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Friday, 1 July 2011

Lou Scannon debuts with werewolf opener

Doctor Who and Transformers colourist Kris Carter is a man juggling many projects and one of them is an independently-produced sci-fi comedy comic, Lou Scannon, written and drawn by him and his friend Dan Harris.

The first issue, 'The Wolfman of Astrotaz', comes crammed with jokes about werewolves, stupid mercenaries and even more stupid space police - and uses magnetic business cards as a macguffin.

"Lou Scannon is a Space Pirate/Mercenary/Smuggler/Miscreant/Whatever, trying to get by in a galaxy ruled over by the oppressive Galactic Coalition Police Force (Or GCPF for short)," Kris explains. "He's put together his own crew of outcasts and all sorts of hilarity ensues in their quest to make a buck.

"Along the way Lou tries to learn more about his past (of which he knows nothing) but doesn't realise that in finding the key to his past, he's also unlocking something that will change the galaxy forever. Or at least for a couple of weeks."

Lou Scannon #1 is a full 22 page b&w story, the first in a loosely connected arc of six issues (next one is due around December 2011). The printed comic also has additional exclusive materials such as development sketches, deleted pages, and best of all, a good old fashioned readers letters page, with honest-to-gosh nonsense submitted by actual people!

Be warned: it does have some bad language, so it's not one for the wee bairns.

Lou Scannon co-writer, colourist and letterer Kris Carter has previously worked in newspaper pre-press and graphic design before tackling digital comic book colouring professionally.

A big fan of co-writer Dan’s ‘Lou Scannon’ universe, he badgered Dan to make a comic of it for years, until he decided to light a fire under Dan’s behind by writing and drawing the bulk of issue #1 himself. It worked.

Kris’ published comic book colouring work includes numerous Transformers and Doctor Who titles, Torchwood, TMNT and Wynonna Earp, as well as some stunning work on Crucible, one of many strips planned for the upcoming STRIP Magazine.

Co-writr and penciller Dan Harris created the ‘Lou Scannon’ universe as part of his BA (Hons) Animation degree from Glamorgan University. In addition to being a talented writer and illustrator, Dan is also a tattoo artist and co-runs the “Distinctive Tattoo” studio based in Trefforest, South Wales. His published comic book work includes contributing artwork and colours to the 10thology graphic novel published for the Cardiff Comic Con 2011.

• Lou Scannon costs £3 from the Lou Scannon website -

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Sculpture and Comic Art feature for Comics Forum

The second edition of Sculpture and Comic Art by Kirstie Gregory is now available on the Comics Forum blog. Entitled ‘Chris Ware: Cabinets, Cardboard and Joseph Cornell’, the piece will be of interest to anyone who’s thinking about submitting a paper for this year’s Comics Forum, along with those  who have broader research interests around Chris Ware, and the intersections between comics and sculptural art forms.

If you have any comments or feedback on the piece or the website in general, the site’s comments sections are available.

The deadline for abstracts for Comics Forum 2011, scheduled for the 16th - 18th of November 2011 in Leeds as part of Thought Bubble, is the 18th July.  It will comprise three events:

16/11/2011 – Sculpture and Comic Art
17/11/2011 – Graphic Medicine: Visualizing the Stigma of Illness
18/11/2011 – Materiality and Virtuality: A Conference on Comics

The call for papers is available here. Registration will open once speakers have been confirmed in early August 2011.

Tickets will be priced as follows:

1 day ticket: £10
3 day ticket: £30
5 day ticket: £40 (includes two-day pass to Thought Bubble convention)

Comics Forum 2011 is supported by Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, the Henry Moore Institute, Dr Mel Gibson and Molakoe Graphic Design.

Panel Borders: Doctoring Comics

Concluding radio show Panel Borders month of shows looking at medical comics, they have a talk by Dr. Ian Williams recorded at Laydeez do Comics last month about his work in sequential art including curating Graphic Medicine and creating comic strips under the name Thom Ferrier, followed by a Q and A session featuring questions by Phillipa Perry and Alex Fitch.

Ian did an MA in medical humanities, looking at the discourse of medicine using the conceptual tools of the arts and humanities. He wrote a dissertation on medical narrative in graphic novels and it's his contention that comic/graphic fiction could be a useful resource for healthcare professionals, patients and carers. Graphic medicine, which he set up in 2007, lists and briefly reviews all the graphic novels and comic books that he has found to be relevant.

'[When] I set up Graphic Medicine... I thought I was being pretty clever and original," says Ian, "but after a while I found that there were people out there who had been writing about comics and medicine way before me. People like Scott of Polite Dissent, who also writes about the portrayal of medicine in other media and Ethan Persoff of Comics With Problems. These guys were there first, I am a relative newbie to writing about comics, although I have always loved them (comics, that is).

"Soon after I set up the site, one of the fist people to get in touch was Michael Green of Penn State University Medical School, who had started to teach a comics class to medical students around the time I was doing my MA. There were also articles about comics with medical themes starting to appear in the humanities literature, so it seems like a critical mass was starting to build, and it has got more exciting over the last few years, and will continue to gain momentum over the next few, as people realise that comics can articulate profound truths about the discourse of medicine, and healthcare in general."

• Panel Borders: Doctoring Comics airs at 5.00pm, Thursday 30th June 2011 on  Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

McCrea, Ellerby among comic creator guest at first Manchester MCM Expo

The MCM Expo team have just released the first details of comics artists and writers who will be attending the inaugural MCM Expo Manchester Comic Con, held at Manchester Central on Saturday 30th July.

MCM Expo’s Comic Village tour features award-winning comics creators such as John McCrea (Hitman, Judge Dredd); Antony Johnston (Wasteland, Alex Rider); Marc Ellerby (Chloe Noonan, Ellerbisms); Leigh Gallagher (Defoe, The Witching) and Al Davison (The Spiral Cage, The Dreaming).

Other talented artists and writers attending the Manchester Comic Con include Oliver Lambden; Colin Mathieson; Matt Dyson; Geof Banyard; Donna Evans; Jodie Snow; Scott Stanford; Davy Shirley; Helen Trifourki; George Beedham; K. Edgar; Dave Bulmer; Timothy Winchester; Joe List; Kate Appleton; David Goodman; Emma Cutler and Mogzilla’s Alex Keller.

For the inaugural Manchester Comic Con, kids aged 10 and under will get free admission if accompanied by a full paying adult, up to a maximum of two children per paying adult.

• Artists, writers and publishers interested in attending July’s Manchester Comic Con or November’s Birmingham Memorabilia Show as small press or as a Comic Village guest should email

• For Manchester Comic Con tickets visit: For more information, call the MCM Expo Information Hotline on 0844 448 7600

• To stay up-to-date with Expo news, follow them on

Commando: Music From The Home Front

In this 50 anniversary year of the Eagle award winning Commando, there are a number of tie-ins scheduled to be published in addition to the standard 104 issues of the comic. As well as the latest of the big reprint books, Rogue Raiders, Carlton are just about to release a set of four Commando paperbacks that will reprint three themed stories in each book.

However the book that we here at downthetubes are most keen to see is also from Carlton and that is Commando 50 Years: A Home For Heroes written by former Commando editor George Low. Rather than being a reprint book, this will be a hardback book about Commando that is due for release on 13 October 2011. It will include a foreword by BBC Top Gear presenter James May who has already pinned his war comics credentials to the wall in forewords to David Roach's two IPC combat picture library art books, Aarrgghh! It's War and The Art Of War. Early reports suggest that this Commando book will be well worth the wait.

In the meantime there is another Commando tie-in to tide us over until that book is released - and it is perhaps the most unusual tie-in in Commando's half century history. EMI have just released Commando: War Themes, a compilation album of themes from war films including such well known movies as The Dambusters, 633 Squadron and Lawrence Of Arabia. With an Ian Kennedy cover of an Allied Willies jeep being chased by a (rather suicidal) German Messerschmitt Bf109, the albums will be available in both CD and downloadable MP3 format.

This isn't the first time that DC Thomson titles have been used to market music compilations with Jackie being used for a whopping six multi-disc albums while last year saw The Broons Family Album released in time for the Christmas market. It is however the first time EMI have used a DC Thomson "boy's" title for their music albums.

There are more details of all the Commando books currently available at the Carlton website.

Commando: War Themes is available from
Amazon UK in both CD and MP3 formats.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Oxfam Edinburgh Comic Event 2011

The Oxfam Edinburgh Comic Event returns to the MacDonald Road Library on Edinburgh's Leith Walk on Saturday 23 July 2011. As in its two previous years this will be a discussion based event with signings by the guests plus a selection of comics, graphic novels and related books will be for sale on the day with all proceeds going to Oxfam.

Regular Oxfam guests 2000AD editor and writer David Bishop and Commando and Marvel Heroes writer Ferg Handley will be joined by Dan Dare and Kate and William artist Gary Erskine, attending his third Scottish comics event in five weeks after the Glasgow Comic Con and Scotch Corner @ Kingdom Of Adventure. Further guests are expected to be confirmed very soon.

The start time on Saturday 23 July is 11:30am with the event expected to run for most of the afternoon and tickets will be priced at £4 per person. The venue is only a 10-15 minute walk from Edinburgh's main bus and train stations.

More details will be available on the OxfamBooksEH10 twitter feed.

There are more details of the venue at the MacDonald Road Library

Comedian Jimmy Carr writes debut comic strip in CLiNT

‘Beat My Score’ by Jimmy Carr, art by Ryusuke Hamamoto

Jimmy Carr, famed stand-up comedian and co-host of Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live, has written an exclusive comic strip story in the latest issue of Titan Magazines' CLiNT.

Stepping out of his comfort zone and away from the acerbic one-liners that characterise his on-stage routine, Carr delivers a story of violent point-scoring and social alienation.

‘Beat My Score’ by Jimmy Carr, art by Ryusuke Hamamoto

"Entitled ‘Beat My Score’, Carr’s comic strip is a nihilistic satirical sideswipe at the glamourisation of violence, tackling the difficult and disturbing effects as seen in school shootings around the world. Its manga-styled images by Japanese artist, Ryusuke Hamamoto, will resonate in the brain like a ricochet long after the final shots have been fired."

When every action is assessed for its potential as a Tweet, and every success is accompanied by Achievement Points, what will one maladjusted Japanese college student do to claim pole position?

"We've been incredibly lucky with CLiNT in this first nine months," enthuses Kick-Ass creator and CLiNT editor Mark Millar.  "We just got nominated for a big award before we've even reached our first birthday and the talent line-up has been unmatchable. We've had people as diverse as Victoria Coren, Ian Rankin, Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle in here and now we've got Jimmy Carr doing comic books. It's crazy.

"What's nice is that he rose to the occasion and gave us maybe my favourite story in the comic so far. It's such a beautifully simple idea I sent it to my agents and suggested they set the movie up. I couldn't be happier with it."

CLiNT, which launched last September, has already boasted the first-look at Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the best-selling series that inspired the blockbuster movie, and seen Jonathan Ross, Frankie Boyle and Stewart Lee present their comic debuts.

• Jimmy Carr’s ‘Beat My Score’ will feature in CLiNT issue #9, on-sale Thursday 30th June, available from WH Smith, and all good magazine retailers and newsagents.

• For more information and to subscribe to CLiNT, visit

• Connect with CLiNT on Twitter or Facebook

Cartoonists naturally good at social web practice?

(Above: A panel from Darryl Cunningham's Evolution strip. Click to enlarge.)

There's an interesting post over at Pete Ashton's Ash-10 blog about cartoonists and social web practice.

'I often pick up on cartoonists as examples of good social web practice,' Pete writes, 'partly because I like cartoonists, partly because their work lends itself to being displayed on a web browser but also because many of the cartoonists I follow have a history in fanzines and self-published comics and have an innate understanding of how this stuff works.'

Pete singles out ace cartoonist Darryl Cunningham as an example of someone who uses social media particularly well:

'Darryl is now working on a new collection of strips about science and is posting the strips in their entirety on his blog as they are drawn. So far you can read chapters on homeopathy, MMR and, from this week, evolution. What’s interesting is he’s calling these “beta” strips and inviting corrections and clarifications from his readers.'

You can read the full post, which is well worth your time, here.

Pete Ashton is an online communications consultant specialising in social media and blogging. He also spent a long time as a fanzine maker and advocate of self-published comics.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Air Pirate Press launches 'The Art of Brett Ewins'

Recently released by Air Pirate Press is The Art of Brett Ewins, a new book shedding light on the life and times of on of Britain's best-known comic artists.

In a frank and revealing 11,000 word interview, the 80-page book, put together by Brett with help from former 2000AD and Doctor Who Magazine editor Alan Mackenzie, details this popular artist's drawing techniques, his work habits and the years of stressful over-production that led to major illness and his early retirement from the harrowing production-line life that is the lot of most professional comic strip artists.

Two years in the making, The Art of Brett Ewins shines a fascinating spotlight on the creator of such iconic comic strips as Johnny Nemo, Skreemer, and Bad Company, covering his decades long career illustrating major 2000AD strips as Rogue Trooper, Judge Dredd and Anderson: Psi Division.

From his first efforts in the comics business with close friend and drawing partner Brendan McCarthy, with whom he published Sometime Stories, Ewins landed drawing assignments with the then-nascent 2000AD comic. Inside a year he was drawing fill-in episodes the comic’s lead strip Judge Dredd, then was handed the long-time gig on Rogue Trooper.

By the mid 1980s more Dredd and work on the Dredd spin-off Anderson: Psi Division followed. Again, teaming with McCarthy, Ewins produced two limited series – Strange Days and Johnny Nemo – for American independent publisher Eclipse. Then in the second half of the 1980, Ewins embarked on the operatic Bad Company, working from scripts by his long-time friend and collaborator Pete Milligan.

During the early 1990s, while Ewins was illustrating a third series of Bad Company and simultaneously editing the cult monthly Deadline, his health took a turn for the worse and by 1995, he had all but retired from the comics business.

The Art of Brett Ewins chronicles all this and more, in Brett’s own words, talking frankly about his years in the comics business work and the toll it later took on his health.

The book features plenty of artwork, mostly shot from the over-sized originals, revealing just how Ewins’ pens and brushes created his many mini-masterpieces, including inked comic pages, pencil drawings and full-colour paintings - some 49 black-and-white and 70 colour pictures in total

The Art of Brett Ewins is an softcover book is on sale now via Available from, and other leading online booksellers, priced just £9.99. (ISBN 978-0-9569149-0-3)

• Air Pirate Press:

Comic Con Comes to Manchester - and kids will go free

Hold on to your seats – the MCM Expo Manchester Comic Con is ready for lift off!

Next month sees the UK's perhaps most famous comic con arrive in Manchester, bringing the best in pop culture entertainment to the city for the first time.

Held at Manchester Central – formerly G-MEX – on Saturday 30th July, the very first Manchester Comic Con will bring all the magic of London's MCM Expo to the North West. Whether it's major games publishers such as Nintendo or leading film studios like Universal; top comic artists or sports star special guests; science fiction collectables or cosplay competitions, the organisers promise there'll be something there for everyone.

Already hosting hit shows in London and Birmingham, the MCM Expo Group thought it was high time that Manchester got to experience the fun of a comic con.

For the inaugural Manchester Comic Con, kids aged 10 and under will get free admission if accompanied by a full paying adult, up to a maximum of two children per paying adult.

• For Manchester Comic Con tickets visit: For more information, call the MCM Expo Information Hotline on 0844 448 7600

• To stay up-to-date with Expo news, follow them on

In Review: Commando 4404 - Misfit Squad

On 27 June 1961 DC Thomson published the first issue of Commando as a response to the combat picture libraries being published by their competitors. Today, exactly fifty years later, those titles like Battle Picture Library and War Picture Library are long gone but the Eagle Award winning Commando proudly marches on having just passed the 4400 issue mark and it continues to have wings in the air, keels in the sea and boots on the ground.

The current batch of Commandos includes issue 4404, Misfit Squad, which was specially written as the 50th anniversary issue and includes an introduction by editor Calum Laird:

Lots of things have changed over the last 50 years... the Berlin wall has risen and fallen, the moon now has bootprints on it and the internet has changed the world in a way that could not have been foreseen in June 1961.
But amongst all these changes, some things have remained unaltered. Take Commando for instance - it's still packed with action and adventure, everyman heroes and villains, and the best comic art still resides on and between its covers. To celebrate our 50 years, a special story has been written. And it's got all those qualities that make Commando something special. This is that story and the whole Commando team, past, present and future, hopes that you'll enjoy it as much as No 1 was enjoyed in June 1961.

It is 2011 and workmen preparing a remote British hillside for a new wind turbine discover a multiple grave. The police involve the military when it becomes obvious that these are British soldiers but when Military Policeman Captain Mike Proctor begins investigating the case, he is warned off from making further investigations for reasons of national security.

Unofficially he continues, basing his investigation on a name written in a 50 year old war comic found on one of the bodies which leads him to the dead soldiers' commanding officer who, though unwilling to discuss the case, unofficially gives Proctor a book detailing what was believed to have happened on the hill half a century before. Four privates, childhood friends who were about to all flunk their military training, were lead out onto the hill at night by their sergeant in an attempt to improve their soldiering. Unknown to them, they were about to run into a Soviet military infiltration squad and the Cold War was about to turn very hot.

Written by Mac MacDonald, with interior and cover art by Carlos Pino, Misfit Squad sets up its modern day story quickly which then bookends the main plot of the rookie soldiers of 1961 and their WWII battle hardened sergeant fighting it out in the dark against the Soviet infiltrators. It is a neat way of placing this anniversary story in both 2011 and 1961 and of course the war comic found with the bodies is a Commando. Since Commando has very few ongoing plotlines, the comic is able to set up main characters that may or may not survive to the end of the story.

Back on that hillside in 1961 men on both sides are picked off one by one as the British SLRs are matched against the Soviet AK47s in a story that is brutal enough to make you wonder if any of the characters will be alive by the end of it - and that is one of the strengths not only of this story but of all Commandos.

Commando issue 4404 Misfit Squad is available from newsagents from now until 6 July 2011 after which the next batch of Commandos will be available. The cover price is £1.50.

There are more details about Commando on the official Commando website.

Commando editor Calum Laird was interviewed on the downthetubes blog in January 2011 about what was happening during the comic's 50th anniversary year. You can also read career interviews with Calum Laird, former editor George Low, deputy editor Scott Montgomery and Ramsey's Raiders writer Ferg Handley, on the downthetubes main site.

Warrior Remembered in Manchester

Legendary British comics editor Dez Skinn is back in Manchester again next weekend (he was there only a couple of weeks ago for the relaunch of Starburst). "There's an all-day celebration of one of my old titles reaching its 30th birthday...," he tells us. "That's WARRIORcon on Saturday July 2 from 11-5pm at the city's top pub: The Lass O'Gowrie .

"And if you're a Doctor Who fan, book in somewhere cheap for the night and get back to the pub the next day for their fourth Doctor Who pubcon (and Kev F's Scottish Falsetto Glove Puppets). You could even stay for Monday and catch me old chum Mr B do his chap-hop routine at the same venue."

Full details:

Gene Colan Scholarship Launched

Following earlier discussions with the late Gene Colan, writer Clifford Meth has established a Gene Colan Scholarship at the Joe Kubert School.

The much respected comic artist, passed away aged 84 on 23rd June. His work at Marvel, reprinted in many UK comics down the years, included Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Daredevil and Tomb of Dracula and many more. As Forbidden Planet International note in their tribute, his long and distinguished career in comics continued until recent illness forced his retirement.

In lieu of flowers and such, if you would like to contribute to this scholarship in Gene’s memory, please make your check payable to “Joe Kubert School” and mail it to the attention:

Gene Colan Scholarship
c/o Clifford Meth
179-9 Rt. 46 West
NJ 07866

All checks will be delivered to Mike Chen, the school’s coordinator.

If you live outside the US Cliff advises contacting the Kubert School direct regarding making donations by credit card, paypal or other means:

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Comics Creators At The Glasgow Comic Con

The inaugural Glasgow Comic Con took place on Saturday 25 June 2011 in the Mackintosh Church Arts and Heritage Centre in Maryhill, Glasgow. The downthetubes review of the event is here but with more photos available we have decided to take a quick rundown of some of the comics creators that were at the event complete with links to their websites and blogs.

The Scotch Corner daily art blog was well represented with both Graeme Neil Reid (left) and Gary Erskine (right) behind tables while Thomas Creilly and Alex Ronald popped in during the day. Alex would go on to win the Scottish Independent Comic Book Award for Best Artists that evening for his work on the Vampire Vixens Of The Wehrmacht in Wasted.

Graeme produced sketches beforehand to sell on the day with them appearing on Scotch Corner and his own blog...

...while Gary had a stream of people watching him sketch for them throughout the day.

Other artists behind tables on the day were Jon Haward showing off his Panini/Marvel UK artwork and who, like Gary Erskine, is a Dan Dare artist...

... and Beano and Dandy artist Stevie White, or Stref, was doing humour sketches on the day as well as showing off his new anthology book Milk+.

Digital inker and colourist Jamie Grant (left) was on hand to look over people's own work as well as signing his own...

... while artist David Lloyd (left) was signing copies of his graphic novel Kickback and, remembering that he is involved in Cartoon Classroom, was also speaking to Dr Chris Murray (right) of Dundee University's Dundee Comics Day and that Masters degree in Comics Studies.

Chris is well known for his sartorial choices although Sha Nazir gave him a run for his money with this shirt on the day. Sha is the creator of Black Hearted Press' humour title Laptop Guy and was remarkably relaxed and cheerful during the convention despite being one of the organisers.

Sha's co-organiser was John Farman seen here with the cover to his forthcoming title also from Black Hearted Press, The School Of The Damned...

... while the other Black Hearted Press creator there was David Braysher creator of on-line anthology Black Hearted Love.

Other small pressers there included writer/artist Graham Pearce (left) showing off his many Sgt Mike Battle comics along with writer Daniel Clifford (right) of the anthology title Sugar Glider...

...while Ed Murphy of Rough Cut Comics had one of the most impressive of the small press displays showing off his comics The Freedom Collective, The Surgeon and Society: Party Animal as well has the impressive graphic novel Rose Black written by Tom Campbell, pencilled by Jaeson Finn and inked by Colin Barr.

Last, but by no means least, in our round-up are the Team Girl collective, including Gillian Hatcher (left) and Coleen Campbell (right). Their Team Girl Comic anthology has reached its third issue and with an exhibition at Orbital in London along with appearances at some of the London small press fairs, the team had run a free workshop and event about their work at the Glasgow venue in the run-up to the convention. We hope to hear more from Team Girl in the near future.

The Glasgow Comics Con website is here.

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