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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Panel Borders: Comic Therapy

Psychiatric Tales by Darryl CunninghamIn a panel discussion recorded at the 2010 Comics and Medicine conference, Institute of English Studies, University of London, Paul Gravett talks to Brian Fies, Phillipa Perry and Darryl Cunningham about their work in portraying aspects of medical care and therapy in sequential art.

Paul and the panel discuss issues of biography and autobiography on the page, the process of portraying a narrative that has a story structure as well as an element of education to it and what they learned from the experience.

(Recorded and edited by Alex Fitch)

• Panel Borders: Comic Therapy airs at 5.00pm, Thursday 02/06/11, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

Buy Psychiatric Tales from

Buy Psychiatric Tales from

(A US edition will be published in 2011)

Darryl Cunningham's Blog

Darryl Cunningham is the creator of the book Psychiatric Tales, and the web-comics, Super-Sam and John-of-the-Night  and The Streets of San Diablo. A prolific cartoonist, sculptor and photographer, Darryl's work can also be found at his Flickr page.

Interview with Darryl by Matthew Badham on his darn fine Blog

Blank Slate Books

10 Questions: Comic Artist Jesús Redondo Román

Jesus Redondo in 2004
Following up on our interview with this week's 2000AD Terror Tales writer David Baillie yesterday, we're delighted to bring you an exclusive quick interview with the legendary artist on the story - Jesús Redondo Román.

Jesus returns to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for the first time in more than a decade with his art on this Tale, 'Birth of Mazzikim', which appears in 2000 AD prog 1737 – available now from all good newsagents and comic shops.

Jesus Redondo was born 8th August 1934 in Valladolid, Spain. His father was a teacher in Cubillas de Santa Maria, and he inherited a love of drawing, literature and other arts.

In 1958, after meeting with Miguel Delibes (then editor of the newspaper El Norte de Castilla), Jesus decided to move Madrid and began work at the advertising agency, Cid, and was appointed as Head of Studio within a year. In 1961, he sent samples of his work to Editorial Bruguera and began his career as a comics artist with the story 'Professor Woosly',  dated April 1962.

Down the years, Jesus has worked in various styles and for many very different publications, such as women's magazines, childrens' books and, in comics, on science fiction, heroic fantasy, adventure, thrillers and superhero strips.

In addition to his European work, which includes 'Edward' (for Tina), 'El Capitán Trueno' and 'Un Paseo por la Rioja', he has worked for a variety of British publishers, drawing strips such as 'Suzette of the Silver Sword' for Diana, 'The Mind of Wolfie Smith', first published in Tornado but arriving in 2000 AD with Prog 133 (running until Prog 177), various Future Shocks for 2000AD, 'Mr Black', a series for Creepy magazine, episodes of Motormouth and Killpower for Marvel UK, Star Wars and Kitty Pride Agent of SHIELD for Marvel US in 1998.

downthetubes: We haven't seen your work in British comics for a long time. What have you been working on?

Jesús Redondo Román: I have been working for publishers in France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Holland and the US - mainly for Marvel, Random House [and] Escolactic - making comics, storybooks and colour illustrations for childrens' books.

downthetubes: Have you been been keeping up with 2000AD and the people you worked with?

Jesus: Unfortunately not. Last year I met with Carlos Ezquerra, which made ​​me remember old times and I got in touch with 2000 AD and Rebellion again.

downthetubes: Do you still create you art in the same way you drew "The Mind of Wolfie Smith"?

Jesus: I think I still draw the same way and sometimes, they tell me, better. Although things do not always go as you want!

downthetubes: Are you working with digital art tools and which ones?

Jesus: I do not work with digital media. It's a strange world to me and I don't think I'll go there, so I keep my pens, brushes, markers etc.

downthetubes: Which artists most influence you?

2000AD Terror Tale 'Birth of
Mazzikim'by David Baillie
and Redondo
Jesus: Without a doubt, when I started the artists who influenced me were Jesus Blasco [who drew strips such as 'Steel Claw' for Valiant - Ed], Alex Raymond [creator of Flash Gordon] and Hal Foster [Prince Valiant].

downthetubes: Will you be drawing more for 2000 AD?

Jesus: I'd love to - it all depends on Rebellion. I've always tried to work with friends and I hope that having worked so many years for 2000 AD, [editor] Matt [Smith] will consider me a friend and give me more work.

downthetubes: Do you have a favourite 2000 AD character you would love to draw?

A page from 'The Mind of Wolfie Smith'
© Rebellion
Jesus: I'm not very familiar with the histories and contemporary artists in the magazine. But I always remember [the strips I worked on]: 'Mind Wars', 'The Mind of Wolfie Smith', 'Monster', 'Armageddon', 'Dan Dare'...

downthetubes: The comic industry has gone through many changes since you drew strips like 'Suzette of the Silver Sword' and 'Edward' (for the Dutch magazine Tina). Do you think comics still have a future?

Jesus: I hope so, although electronic competition is very strong. I think that having a comic book in your hands, turning the pages, smell the ink... it is very pleasant and always will [always have a place in] a corner of our closet where we store our treasures.

downthetubes: What advice do you give young artists wanting to draw comics?

Jesus: Learn to practice every day and not get discouraged. Learn from the artists who admire and study them, copy them, just for practice.

downthetubes: Do you have a web site or gallery where your fans can view your art?

Jesus: Yes, although there isn't much on it yet - a friend made ​​it for me:

(Note: this is really a work in progress - we're including the link here for future reference)

'Wolfie Smith' was also drawn by
• Special thanks to Michael Molcher at 2000AD for arranging this interview and Esteve Dalmau at the Dalmau Agency for checking my rubbish Spanish!

Related Links on this site:

David Baillie's Date with Terror (Tales, that is)

Web Links:

•  Jesus Redondo's Lambiek entry

Detailed Biography on 'Por El Propio Autor' (In Spanish)

Profile: The Dreamers (in Spanish, published in 2004)

2007 Interview on 'El Capitan Trueno' (in Spanish)

Here's our interview in Spanish, for the benefit of Jesus many Spanish fans (and just in case we have mangled Jesus replies!):

downthetubes: No hemos visto tu trabajo en el cómic británico durante mucho tiempo. ¿ En qué has estado trabajando?

A panel from 'Suzette of the Silver
Sword' a strip Redondo drew
for Diana in the 1960s
Jesus: Durante este tiempo he trabajado para editoriales de Francia, España, Alemania, Suecia, Holanda y principalmente para U.S.A. (Marvel, Random House, Escolactic…) Haciendo cómic, libros de historias ilustrdas y colorin books para niños.

downthetubes: Has estado manteniendo el ritmo con 2000AD y la gente que ha trabajado?

Jesus: Lamentablemente no. El pasado año me encontré con Carlos Ezquerra, lo que hizo que yo recordara antiguos tiempos y me puse en contacto de nuevo con 2000 AD (Rebellion.

downthetubes: Todavía creas el arte de la misma manera que dibujaste "El pensamiento de Wolfie Smith"?

Jesus: Creo que sigo siendo el mismo y según me dicen a veces mejor. Aunque las cosas no siempre salen como uno quiere.

downthetubes: Si no, estás trabajando con herramientas digitales y cuáles son?

Jesus: No trabajo con medios digitales, es para mí un mundo muy desconocido y al que pienso no entrar por ahora, de manera que sigo con mis lapiceros, pinceles, rotuladores, etc.

downthetubes: Cuales son los artistas que mas te han influido ?

Jesus: Sin duda ninguna, cuando yo empezaba, los artistas que más influyeron en mí, fueron, Jesús Blasco, Alex Raimond, Hal Foster...

downthetubes: Dibujaràs màs para 2000 AD?

Jesus: Me encantaría, todo depende de Rebellion. Yo siempre he procurado trabajar con amigos y espero que habiendo colaborado tantos años con 2000 AD. Me consideren un amigo y Matt me encargue muchos trabajos.

downthetubes: Tienes algùn personaje favorito en 2000 AD que te gustaría dibujar?

Jesus: No estoy muy al corriente de las historias y artistas actuales en la revista. Siempre recordaré… 'Mind Wars', 'Wolfie', 'Monster', 'Armagedon', 'Dan Dare' ….

downthetubes: La industria del cómic ha pasado por muchos cambios desde que dibujastes tiras como "Suzette de la Espada de Plata 'y' Edward '(para la revista holandesa Tina). Crees que los cómics tienen todavía futuro?

Jesus: Deseo que sí, aunque la competencia electrónica es muy fuerte. Particularmente pienso que tener un cómic entre las manos, pasar las hojas, oler la tinta….es muy grato y siempre habrá un rinconcito en nuestro armario donde guardar nuestro tesoro,

downthetubes: Qué consejo les das a los jóvenes artistas que quieren dibujar cómics?

Jesus: Que aprendan que aprendan cada día y no se desanimen. Que aprendan de los artistas que admiren y los estudien, que los copien, solo para practicar.

downthetubes: Tienes un sitio web o galería, donde tus fans pueden ver tu arte?

Jesus: Sí, aunque un poco escaso dentro de poco tiempo lo ampliaré. Es decir, un amigo lo hará por mí:

(Nota: esto es realmente un trabajo en progreso - hemos incluido el enlace aquí para futura referencia)

Art fr Emma's Gedachten  (Tina Issue 42, 2008)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

David Baillie's date with Terror (Tales, that is)

Writer/artist David Baillie has been a stalwart of the British small press scene for some time, self-publishing his comics to sell online and at conventions. More recently, though, he’s moved into professional comics writing. 

This week, his new Terror Tale is published in 2000 AD (Prog #1737) so Matt Badham thought it was a good time to sit down and have a chat with him.

This interview is crossposted from Matt's blog with his and David's kind permission...

Matthew Badham: What tips have you got for those trying to write one-offs, Terror Tales or Future Shocks, for 2000 AD?

David Baillie
: Well first off – I’m not claiming to be an expert. Also bear in mind: man cannot know the mind of Tharg. But I do have some thoughts on what makes for a good Future Shock/Terror Tale-style story, based on lessons I’ve learned personally and stuff I’ve observed in the work of others. (For starters, don’t begin sentences with ‘But’.)

I’d suggest doing some research – but don’t limit yourself to just reading old Future Shocks, or indeed just comics. Track down Golden Age sci-fi shorts by authors like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, and in terms of more contemporary stuff I love Ted Chiang and Michael Swanwick.

Also, read outside of the genres – Saki, O. Henry and definitely The Dead by James Joyce. All of these guys wrote (or write) engaging short fiction with great central premises and non-ambiguous resolutions.

I suppose what I’m saying is make sure your story is engaging, has a great central premise and a resolution that isn’t ambiguous. And learn from the best. You only have four pages to tell your story so every panel has to do a job. Avoid repetition where possible. And make sure your character clearly wants something.

What was it like discovering that your new strip has been illustrated by Jesus Redondo?

David: Tharg told me who had drawn Birth of the Mazzikim at the Eagle Awards a couple of weeks ago and I was honestly dumbstruck. My ambitions in comics break down into three categories – things I hope might happen one day, things that are now impossible for some reason (I always wanted to do a signing at Comic Showcase on Charing Cross Road, but it’s now closed) and things that are so improbable that I hadn’t even contemplated them.

Having a legend like Jesus Redondo draw a story I wrote for 2000 AD is a firm #3. The man is a legend – among his many credits, he drew some of Alan Moore’s most well-remembered Time Twisters, The Mind of Wolfie Smith and M.A.C.H. 1. Stories I read again and again when I was growing up (in reprint – I’m not that old!) It’s even more incredible that the artwork for the story is as good as it is.

According to Wikipedia, Mr Redondo is now in his late seventies, but he draws like a hungry young whipper-snapper. It’s amazing. His storytelling is still world-class and, as Henry Flint said on Twitter the other day, if anything his work is tighter now than it was a couple of decades ago. I’ll go back to being dumbstruck now.

You’ve also written Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) for the Russian market. These are two-page strips. What are the challenges there? 

David: That’s been one of the most fun gigs ever. I’m the right age to have been knocked off my feet by the mega-franchise that is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the first time around. Then I became obsessed with ninjas and eventually tracked down the original black and white indie comics – so I’m a genuine fan.

The TMNT comic I’m working on is for younger readers and, like you said, the stories are all two-pagers. It’s a really interesting challenge to tell a story in that small a space. Introducing a problem, escalating it and then resolving it in a surprising way in around ten panels is a tall order and I’ve had to find new writing muscles that I didn’t even know existed.

On top of that, I have a bee in my bonnet about how a lot of boys’ fiction resorts to using violent resolutions. ‘Might makes right’ is a terrible lesson to be repeating so often. So yeah – when I remove that option it gets even more difficult, but also much more rewarding when it works.

Matthew: What other comics projects — or other projects — do you have on the go at the moment?

David: I think my next comic from the House of Tharg will be in the Megazine, but I know he has no qualms about decommissioning leaky droids so that’s all I’ll say. Apart from that, I have a few projects that are boiling away in the background. I wrote a radio play for Radio 4′s Afternoon Play slot last year, but the producer was let go in the big BBC reshuffle and I haven’t found a new home for it yet. I’m hoping to start work on something for BBC Scotland in the not too distant future.

I’ve also co-written a film script with fellow comics outcast, Dan Lester, and we’re going to start punting that around soon. My comics work is all on spec at the moment, so I probably shouldn’t mention it before I’ve even pitched.

Matthew: You’ve got quite a history of being involved in small press comics. Where can people get your small press stuff and do you have any plans in the near future in that arena?

David: I’ve been remiss is keeping my small press work in stock, unfortunately. Anything that doesn’t pay the rent has fallen by the way-side a little in the last couple of years.

In saying that, I do have copies of my fantasy graphic novel Tongue of the Dead and the excellent BASTARDS anthologies*. They can both be bought using the paypal buttons on my website or emailing me at [webhello at davidbaillie dot net].

I’d love to get back to doing small press work – it’s really liberating knowing that, as your own editor, everything in your head will be making it on to the page no matter how weird, personal or surreal. I suppose it’s just a matter of squireling away some cash and setting aside some time. I’m really lucky, though, that at the moment my main gigs are all things I’m really passionate about and it all feel like my own work.

Thanks to David for taking time out to talk to me. His website can be found here.

*Note from Matt: Tongue of the Dead and the BASTARDS anthologies are great, with the latter being especial favourites of mine.

Family Guy comic

Steve White, editor of Titan Comics new Family Guy comic - which launches next month in the US and in August in the UK - says the comic will not only uphold the TV tradition of the Emmy-nominated animated show but delve deeper into the characters and comedy of Peter Griffin, his family, and friends.

The comic will follow the Griffin family in a string of brand new outrageous storylines, along with fellow Quahog residents Cleveland Brown, Joe Swanson and everyone’s favorite ladies man, Glen "giggity" Quagmire.

"The Family Guy universe is an amazing wellspring of ideas to plunder," Steve told the Toledo Blade this week. "It’s given us a lot of latitude to develop stories ranging from one-page gag strips to more extended full-length scripts and pretty much everything in between."

Artwork for the Family Guy comic series is provided by comic artists SL Gallant (G.I. Joe, Torchwood) and Anthony Williams (Judge Dredd, Superman, Batman).

The title has had a long gestation period - Editorial Director Chris Teather has been suggesting the comic for years. Ultimately the concept gained traction with Fox."We felt that Family Guy TV show to Family Guy comic was a natural progression, but Fox needed a little convincing,"says Steve. "In the end, we winged it and did a two-page comic strip off our own back and that actually seemed to do the trick."

One of America’s favourite animated TV shows of all time, Family Guy boasts over 27 million fans on Facebook, and has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards including Outstanding Comedy Series.

Although Steve would be delighted if creator Seth McFarlane would write material for the comic but, so far, he's not committed. But the editorial team - all fans of the series - are definitely committed to ding their best to making it a success.

"We’re not just paying lip service to the show," Steve insists. "We’re really immersing ourselves in it."

Family Guy comic #1 will be on sale and available on US newsstands and in specialty comic book stores beginning on 27th July 2011. 

• US Readers -  Get 12 issues a year for $35.95, saving 25%. To subscribe call 800-999-9718 or click here

• Follow @FamilyGuyComic on Twitter where news on the comic series will be revealed on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Children's Trust launches Big Book Challenge

With school holidays fast approaching (wasn't it just half term?), a special reading challenge for young bookworms has been launched in aid of Britain's The Children's Trust.

Over the next three months, children of all ages are invited to take part in the Big Book Challenge, which aims to encourage children to read as many books as possible during their summer break, and ask friends and family to sponsor them to raise money for The Children's Trust, a national charity which supports some of the UK's most profoundly disabled children.

No matter how old, everyone loves a good story and this sounds like a great opportunity to encourage kids to read some graphic albums as well as novels to me. Plus, it's a great opportunity for all the family to get involved.

The children at the Trust will be joining in too with storytelling evenings and activities and every penny raised will make a positive difference to the lives of the children and families that The Children's Trust supports.

Jacqueline Wilson, award-winning children's author who is supporting the special challenge, said: "I've been a bookworm since I was six years old. Books delight, entertain and inform - they're the most magical way of enriching our lives. It's also great fun discovering other worlds and meeting wonderful characters within the pages of a book. I hope children will really enjoy taking part in this challenge - and that a lot of money is raised to support the work of The Children's Trust."

The Children's Trust, based in Tadworth, is a national charity providing care, education and therapy for children with multiple disabilities and complex health needs, and rehabilitation services to children with an acquired brain injury. The Trust runs the UK's largest residential rehabilitation centre for paediatric acquired brain injury and has an on-site special school, The School for Profound Education (formerly St Margaret's), which publishes The Profound Education Curriculum for children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).

Everyone who takes part will receive a certificate and those who raise over £50 in sponsorship will receive a free copy of 'The Bestest Ever Bear' poetry book.

• For more information and to get started go to

The Big Book Challenge Sponsorship Form (PDF)
Download your sponsorship form and start your reading adventure

Scottish MP savages Dundee University's new comics degree

(Last Updated 9/6/11, added comments from Stewart Hosie MP) Scottish Labour MP Tom Harris has condemned news of Dundee University's new 'Comics Studies Degree' announced earlier this week - despite the city's long history as a comics publisher.

Dundee University announced its new degree this week, playing up the city's "strong local traditions and expertise to launch the UK's first degree programme in Comic Studies.

"Dundee can lay claim to being the spiritual home of the British comics industry as the output of Dundee-based publishers DC Thomson & Co Ltd includes iconic titles such as the Beano, Dandy, Commando, Starblazer and Bunty. This means legendary characters such as Dennis the Menace, Desperate Dan, the Bash Street Kids, Oor Wullie, and the Broons were born in the city.

"As such, the English department at Dundee is perfectly placed to offer the new postgraduate Masters in Comic Studies degree, which is being led by Dr Chris Murray, one of the UK’s foremost authorities on the subject. He has researched comics and graphic novels extensively, and is editor of the journal Studies in Comics."

Tom Harris MP as he might
appear in a Vertigo comic.
Caricatures welcome!
But MP Tom Harris rounded on the idea on Twitter, arguing the new course "plays right into the Tories' hands.

"Dundee University is launching a degree in comic books," he noted. "That'll show those who say degrees are being dumbed down!"

Challenged on his view, the MP, who did not at this stage seem to have read the full details of the course but was perhaps responding to initial press reports which gave the impression studying the Beano and The Dandy was part of it, declared: "Wait for the cries of outrage when people realise that a MA in the Dandy is considered less valuable than PPE from Oxford" and, apparently noting Dundee's comics history, added he was "looking forward to Sheffield University doing a degree in forks."

Respondents to his criticisms - including comic creators such as Simon Coleby, Vicky Stonebridge and Dundee MP Stewart Hosie - have praised the idea, although political commentator Conor Pope agreed the announcement was "poor timing", but felt "a select few" graphic novels should be included in Literature courses.

Although a comic fan himself, Mr Harris views expose the continued snobbery of much of the chattering classes when it comes to comics, despite the quality of many publications and the success of DC Thomson, Titan Magazines, Egmont and other publishers whose comics have contributed much to the nation's economic (eco-comic?) health of the nation.

Commenting on comics contribution to the local Dundee economy down the years as the home of DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano, Commando and many other comics, Mr Harris told downthetubes "Investment and encouragement are great - but I question the value of an academic qualification in the Beano.

"I don't think you can just take any subject that you're interested in and make it the subject of an academic qualification," the MP, who studied journalism at Napier College, told fpinternational. 

When it was explained to him that the course was not just about studying comics, but also creating them he retorted: "Did writers of the past need a degree in comics to produce them?" Which could, perhaps, be interpreted to suggest that any arts degree is pretty pointless, but Mr Harris is clear that this is not a view to which he espouses. "On the contrary, academic subjects are always worth pursuing as a degree."

Responding to Mr Harris, Dr Murray told downthetubes: "Worldwide, comics and graphic novels have never been so popular, and are widely read by both children and adults. Far from being the preserve of children, comics represent a multi-million pound, global industry and it is our intention that our graduates are at the forefront of this.

"Whilst we are proud of Dundee's contribution to the comics industry, the much-loved publications Mr Harris so derisively refers to will not actually feature on the course. We will be examining critically acclaimed comics such as Maus, which deals with Holocaust, and works by Glasgow's Grant Morrison, one of the most celebrated graphic novel writers in the world. These texts easily stand alongside any work of contemporary art or literature.

"Comics and graphic novels are increasingly sophisticated, and are studied both for their artistic merit and their literary value," he continued. "They are an increasingly important medium in terms of popular culture, as shown by the number of comics and graphic novels adapted into hugely popular films, TV shows and computer games in recent years.

"Comics scholarship is an expanding field, reflecting the status of comics as an important part of contemporary art, literature and popular culture. Students will be required to think critically about complex ideas, examine comics from around the world and develop an understanding of them in the context of theory, politics and history, as they would in any other field of literary study."

After being challenged and corrected on the course content on Twitter by Dr Murray, Joe Gordon at Forbidden Planet International and others, Mr Harris appeared to apologize for his original remark and expressed surprize that the comics industry had no apprentice scheme that could assist in training. He continued to argue, however, that academic degrees are not always the most appropriate way of improving employment chances.

"As an employer, I would look more favourably on a candidate with history degree than a comics one," he said.

He might be surprized, then, to learn that courses in gaming at Dundee's other university, Abertay, had helped many people get jobs in that industry; educational provision which has not gone unnoticed by Dundee's Scottish Nationalist MP Stewart Hosie.

"Tom Harris is entitled to his opinion but I believe that he is talking down Dundee University and this excellent and timely new post-graduate course," he says. "He also appears to have basic facts wrong – this is a postgraduate course for people who already have a degree. It is not offering 'an MA in The Beano'.

“We live in a fast-moving world where cultural influences extend into major industries. And in Dundee, we know all about the jobs value of comic books as the city is home to DC Thomson & Co, one of the most successful companies in the field.

“Comics tie-in with films and TV, with the computer gaming industry, with art and design, music and popular culture on many levels. This is an enormous global industry employing hundreds of thousands of people and with an estimate value of more than £5bn.

“The success of Mark Millar from Glasgow who is now one of the most-celebrated comics writers in the world, and whose work inspired hit movies Wanted and Kick-Ass, as well as the purchase of Marvel Comics by Disney for $4bn in 2009 show the global economic value of the industry.

“Dundee is already heavily-involved in the computer games industry which employs nearly 3,000 here and anything which can help to develop that into new areas of employment is very much to be welcomed."

Dundee University is clearly proud of its new course and  Mr Harris' views have stirred up a hornets' nest on Twitter and other social media. "Far from being the preserve of children, comics and graphic novels are increasingly sophisticated texts which comment on culture, politics and values, and cross over into areas such as television, film, computer games and the internet," the University argues in their announcement for the course.

The MLitt in Comic Studies programme, delivered on a one-year full time or two-year part time basis, is expected to appeal to local, national and international graduates with an interest in pursuing academic careers, or working in the media, the creative industries or publishing.

From September, graduates will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the comics medium and the comics industry, and their relation to different genres, cultures, and media.
Dr Murray said students will be required to think critically about these ideas, and develop an understanding of comics in the context of theory, politics and history.

"This is a very exciting time for comics scholarship, and I am delighted to be able to offer this postgraduate course on comics," he said. "This is a unique opportunity to give this important medium the attention it deserves, and to allow those with an interest in comics to study it in detail.

"I hope that this course will help forge the next generation of comics scholars, and may even help some students with creative ambitions to find their way into the highly competitive comics industry."

One of the modules on offer will look at autobiographical comics, one of the fastest growing and critically acclaimed fields of comics production in the last 20 years, whilst another will look at the relationship between various international comics cultures, from Scottish publications, and the wider British context, to French, Russian, American, Japanese and Chinese comics.

An undergraduate module focusing on contemporary British comic writers and graphic novelists is already taught at Dundee, and the Masters programme will allow graduates with an interest in the comics to pursue this at postgraduate level. Those who want to progress further may even study for a PhD in comics once the MLItt is completed.

Those with an interest in the creative side of comics, either as a writer, artist, or both, will find the course very useful in terms of expanding their knowledge of the history of comics, and the artistic and literary potential of the medium. There will also be the opportunity to enhance practical skills related to the creation of comics.

The creative elements of the course will be delivered by Phillip Vaughan, a lecturer in Graphic Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, part of the University. Mr Vaughan has a great deal of experience in animation, computer game design and comic art.

"As well as studying different genres, styles and uses of comics, there will be a focus on writing for comics," said Dr. Murray, "with classes and workshops on scriptwriting skills as well as on artwork and the creative process."

"A range of activities of interest to students, such as conferences, talks and workshops featuring some of the most influential figures from the comics industry, and worldwide experts on comics and graphic novels will support the academic work. These will be of great interest to students and will allow them to make contact with influential figures from within the industry."

Dr. Murray also outlined how the degree could help anyone taking it up in terms of future employment.

"Employability is an important consideration for any postgraduate programme, and it lies at the heart of what we aim to do with this course," he saud. "There will be practical advice on publishing and developing a career as a comics scholar, writer or artist, and we hope to arrange work placements for students.

"Comics and graphic novels are becoming an increasingly important form of literature, art and field of study, and it is our intention that our graduates are at the forefront either as researchers, writers, artists or filling other roles within the industry."

Dr Murray also organises an annual comics conference in Dundee. The Dundee Comics Day has featured such celebrated figures as Warren Ellis, Alan Davis, Pat Mills, Rian Hughes, Hunt Emerson, Dez Skinn, and manga artists Ilya, Emma Viceli and Nana Li in the past.

The 2011 Comics Day, part of the Dundee Literary Festival, will be held on 30th October, and features a stellar line up of writers and artists, including Frank Quitely, John Wagner, Cam Kennedy, and Colin McNeil.

• More information about the MLitt programme is available by visiting the Comics studies webpage or emailing Dr Chris Murray on

Related Links on DTT:

Learning the Comics Art: other comics courses 

Comics Industry Facts and Figures

UK Comics: News Stand Sales (Updated June 2011)

In Review: 2D Comics Festival

Last weekend saw Northern Ireland's 2D Comics Festival take place within Londonderry's city walls with entrance, workshops and talks all completely free. Patrick Brown, of Belfast Comics, reviews the event for downthetubes.

The weekend just past saw the fifth 2D Comics Festival in Derry, Northern Ireland. I was there for the fourth time, my third as an exhibitor, and my first with my name in the programme.

Derry (or Londonderry if you insist) is Northern Ireland's second biggest city, after Belfast, which doesn't make it especially big. In the middle, on the west side of the River Foyle, is the Walled City, and at the south end of the Walled City, just inside the Bishop's Gate, right at the top of a steep hill that's a bugger to climb if you're carrying a case full of books, is the Verbal Arts Centre, venue for the daytime portions of the festival. All the way down the hill and out through the Shipquay Gate is Sandinos Bar, venue for the evening bits.

The festival is just what you might expect for something split between a community organisation, dedicated to supporting literacy and storytelling, and a pub. 2D is not big or impersonal or corporate. There's mercifully little fan rancour or jadedness, no division between commercial and small press creators. Nothing gets taken too seriously. All of it, through whatever funding miracle David Campbell, of the Verbal Arts Centre, and his team have been able to conjure up, is free.

At the centre of the event is the open day on Saturday at the Verbal Arts Centre. On the mezzanine floor, a handful of lucky artists are stationed to do the hardcore sketching. I did it a couple of years ago and my hand's still sore. This year the mezzaniners included Gary Northfield from the Beano, Jim Medway from the DFC, Belfast legend Davy Francis (above), late of Oink! and Holy Cross, Vicki Stonebridge of Slaughterman's Creed and the Scottish Hi-Ex convention, and 2000AD's digital genius D'Israeli.

The theme this year was robots, and lots of lucky kids got themselves drawn as a droid by a fantastic artist. The rest of us, including Gar Shanley (right), writer of Supernatural Showcase and simultaneously the most miserable and the funniest man in Irish comics, and Tommie Kelly (far right), rock star, writer-artist and hellraiser, take our places upstairs in the main hall, show off our wares, sell them if we can, and do our fair share of sketching as well. The punters range from your usual thirty-something comic book con crowd, to young families, to teenagers, and I recognised plenty of faces from previous years in the crowd as well as behind tables.

Either side of the main daytime event, on the Friday and Saturday evenings, are the panels, held upstairs at Sandinos and lubricated generously with alcohol. There's a quiz, and the winners get a goodie bag of dreadful comics, including Zwanna, Son of Zulu, a breathtakingly racist comic from the early nineties. On the panels crime novelist Denise Mina admits to feeling like a chancer when writing comics, to pangs of recognition from every writer and artist in the room, and shares her delight at having one of her books adapted to TV. DC's art director Mark Chiarello gets a lecture in how to pronounce his own name from David Hine (Mark says it "Cheer-ello", David knows Italian and insists it should be "Keer-ello"), and gets to speak a little less guardedly than he does at bigger shows - he gets a round of applause for saying he hates Green Lantern, before reassuring us he's only joking.

There is, inevitably, a panel on "breaking into comics", during which Will Simpson (left with Adam Law) does an impersonation of Dave Gibbons that starts off as a recognisable caricature and degenerates into a peculiar cockney barking noise, and Glenn Fabry shares a rather revolting story of the unpleasant habits of a former editor. The Sunnyside Comics podcast panel on digital comics and creative ownership gets a bit rowdy and decides piracy is rude but probably inevitable. All the panellists, especially Rufus Dayglo, genuflect before guest of honour Mick McMahon, a modest and unassuming bloke whose choppy lines and memorable character designs just happen to define the childhood reading experiences of all of us over a certain age.

And then the panels wind up, and we stick around inside and outside the bar, spending the specially printed 2D drink tokens, for as long as our constitutions will let us. I'm a bit of a lightweight I'm afraid, but hair-raising stories reach me of the somewhat NSFW permanent marker 'tattoos' drawn by Deirdre de Barra on Archie Templar's torso, and how Archie's going to explain that to his other half when he gets back to Dublin. Finally, a handful of survivors gather on Sunday morning for breakfast in the local Wetherspoons and set the world to rights over an Ulster fry before heading for home, wherever that is.

2D's a great show. Long may it continue.

Patrick Brown has been creating and self-publishing comics since the mid-1990s. The Cattle Raid of Cooley, his adaptation of the ancient Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, has been serialised on the web since 2008 and is about half done. It, and a selection of his other comics, are available at

There are many more photos from 2D 2011 at the following Facebook pages -

2D Festival

Vicki Stonebridge

Ciaran Flanagan

Monday, 6 June 2011

Redondo returns to 2000AD for Terror Tale

2000AD Terror Tale 'Birth of Mazzikim'
by David Baillie and Redondo
Veteran 2000 AD artist Jesus Redondo is returning to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for the first time in more than a decade.

As announced at the recent Bristol Comics Expo, the Spanish artist – perhaps best known in the UK for his work on Book Two of Nemesis the Warlock for 2000 AD and The Mind of Wolfie Smith from the short-lived  1980s comic Tornado – has drawn a one-part Terror Tale, written by newcomer David Baillie.

The one-off 'Terror Tale', entitled 'Birth of Mazzikim', will appear in 2000 AD prog 1737 – available from Wednesday 8th June from all good stockists (and some evil ones).

After beginning his career in the early 1960s, Redondo entered the British market with work for DC Thomson and IPC, working on strips such as 'Suzette of the Silver Sword' for the girls title, Diana, 'Marmaduke' and many other stories, drawing romance, police, fantasy and war strips with equal accomplishment.

A panel from 'Suzette of the Silver
Sword' a strip Redondo drew
for Diana in the 1960s
Comics encyclopedia Lambiek notes that he cites the comic story 'Edward', which he drew for the Dutch magazine Tina with writer Otto Veenhoven in 1974 as his favourite series. In the same year he drew the Spanish series 'Centauro' and 'SOS Dossier Ecológico' with writers A. Martín and F. P. Navarro.

Redondo's 2000 AD credits also include episodes of M.A.C.H. 1, Tharg's Future Shocks and Missionary Man.

His credits also include 'Dan Dare' (in 1986), 'El Capitán Trueno' (1987) and 'Mr. Black', a horror series for the Spanish Creepy magazine in 1991.

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