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Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday Fun: The New Iron Man


WebFind by Paul Eldridge: OK, we'd all thought of it, but look at the effort this Comic Con attendee went to!

more daft costumes, including this one, here on this French web site

Matters of Convention - The Bristol Expo

The Small Press Expo at the 2009 Bristol Comics Expo
Continuing our series of interviews with British comic convention organisers, for this fifth instalment Matthew Badham talks to longtime convention organizer Mike Allwood, the man tasked with the unenviable job of keeping Britain's perhaps highest-profile annual comic convention, the Bristol Comic Expo, on track.

These convention features are being cross-posted on downthetubes, the Forbidden Planet International blog and Fictions. Our aim is to give the conventions themselves some well-deserved publicity and also to, hopefully, spark a wider debate about what’s good and bad about the convention circuit in the UK.

downthetubes: Please tell us about a little about the history of the Bristol Comics Expo (BCE) and how it's evolved over the years.

Mike Allwood: When Frank Plowright and Hassan Yusuf gave up running the UK Comic Art Convention which took place in London, Kev F. Sutherland suggested that maybe Bristol could be the new venue for a UK comics convention. I offered to help out I'm still here after 11 years! Kev’s work commitments meant that he had to give up in 2004, so I picked up the baton, formed a new team and I’m still having fun.

The early years were trial and error and, in part, still are. With an annual event, it’s 12 months before you get to re-tune. We did grow in size from 2004 through 2008 by using Bristol's Commonwealth Hall and the Ramada Plaza, with our best ever attendance being just over 4,000. This year we did downsize, but more on that later.

Bristol has always been about creators. Early on it was pretty much UK only but since 2005 we have brought over a star-studded American guest list, creators of some standing such as Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Kurt Busiek, Brian K. Vaughn, Howard Chaykin, Jim Lee... and my fave, Roy Thomas! (Hey, it's my show, indulge me...)

We now have a number of Expo exclusives each year from various publishers. Two IDW Transformers issues that were done for our official charity, Draw the World Together, were a highlight, as was the DR & Quinch print from Alan Davis this year. Expo covers and launches are now the norm and we hope to keep that remit.

We have also been able to raise the bar on manga as well over the years. Two years ago, we had one of the largest manga events in the UK with around 15 creators, including eight from Japan and the US.

We are always looking to add new tangents to the show and we have a couple of ideas under way for 2010. One is an expansion of a regular feature that we are keen to promote plus something very new to us that I have been working on for the last two years!

downthetubes: How is the BCE funded? By ticket sales, the exhibitors, a grant, some other means or a combination of these?

Mike: All of the above! Table sales and tickets make up the main income base for the show. We have been able get small grants, which have helped with the manga promotion.

downthetubes: What are the BCE’s overall aims?

Mike: To produce a convention that I want to go to! Seriously, we aim to provide a creator-driven show that celebrates the medium. It has three boxes that must be ticked:
  1. A guest list that covers as many bases as possible.
  2. A good cross-section of exhibitors.
  3. The show covers its costs.

downthetubes: Who is BCE aimed at? What sort of punters do you hope to attract? Are you family-friendly?

Mike: We will always start with the hardcore fans. They are the regulars who are there every year but we have, in the past, and will, in the future, aim for the family/wider audience. The local schools tie-in we ran for as long as was possible. You may recall the Read a Million Words promotion with all Bristol Primary Schools [it ran in 2004 - Ed]? Sadly, Bristol Council pulled the funding on that but we remain very proud of the outreach programme.

We will always offer cheap child tickets and make the con free for the under-nines.

Again, two years ago the event was free for cosplayers (Well, anyone who wants to dress as a giant blue bunny has my support!)

downthetubes: How effective have you been in getting those kind of people to attend?

Mike: Well, I would say I'm really pleased with the newer, younger fans we now have, and we did sell out. There would have been more this year but the loss of The DFC comic did mean a strand that was in place fell short when they stopped publishing. We ‘head-hunted’ Classics Illustrated for this year and they had a great show! They work a lot in schools at primary level and I was delighted to get them along! Got some great books for the grandkids as well!

downthetubes: Can you give a projected (or actual) attendance figure for the BCE?

Mike: The best was the 4,000 odd from 2008. This year, with the downsize, we sold out at 650. The hotel does have (and rightly so) strict health and safety regulations. However with us using the Ramada and Mercure for the full two days next year, that number (650) can be increased by around 20-25%.

downthetubes: How did the recession affect the con? Are these twin events here to stay and the model for future BCE's?

Mike: When the planning for 2009 started in October last year we knew that the two main supporters of the show were not going to in a position to put up the level of money that they had in the past. Remember, this was the early days of the credit crunch so the risk factor in running at the Commonwealth Hall was not going to be a viable option. We have to raise every penny for the show and I do not work in comics anymore, having left Area 51 over three years ago. The Expo in 2008 cost over £22,000 and [losing money] was [not] a risk that I was not going to take.

The options were a) no show or b) a smaller show. I asked the ‘inner circle’ for their thoughts - that is the Expo team, publishers and selected pro’s.

The reply to a man was ‘a smaller show is fine’ (DC Comics said Yes and so did US indie publishers Top Shelf, so with US Publishers still wanting to attend, we couldn’t cancel.) I was going to just go with the Ramada and plans were made. This did mean it did become invite-only for the table space and the biggest regret was that I was not able to have the percentage of the small press that I would have liked. In fact the final plan on that was far from what I hoped it would be for them, but once again I’m going off tack.

Anyway, I then get a call from Mal Smith at Fallen Angel Media. Mal had taken tables at Bristol before and she suggested that as a number of small pressers could not get tables at the new slim Expo, she wanted to look at taking a second venue for one day as a ‘bolt-on-event’ and asked if I would mind.

Well, I bit her hand off! I loved the idea and if my failing memory is correct, we met later that week, checked out the Mercure hotel, booked it and the new-look Expo was born.

We came up with a plan that worked this year far better than we had hoped for and before the Expo we had already decided that two hotels was the way ahead, so we announced that at Expo 2010 we would use both hotels for both days.

Mal, not having any fear, is back again and already looking forward to all that extra work! (OK, I may have overstated that, but, thanks to Mal, the Expo is now at a new, exciting level. The general feedback post-show was great (Especially from the pros this year and remember, without them, it would just be a mart!)

We have evolved now and there are no plans to return to the old hall. Plans are nicely ahead for 2010 in reference to the hints I made at the start of this epic interview for two features plus a few new ones, trust me!

One thing we do try to do [each year] is add [new] tangents that I hope fans will like. Sometimes we get it right, sometime not! Lessons were learnt this year and will be addressed for 2010. We’re planning a joint programme guide and crossover events.

downthetubes: What lessons have you learned during your time running BCE, in terms of its marketing and advertising?

Mike: The main lesson is if you don’t really want to run a con, don’t do it! It takes up a lot, and I mean a lot, of time, but as my wife says, it is about me over-indulging the hobby and enjoying the buzz of putting it all together.

In terms of marketing and advertising... Well, it’s case of as many strings to the bow as you can find. The core advertising is pretty simple: go to mainstream publications for print adverts and remember that the local press media have to be brought on board to bring in that new young audience!

For the latter, there has to be a ‘Big Name’ angle. If you can approach them with an angle involving Batman/Spider-Man/Star Wars/ a big new film release, they’ll probably give you some coverage...

For example, we always do a press release for the local press/radio listing the main guests. When V for Vendetta came out the amount of column inches that got was fantastic! Now I always list David Lloyd (as the man in my book is a major talent and I’m always delighted when I get his email saying he’ll be attending) but because V was on his ‘CV’ that year, the local media had a hook.

Also, be prepared to do the local radio interviews. Again, you'll get great coverage but they will always want to talk about the current trend in comics or people wearing costumes! Last year I did an interview at 7.00am on the Friday with BBC Bristol and the interviewer did ask if we had anyone who could turn up in costume. I did point out that it was radio and that the con hadn’t even started!

You catch my drift. Great to have the coverage but you do have to work at it!

downthetubes: Do you use emerging technologies to spread the word about BCE? Do you have a website or blog, or use email mailing lists?

Mike: Yes, the website is the main player now in advertising the show.

This year we did transfer that to because we just did not have the time to maintain the site. Both Dave and I have limited time owing to our day jobs and so I was more than happy to let someone else do the work!

Albeit I have full control on the content, our new web guy does the work in making my random notes and jottings notes look superb (and readable).

We sold out this year as everyone knows and tickets were only available pre-show via PayPal.

There’s no blog/egroups for the show... I don’t read any of them and belong to no egroups. The site is up to date with all the information and I am very easy to get hold of should anyone have ideas/questions. Anyone who has emailed me in the past will, 99% of the time, get a reply the same day. My mobile is also on the site when it’s active and we have a PO box as well.

Another small aside: this year when we downsized, I was told by my ‘spies’ that a few people were posting that Bristol was smaller this year and asking what was going on. Now the people who did actually bother to email/call me got the full story. Barry at The Geek Syndicate was one of the first to ask about the situation and he ran the reply on their site. And that is the sort of reporting that really does help promote the industry. They then got a few exclusive announcements from me to thank them for their support. For example, The DC Portfolio Session booking details were on the Syndicate site days before we ran the details on our site.

The ‘naysayers’ do appear to be a small handful of people who have no experience in organising an international event or, I would guess, only have experience of running a tombola at the local school.

Me? Done both and ran the BBQ!

I do have a small team (Well, Craig and Barry at the Geek Syndicate to be honest!) that produces all the internet releases and podcasts and a cracking job they do too. It’s vital to the show and something I would struggle to find the time to do myself.

downthetubes: What about print? Do you use print advertising, have a newsletter, anything like that?

Mike: Yes, print is still a player! This year we ran adverts/features in 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, Comics International and Imagine FX.

downthetubes: What's the mix in terms of exhibitors at your con?

Mike: Yes, we try for a nice balance. I prefer pros at tables where possible and the indie press. I know small press is the more widely used term, but so much of what those guys produce is waaaay beyond being small press. The term seems to remind me of the 1980s photocopy job, so we started to use the UK indie press line a few years ago.

Although this year we had the Small Press Expo, so what do I know?

Publishers are always welcome: Rebellion, Panini, Markosia, Reed Full Circle, Self Made Hero and, as I said, we did headhunt Classic Illustrated this year.

Dealers I have always ‘capped’ and will do so every year. Yes, dealers are the sharp end of the biz and I do try to have a cross section. Incognito are ever present because Dave Finn brings a great selection of books to the show and is always on the invite list. This year, even with the smaller show, Dave was there!

I will always try to cater for the ‘bargain book’ dealer(s) as well - then I can afford to buy some! There will always be a small number of fans who come to buy books and that's great. That is what they come for and could not care less that Jim Lee, Dave Gibbons, Alan Davis et all are signing, They want to (hopefully) find some of the books that their local shop does not stock...

downthetubes: What are your thoughts on the small press comics scene in this country? Does BCE support the small press and what form does that support take?

Mike: We have a very proud tradition in the promotion of small press at Bristol and have had since 1999 when we had the Small Press Village in front of the DC Stand, something not ever done before in the UK I believe. I made a few comments on the small press earlier, and I've said on many occasions we have the best indie creators anywhere. It would be unfair to single anyone out, as he overall quality is of the highest order! I recall a few years ago Jeff Smith taking some books over to Jim Lee saying, ‘Check out these books, they are fantastic.’

With the old show I did try to have circa 50 per cent of the tables given over to the small press.

This year, by adding the Mercure as the Small Press Expo, we were then able to expand the small press to the level that I feel it should be at, with maximum exposure at the show.

With us being able to add Gilbert Shelton and Hunt Emerson to the guest list for their signing sessions I felt we were able to raise the [indie comics] profile without compromising on the ethos of the event.

Fate also smiled along when Top Shelf and Knockabout brought along Kev O' Neill, again a guest we could add to the Small Press Expo, who fitted the in perfectly and again helped raise the bar on the promotion of the second venue. I was very aware that we had to maintain a status quo with the Expo this year and the split did seem to work out.

OK, the small press room at the Ramada was not as good as I hoped for and that is something I must address for next year.

downthetubes: If you've got the Small Press Expo at a separate venue, why is there a small press room at the Ramada?

Mike: It was a question of timing! When I was just going to run at the Ramada, space was at a premium. But I still wanted a small press showcase so the Park Room was allocated for that purpose

To let you have a little background on that thought and the promotion of the small press which, as I have stated, is very important to Bristol, to try to ensure the footfall, I allocated the room opposite the charity sketch-a-thon, the two Alan Davis signings and the DC Portfolio session to try to make sure fans did visit the room. It's only 30 yards from the main lobby, but there's always a danger that people will not always check out all the features of a convention!

Outside in the hallway we had John M. Burns and Gary Erskine plus selected other artists and a TV21 Mini Art Show to try to make sure the fans did not miss out.

Even with all that in place, I felt that it didn’t work as well as it should and it's one of the elements of 2010 that we need to address.

Anyway, I have again gone off track! This small press room was already in place before Mal made that call about running the Small Press Expo at the Mercure, so we did end up with two small press promotions at the show.

The support for the Mercure was way beyond the level of interest that we thought we would get. It was not a new idea for Bristol in that we have always had two venues, but the previous split was the Commonwealth as the ‘exhibitors’ and the Ramada for talks/events.

We had no idea have two shows would work alongside each other. They did! Job done and without a crystal ball .... which would be great to have at most times with con organising.

downthetubes: How much are the tickets for the BCE? How did you arrive at that price? Please tell us about any concessions.

Mike: Reverse engineering is one way. We know what the cost base is and then look at the number of tables we can sell. We take an estimate of the potential ticket sales, add that to the income we hope to make on the tables, if that figure is more than the cost base, job done!

It's not an exact science and we constantly monitor the cash flow. If we are nicely in front I will add another, usually international, guest. It worked out that way with Allen Heinberg a couple of years ago, Allan wanted to attend and I had a capacity in the income to cover what was needed, so Allan was a late (and super) addition.

Back to the ticket prices. They are a fine balancing act, to be honest. This year a day rate adult ticket was £6 Jan to March with a weekend ticket at £12. This rose to £7 and £14 after March. A child day rate of £3 then £5 [after March]. Under 9’s were free with a fee-paying adult

downthetubes: How much are exhibitor tables for the BCE? Again, how did you arrive at that figure?

Mike: See above! Dealer/publisher tables are £150 for the weekend and have been since 1999! Small press tables have increased from £60 to £70 this year. This is part of that balancing act. I had to make a call three years on the small press rate about either keeping it at £60 but then I would have had to cap the number and I didn’t want to do that. The rise did mean I could continue to sell ‘unlimited’ small press tables.

downthetubes: Do you run workshops/events/panels at the BCE? Please tell us about those and how they are organised.

Mike: Oh yes! We have tried to run workshops every year where possible. We did the local schools ones for two years as part of the Read a Million Words Schools promotion. Two years ago the Yokaj Studio ran two manga workshops.

In terms of events and panels, we are very proud of our programme each year.

We always try to run at least one on stage interview with a major US guest. Themed panels are the norm. This year the chance to get Dave Gibbons and John Higgins to host the Who Watched the Watchmen? panel was too good to miss. There are many more examples over the year, such as the launch of Albion with just about everyone involved taking part (Apart from that chap from Northampton, I recall?)

This year we had, as always, fantastic support from DC who kindly produced an Ashcan just for us. They also did the same with Green Arrow Year One as Andy Diggle and Jock were going to be there the month before the release and this year Mike Carey’s Unwritten got the ashcan treatment. Only at the panels, mind (or later in the day, on eBay!)

One more highlight for Bristol was the Hypotheticals panel that was hosted by Budgie for the last nine years. Sadly this year we did not have the room to run it, which was a shame as the tenth anniversary one would have been a great one to have run.

downthetubes: As you've been kind enough to answer these questions, please fell free to big the BCE up a bit. Tell us what you do well, what the BCE's main attractions are and why our readers should attend the next one.

Mike: I could say that we are the best UK con and you really should be there! For the best, go west...

But, to be honest, if you want to go to any UK con you will have a fine, fine time. Yes, Bristol is the longest running one now and we have a great venue(s) and some great guests but the teams at Birmingham or Inverness could say the same!

We do talk on a regular basis and see each other’s events as complimentary. So, if you have any interest in going to a Con, yes we’d love to see you at Bristol, but we all do the shows to promote comics cuz we love ‘em!

Bottom line, we do have a lot of fun! That makes it all worthwhile!

I'm sorry if I have forgotten to name check the so many fine people who support us each year. You know who you are and if you ever catch me at the bar the drinks are on me.... No one has yet though!

Meanwhile... any questions of offers of mega bucks sponsorship please feel to drop me an email.

downthetubes: Mike, thanks very much for your time and the very best of luck for 2010.

• For the latest news on the Bristol Comic Expo visit More Matters of Convention 176: Oli Smith of London Underground Comics Caption: In Conversation with Jay Eales and Selina Lock The British International Comic Show: Interview with Shane Chebsey Hi-Ex, Inverness: A Conversation with Vicky Stonebridge

Panel Borders: Octopi, dogs and bears, oh my!

Henri and the Hidden Veggie Garden by Henri GoldsmannOriginally broadcast 13/08/09 as an episode of Strip! on Resonance 104.4 FM, Panel Borders continues its month devoted to childrens' comics with an interview with artists Henri Goldsmann and Richy K. Chandler about their work.

Henri is the author of a new picture book - Harold (a dog’s best friend) - and has a successful career as a caricaturist, having dabbled in graphic novels such as Secret Agent Spanky Sheep on the side. He's also created titles such as Henri and the Hidden Veggie Garden, as part of the Love Your Veggies campaign. Richy has produced ten terrific mini comics such as Lucy the Octopus and Govinda the Meditating Rabbit over the last couple of years which, as we previously reported, are now available in a cute bear shaped box set

Strip! Octopi, dogs and bears, oh my! is available from the Panel Borders archive on

Web Links:

• Henri Goldsmann's official web site:

youtube video of Henri drawing

Review of Henry and the Hidden Veggie Garden

• Buy Henri’s books:

Secret Agent Spanky Sheep

Henry and the Hidden Veggie Garden

Harold (A dog’s best friend)

• Richy K. Chandler's myspace pages for comics and music

Watch a video of Richy constructing the mini-comics box set

Info about Richy at

Join the Panel Borders facebook group

• Follow Panel Borders on Twitter:

Thursday, 13 August 2009

In Review: The Rainbow Orchid

gn_rainbow_orchid.jpgWe plugged The Rainbow Orchid enthusiastically after its Foyles launch (see news story), but David Hailwood has just sent us this review, so here's another plug for the book!

The Plot: The Rainbow Orchid is an ambitious blend of classic storytelling and cinematic artwork in which adventure, historical drama and legend are seamlessly intertwined. In Volume One, follow the story's hero, Julius Chancer, as he embarks on a hazardous quest for the rainbow orchid - a mythical flower last mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher, Theophrastus, and steeped in legend. His epic journey takes him from 1920s Britain to the Indian subcontinent and its mysterious lost valleys.

The Review: The Rainbow Orchid – a new graphic novel by Garen Ewing, published by Egmont - involves the adventures of Julius Chancer, the youthful headstrong assistant of historical researcher Sir Alfred Catesby-Grey, as he embarks on a quest to find the mystical rainbow orchid.

Finding a copy of the book just a few days after the launch turned out to be quite an adventure in itself. After globe trotting across several continents (Bognor, Lewes and Brighton), employing various exciting modes of transport (train, and a brisk walking pace), and getting into many hilarious scrapes with the natives (one lone sales assistant in Waterstones, who believed I was after something called ‘Rambo Orchard’), I finally managed to track down a massive towering display containing at least fifty copies of the rascal in Borders.

After four long arduous hours, my quest was finally at an end! But at what cost, eh? What cost?

Quite a reasonable one, actually: £6.99.

Thankfully, it wasn’t just the price that made it worth the trek. The Rainbow Orchid is what the Daily Star or some such tabloid might refer to as ‘A Rollicking Rip Roaring Roller-coaster Ride of Excitement, Adventure, Mayhem and Mirth!’

Garen expertly juggles a cast of dozens, all of whom ooze personality and sport brilliantly extravagant names (and in case readers forget who’s who, there’s a handy character reference sheet at the front of the graphic novel).

The artwork throughout is clear and vibrant; simple in style, yet detailed in scope. The story carries universal appeal; children will enjoy The Rainbow Orchid for its sense of fun and adventure, and adults will enjoy it for the nostalgic Tintin qualities and gentle English humour, with villains being dispatched using bags of flour and pots of paste in a true Jeeves and Wooster fashion.

There’s little to offend and plenty to enjoy, with lots of visual jokes and character laughs (my favourites involving a scene with a drunken lord waving his sword around on the roof whilst spouting a near Churchill-like speech, and the villainous henchmen getting their comeuppance when they’re set upon by a rowdy group of angry French clowns).

Although there are only 36 pages of comic strip inside, The Rainbow Orchid’s still a densely packed affair; sometimes as many as 13 panels are crammed into a page, and yet the storytelling’s so well paced it never feels like Garen’s trying to squeeze too much in.

Since this is only Volume One of The Rainbow Orchid, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Julius Chancer’s escapades. Good thing too, as it’s marvellously entertaining stuff, and a bally good read at that!

Web Links

The Official Rainbow Orchid web site

Podcast Interview with Garen Ewing

Read an interview Matthew Badham conducted with Garen here on the Forbidden Planet International blog

More Reviews...

Kelvin Green for Comics Bulletin

"Part of the joy of The Rainbow Orchid is that it has a massive nostalgic pull, taking me right back to the days when the only comics I could get from the library were these colourful cartoony things from artists with unusual Gallic names. Yet a greater part of my enjoyment of the book--enough to get me to buy it a third time--is that it's just very well put together. It's an exercise in a type of storytelling that we do not see too often in English nowadays..."

Win Wiacek, The Comics Review

"Enchantingly engaging, astonishingly authentic and masterfully illustrated in the legendary Ligne Claire style, this is a wonderful tale that ranks amongst the very best all-ages graphic narratives and although the wait for the next volume might seem interminable the online presence and added value items which can be found at should keep your bated breath puffing along until then."

James Lovegrove, The Financial Times

"Ewing has mastered the ligne claire style which Hergé and his “Brussels school” pioneered in the 1950s. This means strong, clean visuals, no stippling or cross-hatching, artful use of colour to separate foreground from background, cartoonish figures set against realistic backdrops, and often wordy captions...

"... Yet The Rainbow Orchid is no mere homage. Ewing has crafted something at once reverential and joyous that has a life of its own. With the UK publishing industry slow to adopt the graphic novel form, it’s heartening that someone has given a book like this a chance. "

Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet International blog

"The Rainbow Orchid could be, should be, a huge hit for Garen and Egmont. The Tintin connection means it’s got an instant recognition factor, but beneath the obvious beauty of the artwork is an equally great, old fashioned adventure tale. It works for children and it works for us adults. An absolutely cracking adventure story."

Julia Eccleshare, LoveRead4Kids

"The Rainbow Orchid is an ambitious blend of classic storytelling and cinematic artwork in which adventure, historical drama and legend are seamlessly intertwined. If you like your comics full of mystery and adventure and you love the worlds of H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Edgar P. Jacobs and Hergé, then you'll love this. The Rainbow Orchid is traditional adventure at its best."

Brits in Baltimore!

A small contingent British comic creators - including Wolverine: Origins artist Dougie Braithwaite - will be in Baltimore for the Baltimore Comic Con in October.

The Baltimore Comic-Con staff tell us they've been busily working on arranging the Harvey Awards whose winners will be announced at the event, sorting accommodations, arranging promotions, partnerships, exhibitors, and guests, and they're behind announcing much of it!

While there are a number of things still in the development stages, the guest list is pretty much firmed up by the looks of things. With their Guest of Honour announced as George Perez, in among a huge range of creators set to attend are a sprinkling of Brits, including Doug Braithwaite (Wolverine: Origins), Barry Kitson (Amazing Spider-Man) and James Robinson (Superman).

Last month, the Con announced a number of top Marvel creators would be attending the show, including Jason Aaron (Wolverine), Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers), Frank Cho (Ultimates 4), David Finch (Ultimatum) and Matt Fraction (Uncanny X-Men),

Also at the event will be Mike and Laura Allred (Madman), Pat Broderick (Vincent Price Presents), Jo Chen (New Avengers: The Reunion), Jimmy Cheung (New Avengers: Illuminati), J.M. DeMatteis (Daredevil), Evan Dorkin (Beasts of Burden), Jan Duursema (Star Wars: Legacy), Sarah Dyer (Superman Adventures), Steve Englehart (Avengers), Bob Fingerman (Recess Pieces), Kathryn Immonen (Runaways), Scott Koblish (Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds), Steve Lieber (Underground), Tom Mandrake (The Outsiders), Larry Marder (Beanworld), Laura Martin (Thor), Kevin Nowlan (The Spirit), Jeff Parker (Agents of ATLAS), Whilce Portacio (Spawn), Buddy Prince (Night), Brian Pulido (Lady Death), Ian Sattler (Final Crisis: Aftermath), Marc Silvestri (Witchblade), Peter Tomasi (Blackest Night: Batman), Jim Valentino (Shadowline Comics), Rob Venditti (The Surrogates), Len Wein (Justice League of America) and Brian Wood (sponsored by Laughing Ogre Comics, Northlanders).

You'll also see many returning guests, such as Dick Ayers (Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos), Jim Calafiore (Batgirl), Nick Cardy (Aquaman), Bernard Chang (Wonder Woman), Sean Chen (Dark Reign: Fantastic Four), Cliff Chiang (Green Arrow & Black Canary), Chris Claremont (X-Men Forever), Steve Conley (Star Trek: Year Four), Amanda Conner (Power Girl), Todd Dezago (Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man), Al Feldstein (Mad), John Gallagher (Buzzboy), Ron Garney (Wolverine: Weapon X), Bryan J.L. Glass (Mice Templar), Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules), Cully Hamner (Detective Comics), Tony Harris (Ex Machina), Dean Haspiel (The Alcoholic), Adam Hughes (Power Girl), Stuart Immonen (New Avengers), Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), J.G. Jones (Final Crisis), Joe Jusko (Kolchak: Tales of the Night Stalker), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Scott Kurtz (PvP), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Greg LaRocque (Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man), Luna Brothers (The Sword), David Mack (Kabuki), Ron Marz (Witchblade), Sean McKeever (Teen Titans), Mark McKenna (BananaTail), Mike McKone (Amazing Spider-Man), Bob McLeod (New Mutants), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), Mark Morales (Secret Invasion), Doug Murray (Jungle Girl Season 2), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Phil Noto (Batgirl), Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex), Dan Parsons (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Brandon Peterson (Ultimate Comics Armor Wars), Eric Powell (The Goon), Tom Raney (Dark Reign: Hawkeye), Alex Robinson (Too Cool to be Forgotten), Budd Root (Cavewoman), Don Rosa (Uncle Scrooge), Craig Rousseau (Iron Man & The Armor Wars), Stephane Roux (Amazing Spider-Man), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Tim Sale (Heroes), Scott Christian Sava (Dreamland Chronicles), Walt Simonson (Thor), Andy Smith (Dean Koontz's Nevermore), Jim Starlin (Strange Adventures), Brian Stelfreeze (Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink), Karl Story (Batman: Streets of Gotham), Herb Trimpe (Hulk), Billy Tucci (Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion), Dexter Vines (Wolverine), Neil Vokes (The Black Forest), Doug Wagner (The Ride), Matt Wagner (Grendel), Mark Waid (The Incredibles), and Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing).

"What an incredible line-up we've arranged for our 10th anniversary show," said Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. "We've been chugging along, building the guest list, working with the city of Baltimore on the hotel program, co-ordinating the Harvey Awards, and a million other little things involved with getting things ready for October."

• This year's Baltimore Comic-Con will be held 10th - 11th October 2009. Convention hours are Saturday 10.00am to 6.00pm and Sunday 10.00am to 6.00pm. The ceremony and banquet for the Harvey Awards will be held Saturday night, 10th October. The latest developments can always be found at the Convention website (, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and ComicSpace pages. Next year's Baltimore Comic-Con will take place over 28-29th August 2010.

Alan Moore's Hip Hop Collaboration

Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen writer and co-creator Alan Moore is collaborating on a new graphic novel project with art rap musician Doseone.

Partly inspired by Radiohead's deluxe version of In Rainbows, the Moore project, tentatively titled Unearthing, tries to hit all senses at once. Music site Pitchfork reports the autobiographical work is due to include a "photographic novel," a two-hour audiobook already recorded by Moore, art prints, and a vinyl soundtrack featuring Doseone and Fog and will be released next year by UK indie label Lex Records.

"It has a score by some artists and the visual side of it is amazing," Tom Brown, founder of London-based Lex, told

"It's full of recurring themes, and all this recurring writing breaks and reconstructs its phrasings over and over again throughout," he continued. "So we kinda found those motifs, brought them all in and out, and then made holes in it, where we made things recur and then patched the holes."

While the full line up of artists has yet to be confirmed, Billboard reports the score that accompanies the book is being worked on by Andrew Broder of alternative act Fog and spoken word artist Adam Drucker. Brown says musicians in the frame to provide key elements of the soundtrack include Mike Patton of Faith No More and Justin Broadrick, formerly of industrial metal band Godflesh.

"It started as a collaboration between [Alan] and Mitch Jenkins, an old compatriot of his who is a photographer and who does really brilliant work," Doesone, who holds Moore in high regard told Pitchfork. "They wanted to do a graphic novel that is photo-art and novel. And this is more novel than graphic at this point.

"It's actually more a novel. Mitch did all the photos, and so it will be more like a giant coffee table book than anything else. But the writing itself is extremely dense," Doseone told Pitchfork.

"It's a prose-based novel, and it's too confusing for me to try and correctly encapsulate. But it is about, uh, a co-worker of Alan's and somehow seemingly about Alan himself. And it's about the comic industry, the world of magic, the world we live in, the world we don't live in. Really fantastic writing."

The project is not, the musician says, being done 'comic style'.

"'Graphic novel', in this case, is completely misleading. Like 'rap record' with Themselves. It's actually more a novel. Mitch did all the photos, and so it will be more like a giant coffee table book than anything else. But the writing itself is extremely dense. It's a prose-based novel, and it's too confusing for me to try and correctly encapsulate. But it is about, uh, a co-worker of Alan's and somehow seemingly about Alan himself. And it's about the comic industry, the world of magic, the world we live in, the world we don't live in. Really fantastic writing."

During the recording of the audiobook in Northampton, where Moore lives, the process was filmed for possible inclusion in the box set.

Unearthing will be released in 2010. Read the interview with Doseone on Pitchfork here.

Lex Records Official Web Site

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

In Review: Bryan Talbot's Grandville

books_grandville.jpgThe Plot: Bryan Talbot's most recent book, Alice in Sunderland, was hailed by The Guardian as one of the ten best graphic novels ever and acclaimed by critics all over the world. Before that, at the start of his career, he created the first ever steampunk graphic novel, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.

In GrandvilleGrandville Talbot brings us another steampunk masterpiece. Inspired by the work of the nineteenth-century French illustrator Gerard, who worked under the pseudonym 'Grandville' and frequently drew anthropomorphic animal characters, it tells the story of detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard as he stalks a gang of murderers through the heart of Belle Epoque Paris.

In this alternative reality, France is the major world power and its capital is thronged with steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons and flying machines. The characters are mostly animals, though there is an underclass of humans, often referred to as 'dough faces', who resemble the 'clear-line' characters of Herge's Tintin books.

Visually stunning, Grandville is a fantastical and audacious rollercoaster ride that will add to Talbot's reputation as one of the best graphic novelists in the world.

The Review: After what some would describe as the 'heavy' nature of Alice in Sunderland, with his new project, Grandville, writer-artist-Doctor Bryan Talbot kicks off his shoes and delivers a no-nonsense steampunk adventure melding Rupert the Bear, Tintin and Kill Bill-styled action, with plenty of humour along the way - and it's simply brilliant.

Quite apart from the stunning steampunk-inspired graphics there's plenty of action, beautiful art and a horde of in-jokes for comics fans that don't detract from overall adventure, as the unstoppable badger Inspector LeBrock takes on the devious French to expose a heinous plot that plugs straight into 9/11 conspiracy theories and more.

Well known for his attention to detail and fastidious art style, Bryan ensures his mystery plot has no holes, right down to the obvious silk ribbon in a typewriter used to write a mystery report by a murder victim LeBrock is called on to investigate in a rural England recently freed from French rule (no chance of reading the report from that). The in jokes are great: the drug addict 'Snowy' dreaming of Blue Lotus and more, and my favourite, the revelation that the dough-faced and odd-looking humans apparently originate in Angouleme (home of course to the world's most recognized international annual comics event and major bande dessines museum in our world).

GrandvilleGrandville is a delight: you can read it as a fun, no-nonsense, rip-roaring adventure or re-read it for all the subtext Bryan's woven into the tale. The central characters are heroic but endearing, the villains vile and well worth booing as they make their entrance.

With a every page a feast for the eye we have no hesitation is saying Grandville is highly recommended...

Grandville is published by Jonathan Cape and is on sale from 15th October 2009

More Reviews

"I love this comic. It’s big, bold, brash, insanely detailed and has badgers torturing frogs. There are steam powered carriages and robots, gratuitous violence, big explosions, lots of kicking, a decent ending and Inspector Brock finding a long, long way from Wind in the Willows..."

- Rich Johnston, Bleeding Cool

Web Links

Official Grandville Section on

Official Dark Horse Grandville homepage.

Interviews with Bryan Talbot on Grandville:

• SteamPunk Magazine: Bryan Talbot on Bastable, Brass Goggles and badgers.

• Comics Bulletin: Creating an anthropomorphic thriller in that ol' steampunk style

• Newsarama: The Grandville Tour: talking to Bryan Talbot

Darabont Takes on The Walking Dead?

The Walking Dead

Writer director Frank Darabont - whose impressive credits include The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile - looks about to take on zombies currently being drawn by British artist Charlie Adlard for a new TV project.

Variety reports cable network AMC is close to finalizing one of the richest development deals ever with Darabont to write and direct a series adaptation of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.

Published by Image Comics since 2003, The Walking Dead was created by writer Robert Kirkman - also the creator of Invincible and Marvel Comics' Marvel Zombies miniseries - and artist Tony Moore (replaced by Charlie Adlard from #7 onward). First published in black and white, but now coloured by Cliff Rathburn, the series chronicles the travels of a group of people trying to survive in a world stricken by a zombie apocalypse.

Joel Stillerman, AMC's senior veep of programming, production and original content, said the project appealed to the cabler because of "the quality of the storytelling" in Kirkman's work. The series will stay faithful to the tone of the original novels.

"This is not about zombies popping out of closets," Joel Stillerman, AMC's senior veep of programming said. "This is a story about survival, and the dynamics of what happens when a group is forced to survive under these circumstances. The world (in 'Walking Dead') is portrayed in a smart, sophisticated way."

Read the story in full on the Variety web site

Visit The Walking Dead Official web site

Visit Robert Kirkman's web site

Visit Charlie Adlard's Official web site

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Unmask Corruption competition Launched

Corruption is both a cause of poverty and a barrier to overcoming it, and one of the most serious obstacles to eradicating poverty. Now, experimental youth initiative Ctrl.Alt.Shift - a community of self proclaimed “outspoken” individuals working to highlight corruption through their own magazine - have joined forces with Oscar nominated Marjane Satrapi (author of Persepolis), and acclaimed musician and writer Dev Hynes (aka Lightspeed Champion) to launch their Unmasks Corruption competition.

The two artists will judge a competition along with Comica Director Paul Gravett, Musician and Writer/Artist duo V V Brown and David Allain to give people the chance to create a unique comic style story in collaboration with Dev Hynes.

After the first round of judging at the end of September, five shortlisted entrants will be given Lightspeed Champion’s comic script as inspiration and asked to create a visual adaptation of the story. The winning commission will be published in a comic and form part of an exhibition around the theme of corruption at Lazarides Gallery in London's Soho, coinciding with Comica this November at The Institute Of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London.

“We’re looking for someone who can really communicate through their drawing," explains Paul Gravett. "There’s no set medium - manga, traditional or mainstream [are all acceptable]. Comics are a complex language. Beyond the drawing, they need to think about symbols, layout choices, sound effects and how to construct sophisticated meanings.”

“For the story I’m writing, I’m trying to create something with a universal message which can be adapted in many ways," adds Dev. "But part of what is truly wonderful about comics is that it’s not TV, it’s not film and there’s no budget. Your imagination can run wild - so let it, and have fun."

• To enter the competition please send relevant examples of your visual work along with your contact details to Ctrl.Alt.Shift by Friday 25th September by visiting, or email your examples to

Review Round Up: Pasties, Khaki Shorts and Thief Takers!


Over the past couple of months several indie press folk have sent us comics for review and I have to apologize for being slow at publishing reviews of them. downthetubes remains a site created in spare time between paid work (offers always welcome) and I've got behind with this aspect of the site. The good news is that David Hailwood has now stepped up the plate to be our small press/indie press Reviews Editor, and if you want a plug here, please send your comics to the address below. (But make sure you continue to send us press information to the usual e-mail address, thanks)

Premable over, let's cut to the comment, firstly for Rob Jackson's joyous Pasty Anthology, a 28-page black and white title with colour cover dedicated to the Cornish-created pastry delicacy that you can fill with anything (purportedly the reason why the devil never crossed the Tamar river, by the way). Combining the talents of Matt Badham, Jim Medway,
Steve Butler, Francesca Cassavetti, Dave Hughes, Ant Mercer and of course, Rob himself, this is a fun title, evidenced from the outset by its Planet of the Apes-inspired cover. Favourite elements? Hard to choose, but Steve Butler's twist in the tale 'Keeping Fit' and Francesca's 'Chewing Gum' are in there, but some of the grotesque eating habits displayed in Rob's own 'Shortcrusts #2' don't just make for strong comic strip, they'd look great on t-shirts, perhaps.

comic_khaki_shorts20.jpgAnother anthology title, Khaki Shorts #20, has also been winking at me from the corner of my desk for a while: Glasgow's longest running small-press comic offers another fantastic assembly of talent that includes Neil Bratchpiece ('Apocalypse Now & Then', featuring Amazilian, the most anatomically incorrect woman in comics, ever, surely), loads of Rob Miller's 'Star Trudge', 'The Wildebeests' by Shug and much more. Khaki Shorts is simply bursting with the kind of frenetic energy that some pro titles used to have: personally I think some strips would benefit from a larger page size rather than the A5 format ('Dollyforce 2020', in particular), but with a cover price of just £1 one pound, who's complaining?

comic_thieftakergeneral2.jpgFinally for this round up, there's Storm Comics two issue mini series Thief Taker General, which we frist plugged back in (gulp) June (see news story). Writer-artist Michael Crouch has worked hard on this true-life story adaptation, telling the story of two legends of 18th century London, Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard. It's an impressive piece of work, with some qualification.

Of the two issues, the first features the better art (but I'm not keen on the cover) but #2 seems, well, rushed, somehow, as if Michael was setting himself a challenge of getting the book out to a self-imposed deadline. There is better composition and storytelling in Issue 1, although in some establishing panels his wonderful attention to detail and careful recreation of 18th century life sometimes distracts from the central characters in a panel. Script-wise, the second issue also seems a trifle muddied: I have to confess I lost track of who was who, although the three-page set piece of Jack Sheppard's esacpe from prison is a visual gem.

Thief Taker is good with plenty of promise and I think Michael has the makings of a fine talent, properly tempered by stronger storytelling and better figure work (this is what all editors say, but it's true). With the huge number of 'historical comics' on the market in the pro sector, there should be no shortage of work for a honed talent.

• If you have a small press or indie title you would like us to review, send them to David Hailwood, Flat 5, The Saltings, Bognor Regis, West Sussex P021 2RJ. Press information should still be sent by e-mail to the usual downthetubes e-mail address, thanks.

• For a measly £2.50 (PayPal accepted), free postage in the UK, you can buy Pasty Anthology from Rob's web site at Rob's blog includes sample Pages and more info:

Khaki Shorts #20 is on sale from Avalanche Records, the Arches Cafe and Bar, Ychai Ovna, Play it Again Sam in Glasgow and Deadhead Comics in Edinburgh. More info and ordering:

• All three Storm Comics titles - the scifi tale After Life and Thief Taker General #1 and #2 - can be bought in one fell swoop for £8.00 inc. p&p, a saving of £1.25, from the Storm Comics web site at

Monday, 10 August 2009

Warren Ellis' Supergod debuts in October

comic_supergod_avatarpress.jpgWarren Ellis has been talking about his new Supergod project for Avatar Press, which launches in October.

"I think of it as the third leg of a superhero-fiction trilogy, following Black Summer and No Hero," he reveals on his web site. This one is much more of a science-fiction piece."

In the world of Supergod, superhumans are the ultimate expression of the Messiah complex, and scientists can build Messiahs who will fly down from the skies to save the world. Unfortunately, no-one thought about how they’d save the world — or even if they’d want to...

So begins the apocalyptic tomorrow of Supergod — the story of how supermen killed us all and ended the world just because we wanted to be rescued by human-shaped things from beyond Science itself.

"Take every superhero comic ever published, shove them into a nuclear-powered blender, soak it in bad vodka and set the whole thing alight — and Supergod will crawl out and eat your brain," Warren assures us.

In addition to the standard cover for #1 above, there will be various variant covers including a wraparoud and an "extremely pure and pious" Church of Supergod variant cover.

• Watch out for more info over at

DC Thomson buys Friends Reunited

Via Forbidden Planet International and others:: Scottish publishing empire DC Thomson, home to long-loved titles like the Beano, Sunday Post and the Dandy among many other publications, has bought the Friends Reunited website through its subsidiary Brightsolid Limited.

DCT subsidiary Bright Solid picked up the site for £25 million according news reports, buying it from seriously struggling commercial broadcaster ITV, which bought it for £120 million only four years ago.

City analysts have estimated the value of Friends Reunited at between £20m and £50m.

The Guardian notes that the social networking arm of Friends Reunited is the least profitable part of the business, particularly after its subscription service was dropped in May last year, just before the bottom fell out of the advertising market.

Friends Reunited also runs a dating operation – which primarily handles white-label online dating services for companies including Daily Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror – and Genes Reunited.

The transaction is subject to approval by the competition authorities.

Read the BBC News Story)

Pat Mills Signing Announced

Requiem Chevalier Vampire Volum e2Top British comic writer Pat Mills will be signing copies of the English language release of the first volume of his Requiem Chevalier Vampire series at Forbidden Planet London next month.

One of the founding fathers of 2000AD and a legendary name in British comics, Pat Mills has created some of the best-known and longest running characters for the magazine, including Slaìne, ABC Warriors and Nemesis The Warlock. His other work also includes writing and developing Judge Dredd and writing the classic World War One war comic strip, Charley’s War, for Battle.

Created to break into the French comics market, Requiem Chevalier Vampire, which is being published by Panini in the UK, collecting material first published in English in Heavy Metal magazine, is characterised by extreme violence and by each issue being more daring and darker than the one before. Several scenes of violent sex fuse with wonderfully dark humour and cynicism; it’s a story of hell and resurrection that contains no concept of justice. Inspired by Mills’ own fascination with reincarnation, Requiem Vampire Knight is a violent, fantastic tale of drugs and reversed reality – and of a search for a lost love.

• Pat will be signing at Forbidden Planet's London Megaztore (179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London) on Saturday 19 September between 13:00 - 14:00 GMT. More info on the Forbidden Planet web site

Titan Books Announce Bond Omnibus

book_tb_BondOmnibus001.jpgTitan Books has put together an omnibus collection of some of James Bond newspapers strips they originally released in shorter albums.

On sale next month, The James Bond Omnibus Vol.1 collects the first time eleven of the Bond strips first published in the Daily Express, which were adapted from Fleming’s novels, before the film adaptations were made.

The first bumper volume of its kind from Titan, ‘Volume 001’ presents Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever, From Russia With Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, Risico, From a View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Thunderball.

Collected together with an introduction by Sir Roger Moore, this slick volume features over 300 pages of beautiful women, thrilling action, incredible gadgets and the odd Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred..

The James Bond Omnibus Volume 1 is released by Titan Books on 25th September 2009

London Alternative Press Festival Report

Comic creator Gareth Brookes reports on the Alternative Press Festival, which took place in London earlier this month...


The Alternative Press Festival took place between the 29th of July and the 2nd of August. The idea was to try to draw together different branches of small press to see what we could learn from other scenes, and experiment with different ways of organising events and getting work out to the public.

The first event was the ‘Publish You’ Anthology Book Launch at Housmans Radical Booksellers. We had put together this book to showcase the best of small press comics, zines, illustration, art books, poetry and radical literature. We wanted it to be a really professionally put together and nicely designed book that would attract people that didn’t know about small press and make them aware of the quality and scope of the scene.
On the night there was a discussion on the subject of ‘Creativity for its own sake’, which focused on the benefits of DIY culture to the individual and to society in general, and another on ‘Developing an Audience’ which addressed how we can break down preconceptions and get the public more interested in small press.

So far the book is now available in these London bookshops: Foyles, Gosh, Orbital Comics, Housmans and the Bookartbookshop. You can also order it from my website:

Are You Zine Friendly Alternative Press Festival EventThe ‘are you zine friendly?’ brought together creators from the world of zine culture. Anyone who wanted to could bring their work down to the Foundry and sell it on communal tables.

The response to this exceeded our highest expectations, within an hour the space was full and we had to improvise various methods of displaying and distributing work. Despite this, the atmosphere was very friendly as people met up, made contacts and swapped work. All the music on the night was made by small press creators and we had a zine wall in the form of a hanging book made of canvas, which people contributed to liberally.

In the long term the aim of ‘are you zine friendly?’ is to try to effect a return to the methods of zine distribution that happened in the 80’s and early 90’s where you couldn’t go to a gig without being approached by zine makers selling their ware’s out of carrier bags. Times have changes since then but we hope that by identifying ‘zine friendly venues’ that are open to hosting small press events, we will make it easier for people to distribute their zines.

The next night was ‘A Spoken Night Out’ at the Griffin. This focused on the spoken word, there were readings by poets both unknown and established (John Citizen, John ‘Jazzman’ Clarke, Fran Isherwood and Burgess the Rhymer), some zine readings and a bit of stand up comedy. Of all the events this was perhaps the one most outside the experience of most of the comics and zine makers that attended the other events, yet in terms of the aims of the Festival it was one of the most effective.

From the poets I spoke to I got the sense that the evening opened them up to the idea of making a zine or comic to compliment their readings, and the comic and zine makers discovered an immediate way of getting a response to their writing which made them think about their writing more. The event certainly established a connection between the two scenes. Expect more in the future.

Collaborama! at the Alternative Press Festival

Saturday was the day of the Collaborama!. The Miller Pub in London Bridge was transformed into a comics and zines workshop. There were stalls where small press creators sold their work, but the focus of the event was the Leeds based Footprinter Co-op who brought down a Risograph machine to print the Collaborama publication.

This 80-page zine was written, drawn, printed, collated and stapled between 11am and 5pm. 300 copies were made which we then began to distribute among the public. We wanted to get some of the best talents in small press in the same room with the means to produce a publication and then step back and see what happened.

The result was a great little zine, in which works by people who had turned up to the event not really knowing much about small press, sit alongside pieces by veteran creators such as Paul Rainey and Tom Humberston.

While this was going on the upstairs, space was used for screen-printing and comic making workshops and there was music from the Anti-Folk collective. In the evening, Resonance FM’s Radio Orchestra performed a piece which was interpreted live on overhead projectors by two teams of small press creators, including Mark Oliver, Dave Landers, Steve Tillotson, Jimi Gherkin, Sina Shamsavari, Paul Ashley Brown, Kate McMorrine and Zarina Liew.

Alternative Press Festival 2009

Sunday saw us back at St Aloysius Social Club for the second Alternative Press Fair, although it was a less experimental affair than some of the previous events, we still wanted it to reflect those aims we had established for the festival as a whole, so we made sure all branches of small press were represented and had a table which was open to anyone who came along with a publication on the day.

The Fair was well attended with a very nice atmosphere, and offered a chance to really get to know some of the people who had come to the other events. There was a real feeling that we had raised public awareness in small press (the festival had been publicised in the London Paper, the Guardian, Artrocker Magazine and on Resonance FM) but also had increased the awareness of creators to those artists working in other areas of small press. We also hope that we showed that its possible to get a bunch of people together to do some events that break out of the usual small press convention format, and that more artists will be encouraged to do interesting events that contribute to the self publishing scene.

Since then we have all been very tired but we have at least one event pencilled in before the end of the year, so keep an eye on!

• The Alternative Press Festival was organised by Jimi Gherkin, Peter Lally, Gareth Brookes, Saban Kazim Ceri May and Chris Bateson, but many people helped out and deserve a thank you so thank you everyone!

• 'Publish You' is now available in Foyles, Gosh, Orbital, Housmans and the Bookartbookshop as well as Gareth's website (

Sunday, 9 August 2009

FindComicApps Site Launched

(Crossposted from the downthetubes mobile comics blog): A new website,, offering a guide to the increasing number of digital comic applications for iPhone has been launched recently.

It's no secret that the App Store can be overwhelming and titles get buried with no way for users stay updated. The creators of this site - who, we will note straight away, seem to want to be rather anonymous, which is odd, but the sites' content is genuine and informative, hence this post - wanted to find a way to aggregate the mobile comics community into one place where consumers can go to find out what comic books are available on mobile platforms.

The website is dedicated solely to the advancement of all mobile comic applications, and the creators say they plan feature new releases every week from all developers across all platforms.

Included is a quick appraisal of every comic iphone app in a useful directory, including iVerse, Crispy Comics, Dark Horse, IDW, Robot Comics, ROK Comics and others. The guide doesn't include a link to the provider's own web sites but does have direct links to their apps and comics on the iTunes store.

The site has only just launched, but it's a handy service which with dedication is sure to grow. Check it out at:

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