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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Comica Comiket: Independent Comics Summer Fair gathers pace

(with thanks to Paul Gravett): Independent publishers, small presses, zinesters and self-publishers are gathering under a marquee for the first ever summertime Comica Comiket Fair in Battersea Park, London as part of the Hypercomics Exhibition at the Pump House Gallery and kindly sponsored by the wonderful Gosh! Comics.

A dazzling range of comics big and small will be on offer - and of course there's the chance to  meet the artists and creatives behind them. Exhibitors should include graphic novel outfits Blank Slate and Accent UK, innovative groups Nobrow (whose line up includes artists Brecht Vandenbroucke, Nishant Choksi and Rose Blake, among others), Solipsistic Pop and Danish group Aben Maler, zine collective Alternative Press, Phonogram team Kieron Gillen and James McElvie, and solo creators like Paul Rainey and Timothy Winchester (sample below).

Indie comic publishers interested in joining in should download an application form (Word format) fast - there are only a few tables left. The organisers say they’ll do our best to get you your share of space.

Throughout the day there will also be live events, workshops, Hypercomics artist tours, with admission and all events totally free. And to top it off, a scrumptious barbecue too! Come rain or shine, it’s going to be an unmissable Hypercomics time!

• Comica Comiket Summer Fair is at the PumpHouse Gallery, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ on Sunday 22nd August 2010 from 12.00 to 6.00pm. Online info:

• Stall Booking: Download an application form - deadline 1 August 2010.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Build Your Own Miniature Hadron Collider!

mhc.jpgWacky comic creator Paul O'Connell is up to more zany antics, this time offering advice on how to join in with Europe's Mega Science revolution...

Can't wait to find out what will happen when they finally get the Large Hadron Collider working properly? Well, now you dont have to! Simply follow the step-by-step instructions to build your very own Miniature Hadron Collider and in a Flash! you too will be able to enjoy all the thrills and spills of particle science without ever having to leave your armchair... all for just the ridiculously low price of just £1.50!

This sounds like just the kind of title you'd expect to find on sale at Caption next weekend...

Paul O'Connell is a writer and graphic artist whose work has appeared in various international books, magazines and comic collections as well as in his self published comic series 'The Sound of Drowning'. He's often seen working with other crazy comic creatives such as Nelson Evergreen, Alex Sheikman, James Corcoran, Leo Hartas, Faz Choudhury and many others.

To change the way you think about the world forever go to:

Titan Books revamps web site - interviews, background features added

Titan Books has re-launched, expanding coverage of their published and upcoming illustrated books, fiction and graphic novels.

The revamped site has launched with exclusive video interviews with Kick-Ass’s Mark Millar and comics legend Joe Simon.

Also added is a new blog, run by Titan’s Bookseller Awards short-listed marketing team, plus guest blogs which will be compiled by authors and experts in the entertainment world such as spoken word artist Scroobius Pip and Zodiac author Robert Graysmith.

There's the now-expected features of book publisher web sites, too - sample chapters from new titles, exclusive sneak previews, video clips of games and films, quizzes and behind-the-scenes news from the Titan staff.

Look out for competitions to win stuff later in the year, too - for 30 days from 2nd August there will be a new competition featured on the site daily. Prizes include an XBox 360, original artwork, props from hit TV shows such as CSI and Firefly, as well as a plethora of signed books, DVDs and CDs.

Timed to coincide with San Diego Comic Con, the revamp comes as part of Titan Books’ over-arching digital strategy, which has included the launch of iPhone and iPad apps earlier this year. The aim is to offer up-to-the-minute news on much-loved brands published by Titan, including The Simpsons, Supernatural, Batman, Star Wars and Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass.

The website will also collaborate with related sites and use social media to communicate with the comics and entertainment community. A weekly newsletter is offered to keep regular site users up-dated with developments on Titan’s titles.

• Visit the new site at:

Tube Surfing: Chief Judges, Troll Bridge and 100 Days of Winter

Just spotted this ace 'brief history' of the various chief judges of Mega-City one over at the 2000AD Covers Uncovered blog. Well worth a read.

Cartoonist Sean Azzopardi sent me his 100 Days of Winter collection. It's great and reviewer Richard Bruton of the Forbidden Planet International blog agrees with me:

"It’s Azzopardi’s skill in communicating the day to day ups and downs of everyday life, his worries and his eventual withdrawal from the project, that really makes the whole thing," writes Bruton, "especially the difficult and heartbreaking task of being forced to find a home for his aging and ill cat, incredibly engrossing and absorbing. As Azzopardi opens up and reveals himself he delivers a very touching and interesting autobiographical comic."

The Forbidden Planet International blog also draws our attention to this fun strip by Tom Gauld. Tom's work is always worth your time...

Johnathan Ross has interviewed comics legend Jim Steranko for the Guardian. Ross will also be blogging from the San Diego Comic-Con for that paper this weekend.

Something else I've only just noticed. Steve Holland has posted two beautiful illustrations by Mark Buckingham over at Bear Alley. These were published in Comic World,(edited by Steve) in 1994 to accompany Troll Bridge, a story by Neil Gaiman.

And finally, have you checked out the (previously mentioned) Fractal Fiction web-comic yet?

Bye for now!

Talent aplenty in Temple APA Issue 7

Zombies! Supervillains! Cowboys! Strange Creatures! Stick-Men!

The seventh issue of the Temple APA digital comics showcase - featuring a range of British comic creators, all members of the Temple APA, a great forum for developing comics talent - is now available to download as a completely free PDF file.

This issue features 56 pages of artwork and strips with contributions from the likes of Malcolm Kirk (who did the cover), Dave Hailwood, Dirk Van Dom, Matthew McLaughlin, Simon Mackie, Paul Eldridge, Dan Butcher and Adam Grose, among others.

Set up a few years ago now, the Temple APA magazine is intended as a showcase for the creators involved. Join the Temple forum to fin out more.

Click Here to download a copy of Temple APA Issue 7 from the Temple APA Forum

View Temple APA Issue 7 online via MyEbook

Commando - New Issue Gen

Straight from Commando HQ comes the details of the latest batch of four Commando comics which go on sale today.

Issue 4311: The Bugler
Story: Ian Clark Art and cover: Ibanez
Originally issue 2720 published in 1993
The plaintive notes of the Last Post sounded eerily over a lonely clearing in the Malayan jungle as Colour-Sergeant Jimmy Morrison mourned the loss of an old friend. They had fought and suffered together for many years in the steamy, dangerous heat of the tropics — but not always on the same side!

Issue 4312: Flying Musketeers
Story: Ian Clark Art and cover: José Maria Jorge
Originally issue 2713 published in 1993
Like the famous Musketeers of old, the four young German pilots, fresh from training, believed in the motto, “All for One and One for All!” It stood them in good stead in their early combat patrols, while their Focke-Wulf Fw190s were still the scourge of the skies.

But they were to need their light-hearted comradeship even more in the dark days that lay ahead for the German Luftwaffe...

Issue 4313: Mercy Mission?
Story: Ferg Handley Art: Vila Cover Art: Nicholas Forder

 The First World War, Mesopotamia, and First Lieutenant Paul Wardle is a doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He has vowed only to save lives -- never to take them -- even during vicious conflict.

When he and his wounded patients are stranded on a grounded hospital ship, taken over by a ruthless German Naval commander with a grudge, the situation looks increasingly desperate. For the sake of the wounded, Paul will have to fight for their survival. Can he stick to the principles he values so highly…?

Issue 4314: Tested to Destruction
Story: Alan Hebden Art and cover: Benet

The North African Desert is a hostile environment at the best of times, pushing men and machines to their limits — and beyond. As a place to fight a modern mechanised war it has to be one of the worst imaginable.

Yet Major Orde Gatwin, his band of oddbods and a motley collection of experimental machinery were there and had to do just that. Would they be strong enough to survive?

• 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

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Ebay auction in aid of comics writer Jake Black

Friends of comic feature writer Jake Black (who is one of the main writers for Britain's DC Figurine Collection magazine, and also wrote some features for me back in my Titan Magazine days) are running a charity auction on eBay to help raise some money for the bills he's had during a recent fight with cancer (which he won, by the way, which is great news).

This is the first of ten auctions of some amazingly limited edition figurines (each featuring different characters) and all money made in the auction will go to Jake.

The first figurine on offer is the original grey cast of Teen Titan Donna Troy (originally presented in DC Comics Super Hero Collection #22). These grey casts are the first to be taken by the original sculptor and are used for the first part of the extensive approval process Eaglemoss go through with DC Comics. 

To date only a handful have been given away as gifts/prizes and the grey cast of Donna Troy has never been released to the world, so this is your chance to own a figurine that's not just collectable, but ultra-collectable - something eBayers clearly already appreciate, as the bidding for Donna currently stands at £82, all of which has left DC Figurine editor Alan Cowsill, who has organised these auctions, rather stunned!

The figurine will be accompanied a copy of the DCSHC Donna Troy issue, signed by the editorial and design team.

Jake Black is a published comics author and one of the main writers for the DC Comics Super Hero Collection. He has been with the series since the beginning and wrote the main features for the Donna Troy issue.

Alan tells us several more figurines will be released over the coming weeks - check out the auctions being offered by this eBay seller for new auctions.

• Check out the Donna Troy auction on eBay at: 

Gaiman, Eddie Campbell at Sydney Opera House - no, really...

 Above: One of the images from GRAPHIC's Neil Gaiman competition, which ran on Facebook.

(with thanks to Peter Stanbury): Neil Gaiman will appear at Australia's Sydney Opera House in August, 'performing' in what can only be described as a unique collaboration of words, comic art (by Eddie Campbell) and music as part of a wider Graphic Festival at the world-renowned venue.

Regular readers of downthetubes already know that comic books, illustration, animation, music, multimedia and other new ways of telling stories have not only changed the face of our popular culture, they now define it. Graphic novels and comic art are now a leading source of inspiration for films, television, clothing, designers, musicians and artists the world over.

GRAPHIC at the Sydney Opera House will be celebrating this brave new world in a weekend of specially commissioned productions – with musical responses to graphic art and stories, workshops, panels, a film festival, a games exhibition and an animation competition.

Part of this major Australian event will see a world first; British Sandman and Neverwhere author Neil Gaiman reading aloud the previously unreleased story "The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains”, in the spectacular surrounds of the Opera House Concert Hall.

The Opera House have commissioned renowned artist Eddie Campbell (whose work includes From Hell, Bacchus and Alec, to name but a few) to illustrate the story, while the FourPlay String Quartet have been commissioned to create an entirely new underscore to the tale.

FourPlay shot to prominence in Australia and Europe in the very late 1990’s as a unique musical phenomenon – an indie rock band that just happened to be a string quartet.

Kevin Smith and Gary Groth are also appearing at the GRAPHIC weekend, while other highlight events include the Anime classic Akira with a live rescore by Regurgitator; and Shaun Tan’s The Arrival live scored by Ben Walsh and the Orkestra of the Underground.

• This Neil Gaiman event will take place on 7th August 2010 - you might want to tell your Australian friends or check out information here on the Sydney Opera House web site.

• More about the GRAPHIC Festival at or click here to download a PDF of the festival program from the Opera House web site

GRAPHIC on Facebook 

• The GRAPHIC Festival ran an online animation competition in the run up to the event and you can view the winners here

Time for Paul Rainey's graphic novel to come to a close...

The eagerly-awaited final episode of Paul Rainey's acclaimed comic There's No Time Like The Present is now available, bringing the acclaimed 'sci-fi soap' to a close, some six years after it began.

"Part 13 is the super-sized," says Paul, "Well, a little bit longer than usual... It's the conclusion to the long comic strip, or 'graphic novel' I started work on in 2004."

Because of its length, part 13 costs £3.25, but if you order from Paul using the Paypal button on his website, that price includes post and packing to the UK.

"When I started this project in 2004, although I had a clear idea of the overall story, I didn't imagine that that it would run for this long," he notes on his blog.

Now the project has reached completion, Paul is effusive about his many fans who have bought the comic over the past six years. "Their purchases and feedback (but mainly their purchases) have enabled me to see There's No Time Like The Present through to the conclusion I had always intended," he says.

• All 13 issues can be bought from from the strip's online shop. The first 12 issues are also available from GOSH in London and OK Comics in Leeds

• More about There's No Time Like the Present at:

• Interested in sampling There's No Time Like The Present but don't want to spend money on ordering any copies in case it's rubbish? Then read the opening 39 pages online for free here

In Review: Tripwire Magazine #54

Published by: Joel Meadows

The Magazine
: The latest Tripwire annual includes interviews with Matt Groening and David X Cohen about plans for their new run of Futurama on Comedy Central, veteran movie poster artist Drew Struzan, the team at visual effects house Double Negative, author Glen David Gold, fantasy grand master Michael Moorcock, artist Dave McKean discussing three decades creating his own niche as an artist, J. Michael Straczynski and Paul Cornell talking about their takes on Superman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor respectively, features and a comics section that includes the work of Roger Langridge and Andy Suriano.

The Review: Tripwire has come a long way since its first publication back in 1992, starting out as a regular newsstand publication but published since 2007 as a glossy Annual that has included interviews with the likes of Matt Groening, Jeph Loeb, Alan Moore, Mike Mignola and Steve Niles.

Covering film, TV, animation and comic related matters, Tripwire's annual format offers a perhaps eclectic but engrossing snapshot of some of the high spots these mediums, and the 2010 edition has a fine selection of interviews and features, the highlights, for me, being the interviews with veteran film poster artist Drew Struzan and comics artist Mark Schultz, whose fantastic Xenozoic Tales, first published by Kitchen Sink, is about to be re-published by Flesk Publications. (News that new dinosaur-filled Tales are in the works is also welcome).

The interview with Futurama's Matt Groening and David X Cohen almost seems to have become a staple of every Tripwire annual, and that's also a strong element to this edition, rightfully gaining cover position. Equally, the Michael Moorcock interview provides a fascinating insight into the "grand master of fantasy", both in terms of his career and his current projects.

Of course, as with any print media these days, there are pitfalls to the form. Moorcock was clearly unsure just what was happening with his Doctor Who novel, The Coming of the Terraphiles, when his interview was conducted, but Who fans know, thanks to the Internet, that the novel is on course for an October 2010 release, with signings already lined up, at Forbidden Planet London and elsewhere.

Similarly, the interviews with J. Michael Straczynski and Paul Cornell about their Superman projects are limited, because neither could talk in detail about them at the time they were conducted. (Straczynski nevertheless offers his usual welcome and valued insights into his work and writing in genera, which make up a little for this).

Where Tripwire succeeds best is with its 'timeless' material: the Drew Struzan interview offers an enjoyable insight into the artist's work and the state of film poster illustration today (which I think most would agree is, sadly, virtually non-existent). Similarly, the Dave McKean feature is a splendid snapshot of this talented artist's work and career.

Welcome too, is Tripwire's continued selection of comic strip. Of these, the preview of Scar Comics Madame Samurai deservedly boosts this new British comic's profile, particularly as Tripwire should sell gangbusters at ComicCon this week; but pride of place definitely goes to the super work of Andy Suriano, who delivers a fast-paced, humour-filled tale of near-immortal 'gangsters' (for want of a better description) - presumably his work for the upcoming adult-oriented US anthology Titmouse #1, also profiled in the magazine. As someone unfamiliar with his work, I'll now be trying to find more, which is what magazines like Tripwire always hope to encourage.

Editor Joel Meadows pours his heart and soul into each Tripwire annual, and that kind of dedication requires your attention. Check out the web site and take a look at - and buy - the magazine at the outlets listed below. It's another fine gem.

Tripwire #54 ships the last week of July and comes in at 124 pages with a new lower price of £6.95 UK, $9.99 US and $10.95 Canadian. It's available from Barnes & Noble and Borders in the US, Chapters and Indigo in Canada and via Diamond UK and Forbidden Planet and Forbidden Planet International in Britain as well as selected West End and West London newsagents and the Gosh and Orbital comic stores in London.

• You can order Tripwire directly from:

Monday, 19 July 2010

Comic fans rally to help Leeds-based OK Comics store from closure

OK Comics, LeedsComic fans around the UK and beyond - including TV and Radio presenter Jonathan Ross - have rallied to try to stop a popular Leeds-based comic store, OK Comics, from going under after building work caused a huge drop off in passing trade.

People who have visited OK Comics in Leeds over the last couple of weeks will have noticed scaffolding outside the shop as Thornton's Arcade, owned by a private company, renovates the area.

Unfortunately, the work is causing havoc for the award-winning comics retailer.

"The ongoing work, the presence of scaffolding, workmen, dust and noise has had a massive negative effect on the amount of people visiting our shop," says owner Jared Myland.

"The work was due to start in February when it would have least effect on trade, and last for six weeks in total. The work was to be carried out in three stages, two weeks per stage... this hasn't happened.

"The first stage of the work started in June and is now moving into it's fifth week. It's not known how long it will last."

The ongoing work - and the uncertainty over how long it will last - means the shop could go under, but now fans across the globe - including TV presenter Jonathan Ross (an ex comic shop owner himself) - are rallying to urge fans to support the store, relaying Jared's appeal for custom via comics sites such as Geek Syndicate and Bleeding Cool, twitter and facebook.

"There is a bare minimum the shop needs to take to continue trading," says Jared. "The reduction of income because of the renovation work has, in one month, damaged OK Comics very badly, and threatened our ongoing existence.

"Our regular customers have been great, enduring the restricted conditions to continue buying comics and graphic novels from us," he continues in a much-republished online appeal. "But we've lost pretty much all our passing trade and all our casual browsing customers. New customers have dried up almost completely.

"OK Comics has never been about making money," he comtinues. "It's important that the bills get paid, staff get wages, and that stock is paid for. But it's not a high profit venture. It's about comics, and the people who read them."

If you can help OK Comics by buying from them online, that's going to help the store, which was the first shop ever to be honoured with the Retail Legend Award in the Leeds Retail Therapy Awards, voted the outright winner by the city’s shoppers over other shortlisted shops - including Marks & Spencer.

"We'll continue to sell back issues for 50p (we recently acquired two great new collections), says Jared, "and we'll be running sales and special offers daily over the next few weeks... We'll continue to receive new comics and graphic novels regularly every week."

If there is a book or comic you were thinking of trying, do OK Comics a favour and try it now. If you've ordered something and have yet to pick it up from them, do it today. If you live in the Leeds area and shop at OK Comics, recommend them to your friends. If it's been a while since you collected your standing order from OK, do it very soon.

If you've got a friend who's got a birthday coming up, buy their present from OK Comics now: help OK Comics through this hopefully temporary, difficult time. Don't let them go under through no fault of their own.

Check out their web site ( for the latest events or follow them on Twitter or via is at 19 Thornton’s Arcade, Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LQ UK. Tel: (0113) 246 9366. Email:

Google Map | Bing Map

• Twitter:

• Facebook:

Check out how Twitter has spread word of this appeal via trendMap

The Rainbow Orchid goes Dutch

Garen Ewing's fab all-ages adventure comic The Rainbow Orchid is to be published in the Netherlands by Silvester Strips.

Marking the first official European collection of the ligne-claire-styled saga, it will be released in three parts, with volume one at the end of September 2010, volume two in January 2011 and volume three in May 2011. (Volume 2 has just been released in the UK: read our review here)

This follows the lead set by the book's UK publisher, Egmont, who acquired the comic in 2008 and published the first volume in July 2009. The third and final volume of the story should appear at about the same time in both English and Dutch early in 2011.

Dutch comic publisher Silvester Strips whose books include Dutch editions of titles such as Dylan Dog and Bone.

"I'm delighted to be working with Silvio Van Der Loo and his team at Silvester Strips, and I understand that I'm lucky enough to have one of their best translators, Mat Schifferstein, working on the books," notes the book's author, Garen Ewing, who has just completed work on the script for the third volume of the adventure story. "I owe huge thanks to Oliver Munson, my agent at Blake Friedmann, for making this deal happen."

stripdagen2010.pngGaren will be travelling to the Netherlands to appear on the second day of the major Dutch comics festival De Stripdagen 2010 in Houten, on 26th September, to launch the book, the day after appearing with comic creators Dave McKean and Robin Etherington at the Bath Festival of Children's Literature.

Egmont editions currently available:

The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer Volume One ISBN 978-1405248532

The Rainbow Orchid: Adventures of Julius Chancer Volume Two

Read our review of Volume Two here

• Official Rainbow Orchid web site: (blog at: /blog)

Rude Britannia on the road at Bestival and Big Chill festivals

(with thanks to French Kiss Vintage for the news tip): As well as the 'static' exhibition in London, Tate Britain's Rude Britannia exhibition has been on tour this Summer, and there are workshops and other events planned at two more festivals in the next few weeks.

Camp Bestival (Ludworth Castel, Dorset, 30th July – 1st August): 
Listen to an informal lecture by curator Cedar Lewisohn which explores the links between art and humour past and present. Inspired by Tate Britain's exhibition Rude Britannia: British Comic Art the lecture will ask can art be funny? And if it can, what are the jokes about? There will also be a selection of films from the exhibition Rude Britannia: British Comic Art, jointly selected by Tate curators and comedian Harry Hill.  The programme includes works by artists including Oliver Michael and Edwina Ashton, who tells the story of twig that works in a Library!

The Big Chill (Eastnor Castle, Deer Park Hertfordshire, 5- 8 August): In the Words in Motion tent Tate Britain curator, Cedar Lewisohn and artist Doug Fishbone present a talk outlining the history, vision and artists of Rude Britannia. The event includes  life drawing inspired by Benny Hill and the like!

Rude Britannia at Tate Britain, London charts the evolution of British Comic art, encompassing drawings, sculpture and film from the 1600's through to modern day and runs until 5th September 2010. Admission is £10, concessions £6.

• More info at:

• Tate Britain is at Millbank, London SW1P 4RG. Tel: 020 7887 8888 E-mail: Web: Entry is free except for major exhibitions. Open every day 10.00–18.00. Last admission to exhibitions

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Commando Webbing: George Low

Former Commando editor George Low (above right, with former Dandy editor Morris Heggie, left and Commando writer Ferg Handley, middle) was the surprise guest at the Oxfam Comics Event in Edinburgh on Saturday 17 July. There he joined an impressive line up of artists, writers and editors to talk comics for the afternoon, sharing memories of his time on Commando. Attendees also had the opportunity to buy a wide range of old and new Commandos from the event's sales stall with all proceeds going to Oxfam.

Since retiring from Commando, George has maintained his links with the title by selecting the stories and writing the introductions to Carlton's range of large Commando reprint books which has now reached a shelf bending eight different titles. Following on from the limited edition box set Commando Ammo Box, Carlton are releasing a second boxed set of Commando books.

Due for release on 4th October 2010, the Commando: High Explosive box set includes three of the reprint books - Bandits at 12 O'Clock, Rumble in the Jungle and D-Day: Fight or Die! - plus a special reprint of the second issue of Commando from 1961, They Called Him Coward!.

Also included in the collection, which is limited to 1000 copies, is a certificate signed by George Low and current Commando editor Calum Laird.

This boxed set is due to retail at £59.99.

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