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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tony Lee, Mark Buckingham and Richard Piers Rayner take on more TARDIS tales for IDW

A British creator line up that includes writer Tony Lee and artist Mark Buckingham will keep US Publisher IDW's Doctor Who comics afloat in the coming months.

While the Eleventh Doctor has already had several comic strip adventures in Britain's Doctor Who Adventures and Doctor Who Magazine, IDW Publishing's first title featuring all-new adventures of Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, will not be released until January 2011 in a new ongoing series.

The new title comes as US screenings of Doctor Who on BBC America delivered record ratings for the channel, with episodes reaching  the top spot on the iTunes TV chart.

Doctor Who #1 is written by Tony Lee and will see  the Doctor and his new companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, battling holographic spam and 'friending' requests on a planet that's hours from destruction by an alien race.

Artist Andrew Currie brings this debut adventure to life, with the ever-busy Tommy Lee Edwards offering eye-catching covers on each issue. Eisner Award winning Fables superstar Mark Buckingham also offers an incentive cover for Issue 1, and will provide interior art on an upcoming issue, as well. Kelley Yates will also provide an incentive cover for Issue 1, featuring a die-cut gatefold image that allows fans to open the TARDIS and see the Doctor inside.

Joining IDW's Doctor Who comic book series for art duties is Richard Piers Rayner (who first drew Doctor Who in Evening's Empire for DWM, a strip that eventually appeared in a special edition due to deadline problems), who will tackle a run-in between The Doctor and Jack the Ripper in issues #2-4. Artists Matthew Dow Smith (Doctor Who, Starman) and Chris Samnee (Thor: The Mighty Avenger) will also be featured for special story arcs.

Storylines for the new book include holographic spam fighting Mad Max-esque mercenaries, Victorian Jack The Ripper suspense, penalty shoot-outs against Vikings and Cybernetic Space Pirate Dinosaurs. Said IDW's Doctor Who editor Denton J. Tipton: "There's going to be something for everyone in this story. For example, fans of the classic series should be on the look out for a classic Doctor Who villain!"

"I could tell you who they are, but I'd have to kill you," adds Lee. "Let's just say we've been given special dispensation to use them, and we have a killer story – in all senses of the word!"

Doctor Who #1 ($3.99, 32 pages, full color) will be available in US stores in January. Technically the title is not available in the UK for licensing reasons but copies do reach some specialist stores. No UK publisher seems to have picked up distribution rights to IDW's Doctor Who collections.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Castaways and Comets! It's the new issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos...

The latest bumper issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos - a magazine devoted to Syd Jordan's space explorer, whose daily newspaper strip once ran in the Daily Express - is now available from the Jeff Hawke Club.

Volume 6 Number 2 is a 120-page issue that includes three complete stories - 'The Castaway', in which an alien crashlands in Canada and his arrival causes havoc; 'The Wondrous Lamp', in which Earth faces a potentially alien invasion, but the danger comes in a small package; and 'The Comet's Tale', pitting space ace Hawke against his arch-nemesis, Chalcedon, whose actions to save Earth prove, of course, not entirely altruistic.

It's a brave creator that agrees to have his work deconstructed alongside its reprinting, but as ever, Duncan Lunan provides fascinating commentaries on all three stories, often questioning the science in stories but, we thinks, never the storytelling, which has made Jeff Hawke such a memorable newspaper strip, which featured in the Express between 1955 and 1974.

Each issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos offers three entire strips with articles relating to each story, plus features covering astronomy, aviation, science fiction and comic strip heroes from the 20th century.

If that isn't enough, Sydney Jordan, creator of Jeff Hawke also adds his personal views and comments in each issue. It's a great package.

Jeff Hawke's Cosmos is on sale now by subscription, which costs £20 per year for three issues. Subscriptions can be sent to The Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD, United Kingdom. Web:

Jonathan Ross guest at British International Comics Show

Jonathan Ross. Photo (via
Wikimedia): Admiralty
Although British fans of the vampire comic book Turf were disappointed when artist Tommy Lee Edwards announced he would no longer able to attend this year's British International Comics Show in Birmingham, they're sure to be pleased to learn that its writer - broadcaster Jonathan Ross - will be at the event.

No-one was more disappointed that Tommy couldn't attend the event than the artist himself - the result entirely due to his gruelling work schedule on the Image Comics book - but to make up for it, he put forward a proposal that might yet allow us to present a killer Turf event at the show.

"After weeks of careful planning and negotiation, between BICS, Tommy and series author and co-creator Jonathan Ross, we can now announce details of the event you have all been waiting for," says event co-organiser Shane Chebsey.

"Scheduled for 1.00pm on Sunday 17th October, Jonathan Ross will make a special appearance at BICS 2010, stepping in for Tommy Lee.

"Jonathan will talk Turf and hold a Q & A, followed by a signing session in the theatre lobby. If this weren’t enough, we are incredibly excited to announce that, via a live satellite link, Jonathan will be talking with Tommy during the event.

"It’s a huge thank you from us to Tommy and Jonathan for going the extra mile to bring you something rather special."

We're sure that Mr Ross will also be more than happy to talk about Titan Magazines and Mark Millar's comics magazine CLiNT - perhaps revealing what's coming up in future issues.

While October has become a bit crammed with major comic events – the New York Comic Con takes place this week and the London MCM Expo, which will host the Eagle Awards, takes place at the end of the month – BICS has established itself as part of the British comics calendar and there's a strong line up of both overseas and British creators set to make appearances.

Oversas guests include Mahmud A Asrar, Peter Gross, Yanick Paquett and Charles Vess, while from the UK, fans will be able to catch Charlie Adlard, Paul Cornell, Alan Davis, Hunt Emerson, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Gibbons, PJ Holden, Bryan Hitch, John McCrea, Keith Page, Sean Phillips and many others.

British International Comics Show Official Site

Cancertown joins Markosia publication line up

Cancertown Cancertown - one of the books published by now defunct publisher Insomnia - has found a new home with Markosia.

Written by Cy Dethan with art from Stephen Downey, with colour by Melanie Cook and lettering by Nic Wilkinson, Cancertown was well received on publication (downthetubes enthused about it here). It had a very successful launch weekend at the 2009 Bristol Comic Expo; a the string of bookshop signings  followed and earned  consistent top-ten status on the PSP download charts.

"Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth was always a book with a much higher profile than we had any right to expect," notes Cy Dethan in a recent blog post. With the echoes of the apocalyptic Insomnia Incident still ringing in our ears, the Cancer Cell (that is, Nic, Stephen, Mel and I) started trying to work out precisely where the book now stood. It was at this point that Markosia stepped in and saved the day once again.

"Right from my first steps in comics, Markosia has been nothing but good luck for me," Cy enthuses, "so when Harry Markos signed Cancertown up it was a significant, even hazardous amount of joy to dump on me all at once. Right now we're looking at getting the book back up on the PSP store as soon as possible, with other formats to follow."

• The Cancertown team will be at the British International Comic Show next weekend - catch them there to find out about the plans for the future

Trailer for The Iron Moon graphic album released

Myebook - The Iron Moon Sampler - click here to open my ebookPrint Media Productions first hardcover graphic album, The Iron Moon (ISN: 978-0-9567121-0-3) will be on sale at the British International Comic Show on 16th - 17th October.

Check out the trailer of this new steampunk tale from Stephen Walsh and Keith Page now, now available via myEBook!


A Charlotte Corday adventure


The twentieth century is just around the corner and Queen Victoria is hale and hearty as she heads into the second century of her reign. The British Empire stretches from the white cliffs of Dover to the red skies of Mars.

Go-getting men and women of the imperial dominions flock to the colours, eager to make reputations and fortunes in the wilds of high space.

Take Lieutenant Charlotte Corday, for instance. Born in what used to be known as France, she has risen to prominence through the ranks of the Royal Space Navy and now finds herself up to her neck in her greatest escapade yet. Watch as she travels to the mysterious Iron Moon! Marvel as she grapples with a conspiracy that may see the galaxy plunged into war! Goggle as she meets new and strange races, both mechanical and biological! Ponder how she manages to put away so many cups of tea!

And prepare to have your brain scrambled as she scoops us up and carries us to the very limits of this universe... and into the next!

• For more information on Print Media Productions titles visit

Ridley Scott to produce The Man in the High Castle

Blade Runner director Ridley Scott is to executive produce a four-part adaptation of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick for BBC1.

The script will be written by playwright and Spooks writer Howard Brenton, bringing Dick's Hugo-award winning story of an alternative timeline in which Axis forces defeated the Allies in the second world war to the small screen.

The Guardian reports the drama will be co-produced by Scott's independent production company Scott Free Films, makers of both Blade Runner and Gladiator.

The series is a co-production with Headline Pictures and Electric Shepherd, the production arm of the Philip K Dick Estate. Headline Pictures was set up by Stewart Mackinnon and Mark Shivas to produce high-quality television drama and feature films for the international market and their development slate also includes Reykjavik, a feature film with Ridley Scott attached, based on the end of the Cold War, and official Peter Pan sequel Peter Pan In Scarlet, written for the screen by Oscar-nominee Jeffrey Caine.

"I've been a lifelong fan of Philip K Dick," said Scott. "He is the master of creating worlds which not only spark the imagination but offer deeper commentary on the human condition."

In a 1976 interview for Hour 25, Dick, who was a regular guest on the show, said he planned to write a sequel novel to The Man in the High Castle: "And so there's no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending. It will segue into a sequel sometime."

Dick said that he had "started several times to write a sequel", but progressed little, because he was too disturbed by his original research for The Man in the High Castle and could not mentally bear "to go back and read about Nazis again."

A Talk with Philip K. Dick (1976) - Hour 25 with Mike Hodel
Hour 25 hosted by Mike Hodel A Talk with Philip K. Dick 1976 Captured from (streaming media). Also available at

Man in the High Castle Cover Gallery

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Grandville Mon Amour YouTube Trailer

Bryan Talbot has posted a YouTube trailer for his upcoming steampunk graphic novel Grandville Mon Amour, which will be launched at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds in November...

This follow up to his earlier steampunk tale, Grandville, is officially published in the UK on 16th December by Jonathan Cape, with a US edition from Dark Horse released on 22nd February 2011. We recently reported on a signing for the book at Forbidden Planet London to mark the UK release in December.

The Jonathan Cape edition of Grandville Mon Amour
Set three weeks after the finale of Grandville, Grandville, Mon Amour pits Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock of Scotland Yard against an old adversary, Edward 'Mad Dog' Mastock - a psychotic serial killer whose shocking escape from his execution at the Tower of London begins this fast-paced, Hitchcockian steampunk thriller.

With a range of new and fascinating characters and a mix of Holmesian deduction, knowing humour and edge of the seat action, Grandville Mon Amour continues the vein of high-octane adventure begun in the first volume. Can even LeBrock escape the past or do heroes have feet of clay?

Follow the badger!

• More about Bryan Talbot at:

Comic Book Resources Interview with Bryan Talbot
August 2010

Pre-order Grandville Mon Amour from Grandville Mon Amour from

Pre-order Grandville Mon Amour (Dark Horse edition) from amazon.comPre-order Grandville Mon Amour(Dark Horse edition) from

London Print Studio seeks new comic artists

The London Print Studio is looking for five enthusiastic 21-25 year olds from a variety of backgrounds who are interesting in a career in comics, arts education, publishing or illustration. They will have the chance to:
  • Develop professional skills in the creative industry
  • Run comic workshops for 16-25 year olds.
  • Receive mentoring from top professional comic creators and publishers.
  • Develop their own artistic projects with supervision from mentors.
  • Take part in creating a graphic novel publication.
• The details and application form are online at:

• The deadline for applying is Monday 1st November

Walking Dead set to invade British International Comic Show

Charlie Adlard's original art for
the cover of The Walking Dead Issue 27,
published by Image Comics.
© 2010 Charlie Adlard

No, it's not a commentary on how many comic creators might appear come Sunday morning at any comics event...

Fans of the Walking Dead will be chomping at the bit this year as the organisers of The British International Comics Show and FX TV join forces to bring them a special sneak peek screening of scenes from the first episode of the forthcoming TV series based on the hit comic book series created by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard.

The multi-award winning book published by Image in the US is being brought to life by American production company AMC -- the US channel that gave us the Emmy award-winning dramas Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Produced by Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) and Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator), the  six-episode series The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Steve Yeun, Emma Bell, Chandler Riggs, Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus.

A zombie from AMC's The Walking Dead
series, launched at Hallowe'en 2010
on AMC and FX UK

Fans attending this year’s BICS in Birmingham on the 17th October will have the chance to meet artist Charlie Adlard (who also cameos as a zombie in the series) and other special guests as he hosts a special screening that includes behind the scenes footage and scenes from the pilot episode.

There will also be a chance to win rare Walking Dead merchandise and to get copies of the comics and graphic novels signed by the artist.

• For more information about the show and to book tickets go to:

Walking Dead Blog on FX UK

Space:1999 comes to Blu Ray

Don your flares, set your ray guns to stun and prepare to take off on a High Definition journey on the Eagle transporter with the Blu-ray debut of Space 1999 - The Complete First Series.

The cult Gerry Anderson live action series telling the adventures of Moonbase Alpha will be available to own as a 7-disc set on 1st November 2010.

This is the first time that the series is available in High Definition anywhere (a new DVD release has also been announced) and this set comes packed with several special features - although, not, sadly any of John M. Burns superb strips published in the 1970s comic Look-In.

September 13th, 1999... A nuclear waste dump on the moon unexpectedly detonates, blasting the moon out of orbit and taking the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha on a fantastic (although, we have to say, scientifically ludicrous) voyage of discovery to the stars, fraught with danger at every turn. Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Barry Morse star in this memorable fantasy series filmed at Pinewood Studios.

Gerry Anderson's third live action series, Space:1999 sprang from plans for a second season of UFO, which was unexpectedly not renewed despite strong ratings in the US. The first season is a gritty, if often downbeat saga, with critics bemoaning its at times pessimistic storylines when it first aired in the UK.

Like UFO, it suffered from a lack of a co-ordinated network airing across ITV (unlike Gerry Anderson's puppet series, such as Thunderbirds) and ran for just two seasons - the second revamped to bring in an alien shapeshifter, Maya, played by Hungarian actress Catherine Schell, who first guest starred on the show in another role in  Guardian of Piri.

Although not featured on this release, Space:1999 spawned comic strips on both sides of the Atlantic. Look-In (a title today owned by IPC, although it is no longer published) ran a two-page strip for 81 issues, amongst other strips based on popular tv series featured on ITV, alongside sport and pop articles. Written by Look-In's editor Angus Allan, artwork was largely provided by John M Burns and Mike Noble, with covers by Arnaldo Putzu. Mirroring the key date of the series itself, the first episode appeared in Issue 38, cover dated 13th September 1975 and ran for 20 issues.

The strips are regarded by fans as the best Space:1999 comic incarnation, which included a monthly comic published by Charlton Comics in the US featuring early art by John Byrne and in the Italian Farinas-Cardona comics (republished in Zack magazine in Germany).

Special features unique to this Blu-Ray release include digitally restored from new High Definition transfers; a restoration of Metamorph (which saw the debut of Maya) from season 2; Gerry Anderson commentary on Dragon's Domain, one of the scarier episodes of the first season; trailers for Alien Attack and Journey Through the Black Sun; SFX plates and deleted SFX scenes - with music track; a 'Concept and Creation' featurette starring Gerry Anderson, Christopher Penfold and Barry Morse, Christopher Penfold, Brian Johnson and Keith Wilson; and a Special effects and design featurette.

Also included is a "Clapperboard" two-part special on the work of Gerry Anderson from 1975 and "Guardian of Piri Remembered" in which Catherine Schell remembers her time working on the series one episode.

• Releasd by Network DVD
• Release Date: 1st November 2010
• RRP: £79.99
• Discs: 7
• Running Time:1200 minutes (approximately)
• Screen Ratio:1.33:1 colour. Dolby 5.1
• Catalogue No:7957007

Web Links

Space: 1999 in Look-In - Overview
Space: 1999 Look-In Stories Checklist
Space: 1999 Comics Gallery
Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History - Space:1999

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Panel Borders chats with Dickon Harris in an Anarchist Restaurant

Comic creator Paul O'Connell drops us a line to say an interview he did with 'zine creator and regular Panel Borders interviewer Dickon Harris will feature on London's Resonance FM tomorrow night.

"The interview took place at the end of this year's London Zine Symposium," says Paul, "and while you might be able to surmise from the interview that I had been drinking a fair amount (it's a very poor coping mechanism I have developed for such events), what you unfortunately won't catch is how the interview took place in the event's anarchist cafe -- and that sitting across the table from myself and Dickon was a man intently eating a plate of felafels and salad and trying his best to ignore us.

"I found the concept of Anarchist Catering curious," Paul adds. (You can read more about his experiences here on his blog). They certainly took a dim view to him trying to liberate felafels...

• Dickon Harris ignores Paul O'Connell is broadcast on Thursday 7th October at 5.00pm on Resonance FM and then available as a Panel Borders Podcast - 'The Sound of Drowning and Gentlemen Corpses' soon after

Tomorrow Revisited: Frank Hampson Book Launch announced

Tomorrow Revisited by Alastair CromptonThe long-awaited art book Tomorrow Revisited by Alastair Crompton, focusing on the career of Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson, is to be launched at Chris Beetles Art Gallery on Tuesday 30th November 2010.

Announced back in February and originally planned for release to mark the the 60th anniversary of Eagle back in April, Tomorrow Revisited tells the life story of Frank Hampson and, although there are shades of Alastair’s first book, The Man Who Drew Tomorrow, the text has been completely  re-written, covers much not in the earlier work, and has been read and authenticated by Peter Hampson, the artist’s son.

Tomorrow Revisited also contains many pages of Dan Dare art, reproduced from Hampson’s originals, so it reproduces better than in the original Eagle comic. The book also features reference photographs, experimental sketches and try-out drawings where Hampson is designing aliens and hardware, and other material used in creating the strip.

Although Road of Courage, which told the life of Jesus, was Hampson's last full-length strip, after he quit Dan Dare Hampson went on to create seven other strip cartoon characters intended for Eagle, or, in two cases, a national newspaper. These strips are printed for the first time in this new book, together with some of the  intended story-lines.

Tomorrow Revisited costs £29.99. In addition to the regular release, a deluxe leather bound hard back edition (Limited to 100 copies, priced at £295.00) housed in a leather bound Presentation Case is also being produced, which comes with a certificate of limited availability signed by Alastair Crompton, Peter Hampson, Andrew Skilleter and Don Harley; a unique original illustration by legendary Eagle artist Don Harley; and a Frank Hampson illustrated Homage by Andrew Skilleter.

The Chris Beetles Gallery is in the centre of St James’s, London's best known art dealing district and is acknowledged as showing the greatest stock of Illustrators and Cartoonists work in the world. Original Hampson artwork from the first Dan Dare story for Eagle will be on display and for sale.

• Tomorrow Revisited: Book Launch 6.00pm until 8.00pm, 30th November 2010, The Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 & 10 Ryder Street St. James's, London SW1Y 6QB. Telephone: 020 7839 7551

• For full details and a preview of some of the pages from the book visit

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

In Memoriam: Josè Maria Jorge

downthetubes is sorry to report the passing of stalwart Commando artist Josè Maria Jorge, who died yesterday.

Jorge had been drawing for DC Thomson's Commando for 42 years, beginning with Number 384 - 'Flying Fury' published in February 1969. His last complete book was No 4329 “Divided Aces”, which came out in September to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Set around Edinburgh, it attracted plenty of attention in the Scottish press as you can see here.

"The Commando office has been deeply saddened by the news from Argentina that we have lost a friend and valued member of the team with the untimely death of Josè Maria Jorge," notes Commando editor Calum Laird in a post on the title's official web site.

"Best known for his excellent aircraft work, Josè Maria could turn his hand to an theme and had been working with Commando for 42 years. During that time many authors and editors were delighted as he realised their ideas on paper. Readers too loved his style, remarking on its accuracy and detail."

In addition to his Commando work, Jose was an accomplished artist, evidenced by the art on his official website. He specialized in action scenes: car racing, equestrian events, combat aviation and more.

Art by Jose Maria Jorge
It should come as no surprise that two of his stories -- 'Aces Wild' (No. 489) and 'The Ship Busters' (No. 657) -- were among stories that formed a collection title The Best 12 Commando Stories Ever, selected by former editor George Low.

"I can vividly remember Jorge’s unique artwork," adds Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor of Commando, recalling reading the comic as a youngster. "The dynamic action and attention to detail. Sheer class. It’s no surprise that his artwork maintained this superb standard right up to his final published story last month.

"Unfortunately I never met the man himself but did, however, receive a friendly email every so often saying that some pages were winging their way from Argentina. And those pages…when the package finally arrived it was like the excitement of opening a longed-for Christmas present."

Jose's art for the cover of Commando issue 3177, Fatal Contact, showing
an American Sabre jet's encounter with two flying saucers

Unlettered art for a Commando comic drawn
by Jose Maria Jorge. This is a photostat
sent to a fan by then editor Ian Forbes,
story unknown.
"Not only was he a fantastic artist whose work influenced my own, but I got to meet him and his family on my visits to Buenos Aires in the last few years," comments Colin Watson the Assistant Sports Editor of the Edinburgh Evening News. "He became a firm friend whose sincere brand of hospitality was hard to match."

downthetubes extend its sympathies to Jose's family and friends. he will be much missed.

Read the official Commando team statement on the title's official web site

Jose Maria Jorge Official web site (in Spanish)

Jose Maria Jorge Commando Checklist

Guillermo Del Toro cancels UK visit

Forbidden Planet has announced director Guillermo Del Toro has had to cancel his visit to the UK and his appearance at their London store will not go ahead on 6th October.

"Both Forbidden Planet and Harper Collins are doing everything possible to ensure that pre-orders made through the Forbidden Planet website for signed stock will be fulfilled," the stores says in a statement.

"We apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment this may cause. We will update our web page with more information as we have it."

The director's visit might be down to his busy schedule: it was recently reported that he's to write and direct Trollhunters, an animated horror movie aimed at children;  is working on a new Lovecraftian horror game for THQ  (perhaps based on At the Mountains of Madness, which he is directing for Universal);  and of course, his re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic Frankenstein, due out in 2012.

• Web Link:

Monday, 4 October 2010

In Review: Iznogoud And The Magic Carpet

"I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph!"

Baghdad's grand Vizier Iznogoud is an arrogant, conniving man with ideas above his station and that station is as number two to the placid and rather dim Caliph Haroun Al Plassid. Fortunately for everyone concerned the Caliph is oblivious to Iznogoud's, and his ineffectual manservant Wa'at Alahf's, attempts to dethrone him.

The humorous attempts of Iznogoud to become Caliph were written by Asterix author Rene Goscinny and illustrated by artist Jean Tabary beginning in Record magazine in 1962 before moving into Pilote in 1968. Jean Tabary continued the series after Goscinny's death and to date there have been 28 albums published and it has been made into a cartoon series and even a live action film.

Iznogoud And The Magic Carpet was originally published in French in 1973 as Le Tapis Magique and has been translated into English before appearing in the UK in 1980 published by Egmont/Methuen and again in the short lived Iznogoud Monthly in 1996. Unlike his Asterix books which were one story per book, Goscinny wrote the Iznogoud books as multiple short stories so as well as The Magic Carpet this book also includes Incognito, The Tiger Hunt and The Box Of Souvenirs.

In The Magic Carpet Iznogoud attempts to give the Caliph a magic carpet which will transport its rider to China and not bring him back again. In Incognito Iznogoud persuades the Caliph to dress as a beggar and go out into the city to hear what his subjects really think of him while, at the same time, ordering the palace guards to imprison any beggars that appear at the palace gates. The Tiger Hunt has Iznogoud persuading the Caliph that he needs a tiger skin rug and that the best way to get one is to attempt to hunt a tiger himself. In The Box Of Souvenirs a Japanese tourist arrives at the palace with a camera that reduces objects and people to mere photographs.

The basic premise of each story is the same, to eliminate the Caliph so that Iznogoud can take his place, and so the concept has the potential to get old very quickly. However Goscinny's writing is of a good enough standard that the reader's interest is retained often by using the national stereotypes that are also common in the Asterix books. Here we have Japanese tourists with cameras and the haggling of middle eastern market traders taken to extremes. For the British reader the story of the magic carpets may be the most interesting with the Scottish(!) magic carpet seller named Khaledonyahn. Tabary's artwork is much looser than Uderzo's is on the Asterix books but works for the stories of the manic Iznogoud and his depictions of life in the streets of Baghdad are particularly detailed.

Any good translation of a humorous story depends heavily on the translator and the Iznogoud stories, which are so full of puns, perhaps depend more than most on a good translation. Unusually for a Cinebook title there is no translator credited and no modern copyright on the translation. The original British translations of the Iznogoud books were by the excellent team of Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge and if this isn't their translation then it certainly feels like it and that is a very good thing.

Iznogoud And The Magic Carpet hits the mark well with its dastardly plots, witty puns and often manic artwork.

There are more details of the current British Iznogoud books on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the French Iznogoud books at the Tabary Editions website (in French).

There are more details of Iznogoud around the world at the Iznogoud World website.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Classic British Movie on DVD

11 October see the release of an over-looked gem of a film on DVD. Three Cases of Murder sounds like a conventional crime movie. However, the film is made up of three individual stories (rather like the classic Dead of Night) and two of them have strong supernatural/fantasy elements.

Three Cases of Murder was shown at the Bradford Fantastic Film Festival at Bradford Media Museum earlier this year and museum curator Tony Earnshaw did not attempt to conceal his enthusiam for it. It is the first of the three stories in particular that you should look out for. In this tale, a museum warder steps into a painting and the fantasy world within. It's a chilling, gripping piece of cinema history and well worth a look. If that's not enough, the movie is introduced by Eamonn Andrews!

Actor Alan Badel appears in all three tales, with Orson Welles starring in the third one.

Three Cases of Murder is available from 11 October 2010.

In Review: The Scorpion - The Treasure Of The Templars

The tales of the 18th century adventurer known as The Scorpion, written by Stephen Desberg and illustrated by Enrico Marini, continue in The Treasure Of The Templars.

Pope Trebaldi has sent his warrior monks, lead by the mysterious Rochnan, after The Scorpion and his allies who are searching for the true cross of Saint Peter in the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Chased by both Rochnan and the Ottoman police force, the Scorpion finally arrives at the old Templar fortress of Saint-Serrac where the cross, if it still exists, is believed to be hidden.

The Scorpion is one of my favourite Cinebook series with Desberg's swash-buckling adventures being complemented with Marini's beautiful artwork. The Scorpion himself is a cross between 2000AD's Nikolai Dante and Indiana Jones, but the series strength is not just in the complicated relationships between the Scorpion and his allies but also in the characters of their enemies, former Cardinal, now Pope, Trebaldi and the leader of his warrior monks, Rochnan.

Trebaldi is a Pope that is not to be crossed, after all he strangles a woman to death with his bare hands within the first three pages of this book, and he leads a mafia style organisation descended from the Roman Empire that has ruled the Catholic church since it inception. Rochnan on the other hand has been somewhat of a shadowy figure in the series with his face covered with a golden mask with hints that this is due to him having been tortured. The whole truth is literally unmasked and the true horror of the torture that turned a Christian knight into a villainous warrior monk is finally explained towards the end of the book.

With its complex storyline by Desberg and excellent artwork by Marini, The Treasure Of The Templars brings the six album/four book Cross of Saint Peter arc of The Scorpion stories to a satisfying conclusion. There are currently three more albums in the French series so hopefully it won't be much longer before Cinebook translate them into English as well.

There are more details of The Scorpion books on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the French Scorpion books on the Le Scorpion
website (in French).

Super Squirrel Undefeated: The Get-Well Carlos Project

Kev Levell's cover for the Get Well Carlos
Back in July, comic fans heard the news that the legendary comics artist Carlos Ezquerra was suffering from lung cancer, so they thought it would cheer him up if they sent him a get well card – and that it would make sense to say it with comics.

The project quickly morphed into a book as comic creators from across the globe got enthusiastic about sending Carlos their best wishes and that book has now been delivered to a very surprized but delighted Mr Ezquerra.

Wrapped in a cover drawn by Kevin Levell, the comic included get well messages from a host of creators.

Now, a public version of this has now been released and can be found at the main download link and a back-up if that doesn't work.

A grateful Carlos - who had one lung removed in the battle in an ongoing effort to beat the cancer - has now sent a couple of messages through Facebook to Mark Howard, the man who made all the magic happen, indicating how much the comic meant to him and how it's helped given him renewed determination to defeat the illness as he undergoes chemotherapy.

"I was overwhelmed with the get well card," he writes, "a massive 34-page book full of beautiful illustrations and extremely nice words. It filled my heart with joy and my eyes with a couple of tears.

"What can I say but thanks - you are beautiful people and [you've] given me a reason to fight this illness and carry on working."

The Get-Well Carlos team are now working on a follow up project and you can read more about that here on the downthtubes forum courtesy of The Emperor, if you want to take part.

Get Well Carlos Comic Card

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