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Saturday, 5 September 2009

Heretic Tomes in the Black Library

heretic_tomes.jpg(with thanks to Matthew Badham and Jonathan Green):
As of January 2010, Black Library will be launching a range of Print on Demand titles which will allow them to bring back classic and fan-favourite novels, graphic novels and even artbooks previously published by them that have been out of print for some years now.

The Black Library, which is owned by Games Workshop, has announced via its blog that most of these titles will be brought back through this special service whilst a few will have minor edits to reflect changes to the background of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 worlds. But there are a few books that were written in a different time and place, when the worlds of Warhammer and 40K were different from what they are now. These books will be available under the Heretic Tomes banner.

The first three months' Print on Demand titles will be exclusively revealed in the December issue of White Dwarf magazine and future titles will be announced on the same day they become available to purchase exclusively at Although these titles will not be announced in advance of their release date, the Black Library team will be dropping hints through Facebook, Twitter, the BL Blog and other online sources.

The Black Library is an imprint of the British publishing house BL Publishing producing a range of all-action novels, art books, background books and other cool items, all set in the dark and gothic worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. BL Publishing in turn is a part of Games Workshop, a leading creator of fantasy games.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Tube Surfing: Marvel Mash Ups, XIII and a Dalek Competition


• Those Marvel-Disney mash ups just keep on coming. Two locations for growing collections of these on the Super Punch blog here and here. This Buzz/Iron Man mash is by Dave Mott.

• Indie creator Adam Gregory has started releasing the animated versions of his popular comic, The Flowfield Unity.
"They're micro-animations, all under one minute in length," he tells us. "I'm planning on releasing one every week, based on the existing strips and I'm taking requests too." You can view the first one here on YouTube

Cover-XIII.jpg• Hot on the heels of the news of Cinebook's upcoming publication of cult classic XIII, here's the cover to their first volume, which will be released next year.

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. Read our new story here

Paul Anthony Long will be appearing at Red Lion Books in Colchester on Friday 11th September to launch his debut novel Joe Fury and the Hard Death. While it's not strictly the normal fare for downthetubes, we're told the book is written very much in the style of a comic/graphic novel, but presented in the form of a text novel. Among those who have commented positively about it so far are 2000AD's Pat Mills - so hopefully it may be of interest to readers here. Paul will also be signing copies of his book at Red Lion Books, Colchester, Essex, 7.00pm to 10.00pm on Friday 11th September and at Waterstone's in Portsmouth on 3rd October from 12.00pm to 3.00pm.

• Talking of events, Stref's "Free comic book art exhibition of work from his graphic novel, Milk for Insomnia, at the Fine Art Library (Located in Central Library), George IV Bridge, Edinburgh has now opened and runs until 29th September.

• Another reminder: the latest issue of the mystic detective comic Harker 7 is now available - you can buy it direct from Ariel Press's online store or it'll be available in the shops listed here. It's the beginning of our new six part storyline.

• And finally - there's a new Doctor Who-related competition on ace creator site Scotch Corner. The winner gets a large original inked illustration, an A3 print of the finished illustration and a copy of Remembrance of the Daleks on DVD. What are you waiting for? Head on over there now. Don't dally!

Andersonic 8 Is Go

Issue8-coverB.jpgThe latest of the superb Gerry Anderson fanzine Andersonic has just been released. Issue 8 includes a new interview with artist Mike Noble, who discusses his work on Anderson-related comic strips in TV Century 21 and Look-In, talking about his techniques, influences and drawing everything from cowboys to bedsteads!

Other features in the latest 40-page magazine include:-

Stingray - is there more to Stingray's longevity than all that colour? Line out to Deepsville with Commander Daddio to find out about the Andersons' foray into inner space.

Joe 90 - City of Dolls - a look at how the series captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s.

• The Metamorph Retrospective - Changes were deemed necessary to get the series back on the air, but did they do the trick? Andersonic examines the colourful opening episode of Space:1999's reboot.

• Beyond Century 21 - A look at the fate of costumes, instrumentation and miniatures from the Anderson series after the closure of the studios... but where exactly do Sid James and mashed potato fit into the equation?

• Space:1999/ Missing Link - a look at Edward di Lorenzo's thoughtful offering from the first series. Is it more important to feel than to think? Koenig's not sure...

The magazine also features reviews of two classic episodes – Joe 90: Business Holiday and UFO: The Square Triangle, reviews Fanderson's Stingray CD and two volumes of Reynolds and Hearn's TV21 reprints, and more.

• Andersonic Issue 8 is available via the website - price £2.25 including UK postage and also from eBay for a limited period. If you'd prefer to pay by cheque or PO, please get in touch for our postal address.

Moore on Marvelman at Marvel

Alan Moore has commented on Marvel's acquisition of Marvelman, saying he's pleased the deal, which will mean his Marvelman stories will be re-published, will see the character's creator Mick Anglo benefit once again.

"After being initially informed by Neil Gaman’s lawyer, I had to think about it for a couple of days," he told Kurt Amacker at "I decided that while I’m very happy for this book to get published—because that means money will finally go to Marvelman’s creator, Mick Anglo, and to his wife. Mick is very, very old, and his wife, I believe, is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

"The actual Marvelman story is such a grim and ugly one that I would probably rather that the work was published without my name on it, and that all of the money went to Mick," he continued. "The decision about my name was largely based upon my history with Marvel—my desire to really have nothing to do with them, and my increasing desire to have nothing to do with the American comics industry. I mean, they’re probably are enough books out there with my name on them to keep the comics industry afloat for a little bit longer.

"..." Neil will [also] be able to finish his Marvelman story because he has a completely different relationship with Marvel than I have with them — or rather, don’t have. The main thing is that I will feel happy to know that Mick Anglo is finally getting the recompense he so richly deserves. And, I will have distanced myself from a lot of the deceit and ugliness that surrounded the relaunching of Marvelman as a character."

• Read the full interview, in which Alan also talks about the origins of his Marvelman story for Warrior, the first part of an ongoing interview with Alan, here

• News story compiled thanks to Paul Eldridge

Liam Sharp Turns Director for Fistful of Blood

fob.jpg• Hearty congratulations to Gears of War and MamTor publisher Liam Sharp, who has landed himself the job of a lifetime. "I'm art directing a movie, and not just any movie," he reveals. "It's Fistful of Blood, the movie based on the cult graphic (and I mean graphic) novel by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley, great friends both."

The film is being directed by Digger T. Mesch, who created Art Asylum, with a cast that includes Peter (Chewbacca) Mayhew. It's being designed by Tom Muller, who talks about his initial work here, and who has set up a Flickr set which will include more design work as it becomes available. Right now, that's mainly the promtional work, including the poster, above.

"I'm only just taking it in," says Liam on his deviantart journal. "For the last few years this is the job I've dreamt of doing - production design/art directing. But in an extremely aggressive marketplace that seemed highly unlikely. And yet - here I am."

I've known Liam for many years, right back to Marvel UK when he was drawing Death's Head II, and I can't think of a more deserving case for someone whose hard work and dedication to his craft has finally paid off in a way he always wanted. Great news.

Transformers Mag Hubris Hits Ten

hubris10a.jpgTransformers fan magazine Hubris celebrates its 10th issue with a host of features dedicated to the giant robot saga and comes wrapped in a superb, exclusive full-colour wrap-around cover poster by top comics artist Stephen Baskerville.

The magazine also includes a feature exploring the rare opportunities Transformers writer Bob Budiansky took to tell stories that simply focused on single characters; profiles of Blast Off, Blitzwing and Blot; reviews of a selection of Titan Magazine’s Transformers (2007) tie-in stories; plus an all-new full-colour Transformers strip story, Tyrannical Difficulties, with art by Mark Stevenson, starring Grimlock.

Hubris Magazine is the work of The Hub, co-oridnated by Graham Thomson, a site celebrating over 25 years of The Transformers.

• To buy this not-for-profit magazine and for full issue details visit:

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Prisoner Released - on Blu-Ray


British producer Network DVD’s first ever Blu-ray title will be a special-features laden collection of the original 1960s The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan.

Available to buy as a six-disc limited edition box set on 28th September 2009 for just under £60, this will be the first Blu-ray version of the series anywhere in the world.

The only home entertainment edition of the series, described as being the only edition to have been officially endorsed by the late McGoohan himself and based on the version of the standard definition DVD which won Best TV DVD at the Home Entertainment Awards in 2008, The Prisoner - Complete Series offers a terrific version of McGoohan's iconic, thought-provoking, revelatory and just plain cool series, as fresh and dynamic now as it was when first unleashed upon an unsuspecting world in 1967.

Containing all 17 episodes, the wealth of special features include:

• “Don’t Knock Yourself Out” a feature-length documentary which is the most comprehensive look at the production of The Prisoner, told by those involved in its creation • Restored original edit of ‘Arrival’ with an optional music-only soundtrack featuring Wilfred Josephs’ complete and abandoned score • Production Crew audio commentaries on seven episodes • Trailers for all episodes • Archive textless material, including the title sequence with clean themes by Ron Grainer, Wilfred Josephs and Robert Farnon • Commercial Break Bumpers • Behind-the-Scenes footage including much previously unseen • Script and Production Documentation PDFs • Image Galleries with Music Suites • Exclusive book on the making of the series by ace TV historian Andrew Pixley • 5.1 sound mixes on all episodes • and more

Strip!: Fab Toons and Splendid Zines

London's Resonance FM continues its ongoing coverage of comics with several shows from the Panel Borders team.

Strip! Fab Toons and Splendid Zines
: Starting ‘women in comics’ month on the show, Panel Borders have a couple of interviews with small press creators who are selling their self published periodicals at festivals and competitions around the country. Dickon Harris talks to Bea, a.k.a. Beatrice Lane, in an interview recorded at the Bristol Small Press expo and Alex Fitch talks to Francesca Cassavetti in an interview recorded at “Schmurgen con” in Mile End.

Bea publishes Bear Cave ‘zines on a variety of subjects from short fiction to music reviews, with her latest issue The most splendid bands I know due out shortly, while Francesca’s Fab Toons comics tell a variety of autobiographical stories from her life, in strip format, from her days at art school to dating a former punk star and the birth of her first child.

• Strip! Fab Toons and Splendid Zines airs at 5.00pm Resonance 104.4 FM (London) 03/09/09 / streamed at podcast after transmission at

(N.B. There is no Sunday repeat this week as Resonance is broadcasting live from 'Pestival' at The South Bank Centre from Friday evening to Midnight on Sunday)

Recent podcasts from Panel Borders include The Art of Jill Thompson, concluding children’s comics month. It's the belated podcast of Alex Fitch’s interview with Jill Thompson which sees Alex and Jill talk about her career so far, from drawing popular DC comics such as Wonder Woman and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to creating her own children’s books, Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie.

Jill also talks about her influences, her early work on Mike Baron’s Badger and her latest project Beasts of Burden.

• The Art of Jill Thompson, arranged in conjunction with Gosh! Comics and originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM can be found here on the Panel Borders web site

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Look Out! It's Pyook-In

Ace cartoonist Malcolm Kirk's been homaging Look-In again. Enjoy...

Snow Patrol Comic Strip by ~MalcolmKirk on deviantArt

Frears to direct Tamara Drewe

Tamara Drewe by Posy SimmondsStephen Frears director of films such as The Grifters, Roddy Doyle's The Van and The Queen is set to take the director's chair for the big screen adaptation of Posy Simmonds Guardian comic strip Tamara Drewe.

Variety reports Frears has officially signed on to direct the film from a script by Moira Buffini, with British actress Gemma Arterton confirmed in the role of vivacious Drewe, a sexy flirt who returns to her small country village and stirs up dark passions among the locals.

The cast will also include Dominic Cooper, Roger Allam, Luke Evans, Bill Camp and Tamsin Greig.

The film, which will begin shooting at Pinewood Studios later this month and is Frears latest since directing Cheri, which starred Michelle Pfeiffer, is to be produced by Ruby Films and BBC Films and will get development and production coin from the U.K. Film Council's Development and Premiere funds.

People are drawn to Tamara Drewe, male and female. In the remote village where her late mother lived Tamara arrives to clear up the house. Here she becomes an object of lust, of envy, the focus of unrequited love, a seductress. To the village teenagers she is 'plastic-fantastic', a role model. Ultimately, when her hot and indiscriminate glances lead to tragedy, she is seen as a man-eater, a heartless marriage wrecker, a slut.

Inspired by Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, and first appearing as a serial in the Guardian, in book form Tamara Drewe was recently enlarged, embellished and lovingly improved by Simmonds.

Web Links

Read our review of the Tamara Drewe graphic novel.

Apart from the first episode - go figure! - the newspaper version of Tamara Drewe can still be read on The Guardian's web site

Guardian Video: Posy Simmonds on creating Tamara Drewe

Posy Simmonds talks about the origins of Tamara Drewe and the processes by which she ends up on the printed page.

The Oldie Book Launch, Exhibition

oldie_postofficecartoon.jpgBritish cartoonist site Bloghorn reports a book of cartoons from The Oldie is to be published later this month, and an exhibition to go with it will be held at London's Cartoon Museum.

The Oldie Book of Cartoons 1992 - 2009The Oldie Book of Cartoons 1992 - 2009 will be published on 25th September and feature more than 400 of the best cartoons from the magazine.

After editing Private Eye for over 20 years, Richard Ingrams created The Oldie back in 1992, along with a group of friends (Auberon Waugh, Alexander Chancellor and Stephen Glover). "The aim was to produce an antidote to youth culture but, more importantly, a magazine with emphasis on good writing, humour and quality illustration," he explains. "Years later, The Oldie can well claim to be a success story, attracting some of our best writers, illustrators and cartoonists."

The Cartoon Museum will hold an exhibition entitled Cartoons from The Oldie in its Blue Room from 30th September until 24th December.

The Oldie Official Web Site

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Disney Marvel Buy Out - What now for Marvel Reprints in the UK?

No, it's not a hoax, not an imaginary story -- media giant the Walt Disney Company, no slouch itself in the comics publication department, shook US comics publishing to the core late last week with the news that it had agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, in a stock and cash transaction.

The news sent shockwaves through the industry and became a key debating topic among fans over the weekend, with both the future of Marvel Comics and its many film projects both matters of discussion.

What impact the deal will have on Marvel's licensing deals in the UK - where Panini has long reprinted many of its titles after buying Marvel UK's assets in the 1990s -- is, as yet, unknown. However, Panini publishing rival Egmont is Disney's European licensee, so there may be some major changes ahead when licensing deals for Marvel material come up for renewal.

The Marvel-Disney merger is described as a "hands off" arrangement, in the style of Disney's arrangement with animation giant Pixar, meaning Disney would not necessarily take a role in day-to-day editorial decision making at Marvel Comics. However, over on Bleeding Cool, which also features a collection of creator reaction to the news, Rich Johnston pondered the impact the deal would have not just on Marvel's more adult brands such as the Punisher, but the wider commercial ramifications, such as Disney's own distribution deal for its printed products which might mean, ultimately, that Marvel Comics might no longer be distributed by Diamond.

Former Marvel head and creator of many of its most enduring characters Stan Lee has welcomed the news. "To me, becoming ‘Disneyfied’ is not a bad thing," he told Reuters. "I mean, look at movies like Pirates of the Caribbean... Disney knows how to do movies.

"They know how to do colourful characters and I think the fans, if they think about it, they’re going to love it."

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories,” said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company.

“[Marvel CEO] Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney.”

As Kim Masters points out on The Daily Beast, Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Marvel made $1.5 billion for its eccentric CEO Ike Perlmutter, so he's unlikely to see problems with any aspect of the deal, and for the most part, many fans have reacted positively.

The merger means Marvel will also see its profile raised in emerging markets where Disney has already gained wide exposure, such as India and the Far East - more than compensating for the billion dollar price tag. Appointments to Marvel's board earlier in the year already indicated this was one of the company's aims.

“We believe that adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation,” Iger continued.

“Disney is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses,” said Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world.”

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel’s properties.

Reaction to the merger from finance pundits has been mixed. The Wall Street Journal, for example, notes that on the face of it, Marvel should be an ideal fit for Disney with its array of assets -- movie studio, theme parks, cable channels and consumer-product business -- and long experience exploiting characters.

But investors may want to ask what return on investment Disney hopes to achieve from the $4 billion it is paying for Marvel.

"The problem is Disney's ability to take control of some of the best-known characters quickly is limited," notes Martin Peers for the newspaper. "Many already are licensed to other companies for use in film, television, DVD animated features, theme parks, publishers and even promotions for other companies."

The Guardian argues the tie-up unites two companies with similar business models. They both take characters which capture the popular imagination and promote them vigorously around the world on every possible media platform and through third-party licensing deals.

While Disney has traditionally been known for its wholesome family creations ranging from the Little Mermaid to Lion King, Hannah Montana and Pocahontas, the purchase of Marvel adds an edgier, more violent element since Marvel's characters tend to chime particularly well with teenage boys and young men, while Disney has been stronger in appealing to a female audience.

While the move has been seen as positive by many, some comics professionals also have words of caution. "A Pixar-like hands-off deal?" challenged former Comics International editor Dez Skinn. "Sure, and Disney will really love The Punisher, et al!

"[This is a little] like when Egmont (the European Disney licencee) was seriously embarrassed by having Judge Dredd in its portfolio," he notes, worrying how some characters may be affected by the new arrangement that will have a major impact on western comics for years to come."

"I see a wonderful symmetry between old animation studio rivals Warner Bros and Disney each controlling the old comic company rivals DC and Marvel," counters comics journalist Alan Woollcombe. "Plus, it settles once and for all any question who will be producing American Disney comics once whatever current deal there is runs out or who will be distributing future Marvel studio films once the Paramount deal (currently five films to go) ends.

"And, in cultural terms, there is an argument to be made that Stan is the nearest contemporary equivalent to Uncle Walt. The house that Stan (and Jack) built joins the House of Mouse (and Walt)? Seems a good match to me."


Official Press Release

News Stories

The Guardian: Disney buy Marvel Entertainment

Los Angeles Times: Disney to Buy Marvel

"The acquisition hands Disney a treasure trove of pop culture figures, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor and the Fantastic Four, among a roster of 5,000 that it hopes will inspire countless movies, television shows and video games."

New York Times: Disney Swoops Into Action, Buying Marvel for $4 Billion

More Reaction

The Beat: Disney Buys Marvel: Analysis

"Disney has always wanted strong boys properties. They rule the pink world with their princesses, but have had a historic weakness with older boys that they’ve tried to bridge. This is obviously a slam dunk for that..."

Newsarama: Marvel-Disney - Industry Reaction

Newsarama: Marvel-Disney - More Industry Reaction

"It feels like Christmas morning," Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada 'tweeted' Monday morning, "I haven't seen this much excitement in the Marvel halls since... well, ever! ... If you're familiar with the Disney/Pixar relationship, then you'll understand why this is a new dawn for Marvel and the comics industry."

The Misney Universe: Favourite Disney-Marvel MashUps

"Long term, it's a brilliant move for Disney that will be worth every penny," feels Industry insider Jeff Katz. "It makes a ton of sense for them at a corporate level, especially once some of the current Marvel deals expire and can then be exploited through the larger Disney pipeline. I think this is indicative of the general shrinking of the entertainment marketplace. There will be more consolidation along these lines."

The Beat: More on Marvel/Disney as Reaction Unfolds

Marv Wolfman (former Editor-in-Chief of Marvel and one of the two founding editors of Disney Adventures Magazine )

"... Disney can certainly help Marvel in terms of distribution, awareness and sales. They can get Marvel Comics into the parks and over the net better than Marvel can. Disney's Internet presence is much greater than Marvel's. They have resources Marvel does not, and I expect in a year or two we'll start seeing the results of the sale. I think Disney will be a major plus on that side..."

Tim Beyers for The Motley Fool: Mickey Mouse Robs Spidey

"Disney gets Marvel for just north of 20 times earnings. That sounds expensive, I know. Here's why it isn't: Long before Iron Man was a box-office blockbuster, Marvel was boosting operating income by 28% a year. Yes, you read that right: 28% a year, without a contribution from Marvel Studios."

Disney, Marvel and the Future of Online Comics

"Both companies would do well to invest themselves more fully in the digital space, as print media continues to decline. While most diehard Marvel fans are no doubt frightened at the concept interference that might result at the hands of a company like Disney (the term "Disneyfication" was not coined in a vacuum), Marvel could work such an acquisition in its favor..."

The Los Angeles Times: The Big Deal - Marvel is Disney's new Family Brand

"Disney isn't just buying into the Marvel business. It's reinventing its future, which has become increasingly cloudy as family entertainment, especially in the movie end of the business, has been inexorably evolving from old-fashioned squeaky-clean Disney fare to the edgier, more unsettling PG-13 universe populated by Marvel's potent arsenal of comic superheroes..."

Forbidden Planet International: That Disney Marvel Thing...

This is a really good round up by Joe Gordon analyzing what the e buy out means, cutting through the kerfuffle out there. Highly recommended.

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