downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...

This blog is no longer being updated

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

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

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Transformers assume iPhone disguise


After the global success of their Wallace & Gromit iPhone comic app (see news story), Titan Publishing has announce the arrival of its first Transformers iPhone comic.

Based on Hasbro’s Transformers brand, each comic download includes an awesome action packed story and is bursting with fun facts and trivia about the characters, movies and comics.

The digital comic is free and can be downloaded for iPhone by visiting or the iTunes app store (comics are available in the UK and Eire only.)

The first download includes "Optimus Prime", a story written by Transformers legend Simon Furman and featuring artwork by fan favourite Geoff Senior. The tale sees the heroic Autobot leader trying to survive an assassination attempt when he attempts to send the Allspark into space.

Titan Publishing Group has already seen global success with the release of its first digital comic, Wallace & Gromit, and this new Transformers title is expected to follow suit. With over 650,000 downloads of the comic for iPhones, Wallace & Gronit has been topping app charts all over the world and has even been described as ‘the world’s first e-Book bestseller’.

"Transformers on your iPhone - wow!" enthuses Simon Furman. "It's a simply incredible chance for fans of the warring ‘Robots in Disguise’ to experience stories that expand upon and underpin the incredible movie universe. The stories, written by me and drawn by a host of old and new Transformers artists, bring the movie characters to life as never before, and now they can be seen as never before!

"So get ready for tales of Cybertron and Earth that spotlight your favourite characters... and probably a few you know only by name... beamed direct to your iPhone.’

• Transformers Comic #1 is available to download for free on iPhone via More Transformers comic stories released over the coming weeks so check back soon!

• For a sneak peek at the Transformers iPhone comic check out this Youtube clip, right here:

Friday, 26 February 2010

Skyjack Publishing launches Megaton magazine

Megaton1.jpgSkyjack Publishing, run by Matt Yeo, the brains behind Egmont's TOXIC title and producers of The Official Ben 10 Magazine have just launched Megaton – an all-new video game magazine for kids aged 8–12.

Priced at £2.99, the magazine features a 16-page section of Cartoon Network US-produced comics, but knowing Matt we're sure he'd love to get some British stuff in there at some point - so here's hoping!

Packed with the latest video game reviews and characters, as well as exclusive Cartoon Network comic strips, brain-scratching puzzles and amazing competitions, the 100-page Megaton will be on sale every four weeks.

The magazine includes fantastic multiple paper-based gifts to collect, from sticker sheets and posters to 3D card models and trading cards. Megaton 1 includes a free Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom A4 sticker sheet (featuring 30 stickers), a double-sided LEGO Indiana Jones 2/Bakugan Brawlers A1 poster, and an A4 card model sheet for kids to make a cool character from the hit Cartoon Network TV show, The Secret Saturdays

"Megaton is the only magazine in the children’s market that offers 100 pages of pure gaming and comic content," says Matt, SkyJack Publishing’s Managing Director. "We’ve created a truly exciting magazine that showcases kids’ favorite characters and brands in a unique and innovative format, and it’s one that also offers parents real value for money."

"The addition of officially licensed Cartoon Network comic strips is fantastic news for us and our readers," he continues, "as it will bring children back to the magazine time and again to read more about the TV shows they regularly want to watch."

"We’re delighted to be working with SkyJack Publishing on the launch of Megaton," adds Alan Fenwick, Vice President, Turner CN Enterprises. "The magazine is a great brand extension for us and provides the perfect platform for kids and parents to interact with our properties."

• For more information check out the magazine's official web site at when it goes live on 25th March

• For more information on Skyjack Publishing visit

Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton

Wulf the BrtionBlimey! It's Another Blog About Comics: The blog site is showcasing an impressive array of quality artwork including a serializing of Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton from Express Weekly in 1959.

"This was simply one of the best adventure strips to have appeared in British comics and the hi-res scans have been cleaned up and presented large size for study," notes Lew Stringer. "Artist Peter Richardson provides a commentary alongside the strips."

According to Peter, Wulf the Briton is regarded as Ron Embleton's comic masterpiece. He took over the strip which was a single page cover feature on Express Weekly in 1957, making it his own and certainly putting it on a par with Dan Dare, which was running in Eagle.

Embleton, who went on to draw strips for TV Century 21 and many other titles, was paid £200 a week for drawing, painting, and lettering the strip, at a time when the average weekly wage in the UK was £12.

• You can begin reading the first episodes here: subsequent chapters can be found using this search.

In Review: Classics from the Comics 167

Classics from the Comics Issue 167DC Thomson's Classics from the Comics title is a gem of a reprint title, combining a range of cracking humour and adventure strips from comics such as The Beano, The Dandy and other, no longer published titles, into one bumper monthly collection.

Issue 167, on sale now in all good newasgents, includes some cracking strips from 1970s issues of the much-missed Sparky - perhaps one of DC Thomson's most anarchic titles in past times.

While the adventure strips this issue - Morgyn the Mighty and The Truth About Wilson - are pretty dated, it's good to see them alongside humour strips - a mix that was prevalent in the British comics I grew up with but is no longer considered popular.

The issue includes a spotlight on artist Barrie Appleby (interviewed for BBC News back in 2003 here when he turned 65), who has freelanced for DC Thomson for years and whose credits include Dennis the Menace and Roger the Dodger. (His Dennis the Menace work also features in this Dennis the Menace: A Licence to Menace! collection, and you might also like to check out Danny Templar: Invasion Earth, written by Alec Sillifant). Considering DC Thomson rarely used to provide any credits for its creators, it's great to see them getting credit where credit's due in this way.

Humour strips in the issue include Calamity Kate, Biffo the Bear, Corporal Clott, Little Plum, Dennis and Gnasher, Billy Whizz, Baby-face Finlayson, Puss an’ Boots, Roger the Dodger and Hungry Horace.

For just £2, it's a great package of strips from yesteryear. One gem has to be "My Home Town – Woking" - a feature strip that focuses on famous faces associated with one British town, which ran in The Dandy in the 1960s. One of those great reader involvement ideas that could surely be revived!

Subscribe to Classics from the Comics on the DC Thomson web site

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Into Action with new Commandos

Commando4271.jpgAttention, troops! the latest Commandos from DC Thomson are on sale now, as follow...

Commando 4271: An Inch from Death
Story: Ian Clark Inside artwork: Ricardo Garijo Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally No 2592 from 1992

In the shadows of the old sawmill the two officers fought like tigers − a British Military Policeman and an SS war criminal locked in savage hand-to-hand struggle.

And now the ruthless Nazi had the edge, his hands closing round the Redcap’s throat, forcing him closer, closer still, to the buzzing, razor-sharp blade of the bench saw...

Commando4272.jpgCommando No 4272: The Shadow War
Story: Mike Knowles Inside artwork: Denis McLoughlin Cover: Alan Burrows
Originally No 2585 from 1992

16-year-old Danny Webster hated being a miner. So, after a pit accident, he decided to do what many lads dream of doing — he joined the French Foreign Legion.

But life there wasn’t a bit like any of the films he’d seen and Danny found himself in Indo-China, fighting a shadow army above... and below... the ground!

Commando4273.jpgCommando No 4273: The Raven and The Renegade
Story: Ferg Handley Inside Artwork and cover: John Ridgway

When Major Otto Schafer took command of a small village in Brittany, he had to show the locals that he meant business — by taking a large group of villagers hostage.

Sensing disaster, his new adjutant Klaus Mayer urged him to reconsider. Trying to persuade his new CO, Klaus loaned him a book telling the remarkable tale of a similar situation from the region’s turbulent past.

Otto was fascinated by this fantastic tale. And you will be too when you read it...

Commando4274.jpgCommando No 4274: Rifleman From Rio
Story: Alan Hebden Inside artwork and cover: Mike White

When he joined the Brazilian Army to escape a deadly enemy in Rio De Janeiro, Luis Silveira didn’t expect to find himself fighting half a world away in Europe. But he did.

When he arrived in Europe with the rest of his unit, he didn’t expect to run across that same old enemy from Rio. But he did.

The bitter fight was on once more.

"This issue features our first inside artwork from Mike White for quite some time," notes Calum, "but still up to his expected standard.

• For more information, check out the official Commando site at:

• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846

Necessary Monsters storm the airwaves

Necessary MonstersConcluding webcomics month on his Strip! radio show, Alex Fitch catches up with immensely talented comics duo artist Sean Azzopardi and writer Daniel Merlin Goodbrey as the first series of their epic spy-thriller-horror webcomic Necessary Monsters comes to its conclusion after a total of 125 pages serialised over two years.

The series mixes a ‘black ops’ style spy thriller with the tropes of modern horror films and bizarre characters with ultra violence to maximum effect.

Alex talks to Daniel and Sean about the progression of the strip, the various ways it’s been published and their collaborations with another webcomics creator – Douglas Noble – on a zombie western (The Rule of Death) and surrealistic thriller (Sightings of Wallace Sendek) respectively.

• Strip! Necessray Monsters airs at 5.00pm tonight (25/02/10) on Resonance 104.4 FM (London) and is then streamed at / podcast online later

British Comics Shop turns Comics Maker!

First Age ComicsLancaster based comics retailer First Age Comics isn't just selling comics - its making them.

Earlier today, shop owner Mark Braithwaite announced via Twitter that he's looking looking for 1-5 page stories over the coming weeks for First Age Comics #1, a new anthology title.

"It's been on the drawing board for some time," he says. "We just needed to iron out the crinkles.

The appeal is aimed at newcomers to the comics form who have never been published and want to know what it's like putting a comic together, "whether it be for experience, your portfolio or merely to see what it's like to go from idea to printed page.

"It's still early stages but already it looks like it'll be a fun project."

At this stage, First Age are asking creators to send them a synopsis summarising a story. Submissions are open to artists and writers: if you haven't an artist, FA will sort that out at a later date.

"No artwork required at this stage," Mark says. "Just a brief summary of the story and how many pages you expect it to fill.

There's just one caveat: this is definitely an all ages project, so no bad language, nudity and gore.

"We've got kids sending material in and want them to be able to pick up their own comic," says Mark. "First Age Comics 1 is open for all ages we're expecting kids to submit their comics."

• Pitches should be submitted before 31st March 2010 and you should send them by post, to: Mark Braithwaite, First Age Comics, Assembly Rooms, King Street, Lancaster, LA1 1JN.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Wheeler On The Wireless!!

downthetubes contributor Ian Wheeler, a former Coordinator of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, discussed the Bonhams Doctor Who auction on BBC Radio York this morning. You can hear the item on the BBC iplayer - it's part of the Adam Tomlinson show and can be heard at approximately the 45 minute point. Check it out here.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ronald Searle Exhibition celebrates a Graphic Master

Coming-Searle.jpgLondon's Cartoon Museum will host a major exhibition celebrating the life and work of graphic master Ronald Searle from 3rd March 2010, marking the talented artist's 90th birthday on the same day with a more than well deserved bang.

Regarded as ‘The Master’ by cartoonists not only in Britain but around the world Searle is still drawing and continues to inspire cartoonists, illustrators, animators, film makers and artists in many fields.

"To say he is an artist is no more than the truth, but he is more than that," notes Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell. "He is our greatest living cartoonist with a lifelong dedication to his craft... his work is truly international, yet absolutely grounded in the English comic tradition."

"He had a huge effect on me," says Gerald Scarfe. "I wanted to draw like him. His pen was always searching, exploring every nook and cranny of his subject. His exciting, electric style fascinated me."

Perhaps best known in Britain for his St. Trinians and Nigel Molesworth cartoons, caricaturing life in both girls and boys public schools, this exhibition shows 140 works from across Searle's 75-year career, from his early cartoons for the Cambridge Daily News in the 1930s to political cartoons for Le Monde in the 2000s. Many of the pictures have been lent by Searle himself.

The focus is particularly on his reportage drawings which show Searle’s skill for capturing the essence of an event, character or situation.

Ronald Searle wartime art

Above: Searle's illustration for White Coolie by Ronald Hastain. Via the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre

From 1942 to 1945 Searle endured three and a half years as a prisoner of war of the Japanese working on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway. His 400 secret drawings, some of which he hid under the mattresses of prisoners dying of cholera, recorded life and death in the camps and some of these fragile drawings are included in the exhibition. His experience as a POW transformed his life and formed the basis of his later reportage work.

In the 1950s Searle captured life on the London streets, drawing sewer men and street sweepers, horse auctions and the funeral of George VI for the News Chronicle. In the 1950s and 60s he travelled the world for American magazines such as Life and Holiday. In 1961 alone, he drew the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem and the newly built Berlin Wall.

As an observer of life Searle is unparalleled: his unerring eye for the surreal and the comic can be seen in his drawings - both entertaining and revealing - from America, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland and Casablanca. In Britain he is still best known for his St Trinian’s and Molesworth drawings, but these are but one tiny chapter in his career. This exhibition shows the quality and diversity of the work he has produced over his long life.

Throughout his career Searle has studied and collected the masters of the past – Carracci, Hogarth, Gillray, Rowlandson and Cruikshank – some of whose works are included in the exhibition, as are Searle’s medals dedicated to the ‘Fathers of Caricature’, which he designed for the French Mint.

In 1995 at the age of 75 when most people are enjoying retirement, Searle took on a new challenge when he was asked by the French newspaper Le Monde to draw a weekly political cartoon. He continued to do so until 2007 when cutbacks at the paper brought the association to an end.

searle3.gifAs a mark of the great esteem in which he is held, a number of the world’s leading cartoonists and filmmakers have produced artworks in homage to Searle and written pieces for the exhibition catalogue: Steve Bell, Roger Law, Mike Leigh, Uli Meyer, Arnold Roth, Martin Rowson, Gerald Scarfe, Posy Simmonds and Ralph Steadman.

Ronald Searle has been closely involved in the mounting of the exhibition, lending artwork and drawing materials and assisting with research through an in-depth interview.

• Ronald Searle - Graphic Master: A 90th birthday celebration runs from 3rd March until 4th July 2010.

• The exhibition is accompanied by a 160-page catalogue, price £14.99 plus P & P: UK - £3.70; Europe - £7.50; Rest of World – Airmail £13.50 or £7.50 surface mail.
To order phone 020 7580 8155, send a cheque or credit card details by fax to 020 7631 0793 or by post to The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH

The Cartoon Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30 - 5.30 and Sunday, 12 - 5.30

• Ronald Searle Official web site:

• Ronald Searle artwork for sale:

Ronald Searle Tribute Blog

• The Timse (20th February 2010): Ronald Searle recalls the bad girls of St. Trinians
The great cartoonist reveals that champagne is the secret to a long life and that he has no regrets about leaving his wife and children

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Losers signing in London

The_Losers_GN.jpgAs the big screen release of The Losers draws ever closer, Titan Books and Forbidden Planet have announced creators Andy Diggle and Jock will be signing copies later this week at FP's London store on Thursday 25th February.

The Losers centres on a former elite US Special Forces unit that served as the covert bloody hand of America - until they stumbled across a Central Intelligence Agency secret they couldn't ignore. The CIA tried to kill them -- but they're about to learn that it takes more than one try to eliminate The Losers.

Praised as a terrific caper by Empire Magazine, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer and producer declaring he never missed an issue of the award-winning comic, The Losers is the work of British creative team Andy Diggle and Eisner Award-winning artist Jock (Green Arrow: Year One). The collection comprises the first two volumes (Ante Up and Double Down) – issues #1-12 of the slick, smart and stunning series.

More info about the signing on the Forbidden Planet web site

Directed by Sylvain White, The Losers film, due for release in April in the UK, stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Óscar Jaenada and Jason Patric. Check out the trailer below...

Daleks and cheetahs, oh my!

erez-2.jpgThe catalogue for the Bonhams Doctor Who auction, which takes place 24th February in London, is now online.

Included in just over 160 lots are a huge range of costumes from modern era stories, including the Doctor's costumes and outfits worn by Billie Piper, Sophie Aldred and other actors. But collectors are certain to be making the highest bids for original Daleks from classic stories such as Imperial Daleks from Revelation of the Daleks (pictured above), and Remembrance of the Daleks, Cheetah costumes from the final Classic Who story Survival and many more goodies, including a Vervoid monster and Sil.

erez.jpgBonhams is the world's oldest and largest auctioneer of fine art and antiques still in British ownership and the archive of Bonhams Magazine available on this website goes back to the winter issue of 2007. Art historians, historians, and archaeologists will find fascinating articles in the aforementioned issue on craftsman Matthew Boulton, the mystery of the Brontë children, centuries-old dog collars, and the curse of Tutankhamun. Visitors will appreciate the photographs of the artworks and antiques, as they are very vivid and show great detail.

Bonhams previously published an article about Doctor Who in its official magazine , Issue 21, which featured an engaging feature on the series by Benjamin Cook, alongside the publication's more regular fare of articles on antiques and art (see news story).

• The event details for the auction are here on the Bonhams web site, and the auction itself will be promoted via

View the online catalogue for the Bonhams Doctor Who auction

(Thanks to Norman Boyd for the tip)

Harry Brown film writer announces Madam Samurai graphic novel

Modern Samurai issue 1 from Scar ComicsGary Young, writer of UK film box office hit Harry Brown, has announced that his next creative release will be Madam Samurai, a two-volume graphic novel featuring art by Eagle Award Winner David Hitchcock

The first volume is due to be published by Scar Comics in the summer of 2010 and a trailer for the book is available to view and download now here on the SC web site.

The action-adventure story follows a female samurai warrior whose journey brings her to Victorian London on a mission of vengeance.

Madam Samurai began as a one-line pitch devised by film producer Gael McLaughlin," reveals writer Gary Young, describing how the project started life. "The notion absolutely intrigued me and so we began to develop the idea into a full screenplay.”

“The more the idea grew it became clear that it was way beyond what we had access to in terms of production budget," he continued. "However, it also became clear to us that this was perfect material for a graphic novel, something I'd always wanted to do having grown up as an avid fan of the medium. We also felt that the book would ultimately help the project to be realised as the film we'd always envisioned.”

Shane Chebsey, the brains behind indie comics distribution service Small Zone and publisher of Scar Comics, whose books include Sardines & Solitude by talented new creator Erol Arguden, soon came on board as publisher and introduced artist David Hitchcock to the project.

modern_samurai_1_scarcomics.jpgp46.jpg“As soon as I read the Madam Samurai script I knew that this was a project I really wanted to be involved with," he reveals. "The first artist I thought of was David Hitchcock, whose past projects include Springheeled Jack, Whitechapel Freak. His amazing pencil style work already features London in the Victorian era and characters such as Jack the Ripper."

“I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of drawing feudal Japan," adds David. "It’s required a lot of research but it’s been a delight to draw. The story is so compelling and the characters are so exciting that it’s been a real pleasure to work on.”

Based on the sample page Scar Comics have sent us (above, left, click the image for larger size), this looks to be a brilliant new book, and it's great to hear that both Gary and Shane's faith in the project has been reflected in key comics distributor's decision to support the book.

"We’re delighted that Diamond Distribution will be distributing the book as it allows the story to reach fans on both sides of the Atlantic," says Shane.

• Madam Samurai: Volume One will be listed in the April 2010 Diamond Previews Catalogue and be available in all good comic shops in June. Keep up to date on the project on its Facebook page

• Madam Samurai Trailer:

Sunday, 21 February 2010

New Sylvester McCoy and Dalek Figure Set

Sylvester McCoy figureNew Doctor Who figures are ten a penny these days but downthetubes is particularly excited to see the release of two stunning new Sylvester McCoy figures - one complete with Imperial Dalek, on sale soon as an exclusive release from Forbidden Planet, the other (in brown jacket) with the TARDIS.

Sylvester McCoy figure
The McCoy Years are particularly close to the dtb teams' hearts as John Freeman edited Doctor Who Magazine during that period (and wrote some of the McCoy comic strips) and Ian Wheeler is also a big McCoy fan who contributed to Virgin Publishing's book about that era.

The last Seventh Doctor figure - produced by Dapol - was released well over 20 years ago and looked nowhere near as detailed or well-made as these new figures. So even though the McCoy/Dalek may be twenty-five quid, this downthetubes contributor will be rushing out to buy it!!

The cream jacket/Dalek figure is due for release on 16 March as a Forbidden Planet exclusive, with the brown jacket/TARDIS figure presumably to follow soon after.

• Visit Forbidden Planet at:

Latest News on

Contact downthetubes

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

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

Click here to subscribe to our RSS NewsFeed

Powered by  FeedBurner