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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Compal Launches Lot Search, Garth Art Up For Auction


The Autumn 2009 auction at British comics auction site Compalcomics, which has just announced an online search facility for all its past lots, closes soon.

This catalogue's star lot is The Beano Comic No 1 with original advertising flyer, an eight-page mini comic in its own right - expected to sell for some £5,000-5,500 - which is closely followed by a Fine copy of Beano Comic Issue 3.

There are also some extraordinary high grade 1930s comics including Boys' Broadcast Issues 1-36, Buzzer 1-36, Crystal / Girls' Crystal 1-62, Detective Weekly 1-97, Hotspur complete years 19-70 and 71-122, Knock-Out 11-20, Radio Fun 11 & 12, Scoops (The UK's first Sci-Fi Weekly, pictured above) Issues 1-20 complete with never seen before No 1 free gift and Wild West Weekly 1-50. All in all a bronco-bustin' 1930s line-up bristling with free gifts.

Beryl The Peril, Black Bob, Dennis The Menace, Beano and Dandy feature 'rare-in-condition' high grade annuals and there are several 1960s Beano bound volumes in complete years.

Garth by Martin AsburyThis auction's artwork section stars Desperate Dan, The Broons and Oor Wullie - and introduces the superb artwork of Martin Asbury who took over Garth from Frank Bellamy in 1976.

The US section highlights some 1950s lurid covers of Crime SuspenStories, Captain Marvel Adventures and a spasmodic run of Detective Comics from 1949 to the 1960s. Amazing Spider-Man #1 and early issues of Fantastic Four, Hulk, Silver Surfer and X-Men mutate for your attention.

In a major revamp to the site ComPal have also created their own online search facility. Comic Book Auction's 11 year, 45 catalogue run of comics, annuals and artwork can be accessed in one searchable database, featuring over 15,000 lots of comic titles, issue numbers, years, prices, grades and descriptions.

• Bids will be accepted until Tuesday 1st September at 8 PM UK time.To go directly to the main page for the catalogue, click here

• Visit Compal at

Friday, 28 August 2009

Cinebook Announces Cult Classic XIII Publication Plans

Code-XIII-Cover.jpgOver the last 25 years, the dark, engrossing graphic novel series XIII has attracted a cult following in French-speaking countries and beyond, with readers eagerly awaiting every one of the 19th instalments published so far. Now, Canterbury-based publishers Cinebook have announced they have secured English language rights to the highly-acclaimed title, and will begin publishing in 2010.

Launched in 1984 by two Belgian authors, Jean Van Hamme and William Vance, XIII has been turned into a video game by Ubisoft as well as a TV miniseries starring Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer, which premiered on France’s Canal+ in October 2008 and on NBC in the US in February 2009.

Such is the popularity of the graphic novel that a gallery of its characters drawn by Vance was used to illustrate special-edition XIII scratch card tickets in France since 2000.

The central character in XIII is an amnesiac on the run, caught in the crossfire as he tries to understand his true identity while attempting to make sense of various conspiracies swirling around him. With many twists and turns, it's a compulsive read for teenagers and adults alike and has already been translated into several languages.

Initially serialized in Spirou magazine in 1984, XIII was created by Jean Van Hamme, the author behind other classic sagas such as the warrior fantasy, Thorgal, and Largo Winch –the latter in comic and book form as well as on the big screen, and William Vance, illustrator of the bestsellers Howard Flynn, Bruce Hawker, Bruno Brazil, Bob Morane and Marshall Blueberry.


Cinebook, which has acquired the English-language publishing rights in an exclusive agreement with Mediatoon, will publish XIII in English form May 2010 at the rate of one new volume every two months. Incredibly, for all its success in the non-English speaking world, only three episodes of the cult Franco-Belgian bande dessinée originally saw the light of day in English in the late 1980s - published by New York's Comcat Comics as Code XIII, one cover pictured above - so this will enable fans new and old to discover and rediscover the mystery series.

“I’m delighted that Cinebook has committed to publishing XIII alongside Thorgal, Largo Winch and Lady S, as well as Blake & Mortimer,"says Mediatoon director of Foreign Rights Sophie Castille. “XIII is another one of the many prestigious series Jean Van Hamme has been associated with over the years,”

“I’m proud to add this legendary series to our catalogue, especially as readers have been clamouring for it for several years,” notes Cinebook founder Olivier Cadic.

"XIII joins internationally-famous series such as IR$, The Scorpion, Insiders and Aldebaran, already published by Cinebook in addition to other Van Hamme series, further strengthening its portfolio of English-language titles particularly popular with teenagers and adults."

(Report posted with thanks to Jeremy Briggs)

Tube Surfing: EveryDay Praise, Muppets and Mirabilis

CollectionOnePhoto.jpg• Forbidden Planet International's Richard Bruton has been heaping praise on the work of Manchester-based Adam Cadwell, whose EveryDay webcomic . "Cadwell’s work is much more slice of life, observational style than others," says Richard. "This means that the majority of strips tend to be stand-alone things, relying on an interesting idea, event or gag than any narrative, concentrating on the immediacy of the moment being conveyed in 3 or 4 panels of the strip... But where some autobiography that concentrates only on the minutiae of everyday life does come unstuck with the repetition, Cadwell’s work is fresh and interesting to read." Three collections of Adam's Everyday strip are now available from his web site. Read Richard's full review here

Dan Abnett has just published the dates for his "Bloody Pact Tour" of the North, which starts at the Games Workshop Metro in Gateshead on 16th October.

• Good news for British fans of the Muppets and ace cartoonist Roger Langridge. .The first Muppet Show Comic Book collection, Meet the Muppets, is out this week and the good news for readers in the UK is that although the original comics weren't officially available in the UK, the collection is and is available from Amazon UK hereMeet the Muppets. "So now British readers can stop wondering what I've been up to for the last year or so," says Roger. As an added incentive, the ten-page story he did for Disney Adventures a couple of years ago, which has never before been published in its entirety, will finally see the light of day in the collection. (There's a hardcover edition available, too).

Martin Eden, creator of the critically acclaimed indie O-Men superhero comic, is putting the finishing touches to the first issue of his new project, Spandex. "The art is done, and now I just need to wait and see if I'm going to get lottery funding to print it up," he reveals on his blog.

Bleeding Cool reports comics writer Mark Millar will be speaking at Charlotte Square Gardens as part of the Edinburgh Festival tomorrow night at 8pm, about comics, graphic novels and movies. However, as Jeremy Briggs reported here weeks ago the event is sold out: you'll need to see if there are returns on the door if you want to see him.

• Sky Box Office in the UK is to screen Watchmen from Monday 14th September.

• • Bleeding Cool also reports the hype for the Batman: Arkham Asylum game has given sales of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's graphic novel that inspired it a huge boost.

Broadcast reports Michael Chaplin, creator of the BBC drama Monarch Of The Glen, is adapting Goodnight Mister Tom author Michelle Magorian's new young adult novel Just Henry as a family drama special, potentially for ITV. While the project has not yet been given the go-ahead, it is in development at ITV Studios. Published by Egmont UK, Just Henry is a post WWII thriller that follows Henry, a film-loving and judgmental teen who lost his father in the war, as he reluctantly becomes friends with two classmates when they are put together to work on a school project. When Henry is given a camera to help with the project he takes a photo that turns everything upside down and in the process he teaches him about friendship and not to be so judgmental.

• And finally... they aren't actually new if you subscribed to much-missed subscription weekly The DFC, but if you missed the run of ace fantasy strip Mirabilis there you can now read the first 25 pages (ie the first chapter of the Winter book) over on the Mirabilis website. Highly recommended!

Angry Robot UK Launch in October

It’s a brand-fusion to reinvent science fiction in the UK, a union that may yet shake London to the core. Forbidden Planet London will be hosting the official UK Launch of Angry Robot Books on Saturday 10th October at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR, with 2000AD, Marvel and DC Comics writer Dan Abnett, Andy Remic and Colin Harvey on hand to sign for their many fans.

Angry Robot is a new imprint from HarperCollins which started back in June, offering a wickedly fresh take on the SF, F and WTF industry. Publishing the best in dark and edgy fiction from renowned authors and the hottest in up-and-coming new talent, the Robot is set to bring you teenage serial killers, zombie detectives, howling axes, sex-crazed vampires, murderous gods and steampunk swordfights. And that’s for starters.

Featured guests Dan Abnett (Triumff), Andy Remic (Kell’s Legend) and Colin Harvey (Winter Song) will be on hand to allay (or possibly enhance) fears, chat to fans, answer questions and sign copies of their Angry Robot titles. There will be free prints available of the Larry Rostant cover of Triumff as well as a chance to see the Kell’s Legend promotional video... up close and personal.

There will also be a wide range of Angry Robot’s other titles available.

• Angry Robot Books:

• The following film was written, directed, and stars our Andy Remic, and gives a good taste of the flavour of his book Kell’s Legend, which is launched in the UK and Australia next week. Music by th3 m1ss1ng.

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Blu-Ray, DVD Details

DownloadedFile.jpegTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen is coming to DVD and three-disc Blu-ray on November 30 2009 from Paramount Home Entertainment in the UK.

From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen delivers non-stop action and fun, featuring out-of-this-world heroes in the form of the mighty Autobots and a malevolent and powerful villain known as The Fallen, the film boasts some of the most sensational – and complex – visual effects in film history.

In addition to audience favourites Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, the film’s human stars have returned to help save the world including Shia LaBeouf (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), Megan Fox (How to Lose Friends & Alienate People), Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas), Tyrese Gibson (Four Brothers) and John Turturro (The Good Shepherd).

The Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen three-disc Blu-ray and 2-disc Special Edition DVD both feature over three hours of in-depth, immersive special features that let viewers further explore the world of the legendary ‘robots in disguise’.

Among the engrossing content is a multi-chapter documentary, including interviews with the cast and crew, that chronicles the entire making of the film, from development and design to filming in locations around the globe, working with the U.S. military, creating the groundbreaking visual effects and putting it all together to produce one of the biggest films of the year.

The discs also include an all-access featurette following renowned director Michael Bay through an entire day, a comprehensive exploration of the ‘confidential files’ on a dozen of the Transformers characters featured in the film, multi-angle breakdowns of some of the most sensational action sequences and much, much more.

The three-disc Blu-ray and 2-disc Special Edition DVD packages will also feature augmented reality technology that will allow people to interact with a holographic image of Optimus Prime by using a webcam and a special website.

As an added bonus, the Blu-ray will include an exclusive interactive feature that gives viewers the ability to customise their own robot characters and get a glimpse at a rogue robot. Out of all the available permutations, one will unlock an exclusive interview with Michael Bay about his plans for the next adventure.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is available to buy on DVD & 3-disc Blu-ray with Digital Copy on 30th November 30 2009 from Paramount Home Entertainment: Buy it from


Title: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Release date: November 30 2009

Discs: 1 Disc Set

RRP: £19.99

Cert: 12A

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Running time: TBC

Special features

• Commentary by Michael Bay, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Buy Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen from


Title: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Release date: November 30 2009

Discs: 2 Disc Set

RRP: £24.99

Cert: 12A

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Running time: TBC

Special features

Disc 1: Commentary by Michael Bay, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Disc 2:

The Human Factor: Exacting Revenge of the Fallen

• Seeds of Vengeance - Development and Design

• Domestic Destruction – Production: United States

• Joint Operations – Production: Military

• Wonders of the World – Production: Middle East

• Start Making Sense - Editing

• Under the Gun – Visual Effects

• Running the Gauntlet – Post-Production and Release

• A Day with Bay: Tokyo

• 25 Years of TRANSFORMERS

• NEST: Transformer Data-Hub

• Deconstructing Visual ‘Bayhem’ with Commentary by Pre-Vis Supervisor Steve Yamamoto

• Extended Scenes

• Music Video: Linkin Park’s “New Divide”

Buy Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen from


Title: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Release date: November 30 2009

Discs: 3 Disc Set

RRP £29.99

Cert: 12A

Picture: 1080p High Definition

Sound: TBC

Running time: TBC

Special features

Disc 1:

• Commentary by Michael Bay, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Disc 2:

• The Human Factor: Exacting Revenge of the Fallen:

• Seeds of Vengeance – Development and Design

• Domestic Destruction – Production: United States

• Joint Operations – Production: Military

• Wonders of the World – Production: Middle East

• Start Making Sense – Editing

• Under the Gun – Visual Effects

• Running the Gauntlet – Post-Production and Release

• A Day with Bay: Tokyo

• 25 Years of TRANSFORMERS

• NEST: Transformer Data-Hub

• Deconstructing Visual ‘Bayhem’ with Commentary by Pre-Vis Supervisor Steve Yamamoto

• Extended Scenes

• Music Video: Linkin Park’s “New Divide”


• The ALLSPARK Experiment: Viewers get their chance to unleash the power of the recently recovered ALLSPARK shard on Earth vehicles. Begin by selecting and customising a vehicle with a selection of parts and accessories. Then apply the ALLSPARK to this creation and watch what happens. Applying the ALLSPARK to certain custom combinations enables four new robot characters with special powers. If viewers discover all four, they unlock a fifth vehicle, which reveals a top secret message about the future of the TRANSFORMERS movie franchise

• NEST: Transformer Data-Hub: A database of some of the TRANSFORMERS characters that appear in the new film, offering users access to each robot’s confidential file including:

• Innovative 3D spin galleries of each robot

• A timeline for each TRANSFORMERS character charting its origins, back story and design evolution from toys to animated series to comics and finally feature films

• Giant Effing Movie: A very personal look at the making of the movie

• The Matrix of Marketing: An archive of the film’s promotional media including trailers, posters and television spots

Buy Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen from

• Please note special features subject to change

Egmont's Misty Comic Special Content Revealed

comic_mistyspecial_2009.pngEgmont UK's Comic Specials, which began with Roy of the Rovers earlier this year, continue next month with the release of its first collection dedicated to the popular 1970s girls horror comic, Misty.

The official Misty web site, which publishes online versions of fan favourite strips with the full permission of Egmont (the latest is here), has released details of the strips that will feature in the Special, some selected by fans after a poll.

Along with features from the original comic will be strips with great titles such as "Mrs Grundy´s Guest House", "The Haunted Barn", "The Governess" and "WolfsBane". Because of the number of short one off stories featured in Misty it seems Egmont won't be making the same mistake it made with its earlier collections, which featured episodes of continuing stories, which proved unpopular with fans.

The Misty site also reports that due to the surge of interest in Misty and other fan favourites, The Guardian will be running an article on the Egmont reprints. Along with discussions about the reprints, the site and publications also receive an honorary mention.

Launched in early 1978, Misty was a weekly horror comic initially aimed at young girls. Presenting a crop of stories very unusual to that of other titles of the era, Misty told the tales of very different girls, such as "The Cult of the Cat", a rite of passage story which told of Nicola Scott's destiny to become a member of an Egyptian cult dedicated to the cat god; “Paint it Black”, in which Maggie Laker discovered a very special box of paints that had a tale to tell; and “Moonchild”, written by 2000AD co-creator Pat Mills, about a very special girl with telekinetic powers.

Along with the regular serials, one off “Nightmare” and “Beasts” stories were told on a weekly basis, stories in which not everything had a happy ending.


Running for 101 issues until January 1980, Misty delivered some terrifically spooky stories full of intrigue and terror, before being merged with Tammy, which featured the return of the popular Misty character Black Widow in the “Spider Woman”, along with one off weekly mystery tales and the humour of Miss T.

Sadly, the 'spooky' serials did not quite have the edge of those presented in the parent magazine and although the Misty logo remianed on the cover for over 80 isssues it was eventually dropped in the run up to Tammy's merger with another popular girl's title, Jinty, at a time when the girls' comic market, which once outstripped the sales of boys by thousands, was in steep decline. (More on the history of Misty here)

The Misty Souvenir Special from Egmont goes on sale on the 16th September exclusively in all W H Smiths for 12 weeks, after which copies are available direct from Egmont.

Starkings, Salmon Unleash Cold Blooded War

DoctorWho-CBW-cover_md.jpgIDW has just published standalone Doctor Who story, Cold Blooded War, written by former Doctor Who Magazine comic strip editor Richard Starkings and former Doctor Who Magazine editor Gary Russell.

Drawn by Adrian Salmon, the story is set in the 26th Century first visited by the Third Doctor. The Tenth Doctor and Donna attempt to broker a peace plan between two very hierarchical and pompous alien races, the Draconians and Ice Warriors, but their best efforts are derailed by someone who stands to gain from the continued conflict.

Although Richard's lettering company, Comicraft, has been busy behind the scenes working on IDW's Doctor Who range, this is his first foray back into writing Doctor Who comic strip for some years, while Gary Russell's well known love of the Ice Warriors - they featured heavily in his Radio Times Doctor Who comic - is given fine treatment by Adrian.

• You can view a preview of the new comic, which is only licensed for sale in North America but still makes it to the UK as a 'grey' import, here.

• For more official information and to buy the comic in North America visit the Cold Blooded War page on the IDW web site

UK Comic Creators Launch "Cartoon Classroom"

maincclogo.jpgUK comic creators are encouraged to sign aboard a new initiative, Cartoon Classroom, which aims to foster links between artists, writers and others and educational institutions, and detail events and workshops that promote the comics form in Britain.

"Cartoon Classroom is the inspiration of Steve Marchant, a cartoonist and teacher of cartooning, who began his tutoring career at The London Cartoon Centre," explains one of the project's backers, V for Vendetta and Kickback artist David Lloyd. "That was a charity-run, full-time evening school of cartoon and sequential art creation, which I was connected with for many years before it ran out of funding. Efforts to raise cash for it were continued until it became obvious the Centre could not be resurrected and continued for any worthwhile period.

"It then became a matter of deciding whether to return these donations to their source, or - at the permission of the donors - to use them to initiate something else that might generally help the cause the Centre espoused.

"Steve decided that a good extension of the service the school once offered would be a website which had the main aim of centralising access to all the various means of studying cartoon and comic strip creation which exist throughout the UK - and Southern Ireland if we can."

David is asking professional cartoonists and comic creators, or those aspiring to being such, or are interested in the study of cartoon art as a teacher or an educationalist, to register their interest in the project.

Cartoon Classroom aims to put educational institutions in touch with cartoonists/comic art creators who teach this specialised art form on a part-time or full-time basis, and to document whatever is available through art colleges, workshops, recommended manuals and other media, which can help anyone studying to be a good cartoonist/comic creator.

The site will also eventually list all museums and galleries in its target area which have comic/cartoon art on public view or in their archives, and to encourage those without any to acquire examples from local notable creators.

"It's our intention that only a fraction of the information required for the site's operation will need to be supplied to the site by us - its administrators," David explains. "Instead, details of courses, collections, locations and availability of tutoring will be added directly to the site by all those who use it. Ideally, it should be almost self-generating.

"The most important thing for the site's effectiveness is that it offer comprehensive coverage of its designated area," he continues, "and for this to be achieved, we initially need to maximise our communication to all those institutions and individuals who'll make use of the site. Prior to its coming launch, this is the toughest job we have.

"The site's initiators and supporters have time-consuming jobs and responsibilities which limit the hours we can devote to phoning and emailing - so the more work that can be done by simply spreading the word about it, the better."

If you can, please help by contacting any person or institution you feel would add content to the Cartoon Classroom database, and/or make use of it. To register an interest, and/or register a wish to enter Cartoon Classroom's database, is easy - go to

Brief details of what you'd like to put on the finished site can be sent to us at the email address following. Fuller information on what you have to offer can be entered when the site launches in October. Email to

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Star Trek DVD Release Date Set

startrek_dvd.jpgThe new Star Trek film beams onto DVD and 3 Disc Blu-ray with Digital Copy on 16th November 2009 in the UK.

This visually spectacular, blockbuster prequel from acclaimed director J.J Abrams (Lost, Mission: Impossible III) follows a young James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, Carriers) as a rebellious troublemaker, attempting to prove his superiors wrong and fulfil his potential by enrolling in Starfleet, much to the dismay of his instructor, the young Lt. Spock (Zachary Quinto, Heroes).

Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew including Scotty (Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead), Uhura (Zoe Saldana, Avatar), Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban, The Bourne Supremacy), Sulu (John Cho, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin, Terminator Salvation), board the newly commissioned U.S.S. Enterprise to unite in a battle against Romulan ship captain, Nero (Eric Bana, Munich).

The film was a worldwide box office phenomenon on its release, successfully reinvigorating the Star Trek franchise and bringing many new fans to the saga. With a guest appearance from Leonard Nimoy as the original Spock to "pass the torch" to this new crew, it's also been a hit with the vast majority of the show's original fandom.

The Star Trek two-disc special edition DVD and three disc Blu-ray with Digital Copy boasts out-of-this-world special features to take viewers even further into the new universe of the rousing space adventure, starting with a home entertainment first: groundbreaking augmented reality technology. Using a webcam, a Star Trek visual cue will morph into a 3D holographic tour of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the screen, providing a unique and interactive experience.

The special features also include in-depth explorations of the franchise, the phenomenal cast, the spectacular action sequences, the powerful score and the captivating aliens, as well as commentary from J.J. Abrams and a gag reel.

Additionally, the discs feature compelling, deleted scenes that reveal a side story involving Nero with a first-ever look at Abrams’ version of the infamous warrior Klingons.

The Blu-ray version will give audiences a stunning viewing experience, featuring 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and includes a Digital Copy of the film which can be easily transferred to a computer, Video iPod, iPhone and other portable media players.

Star Trek is available to buy on DVD & 3 Disc Blu-ray with Digital Copy on 16th November 2009 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Buy Star Trek from


Title: Star Trek

Release date: November 16 2009

Discs: 1 Disc Set

RRP: £19.99

Cert 12A

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Running time – main feature

Approx. 127 minutes

Special features

• Commentary by J.J Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci

• A New Vision

• Gag Reel


Title: Star Trek

Release date: November 16 2009

Discs: 2 Disc Set

RRP: £24.99

Cert: 12A

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Running time – main feature Approx. 127 minutes

Special features

Commentary by J.J Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci

• A New Vision

• Gag Reel

• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary

• Featurettes: To Boldly Go, Casting, Aliens, Score


Title: Star Trek

Release date: November 16 2009

Discs: 3 Disc Set

RRP: £29.99

Cert: 12A

Sound: 5.1 Dolby TrueHD

Running time – main feature - Approx. 127 minutes

Special features

Commentary by by J.J Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci

• A New Vision

• To Boldly Go – HD

• Casting – HD

• A New Vision – HD

• Starships – HD

• Aliens – HD

• Planets – HD

• Props and Costumes – HD

• Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek – HD

• Score – HD

• Gene Roddenberry’s Vision – HD

• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary

• Starfleet Vessel Simulator

• Gag Reel

• Trailers

Paul Dini Signing in London Friday 28th August


Marking the highly anticipated release of Batman: Arkham AsylumBatman in the UK, Emmy award-winning script writer Paul Dini will be signing copies of the game at Game 100 Oxford Street, London tomorrow (Friday 28th August) between 1 and 2.00pm.

Paul, whose credits include Detective Comics and is currently writing Batman: Streets of Gotham and Gotham City Sirens, also produces his own comic, Jingle Belle, about the rebellious teen-age daughter of Santa Claus. For TV, his credits include Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated Series and Lost. He wrote the original script for the Batman: Arkham Asylum game and helps to bring the universe of DC Comic’s detective to life.

Paul has earned five Emmy awards for his animation work: he was also the co-author (with Chip Kidd) of Batman Animated, a 1998 non-fiction coffee table book about the animated Batman franchise.

Batman: Arkham AsylumBatman is a dark, action packed videogame adventure for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation3 computer entertainment system and Games for Windows. In the game, developed by Rocksteady Studios, the player assumes the role of Batman as he delivers The Joker to Arkham Asylum. There, the imprisoned super-villains have set a trap and an immersive combat gaming experience unfolds.

The game has been awarded a Guinness World Record for the ‘Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever’ before it has even hit the shelves - an impressive achievement.

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movies and leading television and stage actor Kevin Conroy lend their voices to the videogame. Known as the voice of Batman and Bruce Wayne for over 15 years in various animated films and television series, Kevin Conroy repeats his role as the caped crusader, while Mark Hamill, also a veteran of many animated Batman properties, again stars as legendary villain The Joker.

• More Info on the Game:

Crikey! Goes Colour

Crikey Magazine - Issue 11The latest issues of British comics magazine Crikey! is on sale this week - and has made the leap to full colour throughout.

Running to 84 pages the first issue of the now bi–monthly Crikey!, with a Dennis the Menace cover, boasts some of the best talents around. Interviews include Dez Skinn, legendary publisher of such notables as Warrior and Comics International; Steve Holland talks about Bear Alley Books, which has just released collector editions of The Phantom Patrol and Cursitor Doom; plus Beano editor Euan Kerr takes a bow as he leaves Beanotown but not before giving us an exclusive interview about his life at DC Thomson.

Last, but certainly not least, Pete Nash offers an insight into creating Striker, one of the longest running comic strips ever produced.

Also featured are the usual favourites: Nutty Notions and My Comicy Saturday, and Glenn B Fleming's strip cartoon 'Hatch' makes its debut. There are also articles on David Wright's Carol Day, Sydney Jordan's Jeff Hawke, and the one and only Dennis the Menace.

"This is an issue dear to this sad fanboy's heart," says Tony Ingram, co-dditor of the magazine. "Not only is it effectively the first issue of the new and (hopefully) improved Crikey! but also the issue in which we got to talk to a couple of the most revolutionary thinkers in British comics.

"Dez Skinn, of course, first came to prominence in many people's eyes with what was more or less a literal revolution, the 'Marvel Revolution' of 1979 when he revamped Marvel UK's moribund reprint line, but far more significant was his creation of Warrior, a magazine in which, against decades of traditional thinking, the creators actually owned their own characters (and yes, one of Warrior's characters was Marvelman, also in this issue)! Heresy!

"Pete Nash is no less forward thinking. He has, for 24 years, been charting the course of Nick Jarvis in Striker, both in The Sun and (from 2003-2005) his own comic. But when Striker ran into trouble financially, how many publishers would have thought of seeking investment from the readers? America might claim it invented comics, but if you want some examples of re-inventing comics, look no further than these guys..."

• Pick up your copy for just £4.99 at your nearest Borders or Forbidden Planet and a host of other comic outlets thoughout the UK or order through the official Crikey! website:

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

In Memoriam: My Hero Director John Stroud

myhero_pr_gen_family.jpgWe're very sorry to report that My Hero and producer and director John Stroud has died aged 54 of a brain tumour.

John, who was also co-founder of Big Bear Films with Marcus Mortimer and is probably best known for his work on the British superhero comedy My Hero, enjoyed a TV career that spanned 30 years, from joining Thames Television as a trainee to setting up the indie in 1996.

Both John and Marcus were keen to use their experience to hothouse new writers, as well as developing projects with more familiar talents and produced six seasons of My Hero, as well as the upcoming BBC circus-based comedy Big Top (due to screen later this year on BBC1) and The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook, a rare foray into factual fare. (John discovered The Hairy Bikers, brought them to Big Bear and co-produced and/or directed 21 episodes of The Hairy Bikers Cookbook and The Hairy Bikers Ride Again and a special for BBC 2).

A Cambridge Footlights contemporary of Griff Rhys Jones, Jimmy Mulville and Peter Fincham, Stroud’s first TV credits included Rainbow and The Sooty Show, where he notoriously secured an appearance by punk group UK Subs.

John, who is survived by a wife and two children, made his name with Channel 4 sketch show Who Dares Wins, he directed shows such as Spitting Image, Harry Enfield and Chums and the final episode of Minder. He is .

While we were covering production of My Hero om downthetubes - and yes, we know it was one of those shows people either loved or hated and re-casting James Dreyfus as the hero for the final season was a mistake - John was a wonderful supporter of our My Hero micro site, providing valuable background material and more to the making of the show. We're sure he will be much missed.

You can read our 2005 interview with John here

Beano Revamp announced, New Look for Dennis

DC Thomson has announced plans to revamp its remaining weekly comic, The Beano. Contrary to our earlier report they've also given Dennis the Menace a makeover in the comic as well as the re-design planned for his new CBBC animated series, Dennis and Gnasher.

The Beano will be given an overhaul from 29th August, relaunching as a 32-page weekly. A "mini-mag" containing a preview of the redesigned Dennis and Gnasher comes bundled with this week's issue, on sale today.

The official web site may be getting a makeover, along with the full launch of, which is linked with the new animated Dennis and Gnasher show.

"Our ultimate aim is to engage a whole new generation of Beano fans with a fresh approach to our core characters," say DC Thomson. "We also hope to excite existing and lapsed fans, particularly parents who may have enjoyed The Beano themselves."

14dennisthemenace.jpgDennis Revamped

Although he has kept hold of his trademark stripey jumper and black shorts, Dennis, who will be sporting a new look, could have undergone a far more radical change, like the look seen here.

Designs put forward for the tearaway kid included a spray can-wielding hoodie and a spaced out scruff to make him more in-keeping with elements of today’s youth.

But DC Thomson dismissed suggestions for a Manga style makeover and went for a more traditional Dennis look – just without the trademark catapult.

The new look will be used in the Beano as well as the new animated show.

“Some of the looks put forward were very popular," says Morris Heggie, the Beano historian at DC Thomson. "There were some really strong ideas with hoodies, jeans and even one where he looks like Liam Gallagher – but a few were a bit radical.

“If we were introducing Dennis the Menace for the first time some of these would be great, but we’d be inventing a new character. People already have an idea of Dennis.

“Dennis’s look has evolved since he was introduced in the fifties," he added. "But he wouldn’t be Dennis without his spiky hair, stripey jersey and, most importantly, his knobbly knees.”

Dennis and Gnasher

Plans to “soften up” the legendary menace and his loyal companion came under fire last week in the press when it was revealed that he would no longer carry his trusty catapult or get a beating from his father’s slipper in the new TV series.

The cartoon – which will start on CBBC on 7th Septembe – aims to be “Britain’s answer to The Simpsons” and features a whole host of new characters.

“Since Dennis is already very much an established character, we had to make sure he looked as close to what everyone recognises as Dennis as possible," explains Frank Gresham, creative assistant producer on the show.

“To make sure our animators could animate him without problems, he did undergo certain changes. We made a promise to ourselves we’d only change what we absolutely had to of Dennis’s design.

“We felt we had to keep all of the elements of his clothing and his features.”

New characters include a joke shop owner called Mr Har Har, and a rock star called Ratbucket.

Even the old staples have been revamped, with Dennis’s long term rival Walter swapping his teddy bear for a sneakier personality.

A BBC spokesman said: “Like many cartoon characters, Dennis the Menace has been evolving ever since its creation, so changes are nothing new.

“The Beano comic-book style of the 1950s is very different to children’s expectations for their entertainment heroes today.”

Dennis And Gnasher will screen every weekday at 3.45pm on CBBC, while Fun Kids will host a radio show based on the pair every Saturday morning throughout September.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Nostalgia and Comics Opens Doors to Small Press

Some good news for British small press publishers - another store wants your comics. The Manchester Comix Collective reports that part of a major makeover for the Nostalgia and Comics shop in Birmingham - which is owned by Forbidden Planet International - is to include more space for small press titles.

Kenny Penman, director of Forbidden Planet International (and Blank Slate publisher) has recently been overseeing the refurbishmet of Nostalgia & Comics and is fired up with his aim to make the store one of the best comic shops in the country with a stock range second to none.

Part of the re-development will include greater emphasis on British comics. "Small Press, self-published, call it what you like, the British scene is vibrant and interesting and really adds another dimension to a comic shop," says Forbidden Planet International staffer Richard Bruton.

To that end, FPI is now contacting small press publishers about getting their comics into Nostalgia & Comics.

The trading terms being offered to small publishers are as follows: N&C will take 30% of cover price, whatever is set by the publisher; N&C will get full Sale or Return on any comics that are not sold; and publishers must meet the incoming post costs (FPI/N&C will meet the return postage).

Payments will be 30 days end on month terms - in effect that will mean 60 days. Publishers can ask for info on their sales once a month on the 1st - via Kenny and by e-mail.

"If [publishers] are local I'd encourage them to go in and make pals with [manager] Dave Hopkins," Kenny Penman suggests.

If enough publishers respond, Kenny plans to devote a specific section to the material

More info on this project on the Forbidden Planet International blog

• Publishers wanting more information should contact Kenny Penman's via MANPEN AT

• Nostalgia & Comics can be found at Nostalgia & Comics, 14-16 Smallbrook, Queensway B5 4EN. Phone: 0121 643 0143. E-mail:

Comic Piracy on the Net: New Clamp Down Plans Announced

digitalbritaincover-198x300.jpgBritish fans sharing e-versions of comics via the Internet could soon come under the spotlight of anti-piracy organisations, after the government announced further measures to tackle digital piracy, mid-way through the consultation period on its Digital Britain report.

The Guardian reports that these include cutting internet connections for persistent offenders who share film, music and book files - which would, we assume, include comics - on a peer-to-peer basis.

This measure is unexpected as it was ruled out in the final Digital Britain report which was released in June, for "going too far".

In the report, the then communications minister Lord Carter said illegal filesharers should receive letters warning them their activities could leave them open to prosecution. If that failed to reduce piracy by at least 70%, Ofcom would have the power to call on internet companies such as BT to introduce so-called "technical measures" to combat piracy. The most draconian of these measures was to slow down a persistent filesharer's broadband connection, but it would not appear until 2012.

Now, the Guardian reports, the government is proposing illegal filesharers will still get warning letters but if they continue to swap copyrighted material they could have their internet connection temporarily severed, although it may be possible to retain basic access to online public services.

It is also expected that the government will give power to target illegal downloaders to ministers, rather than Ofcom, "to speed up the process".

The Guardian quotes a draft of the new plan as saying: "The previous proposals, whilst robust, would take an unacceptable amount of time to complete in a situation that calls for urgent action."

France recently tried to introduce similar measures but they were ultimately thrown out by its high court as unconstitutional. In the UK, privacy groups are likely to challenge any similar legislation as contrary to human rights law.

Comics piracy is a major concern to both large and small publishers, although it has also, fans argue, helped comics fans 'sample' new titles (the try before you buy argument) and enabled the dissemination of vintage comics material, much of it unlikely to ever be published in print due to licensing issues and limited appeal.

Unfortunately, many of those efforts by fans to raise the profile of vintage material are being exploited by pirates who then collect such scans and re-sell them as illegal digital collections on eBay. The BBC, for example, is aware of illegal sales of fan collections of digital scans of classic Doctor Who material from comics such as TV Comic and Countdown.

While several programs have been created to read digital comics on screen there is, currently, no legal Internet equivalent of iTunes for digital comics. However, many comics are being re-formatted for presentation on devices such as the iPhone, Android and other devices. For more on such releases, visit the downthetubes Mobile Comics blog.

More Web Links

Digital Britain Report

Digital Britain Forum

Discussion site aimed at encouraging an online debate about the issues raised in the Digital Britain Report.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Dennis De-Menacing Denounced

dennisbeano.jpg(Updated 24/8/09): CCBC's revamp of The Beano's Dennis the Menace, which launches next month on the TV channel, has been given the big thumbs down by his creator's family.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Rosemary Moffat and Alison Gardiner, the daughters of the late David Law who created Dennis back in 1951, said their father would have been horrified by the transformation.

According to the newspaper, the 52-part cartoon series features a more 'caring' Dennis - no, really - without his trademark catapult, peashooter or water pistol, his trademark scowl replaced with a boyish grin, and he won't be allowed to bully Walter the Softie.

And, instead of allowing his dog Gnasher to bite people, Dennis will now be more creative, getting into scrapes when his imaginative inventions go wrong.

(Since we first published this story, top British cartoonist and comics expert Lew Stringer has carefully deconstructed this and other press reports about the new show, poting out many inaccuracies in some newspapers coverage).

Upping the ante on earlier reports claiming the CBBC version was 'political correctness gone mad', the Telegraph reports the decision to “re-imagine” Dennis for the “iPod generation” has disappointed Law's daughters.

”I think my father would feel they are downgrading him to make him quite ordinary,” said 63-year-old Mrs Moffat, while Mrs Gardiner, who was given a preview screening of the cartoon, said it was nothing like the real Dennis the Menace.

The makeover hasn't gone down well with some Dennis fans, either. Talking to The Bristol Evening Post, comics writer and artist Kev F. Sutherland said "I think it's probably a bad idea but you cannot do anything about it. I think perhaps they could have targeted a slightly older audience with the cartoon.

"You can do humour and sophisticated comedy without scaring the horses. If you pander too much to over-sensitive parents you will end with not very funny comedy."

DC Thomson, which collaborated on Dennis's new look with Red Kite, an animation company, said it “wanted to remove any traces of nastiness”, while the BBC argues that like many cartoon characters, Dennis the Menace has been evolving ever since its creation in 1951, so changes are nothing new.

"The Beano comic book style of the 1950's is very different to children's expectations for their entertainment heroes today," said the corporation, while in another statement reported by Pink News over a week ago, they did argue the changes to Dennis wouldn't make dull.

"Although the stories and animation have been updated to appeal to current CBBC viewers, his character has not changed significantly and Dennis remains as boisterous and mischievous as ever."

Pink News readers found the idea that Dennis' traditional enemy Walter was potentially gay, which had resulted in the ban on him getting beaten up for fear of accusations of homophobia, laughable.

"By doing this the BBC are just pandering to the typical stereotype that gay men are pathetic wimps who'll get bullied," said one.

"The children of today are going to turn into a nation of 'Walters'," said another. "I read Dennis the Menace as a kid, and all the others.

"Kids like to be anti-social and rude and anti-establishment and making fart noises behind teachers backs. You haven't grown up until you've had a scrap and a bloody nose.

There is some good news: the Beano editors apparently have no plans to make Dennis a softie in the comic itself.

Read Lew Stringer's brilliant expose of how the British press has wilfully mis-reported this story here

Artist Spotlight: SciFi Heroes of the 1970s

What's not to love about this labour of love by illustrator Dusty Abell we just found over on deviantart?

We don't think Dusty's missed out many of TV's 1970s heroes, including those from British series such as Space: 1999.

"This thing has preoccupied so much of my free time I'm grateful to have finally finished it, although at the same time, it has been one of the funnest things I've ever done," says Los Angeles-based artist Dusty, who first posted the illustration earlier this year..

"It's all digital: the Eagle Transporter took the longest to draw and Richard Benjamin as Quark is probably the most obscure character."

Adventures in Wonderland

johnreppion_leahmoore.jpgdownthetubes is pleased to announce an interview by Matt Badham with Dracula and Sherlock Holmes writers Leah Moore and John Reppion.

Leah and John are the husband and wife writing team behind Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery, The Complete Dracula, The Trial of Sherlock Holmes and, of course, the British comics-inspired saga Albion.

In this exclusive interview for downthetubes with Matt, they talk about their career so far, their approach to comics writing, their new Alice in Wonderland project for Dynamite Entertainment, their work for the British small press comics scene and the joys of Twitter...

Read the interview on the main downthetubes site

WexWorlds Sci Fi and Fantasy Fiction Festival Invades Wexford

wxlogo.gifArtemis Fowl creator Eoin Colfer, Darren Shan (The Saga of Darren Shan) and Hugo Award-winning author Ian McDonald (Brasyl, Desolation Road) are among the many creators who will be attending the first WexWorlds Festival, in Wexford, Ireland from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd November 2009.

WexWorlds is the first Sci Fi and Fantasy Fiction Festival in Wexford, the brainchild of Eoin Colfer and the Wexford Arts Centre, and is supported by Failte Ireland, Wexford Borough, Wexford Council, Wexford Library, Wexford Chamber, hotels including Talbot and Whites of Wexford, book stores and other businesses.

Over the course of the weekend a range of activities will be taking place – including talks and readings, science experiments, comic art workshops, an exhibition on the process of writing for a comic, activities for younger children, discussions about fantastic literature, a selection of competitions and performance events – at varied venues in Wexford town, which will include Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford Library, book stores, related businesses and hotels.

Other professionals expecting to attend include:

• Judge Dredd and Warhammer comic artist Paul J Holden

• Transformers artist Nick Roche

• Author Oisin McGann (Small Minded Giants, Strangled Silence).

2000AD comics writer Michael Carroll (also author of The New Heroes series).

• Author Sarah Rees Brennan (The Demon’s Lexicon).

• Comics writer Andrew Donkin (Transformers, Batman, Doctor Who).

Freakshow and Eagle Award-nominated comic writer and publisher for Atomic Diner comic books Robert Curley

The majority of the events over the weekend will be free, with only a minimal charge (€5) for three of the workshops.

As well as books and comics, the weekend is a celebration of all fantastic fiction, so there will also be workshops on costuming, light-hearted sessions with kids and foam weaponry, and movie screening. The festival will coincide with an exhibition by emerging visual artist Vera Klute at Wexford Arts Centre.

Situated on the south-east coast of Ireland, Wexford’s history is steeped in myth and legend and makes this a perfect location for a festival of the fantastic. A story tells of its origin in the mists of time, when Garman Garbh was drowned on the mudflats by waters released by an enchantress. The vast expanse of harbour thus created was named ‘The lake of Garman’ or Loch Garman, the Gaelic name for Wexford.

Wexford is also home to one of the top fantasy fiction writers: Eoin Colfer, author of the famed Artemis Fowl series, currently working on the much anticipated new follow-up to Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which is due to be released a short time before WexWorlds.

Accessible from mainland UK and Europe via sea (Rosslare Harbour) and air (Waterford/Dublin), with bus and train access from major cities in Ireland, this festival in Wexford will make a great weekend away for any international and national tourists with a taste for the fantastic.

The orgnaisers say they're currently working on programme development and will update progress on the festival website in due course.

• If you are interested in participating – as an artist, trader, visitor or volunteer – please email or visit

Gaiman And Rankin On BBC2 On Wednesday

As the Edinburgh International Book Festival continues this week under canvas in the Scottish capital's Charlotte Square Gardens, BBC2's Edinburgh Festival Show will feature a taster of what was one of the best BookFest events of last week.

Fantasy author Neil Gaiman and crime author Ian Rankin were interviewed on stage by crime author Denise Mina about their work on comics and graphic novels and for the sold out audience of 600 last Thursday night it was a case of paying for two Constantine writers and getting a third for free. With Ian Rankin's first graphic novel, Dark Entries, soon to be available from DC Vertigo the two men talked about their comics work and how it related to their prose novels with Gaiman doing his impression of Alan Moore and Rankin displaying his impressive comics knowledge. For more details on this excellent event check out Joe Gordon's review of it over on the FPI blog.

Prior to the talk, the three authors had recorded a piece for the BBC's Edinburgh Festival Show and this is due to be broadcast on Wednesday 26 August at 7 pm on BBC2.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Tube Surfing: Eternal Warrior, Enid Blyton and Kit Williams

eternal2001.jpg• It's about time we re-plugged the Eternal Warrior, Paul Grist's pastiche on British comics hero Adam Eterno, who first appeared in Thunder back in the early 1970s. Over on the Bleeding Cool forum, some Americans have started screaming that he's grabbed the name from an old US Valiant Comics title: whatever the case, you can enjoy the Eternal Warrior for yourself at Paul Grist's Big Cosmic Comic...

• There's a short interview with 2000AD co-creator Pat Mills about his zombie-filled 2000AD project, Defoe, drawn by Leigh Gallagher, over on 2000AD Review. Over on his blog, Leigh says he's heard back from a couple of retailers that the collection of Defoe 1666 is selling well, with one on their third re-order.

• The Zocalo reports that while fans and critics debate whether the SciFi Channel's name change helped Syfy's new series Warehouse 13 achieve record ratings, SciFiWire uncovered a video that includes Harlan Ellison, J. Michael Straczynski and others discussing the difference between "sci-fi" and "science fiction" on Sci-Fi Vortex 12 years ago. Click here to watch the exchange on YouTube. (The UK SciFi Channel has yet to be re-branded by the way - when we last asked them about a possible name change they didn't have an answer).

• The BBC has announced a lot of new programming for its autumn season, including a BBC4 drama documentary to watch out for starring Helena Bonham Carter as Enid Blyton, asking what drove this iconic woman at the peak of her artistic power. The drama looks behind Blyton's public persona and explores the relationship between her art and private life.

• Also in BBC4's line-up is a documentary reuniting artist Kit Williams with the Golden Hare, the treasure featured in Masquerade, an exquisitely illustrated children's story which contained clues to where the author had buried the priceless bejewelled charm. 30 years ago, his idea took the public by storm and catapulted him to fame but it also destroyed his artistic credibility, dashing his promising career as a painter, and forcing him to live as a virtual recluse. He has not set eyes on the hare since, but BBC4 reunited him with the charm at their press launch for their new season this week. Read the full story over on SciFiPulse

Omnivistascope 5 Now Available


1. A device upon which all things may be viewed.
2. The Omnivistascope Corporation, a universal broadcaster.
3. A high quality science fiction comic anthology written by Paul Scott.

The latest issue of Paul Scott's excellent annual Omnivistascope has been released. "Model V" features comic strips written by Paul and illustrated by various artists including Bryan Coyle, Julia Bax, Darren Stephens and Leigh Shepard. David Goodman's work on Space Lord continues with the universal Emperor attending a SF style convention in his honour only to be told by the cosplayers that his costume isn't accurate enough. The consulting magician Warlock Holmes returns in two photo-strips plus a making of feature presented by the League of International Atheistic Revisionist Scientomerists (L.I.A.R.S.).

This issue also includes articles on various incarnations of the Rebelstar computer game, the parts of the second radio series of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy that Douglas Adams didn't use in his novels plus an in-depth interview with author and critic, Kim Newman.

Omnivistascope issue 5 is a 100+ page, perfect bound A4 book with colour cover by Oliver Redding and monochrome interiors. Cost including UK postage is £5 and it is available by sending a cheque made payable to Paul Scott to 13 Kiln Crescent, Bishop Middleham, Ferryhill, County Durham, DL17 9AP.

• Alternatively it is available via Paypal on the Omnivistascope website.

• Overseas postage rates are available by e-mailing Paul via

Take A Dump For 99p

David Robertson has sent us details of his new small press title Dump which follows on from the two issues of Berserkotron, his previous title. Dump is a 24 page US size anthology with colour covers and black & white interiors all written and illustrated by David. It covers topics as diverse as Delhi belly, suicide, extinction, what life models think about and just why the long lived members of the Jedi order would allow humans to join when they only live for such a short time. Dump issue one is available direct from David for the remarkable price of 99p including UK postage.

David's comics work has appeared in such small press titles as Belt Sander, Crap Your Pants, Eric, Shiot Crock and Small Pets as well as The UK Web and Mini Comix Anthology and the Europeans cartoonists’ website 40075km. He has written comics related articles and reviews for The Comics Journal, The International Journal of Comic Art, news.comm, Nude, Starscape and Spaceship Away!

• To order Dump issue 1 send a cheque for 99p payable to David Robertson to: Fred Egg Comics, 54 Queen Street, Tayport, Fife, DD6 9LQ.

• Orders from the rest of the world should contact David via

• For more details and reviews of Dump visit the Fred Egg Comics blog.

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