendees covered everything from a tiny Wonder Woman, complete with a gold tinsel lariat, to a small Davros who delighted all the old Doctor Who fans at one end of the dealers room. There were awards for the best costume each day but the downthetubes award for best costume has to go to one particular little girl on the Saturday. More over Cassandra Anderson as there is a new contender for the cutest Judge in the Mega City - with her plastic baking bowl helmet and wellie boots, let me present Judge Rose.

Organiser Rich Clements had to get in on the act as well with an all white suit which stopped many people in their tracks. After suggestions of fried chicken, or Vicky and him being Stonebridge and Clements (Deceased) he did not really have to point out that we should be calling him Mr. Luthor. (Perhaps next year the beard and ponytail will have to be sacrificed to help the illusion).

Co-organiser Vicky Stonebridge remained rather too sensible for such things but succumbed to Susan Thomson's face painting instead.

So a good time was had by all and between the auction and the raffle over £1400 was raised for the Children 1st charity, which rather put paid to any worries that the credit crunch could have badly affected the turnout and the spending power of the attendees.

So roll on Hi-Ex 2010 and remember, it never snows in February...

Beating Up Baddies, Watchmen Style...

A new Watchmen viral has just been launched, hot on the heels of the Watchmen TV channel, all to promote the upcoming release of the eagerly-anticipated Watchmen movie.

This time, it's a Watchmen arcade game, retro-styled like the classic 1980s sprite-driven punch-em-ups. Playing Night Owl or the Silk Spectre, you take on a range of thugs in side scrolling beat-em-up in an effort to track down the villainous Molloch's hideout. The game is free to play: simply insert virtual coin in the virtual slot!

Click here to play the game!

Kiwi Comic Creators Join Copyright Protest

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

New Zealand comic creators have joined a nationwide protest this week (16-23 February) protesting against new copyright laws there, that could see anyone perceived as infringing copyright lose their internet connection -- including schools and libraries.

The Guilt Upon Accusation law 'Section 92A', which will class anyone who provides any form of services over the Internet is an ISP, calls for internet disconnection based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny.

Despite mass protest, co-ordinated by the Creative Freedom Foundation, the law is due to come into effect on 28th February unless immediate action is taken by the governing National Party.

Under the new law, one of the most draconian pieces of copyright legislation anywhere -- and of a form that has already been rejected by the British government because it's fraught with problems and impossible to enforce fairly -- libraries, councils, schools, businesses, government offices could fall foul of its wording. If an internet user shares your Internet connection with friends, even they are probably an ISP too under the new act.

Thousands of New Zealanders are already blacking out their Facebook photo, websites, Myspace pages and Twitter account, in protest against this new law that may come into effect on 28 February.

The CFF argue the new copyright law, which could of course be implemented elsewhere, is now having the effect of limiting artists, restricting businesses, and harming public rights. "The Creative Freedom Foundation speaks for artists concerned at this trend and through Our Goals we seek to bring Copyright Law into the 21st Century.

"Artists do things with text that would be illegal if they did them with audio or video because copyright law hasn't kept pace with technology," the CFF argue. "Copyright law was designed in a time where consumers couldn't publish widely and they remixed only in text, a culture before people had access to video and audio editing computers.

"The harm of the existing scheme is that it criminalises many types of expression. People are already remixing video and audio to comment on elections, to make new music and video, and it's a worthy contribution. We should talk about ways to avoid criminalizing popular media, social commentary and potential businesses."

• If you're a New Zealand creator or want to show support for the campaign, just use this image (Right-click, Save-As) with the text:

(your name) is blacked out: Stand up against "Guilt Upon Accusation" for New Zealand
• Instructions for Creative Freedom Blackout Campaign Details
• More background to the Act and the protest at:

Alternative Press Anthology 2009: More Details Emerge

Photo courtesy of Richard of Handmade and Bound @ Alternative Press FairJimi Gherkin, one of the organisers of the recent Alternative Press Fair in London, has revealed more for the plans for an Alternative Press Anthology, to be released later this year.

"The Alternative Press Fair was great," he reports. "We've had reports from all over that those who came had a good time, met some interesting people and sold, bought or swapped work. Some saw exciting things, and generally enjoyed the day.

"It gave a chance for creators to get their work out to a wide audience, and we think it inspired some people to do something creative."

Now, he and Peter Lally are putting together a full colour book. "The main aim is to get small press creators and the alternative press scene noticed by a wider audience," Jimi explains. "We think it's a brilliant scene; the work, the people, the creative freedom - and we strongly believe that people are empowered by realising their creativity and expressing themselves through the small press.

"We will set out to reflect as much of the alternative press scene as possible, covering zines, comics, poetry, short stories and political writing as well as anything else that [creators] believe represents the scene."

The themes of the planned are thus very broad. "Introduce yourself!" enthuses Jimi. "What we mean is, look at yourself and what you do in the small press, why you do it and how you got into it, or how you got started and think about how you can put that across.

"We want this book to be a collection of the great work going on in the small press scene, as well as having a handbook element exploring how people can be involved or get started themselves. We’d like to include artwork, illustration, poetry, articles, opinion, biographies and ‘how to’ sections.

Jimi and Peter want the book to feature all-new material to promote the British alternative press scene and urge creators to do their best work, "and we'll do our best to get decent distribution and spread the word as far as possible on its release."

• A new Ning forum, We Make Zines, has been set up to publicise the project. Submissions must be made by Thursday 30th April 2009: please get in touch with Jimi and Peter letting them know how you’d like to contribute by applying to join the group.

Alternative Press Anthology: Technical Details
Pagination: 80 pages
Size: 240mm x 170mm (with bleed - don't need to leave any border round the edge)
Printing: Full colour CMYK
Paperback cover 280gsm double coated
Inside Pages 115gsm matt coated
Finishing: Slot perforated bound spine

Photo above courtesy of Richard of Handmade & Bound @ Alternative Press Fair. More of Richard's pics here

Lancaster Comics Event

Lancaster's comics fans gather at the northern town's Gregson this week, for an event organised by First Age Comics, which is based in the Assembly Rooms in King Street.

The Uncanny League Of Astonishing Amazers will kick off at 8.00pm on Wednesday (18 Frebruary) at the Gregson in Moor Lane.

Various comics creators now live in the area, including Andy Diggle, former editor of 2000AD and whose credits include Green Arrow for DC Comics and Paul Harrison-Davies, artist for Boom! Studios and a contributor to an upcoming comic supplement for TOXIC.

• First Age Comics is open Tuesday-Fridays from 10.00am-4.30pm, Saturday 10.00am-5.30pm. Web Link:
More event details on Facebook

Latest News on

Contact downthetubes

• Got a British Comics News Story? E-mail downthetubes!

• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials:

Click here to subscribe to our RSS NewsFeed

Powered by  FeedBurner