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Friday, 14 May 2010

David Bishop launches graphic novels collection in Scotland

Greenock Public Library comics poster(Adapted in part from David Bishop's Vicious Imagery blog and reposted here with his full permission): Comics writer, editor and TV script writer David Bishop was at the Greenock Public Library, Scotland last night to help promote its new collection of graphic novels.

Having clocked the fact that teenagers and young adults were not using the library much, Inverclyde Libraries chose graphic novels as a way of getting that audience in. The library now has 300 titles ranging from Kick-Ass to Gemma Bovary, 300 and Robert Crumb.

Despite some dismal weather, the launch got a great turn-out (four times the audience for Ian Rankin, apparently). But the event was not a one-off. The library is also running a ten-week course on reading and writing graphic novels (already fully subscribed) and books were flying off the shelves while David was there last night.

"There was coverage in local papers beforehand, and I got interviewed for a local radio station and by STV for one of its news magazine shows," says David. "All in all, a well organised and enjoyable event. I wish other libraries would follow the example of Inverclyde Libraries. If you want to reverse an aging readership trend, you need to take action. (That applies to comics publishers, too)."

Inverclyde Council says it hopes the project will increase the use of libraries across the local authority area.

Speaking before the launch event, Jim Clocherty, the council’s regeneration convener, told The Herald: “We are keen to attract younger users into our libraries, where they can borrow books but also benefit from the wide range of services and activities we have on offer.

“The graphic fiction collection features the usual fantasy superheroes, but also includes books dealing with hard-hitting issues such as coping with cancer, epilepsy and autism.”

Here at downthetubes we think this is a terrific in initiative from Scottish libraries, and one we hope more libraries, funds permitting, will also pick up on.

In a separate development, the charity Children in Scotland will be using a comic book to encourage pupils to take part in their school councils.

The Herald reports every school in Scotland will this week receive copies of the innovative comic book that highlights the findings of Having a Say at School – the largest Scottish study of pupil councils ever undertaken, which was conducted by Children in Scotland and Edinburgh University.

• Article compiled in part with grateful assistance from David Bishop, with thanks. Read more about the event from David here

Dan Dare Figures now on sale

ddflightsuit.jpgTermight Replicas has started taking pre-orders for the new Dan Dare 1:6 Scale Action Figure.

The first in a series created by Day2Day Trading, the figure comes with detachable hands, helmet, boots and 'Paralysing Pistol' (which, we gather, sadly has been disabled, so no using it on noisy neighbours or your kids).

A second figure with Dan wearing his green uniform is also in pre-production. Both figures are based on concept art by Chris Weston, which stay true to Frank Hampson's original designs.

The figures cost £99.95 each, and if bought from Termight Replicas will include a free full-sized Spacefleet cap badge.

• For more details visit:

• Dan Dare created by Frank Hampson. © The Dan Dare Corporation Ltd. 2010

Ross Talks Turf with Geek Syndicate

Jonathan Ross. Photo: Dr Bloefeld, licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licenseTop British comics and media podcast service Geek Syndicate has secured something of a well-deserved exclusive - a 45 minute interview with Jonathan Ross about about the success of his new comic, Turf, working with Tommy Lee Edwards, the future of the comic and perhaps a possible film adaptation.

"He revealed quite a bit during the interview," says Geek Syndicate's Barry Nugent.

turf_01.jpg"Jonathan also chats about some of his future comic projects (including a passing mention of a very interesting project for Joe Quesada) and Clint the new [Titan] comic magazine being created by Mark Millar. There’s also a brief audio tour of his comics room."

With news this week that Jonathan’s wife Jane Goldman is re-teaming with Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn to write X-Men: First Class, he also gives Geek Syndicate his reaction to the news as a die hard Marvel fan and a little hint of what we can expect.

There's also information on his plans for his revamped Hot Sauce website and the return of his book review blog.

Direct link to the Geek Syndicate episode

• Photo by Dr Bloefeld, licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Doctor Who artist conjures iconic Football Moment for new print

PeleMoore_251x361.jpgFormer Doctor Who comic artist Richard Piers Rayner has produced a limited edition print recreating one of football's most iconic moments, when Pele and Bobby Moore were pictured swapping shirts.

The original photograph, taken by John Varley at the Estadio Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 7 1970, shows the players together after England's Group C defeat to Brazil.

The then world champions were effectively handing over the baton of world supremacy to the champions-elect and the world's greatest-ever player.

Stockton-born Richard, who these days is artist in residence at Middlesbrough Football Club, contributed the stunning six part tale Evening's Empire to the Doctor Who mythos in the 1990s (also set in Middlesbrough and written by TV series script editor Andrew Cartmel), but is probably best known to comics fans for his work on the graphic novel Road To Perdition, which inspired the Hollywood blockbuster starring screen legends Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

Richard has worked with "Boro" for a number of years, producing a wide range of artwork representing historic and contemporary events at the club. Chosen from a host of quality applicants for the post, which allows him to get close to the matchday action, his drawings have become a popular feature in the club programme over recent years and several line the main stairway of the Riverside Stadium as part of the club's Artist in Residence project.

"I loved the rare and irresistible opportunity to recreate one of sports defining images," says Richard of this commission, now on sale as a limited edition print from YPF Publishing.

"In a brief moment at the end of the game opponents acknowledge the sportsmanship of their contest. There is no better reason to call it the Beautiful Game and no better challenge than to bring all that colour and drama back to life."

• Limited edition signed and numbered prints (measuring 33cm x 44cm) of the painting, titled 'Mutual Respect', are available for £175, including courier dispatch and first-class packing. These prints are not framed but come fully mounted and ready for framing on high quality art paper. A black-wooded framed version is available for £225 (inclusive of delivery).

• Visit for more details.

iPads to order in UK, but which Comic Reader is best?

marvel_hero_20100403.jpgThe prices and release date details for the most hyped and anticipated gadget this year, the Apple iPad, which features a number of digital comic products were announced for the UK this week. The device has been much touted as an ideal comic reader and, indeed, Apple itself is promoting the device as a comics reader in its promotional pages for the UK launch.

The iPad will be sold through the Apple Online Store, Apple retail outlets and via approved resellers from Friday 28th May 2010.

Pre-ordering began this week from the Apple online store where, you can order all the iPad Wi-Fi models, together with all the iPad WiFi + 3G models, in time for delivery on the 28th May.

Compared to the US, where the iPad is already on general release and selling in huge numbers, as usual for Britian, the prices do appear rather high. A basic model will set yo u back £429 (for the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad model), with a top of the range product priced at £699 (64GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad).

But is it any good for reading comics? (Assuming, of course, you're a fan of digital comics - I'm fully expecting the usual comments from folk who prefer paper, which they're entitled to have).

Reaction has been mixed but fairly positive.

"If the screen were about 20% bigger, this would be the best comic book reader yet, feels Gizmodo's Jason Chen of the iPad. "You wouldn't need to pan, to zoom, to scroll or to pinch. You could just read."

How many comics are available? Well, there are plenty of companies vying for your App loyalty, including PanelFly, Comixology and Marvel's reader, the latter of which is just Comixology, but only delivers Marvel Comics.

Earlier this month, technology site BoingBoing reported the Marvel Comics app would launch offering more than 500 titles through the application, including all the Marvel classics are here: Avengers, X-Men, Hulk, Spider Man, Iron Man, Captain America, and a number of newer titles. To navigate, you simply 'finger swipe' the page to get to the next one, or single click on the left or right edge to go back or forward. You can also scroll through the thumbnail bar at the bottom for faster, jump navigation. The app also enables you to 'zoom in' on the artwork using a double-click or two-finger 'pinching', which iPhone users will be used to

When you've zoomed in on a single frame, finger swipes or single clicks also navigate frame to frame rather than page to page.

"Scrolling is intuitive, brisk, and elegant," enthuses BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin. "I'm amazed at how smooth. The store interface makes sense to anyone familiar with iTunes and App store. Flipping and reading, one luminous full-colour page at a time, I do not miss paper." You can view a video review from BoingBoing below.

"You'd be a fool not to run screaming to the App Store and download this comic reader," feels EnGadgets' Joshua Topolsky. "Not only is the app built in a clear and cleanly laid-out manner, but you get access to tons of great Marvel titles to purchase and lots of free books to download off the bat, but it features a guided view which is about as close as you can get to a motion comic without... reading a motion comic. Our only complaint here is that they don't offer more of the Marvel catalogue."

Of course, given that this is a British comics blog, you might be interested in supporting a British comic app - albeit one with significant overseas investment. recently launched it AIR app for desktops which includes a digital comic reader, store, and social activity feed and Apps for the iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows 7 are coming soon. It will also be delivered as native Web app.

With an emphasis on material from independent publishers - although mainstream ones are on board - has taken a 'social' approach to digital comics reading, launching with an activity feed showing all the comics your friends are reading and their comments. This serves as a discovery mechanism.

"The AIR app is decent, but I really want to see this on an iPad," commented Erick Schonfeld on Techcrunch last month after seeing a demonstration. "There is just something about comics that makes you want to hold them in your hand."

If you get your comics elsewhere and then import them to your iPad, then you need Comic Zeal or Comic Reader. (The Comic Reader app itself went through a painful gestation period for the developer, which is documented here on the ComicReader forum).

"Comic Reader Mob has the best solution — even if its UI is ugly as Bizarro and costs twice as much," feels Gizmodo's Jason Chen of the iPad.

There's also a iPad version of iVerse, and iVerse Comics founder Michael Murphey is enthusiastic about the device's potential to attract new comic readers. The latest version of their app, demo'd here, adds much requested features like ZOOM for both iPad and iPhone in this update, but overall iVerse hope that the application fades into the background and you can just enjoy reading your comics.

"The things the iPad does it does so very well that it's going to be like the iPhone – once people have their hands on it, they're not going to want to not have that device," he told Comic Book Resources back in January. "It's very slick and very well made, and it's going to allow us to be able to present comics in the best possible way on one of the best devices to do this on."

Most importantly, will comics on the iPad - as well as other digital devices - increase comics readership? Many think so. Making strips available for consumers to download on a tablet could change "the mentality that comics are just meant to be collected," artist Dave Dorman, who has drawn for issues of Batman, Star Wars, and numerous additional comics told Bloomberg Business Week last month.

"Forty years from when I grew up, comics could potentially make a big breakthrough to a new generation," he feels.

Links: Reviews of Note

Bloomberg Business Week: Comic Book Publishers Plot Comeback via Apple IPad

• EnGadget Round Up of book and comic Apps for iPad (including 'Comics'• Wants To Blow Your Mind Away With Digital Comics (Video Demo)

Gizmodo Review of Comic Zeal and Comic Reader

Links: Comic App for iPad Publishers

Comic Reader

Comic Zeal


IDW Publishing (iTunes store link)

iVerse Comics


Paul Rainey's 2000AD marathon draws to a close

2000ad_0001.jpgIn November 2006, after an impetuous, ill-thought out bid on eBay, comic creator Paul Rainey won the first 1188 programmes of 2000AD... and so began a marathon read that became a long-running decision to rad and review them every issue of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic, that became the

That marathon comes to an end this weekend.

"Rather than just have those 2000ADs sit piled up in my bedroom collecting dust, tormenting me about how much money I had spent on them, I decided I was obliged to read them all," says Paul. "I thought, rather than just read them why not blog about the experience too. So, I started the 2000AD Prog Slog Blog where I review every other issue of the Galaxy’s greatest comic and many of its associated publications.

"Well, after three and a half years of thrill power intensity turning my mind into a boggled mess and over 700 entries, the blog is due to come to its intended conclusion this weekend.

"Of course, I would like to tell you how proud I am to have got this far but there’s a part of me that feels ashamed," Paul admits ruefully, "at having used up so much time on a project which, let’s face it, is obsessive and stupid. All I can say for certain is, ‘it’s been emotional’ and ‘thank God it’s over’."

Paul has been a longtime fan of 2000AD from the outset. "How I heard about it originally, I’m not entirely sure," he reveals in one of his early posts on the blog. "Some part of my memory tells me that I saw an advert on TV, either early one Friday evening or Saturday morning. I also have a suspicion that John Craven’s Newsround did an item on the return of Dan Dare to comics. Whatever, I can’t imagine how I would have known about it even though I was buying lots of Marvel UK titles at the time."

2000ad_1181.jpgIf you have ever read 2000AD when you were younger or have an interest in the blog, then you can read all entries so far. Decide for yourself whether Paul has been wasting his huge creative talents on this blog when he could have been drawing ore There's No Time Like the Present - or if his reviews provide what we think here are a fantastic document on the development and continued life of 2000AD.

The final prog is scheduled to be reviewed early on Friday evening while the farewell entry will appear sometime over the weekend.

And, if you’re one of those people who think that the 2000AD Prog Slog Blog should continue then you will be pleased to know that fellow comic creator David Page, is picking up where Paul will be leaving off on his blog --

In Review: Pandora's Box - Gluttony

The third of the Pandora's Box series of individual but themed stories based on the seven deadly sins, it was inevitable that Gluttony would concentrate on food. The book takes the BSE and vCJD scares of recent years and sets the story in contemporary France.

Teze Egee is in charge of the French food safety agency and was given the post by the French minister for health who also happens to be his father. With the agency knowing that there is a new strain of BSE in the country's cattle, Teze struggles to determine the initial location of the outbreak, imposing movement restrictions and culls on the French herds. With government ministers horrified at the potential human death toll, Teze seems no closer to discovering how that first herd originally became contaminated until he makes a chance discovery that strikes very close to home.

The previous Pandora's Box book, Sloth, was less than successful in its execution but Gluttony is a big improvement with Alcante's plot considerably more interesting and, while preachy at times about factory farming methods, it suits the theme better than the anti-drugs message in Sloth. Stephen Dupre's artwork is a big improvement on Radovanovic's in Sloth with the factory farming sequences being particularly striking.

Perhaps some of the plot points in the story are a little too familiar to those that remember the British BSE outbreak - massive funeral pyres of cow carcasses, ministers feeding meat to their children in front of the media, and that same media taking up the case of a child's pet cow condemned to die - but it doesn't distract from the growing unease in the book about just how the outbreak began.

Alcante mixes Greek myth into the Pandora's Box series and with Gluttony it is the myth of the Minotaur trapped in the labyrinth. Unlike Sloth in which the Trojan War references were obvious, Gluttony is much more subtle and it is only with the story's resolution that the use of the Minotaur myth becomes a little more apparent.

Pandora's Box - Gluttony was never going to be an uplifting story but it is a mature and thoughtful one that raises expectations for the five remaining books in the series.

There are more details of the English language Pandora's Box series on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the original French publications of Pandora's Box on the Dupuis website.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

IPC Media, owners of classic comic archive, considers title closures

archie_vs_spider001.gifIPC Media - owners of classic but no longer published titles such as Lion and many comic characters such as the Steel Claw, the Spider and Robot Archie - has announced that it is undertaking a strategic review of its niche and specialist titles.

This is 'corporate speak' for cutting and selling off titles if they aren't doing well.

IPC Media publishes over 85 media brands, with print brands alone reaching almost two thirds of UK women and 44% of UK men – almost 27 million UK adults. In January, it re-organised its publishing businesses, the first phase in a long-term strategy to maintain readership.

IPC Media CEO Evelyn Webster says the strategy, creating a new, audience-facing structure comprising Connect for mass market women, Southbank for upmarket women and Inspire for men, is "working well". But clearly, like many media companies, the company is facing challenges to its publishing business, and there have been many redundancies behind the scenes as it retrenches to better deal with the new media market challenges of web, mobile and print... and magazine closures are also on the cards.

"While print remains the engine that drives our business, we are increasingly focusing on accelerating the development of our multi-platform offerings to our consumers," says Webster.

"As a result we need to review whether it is desirable for IPC to continue to publish the full range of brands that we currently own.

"This review may lead us to conclude that we sell some of our smaller titles to publishers where they would have a stronger strategic fit and will therefore benefit from a greater focus.”

The review will be conducted over the next few months.

If only they would sell off their comics library so someone make something of some of Britain's best-loved comic characters...

Hairsine delivers "Masked" cover

masked.jpgTop artist Trevor Hairsine has provided the cover to a new superhero short story anthology edited by my friend and ace SF book editor Lou Anders, who used to work for me on Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine.

To be published by Gallery Books, MaskedBuy Masked from also includes a short story by Paul Cornell.

The stories in this 384 page collection are 'Cleansed and Set in Gold' by Matthew Sturges, 'Where their Worm Dieth Not' by James Maxey, 'Secret Identity' by Paul Cornell, 'The Non-Event' by Mike Carey, 'Avatar' by Mike Baron, 'Message from the Bubblegum Factory' by Daryl Gregory, 'Thug' by Gail Simone, 'Vacuum Lad' by Stephen Baxter, 'A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows' by Chris Roberson, 'Head Cases' by Peter David & Kathleen David, 'Downfall' by Joseph Mallozzi, 'By My Works You Shall Know Me' by Mark Chadbourn, 'Call Her Savage' by Marjorie M. Liu, 'Tonight we fly' by Ian McDonald and'A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)' by Bill Willingham.

Trevor Hairsine sprang to deserved fame as an artist on 2000AD, but has since drawn Captain America, Wisdom, Ultimate Galactus, Black Panther and many other comics.

A 2008/2007 Hugo Award nominee, 2007 Chesley Award nominee and 2006 World Fantasy Award nominee, Lou Anders is the editorial director of Prometheus Books' science fiction imprint Pyr, as well as the editor of anthologies Fast Forward 2, Sideways in Crime and more. In 2000, he served as the Executive Editor of, and before that he worked as the Los Angeles Liaison for Titan Publishing Group, writing a huge number of brilliant articles for me on STM and other Titan Magazines, as well as authoring The Making of Star Trek: First Contact.

Due for release in July, Masked looks to be another great collection from an editor who's a dab hand at assembling great anthologies (but never let him try and make you drink grass).

Buy Masked from Masked from

Buy Masked from

In Review: The Bellybuttons - It's Ugly Out There

Bellybuttons Volume 2There are times when a book can take you completely by surprise and turn out to be completely different to what you were expecting. The Bellybuttons book It's Ugly Out There with its teen girl talk, high school setting, caricatured artwork and humour wasn't exactly high on my list of "that looks good" and yet...

The Bellybuttons tells of the lives and loves of three high school girls - the glamorous but conniving Vicky and Jenny and the plain and very put upon Karine. Indeed the cover of It's Ugly Out There, of Karine carrying a umbrella for the other two while she herself gets wet, rather sums up the relationship between the three. While both Vicky and Jenny try to be the most glamorous and desirable girl at school and vie for the attention of the older motorbike riding, and perpetually helmeted, John John, Karine acts as their skivvy until she finds love with the rather more sensible Dan. However as the other two realise that they are losing Karine to a boyfriend that they encouraged her to talk to in the first place, they plot to end Karine and Dan's relationship.

The Bellybuttons, also known as Les NombrilsThe Bellybuttons strip is actually Les Nombrils, a normally single page humour strip in Spirou magazine which began in the French-Canadian humour magazine Safirir since its creators, writer Maryse Dubuc and her husband, artist Marc Delafontaine (Delaf), are from the town of Sherbrooke in Canada's Quebec province. Since Sherbrooke has two universities, it is tempting to suggest that being surrounded by students can only help to inspire the strip's creators - and inspired the strip can be.

This is an ongoing story told in mainly one page segments with a punchline panel at the end of each which shows Karine and Dan's relationship blossom while rounding out the three main characters so much more than I would have expected. Karine's kindness to the zit-covered Murphy threatens to undermine her budding romance with Dan while, despite their queen bitch personas in school, it is difficult not to have sympathy for Vicky and Jenny when we see their often grim home lives.
Unusually there are several times in the book when the speech balloons are left with their original French language, although translated into English in text boxes at the bottom. It is as if Cinebook decided that the joke was so French, or Quebecois, that it needed to be left in the original wording. This is not something that I have come across in other titles in their range and does seem somewhat strange in a book that, while it does not have a geographic locale, could easily be set in a generic American high school, albeit with one of the girls called Karine rather than Karen.

Cinebook classify The Bellybuttons as a 15+ title and with references to flavoured condoms and the gruesome death of Jenny's lap dog it certainly isn't for younger children but for those who enjoy Titan's reprints of Lise Myhre's goth girl Nemi, The Bellybuttons may well also hit the mark.

With its well constructed story and unusual depth to its humorous characters, The Bellybuttons - It's Ugly Out There took me by surprise. Give it a chance and you may be surprised as well.

• There are more details of The Bellybuttons on the Cinebook website.

• There are more details of Les Nombrils on the Dupuis website (in English).

Buy Bellybutton Volume 2: It's Ugly Out There from

Also available: Bellybuttons, The Volume 1: Who Do You Think You Are?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

In Review: Good Dog, Bad Dog

It was the first of the DFC Library books to be released and Good Dog, Bad Dog is perhaps the most complete book of the three released so far. Written and illustrated by Dave Shelton, this is a fun ride through a Hollywood gangster world inhabited by anthropomorphic dogs, and the odd cat.

Containing three different tales - Dog Meets Dog, The Golden Bone Of Alexandria and The Dog's Dinner - it sets up the situation of grizzled Detective Bergman and his enthusiastic but naive partner Detective McBoo of the the Muttropolis police department. Dog Meets Dog tells of them meeting for the first time as well as setting up the world that they inhabit before the book moves on to the more substantial Golden Bone Of Alexandria with its many film noir overtones as they attempt to relocate the antique of the title. It concludes with The Dog's Dinner which is a slightly more over the top tale of hidden identities, kidnappings and lemon cake.

Dave Shelton shows off his love of old movies as well as some wild puns through the three stories. His choices of breeds of dogs for his characters are amusing and while the femme fatale is inevitably a French Poodle and the goons are bulldogs the "most dangerous dog in the city" looks anything but.

Of the three DFC Library books released so far this is the one that shows off best what the DFC comic was like. Unlike Spider Moon, which needs a follow-up to progress the story, or Mezolith, with its more mature themes, here is a book that will suit the adult purchaser either for themselves or their children but also can be given as a standalone present for young or old that doesn't require prior knowledge of the story or for the recipient to have to buy more to find out what happens.

Yet with its fun artwork, twisty plotlines and often groan inducing puns, while Good Dog, Bad Dog doesn't need a sequel, it certainly deserves one.

• There are more details of Good Dog, Bad Dog including sample pages on the DFC Library website.

• There is more information about Good Dog, Bad Dog on Dave Shelton's website.

Dan Dare gets Pulped!

Dan Dare 'Pulp' CoverEvery once in a while, the Internet throws up some gorgeous work featuring a famous character - but the origins of the art is clouded in mystery.

Given all the interest in Dan Dare recently, it was perhaps no surprise that this gorgeous 'pulp cover' featuring Frank Hampson's hero had pulses racing among his followers. Was it an unknown US publication of Dan - a find as exciting, perhaps, as the discovery of rare dummies of the original Eagle a few months back - or some new merchandise from the Dan Dare Corporation or Orion Books, who love that 'distressed' look to some of their reprint line?

Sometimes, it's hard to track down the source of a circulated image, but downthetubes got lucky with this one, and tracked down creator Francesco Francavilla, who was delighted to hear their work had attracted so much enthusiastic speculation.

"That was a 'pseudo' cover I did for fun," Francesco admits. "When not working on my sequential or illustration or cover gigs, I like to play creating cover with some of my favorite characters and trying to capture the look and feel of the period they were initially published. That generated covers like the Dan Dare or this John Carter of Mars."

When not giving Dan Dare fans palpitations, Francavilla is busy working on the third arc of Zorro for Dynamite Entertainment and is currently doing covers for their Green Hornet and Kato series, as well as working on a mini at Wildstorm. You should also check out his Black Beetle character.

Of course, if Francesco got the chance to really draw Dan Dare, he'd leap at the chance. "I would love to draw some Dan Dare space adventure," he enthuses. After this prize art, we'd love to see him do it...

• Dan Dare image reproduced here with the permission of Francesco Francavilla

Monday, 10 May 2010

Buy Your Commando...

Commando 4291New Commandos from DC Thomson now on the news stand in the UK highlight the work of top veteran comic artist Ian Kennedy and sees the start of the VE-Day stories, marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

Issues 4291 and 4292 of the digest title are brand new, while 4293 and 4294 were originally commissioned as part of a seven-part series for the 50th anniversary and get a fresh outing this month. The rest of the series will follow this month and next.

Ian Kennedy’s covers grace three of the books, two with extra portraits on the back cover. Janek Matysiak, who has retrained to create his images totally digitally makes a welcome return as a cover artist with a new technique for his artwork. "We like it," says Commando editor Calum Laird, "and we're interested to hear the reaction to it.

"Commando stalwart Gordon Livingstone’s artwork appears in 'Slogger’s War' — we’re sure his fans will be delighted by that."

Commando 4291: Fight for the Eagle

Story: Ferg Handley Inside art: Vila Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

Private Pete Curtiz was proud to be British — joining up to serve his country during World War II. Thanks to his surname though he was ordered to join a Polish unit. He was to fight for the Polish Eagle alongside men he had nothing in common with.

These tough veterans resented his presence and, in turn, Pete developed a bad attitude towards them.

They would have to set aside their differences and work as a team to survive. But could they?

Commando 4292Commando No 4292: To the Last Man

Story: Ferg Handley Inside art: Morahin Cover Art: Janek Matysiak

In May 1945, even after the surrender of Germany, occupying Allied forces were in danger, forced to keep a constant vigil for marauding Nazis. They were the much-feared Werewolves — brutal, renegade, die-hards.

So a British Commando unit was given one final mission... to hunt down this enemy who would fight to the bitter end...

Commando 4293Commando 4293: I Want to Fight!

Story: Ian Clark Inside art: Gordon Livingstone Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

From the first day of war in 1939, the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the countries opposed to Hitler’s Germany knew that it would be a long, bloody struggle before the Nazis were toppled to defeat.

They couldn’t know then that the day of victory would come in May, 1945. For Jean Duval, a French soldier who saw his unit crumble under the full force of the Nazi blitzkrieg in France in 1940, it would a bitter, hard war...

Commando4294.jpgCommando 4294: Slogger's War

Story: Ian Clark Inside art: Benet Cover Art: Ian Kennedy

From the first day of war in 1939, the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the countries opposed to Hitler’s Germany knew that it would be a long, bloody struggle before the Nazis were toppled to defeat.

They couldn’t know then that the day of victory would come in May, 1945. Tom "Slogger" Morgan, a British Commando, was to find that facing the enemy called for a certain kind of courage — but this was not the only kind of bravery needed in the battle for survival!

• Official Commando web site:

• 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

Comic-inspired movie Largo Winch comes to London


Successful Belgian bande dessinée series Largo Winch has been made into a live action film. Its writer and creator Jean Van Hamme was on hand at the Institut Francais in South Kensington in London to answer questions after a screening of the film. Joel Meadows reports...

Largo Winch, a co-production between France and Belgium, is in English with selected French and Croatian subtitles and captures the flavour of the graphic novel pretty effortlessly.

Largo is the adopted son of business magnate Nerio Winch who is incapacitated and so his multimillion dollar business is up for grabs from all comers. A playboy, Largo travels the world rescuing women in distress and generally living it up in a pulp adventure cut from the same cloth as something like The Shadow, with a dash of Bruce Wayne and James Bond thrown in for good measure.

Director Jerome Salle makes good use of the European settings in the film and Tomer Sisley as the eponymous hero is decent value. While the plot is a little convoluted at times, it rewards the viewer’s concentration and you are left with a satisfying romp of a film.

Despite the fact that it is predominantly in English, Largo Winch manages to preserve that very European feel that makes the graphic novels such a joy to consume.

Jean Van Hamme at a Q&A session after the Largo Winch screening. Photo: Joel Meadows

The Q&A afterwards shed quite a lot of light on the adaptation process, with Van Hamme coming across as a passionate and intelligent man. Even though the film only received a week’s theatrical release, at the Institut Francais, it is coming to DVD at the end of July from Optimum Releasing, and a sequel is already being made, so the name Largo Winch is one that the English-speaking world will no doubt be becoming more familiar with over the next few years.

Jean_Van_Hamme.jpgPictures from the screening by and © Joel Meadows

Largo Winch is available to buy in English from Cinebooks and the film will be on DVD from Optimum Releasing in August.

Read Jeremy Briggs review of Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Aymond's Lady S

• Joel Meadows is the editor-in-chief of TRIPWIRE, Britain’s only features-driven comics and media magazine as well as having written about comics and genre for many of the world’s best-known publications including Time Magazine, The Times, Variety, Empire and many more.

• Tripwire official website:

• Walls and Bridges blog:

Comic Creator Spotlight: Nick Miller's "Political Logic"


Lancaster-based cartoonist and downthetubes chum Nick Miller - co-creator of the long-running The Really Heavy Greatcoat, which most recently featured in the much-missd Comics International, came up with this strip in response to the current national political dilemma in the UK facing the Conservative leader, David Cameron.

Nick has illustrated everything from childrens' comics to graphic novels, advertising, childrens' book and greetings cards, and his work has appeared in the UK, US and Italy. Most recently, he's been working with partner Antonella Caputo, whose work first appeared in the Italian publication Il Giornalino, where she produced monthly episodes of Casa Montesi, a family drama. Since then she has written scripts for childrens' comics and magazines, a recipe column and short stories and plays for children, as well as graphic novelisations of works by H G Wells, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde. Her work has been published in Italy, the UK, US and Mexico.

• More work by Nick at:

Classical Comics 'The Tempest' shortlisted for major book awards

FinalTempestCover_Quick.jpgClassical Comics adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest has been shortlisted for two different awards.

The company will hear this week if it has won a gold, silver or bronze Independent Publisher (or "IPPY") award from Independent Publisher Online: no small achievement, given that some 2000 independent authors and publishers participated in this year's contest.

In June, the company will find out if it wins the Association of Educational Publishers Award for its adaptation of Shakespeare's legendary fantasy romance, realized by writer John McDonald with art from Jon Haward (pencils) and Gary Erskine (inks), with colouring by Nigel Dobbyn.

It's exciting weeks ahead," Jon told downthetubes. "This is all good news for Classical Comics -- but also for UK publishing."

The "IPPY" Awards, launched in 1996, are designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Established as the first awards program open exclusively to independents, over 2,000 "IPPYs" have been awarded to authors and publishers around the world. The Awards recognize 12 Outstanding Books of the Year in categories such as Most Inspirational to Youth and Most Likely To Save the Planet, and to gold, silver and gold medal winners in 67 categories, ranging from non-fiction categories like Architecture and Religion, to fiction categories like Multicultural and Horror.

"This year we saw spectacular work in so many categories – so much creativity, so much passion -- so much truth," say the organisers. "It is this dedication to truth and the art of literature that makes these awards worthwhile and inspires us to delve into the massive task of judging each year."

The Tempest is up against Ars Memoria: The Art of Memory by Menton J. Matthews III (Prudentius Publishing), The Vampire Conspiracy by Marc Morgenstern and Adam Gorham (Five Strangers Press) and Hatter M: Mad With Wonder by Frank Beddor (Automatic Pictures).

Classical Comics won a bronze IPPY and a British Book Design and Production award last year for its adaptation of Macbeth.

In the AEP Awards, another Classical Comics title, Romeo and JulietRomeo and Juliet (also adapted by John McDonald with art by Will Volley and colouring by Jim Devlin), is also being considered along with a number of other titles in the 'Reading and Language Arts' category

Although The Tempest was the first play to appear in the first official Folio printing of Shakespeare's plays, it was almost certainly the last play he wrote. It held pride of place in that first collection, presumably because the editors thought it to be his masterpiece; a crowning glory to the career of the most brightest of playwrights.

This is a reissue of one of the earliest Cinebook publications, which may explain away a little of the dodgy translation but for those into their aircraft then it must be bought to see Bergese's excellent artwork.

• There are more details of the Cinebook Recounts series on the Cinebook website.

• There are more details of the original French Biggles Raconte series on the International Biggles Association website.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

New DC Thomson Books From Waverley

The Very Best Of Black BobWaverley Books are the Scottish publisher of DC Thomson tie-in books with many Maw Broon cookery titles under their belt as well as the magnificent History Of Beano and they will be adding to these titles over the rest of 2010.

First, and perhaps most interestingly, 3 June 2010 will see the release of The Very Best of Black BobThe Very Best of Black Bob. This £9.99 hardback will reprint stories of "The Dandy Wonder Dog" who first appeared in the comic in November 1944 and remained with it into the 1980s. It will be presented in the same landscape format as the very rare 1950s Black Bob annuals and include an introduction from DC Thomson archivist and former Dandy editor Morris Heggie as well as a Black Bob story listing from comics historian Ray Moore, an expert on DC Thomson.

September will see the Broons titles added to, with Maw Broon's Kitchen Notebook which will be a small hardback including some recipes and kitchen tips from the previous cookbooks as well as including blank pages for the owner to add their own.

At the same time Waverley will be expanding into jigsaws with The Broons Grandpaw's Shed Jigsaw Puzzle. This will turn Broon's artist Peter Davidson's colour endpaper from The Broon's Book O' Gairdenin' Wisdoms into a 400 piece jigsaw in the style of the two Broon's jigsaws The Living Room, released in 1943, and The Seaside, released in 1944.

Finally, on 23 September 2010 they will be taking more than a leaf out of Conn Iggulden's Dangerous Books For Boys series with a book from DC Thomson's own dangerous wee boy, Oor Wullie's Dungarees Books For Boys.

After the success of the first Maw Broon's Cookbook, this has the potential to be big seller for them in the run up to Christmas as Wullie divulges such things as secrets on how to build a go-kart, secret codes, pages purloined from PC Murdoch's notebook as well as some of his adventures from The Sunday Post 'cut out and stuck in'. Of course this being Oor Wullie there will also be a section on "things tae dae wi' a bucket".

• Waverley Books' new website is currently under construction but in the meantime they are on Facebook.

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