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Friday, 21 August 2009

Garth in Colour: Exclusive Sneek Peek!

comic_spaceshipaway19_garth.jpgSpaceship Away, the British science fiction comic anthology publishing all-new adventures of the original Dan Dare, adds Daily Mirror action hero Garth to its line up next issue (Click on the image or here for a larger version).

First published in 1943, Garth's time-travelling adventures lasted for over 50 years and covered 167 stories: the character has recently been revived online by the Mirror in partnership with comics artist Huw-J (read our interview with Huw here)

Featuring a range of time travel, contemporary and space adventures, Spaceship Away's initial re-presentation of the character begins with "The Bubble Man", drawn by the late Frank Bellamy and lovingly coloured by Commando and 2000AD artist John Ridgway.

First published in late 1975, the adventure sees Garth captured by a Mekon-like alien hellbent on conquest. The story, contrary to our earlier research, has never been reprinted widely in English and certainly never in colour: John has done a stunning job, with full respect for Frank Bellamy's detailed, crisp line work.

comic_spaceshipaway19w.jpg• Spaceship Away 19 goes on sale in October: you can subscribe to this high quality three-yearly title at

Frank Bellamy Newspaper Work List

• Garth © 2009 The Daily Mirror

GI Handley: Rise of the Writer

GI Joe Issue 1 UK
With GI Joe: Rise Of The Cobra in cinemas and the first issue of Panini's British GI Joe in the newsagents (see news story), Jeremy Briggs talks to the comic’s writer Ferg Handley about his work on this new licensed title and discovers how to write a comic strip sequel to a film that you have not seen and are not even allowed to see the script of.

While Ferg is best known as one of the main writers for DC Thomson’s Commando the interview also covers the rest of his varied career from the fantasy of Games Workshop to the humour of The Dandy via the football pitch and the comix underground.

Read the interview now on the main downthetubes site

• GI Joe UK comic info at

CBBC Revamps Short Form Animation Portal

The award-winning British channel CBBC has reinforced its commitment to British animation, announcing its online portal Cartoon Works is expanding to become a new destination to premiere short-form content from the UK animation industry.

CBBC has also commissioned brand new animation Muddle Earth based on the much-loved children’s books by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell and Shaun the Sheep returns to screens this autumn in a series of new exploits.

"We're very excited by Cartoon Works which we hope will act as a creative cartoon playground for the UK animation industry," commented Steven Andrew, Head of Drama, Animation and Acquisition for CBBC.

"These new commissions are testament to the talented and creative community working in UK animation today, and the wonderful content that is being produced across the country."

Cartoon Works – CBBC’s popular online portal for animation which launched in 2008 – will premiere new and exciting short-form content made by British animators.

From autumn 2009, the online interactive creative playground will showcase brand new animation from budding under 18 amateurs through to established professionals.

• Cartoon Works Site:

(Be warned, this site take ages to load because of its structure to actually get to the animation gallery!)

• Anyone can submit animation, the best of which will be selected and showcased on and then transmitted on the CBBC Channel in spring 2010.

• Further information will be available soon for animators interested in submitting projects.

Jonathan Ross Reveals His New Comic Title

M_Poster.Color.jpgIn a podcast for top cult news site Geek Syndciate, the often controversial DJ and major celebrity comic fan Jonathan Ross (who has also even appeared in a few, such as The Beano!) has revealed the upcoming four issue mini series he's written with Tommy Lee Edwards is be titled Turf and could be a period gangster comic with supernatural themes.

The US publisher is yet to be announced.

Ross says Tommy Lee Edwards, who he was introduced to by Mark Millar, whose art credits include Batman, Doctor Who, James Bond, Star Wars and more (check out his official web site for more superb portfolio work like the piece above), is currently working on a film project but will start on Turf in about a month.

Bleeding Cool reports that in earlier tweeting commentary, Ross stated that he was finishing the script for issue two and that it wasn’t a superhero comic but was set in the past and featured 1920s vampires, describing it as as "an intelligent popcorn movie. Lots of action, lots of setting, lots of cool ideas, but with an emotional heart to it."

Ross was also asked about how he got into comics in the podcast: he mentions the free mask in Captain Britain given away with Captain Britain Weekly #1 in the 1970s, running his own comic shop in London's Soho with Paul Gambacinni and how they lost thousands of pounds a week, why he is unable to attend comic conventions as much as he would like, and about the adaptation of Mark Millar's Kick Ass that Jonathan's wife, Jane, is working on as well his view on comic to film adaptations.

• Check out the podcast here on Geek Syndicate

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Temple Seeks Drawing, Writing Devotees!

Just a quick reminder that there's just under a month to go until the deadline for contributing to the next Temple (18th September), the e-comic of British small and indie press work that's the brainchild of the Temple APA. Everyone's welcome, so long as they contribute something comic related.

"Last issue was not only the biggest, but the most impressive," says editor David Hailwood, "and Issue 5's also shaping up to be quite a beast of an issue.

"Insomnia have sent me a whole wealth of material for the Insomnia feature, and I've heard from quite a few great creators that they're planning to contribute."

If you have a small press comic that you'd like to advertise in the Temple directory, you can post your details on the Temple APA forum. It's best to put comic details up at least a week before the deadline, so that John Kirkham has time to assemble the Directory.

• Visit templeapa at:

Amazon, Uclick, Launch International Comic Strip Superstar Competition!

Comic Strip Superstar and Andrews McMeel Universal have announced the launch of the first Comic Strip Superstar, the international competition in search of the next popular comic strip artist.

The winner will receive a publishing contract from Andrews McMeel Publishing, a $5,000 advance from mobile comics publisher Universal Uclick and a monthly stipend for the development of 20 comic strips that will be considered for syndication.

"As the nation's premier humour publisher in newspapers, books, mobile phones and online, Andrews McMeel Universal is uniquely suited to bring this comic strip contest to the public,” said Hugh T. Andrews, executive vice president of Andrews McMeel Universal.

“We are excited by the opportunity this contest provides to continue our mission to seek, recognize and celebrate remarkable creative talent, and to share it with an appreciative and enthusiastic audience through a variety of distribution channels.”

Up to 5,000 entries will be accepted for the competition at until 12th September 2009.

Each entry should be original, unpublished work consisting of 10 daily comic strips and two Sunday comics, a title and a brief synopsis. From the submissions, Universal Uclick will narrow the entries down to 250 quarterfinalists.

The quarterfinalists will then be narrowed down to 50 semifinalists by John Glynn and Lee Salem, seasoned Universal Uclick editors. In the semifinal round, popular comic strip creators Garry Trudeau (crator of Doonesbury), Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse), Scott Hilburn (The Argyle Sweater) and Mark Tatulli (Lió and Heart of the City) will choose 10 finalists and post feedback for each on customers will then have the opportunity to view the finalists’ submissions and vote for the grand prize winner.

“We know Amazon customers are extremely creative and enjoy discovering new talent. This competition gives them the opportunity to discover great new comic strip artists, while having a few laughs along the way,” said Jeff Belle, vice president of US Books,

The winner will be announced 9th November 2009, and will receive a prize package from Andrews McMeel Universal which includes a publishing contract with Andrews McMeel Publishing and a newspaper syndication development deal and contract for distribution on desktop and mobile applications from Universal Uclick.

• The competition is open to legal residents of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (excluding the Province of Québec), China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States (the 50 states and D.C.), and the United Kingdom, who are 13 years or older at time of entry.

• For complete terms and conditions on the Comic Strip Superstars competition, visit

In Review: Scarlattine Teatro's Manolibera


Clare Walters, the original director of The Ballad of Halo Jones stage play, reviews Manolibera, a comics-inpsired show at this year's Edinburgh Fringe...

Manolibera is a very charming and ingenious show. A technician is called in to operate a slideshow about a big corporation but, left to his own devices, he begins to doodle on the slides and quickly calls the two actors playing the earnest corporation bosses into his creative and adventurous landscape.

The action moves quickly as the two characters reveal their lives together, take a trip in their red car, visit the seaside, sail a boat and land on a desert island and discover oil which leads to the founding of the corporation.

The actors become part of the cartoon world and sometimes their surroundings are being created around them as they rapidly move from scene to scene. I saw the show on a Saturday afternoon and the whole atmosphere in C venues was like an old film matinee when no-one knew quite what was going to happen next. Children were burbling with delight and adults were rapt. One of my favourite moments was when the technician was colouring in the car and the red pen was spilling over the actor’s white clothing. It’s not high-art cartoon drawing but it is vivid and effective work.

The cartoon format meant that the action was relentless which made the show quite enervating – nothing ever went right for the two characters. The action is also very pacey and the use of language minimal. The female character shrieks virtually throughout and an array of vocal sounds are as important as words in any language – English, French or Italian.

The storytelling is very satisfying and the artwork great fun. The precision of the movements of the actors and props and the work of the artist whether in positioning predrawn slides or drawing around and on top of the actors is faultless.

This show is unique and great fun.

• downthetubes Fringe rating:


Manolibera runs until Monday 31st August at 15:55hrs (16:55hrs) at the C VENUE (venue 34). Tickets are £6.50-£11.50. Box Office: 0845 260 1234

• Fringe Tickets from: or on the door of venues

Manolibera is written and Performed by Michele Cremaschi, Michele Eynard and Anna Fascendini with music by Django Reinhardt

• Scarlattine Teatro is part of Espresso! – a selection of four theatre, comedy and dance companies at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival – all performing at C Venues. Sponsored by the Milanese banking foundation, Fondazione Cariplo, Espresso! is part of the Être Project - Esperienze Teatrali di Residenza (residential theatre experiences) that financially supports emerging companies from the Lombardy region in Italy.

Other companies performing at C Venues as part of the Espresso! season include Dionisi with Serate Bastarde (Bastard Nights), Animanera with Or[f]unny and Sanpapiè with Boh!

More Reviews...

Gerald Berkowitz, The Stage

"This inventive import from Italy is great fun for a while as a pair of actors perform in mime and gibberish while a third projects cartoon overlays on them, occasionally drawing in alterations..."

The Edinburgh Festival Guide

"Although not strictly speaking a children’s show (it's in the Dance & Physical Theatre section of the Fringe programme), this is a wonderful example of how a piece of theatre can cross the generational divide. Italian company, Scarlattine Teatro has brought together two distinct talents – character acting and drawing – and turned them into a seriously clever piece of fun..."

Web Links

• Official web site:

Manolibera italian Web Site (In Italian)

Scarlattine Teatro Web Site

Luna e Gnac Web Site

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Who Wants To Be A Zombie?

Zombies!Rich McAuliffe and Mark Chilcott, the slightly unhinged creators of Insomnia Publications' Damaged Goods, are currently on the prowl for victims... umm...I mean willing volunteers... to immortalise within the pages of the dark and twisted story The Bride. All you need to do is send a photo of yourself doing your best zombie or victim expression.

Should you be one the three that make the cut (sorry, we tried to resist doing that, but we were weak) and be chosen as the model for either a zombie or a wedding guest then you'll appear in the story, get a full name credit in the book, have your original photo appear in the back matter and receive a free copy of the book.

Full details of how to enter can be found over on Rich McAuliffe's

Tube Surfing: Dave Gibbons, Digital Awards and Zombies!

downthetubes has been having some behind-the-scenes computer woes: we apologize for the lack of posts in recent days. We're grateful to Jeremy Briggs for his review of Cinebooks' Rameses' Revenge.

Digital Artist 2009 Masterclass #1 - Dave Gibbons from Intel Digital Artist 2009 on Vimeo. News story below

• Artist Dave Gibbons has been interviewed for The Guardian, talking about how computers have liberated him as an artist – and the dubious honour of inspiring the Comic Sans font... Dave is busy promoting the Digital Artist 2009 awards, backed by Intel and Future Publishing. Gibbons is a judge in the competition to find the digital artist of the year, and has contributed a masterclass video (above) on how he uses digital media.

• A re-design of the official 2000AD web site is underway - expect some modifications to unfurl next week. The official forum is still accessible. Talking of things 2000AD, word is that the latest Meg' (out today) carries the first part of a two part interview with artist Ron Smith.

• Still on 2000AD, the 2000AD Review Site has had a revamp. It looks rather nifty, with the news section now more of a blog featuring 2000AD news and much anything 2000AD related that might be of interest to 2000AD readers.

• Want some great original comic art by a very talented British cartoonist? Lizz Lunney is doing a comic a day for August and selling the original artwork in her online shop.

Lew Stringer reports that the Pathetic Sharks are back in Viz for the summer, and that to mark the humour magazine's 30th birthday, an exhibition of original artwork will be shown at the Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street, London from 4th November 2009 to 24th January 2010 (
Viz No.188, which also features favourites such as Roger Mellie, Eight Ace, Millie Tant, and Meddlesome Ratbag is £3 and on sale now in all good newsagents, supermarkets -- and even some bad ones. Viz website:

500x_vicundead2.jpg• Ian Edginton is writing a six part zombie series for DC Comics' Wildstorm imprint: Victorian Undead, is set in a 19th Century London overrun by zombies, and only Sherlock Holmes can save the day. The series is illustrated by Star Wars and Brothers In Arms artist Davide Fabbri and will launche in November.

• DC Thomson is to launch a Scottish football magazine in October. AllMedia reports Eleven aims to report all levels of the game in Scotland, including the national men's team, the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League, all the way to Highland League and East of Scotland leagues and women's football. Priced £2.75 it will be on sale in newsagents and promises - for its launch issue - news from each of the 42 SPL and SFL clubs, plus a report from the Major League Soccer scene in the USA. No word on whether it will include any comic strip.

• Despite this launch, AllMedia also notes DC Thomson, like all UK publishers, is not having the best of times. It stable of magazines and comics has suffered across-the-board drops in its sales, according to figures published recently, the ABCs indicating the average net circulations of the likes of People’s Friend and the Dandy all experienced sales falls between the end of December, last year, and the end of June this year.

Sales of The Beano average at 53,964 between December 31 and June 30, down 12.8 per cent on the previous six months, and sales of My Weekly average at 145,676, down 4.6 per cent. Read the full report

The Geek Syndicate web site have a 45-minute chat with British International Comics Show organiser Shane Chebsey, where Shane "reveals what events people can expect at this years show as well as a look back at lessons learned from previous years. There is a look behind the scenes at what goes into the preparation of the show and what their plans are for the future."

• And finally... Jason Cobley reports for the education market, Classical Comics have got together with Heinle Cengage Learning to publish an ELT (English language teaching) version of their Frankenstein graphic novel. "It's quite similar to the Quick text version, with some changes to the language for clarification, the intended readers being learners of English as an additional language," says Jason. "It's interesting to compare the three versions alongside each other.

"I know which I prefer as a straight read - for a general reader I'd recommend the Original Text, for younger readers the Quick Text, and a mix of the two for use in schools, emphasising the original text. But the ELT version is a really good tool for schools also, the best thing about it being the audio version that comes with it. It's a great reading, with a variety of voices and sound effects for key scenes - a narrated audio play that I heartily recommend whether using it in school or just to listen to in the car."

Buy Classical Comics: Frankenstein

Compiled with thanks to Matthew Badham

Nick Abadzis Torchwood comic strip reaches finale

comic_torchwood17_broken3.jpgThe latest Torchwood magazine, on sale tomorrow in the UK, features the final part of award-winning British comic book creator Nick Abadzis's story for the title.

Abadzis, creator of the acclaimed graphic novel Laika and a contributor to The Times and Guardian’s comic sections, writes part three of Broken for the hit BBC show's official tie-in publication. In the story, the team are trapped in a mysterious hotel – Gwen Cooper is plagued by the ghosts of Torchwood past, while Captain Jack and Ianto must face Bilis Manger.

Acclaimed artist Paul Grist, creator of Jack Staff and Kane and a regular contributor to the Torchwood title, provides the art.

Abadzis joins a long list of stellar talent to have contributed to the Torchwood comic, including Tommy Lee Edwards, Simon Furman, Ian Edginton, D'Israeli and, recently, Carole and John Barrowman.

• Torchwood Magazine Issue #17 is on sale in the UK and Ireland tomorrow, 20th August and in the US on 15th September.

TOXIC Wednesday

comic_TOXIC_190809.jpgThe latest issue of Egmont UK's TOXIC is on sale today in all good newsagents, with a cover promoting the new GI Joe film.

This issue comes with four free gifts, cool Bakugan stickers, super disc blaster, funny photo frame and two wicked spider poppers, and comes packed with awesome stuff including Wii Sports Resort and G.I. Joe Nintendo DS reviews.

Official web site:

Monday, 17 August 2009

In Review: Papyrus - The Rameses' Revenge

From the futuristic Aldebaran via the contemporary Lady S to Biggles flying in World War II skies, downthetubes' reviews of Cinebook graphic novels have been moving backwards through time and the theme continues with the Papyrus book, The Rameses' Revenge.

Papyrus is a young Egyptian fisherman who, having been given a magical sword by the crocodile goddess Sobek, must protect the Pharaoh's young daughter Theti-Cheri from danger. The Rameses' Revenge tells of Papyrus and Theti-Cheri traveling up the Nile with the Pharaoh to visit the temple of Rameses at Abu Simbel. The Pharaoh stops at the last town before Abu Simbel but Theti-Cheri decides to press on and arrive at the temple before her father. However Papyrus has been having visions of Theti being in danger, visions which prove to be correct as robbers have seized control of the temple and take her prisoner.

Originally published in 1984 in the weekly comic Spirou, Papyrus is humorous fantasy aimed at a younger audience. With the cover showing enormous walking statues and the book beginning with Papyrus being attacked by a sea monster, writer and artist Lucien de Gieter uses the mystical elements of the real ancient Egyptians' religion to boost his story.

Theti-Cheri's father is the real Pharaoh Merneptah of Nineteenth Dynasty Egypt which places the story at around 1210BC. While the Pharaoh would not have had a daughter with a half Egyptian half French name, "Darling Theti", the series benefits from the historical research de Gieter put into it. The real temple at Abu Simbel built by Rameses II, also known as Rameses the Great, is where much of the action takes place in the second half of the story. Historically Rameses II was the father of Merneptah and therefore the grandfather of the fictional Theti-Cheri while the damage that we see on one of the four statues at the real Abu Simbel today becomes a plot point in the book.

Althothough The Rameses' Revenge is the first of the 30 Papyrus albums to be translated into English by Cinebook, the title was actually the seventh Papyrus album, La Vengeance Des Ramsès, originally published as an album by Dupuis in France, and as such explains nothing of the background to the characters. While Cinebook do have a short explanation to set the scene, it's on the back cover of the book and considering that the vast majority of readers will know nothing of the characters it is fairly important to their understanding of what is going on to read it first. It would perhaps have been beneficial to have it inside the book before the first page of the story in a similar way to way the Asterix books introduce their characters.

The one thing to remember here of course is that despite the historical elements this is a tongue-in-cheek adventure story in a similar vein to Tintin. De Gieter's art covers the accuracy required in showing the real world places that the characters inhabit whilst drawing the characters in a style similar to Asterix. This may sound incongruous but it does work within the confines of the story while the plot rattles along with enough going on, including several twists once the characters have reached Abu Simbel, to keep adults as well as children both interested and amused.

With its mixture of history, fantasy and humour, it will be interesting to see how this series of books from Cinebook progresses.

Papyrus on the Cinebook website

Papyrus on the Dupuis website (in French)

Papyrus on the Spirou website (in French)

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