downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...

This blog is no longer being updated

The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013.

Hop over to for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Tim Perkins takes you to Worlds End

Worlds End Volume 1: Riders on the Storm

Before you read this story, let me first declare an interest: I have known the publisher and comic creator of this stunning new book,Tim Perkins, for many years, since my time at Marvel UK. I know how he and his team at indie publishing house Wizards Keep have slaved over this book for a long time, and, after its launch at last year's Malta Con, Worlds End - Volume 1 - The Riders on the Storm is now on sale in the UK.

I couldn't be more delighted to tell you this. The book looks stunning - a true labour of love that Tim has been working on for a while now - and the first of many. I urge you to check out the dedicated Worlds End web site ( to view previews and art from the book; but, more importantly, go and buy a copy and support one of the hardest-working, often underestimated comic creators in the British comic industry.

Worlds End - Volume 1 - The Riders on the Storm is the first in a series of "Science Fusion" graphic novels created by international comic artist and writer, Tim Perkins. This fully painted, All-Ages book - which includes a foreword from Bryan Talbot and an introduction by John Ridgway - is set on another world called Gaeryth, where A Mathemagician, called Gweldar, his familiar, Geek, a young boy, Ralf and a mysterious girl called Zephol are all that stand before an invading alien horde intent on aqua-forming the otherwise tranquil planet in the far reaches of space. 

 Are they enough to stop the myriad forces, known as the Aoevill from the depths of outer space and solve the mystery of Worlds End…? 

 Tim Perkins weaves a timeless All-Ages storyline fusing Fantasy and Sci-Fi into a Science Fusion Epic with a new mythology for a new audience. 

 It's a gem of a tale: buy it. 

 - Order your copy today from Wizards Keep- European Format - Case Bound Cover - Fully illustrated - 88 full colour pages + Cover and illustrated Endpages - Afterword by Tim Perkins

- Check out the new Worlds End website:

- Tim will be signing copies of Worlds End and talking about his work on Thursday February 2nd at Blackburn Library. This talk will include information on his career to date, spanning comics, animation and more, but will emphasise his latest work creating Worlds End Volume 1 with some insights into what to expect in future volumes. 

Tickets, priced just £1, are available from: Blackburn Central Library, Town Hall Street, Blackburn, Lancashire - BB2 1AG. Telephone: 01254 587244;; facebook:; and

Red Devil Rising!

Continuing the adventures of Britain’s best-loved aerial combat pilot, Johnny Redburn, Titan Books releases Johnny Red - Red Devil Rising at the end of the month in the UK (27th January).

This is the second hardback volume reprinting the classic story from Battle by Tom Tully and Joe Colquhoun and includes a feature by comics legend Garth Ennis (The Boys, Preacher, War Stories).

After being discharged from the RAF for striking an officer, Johnny Redburn takes to the skies in a stolen Hurricane. He then meets the Falcon Squadron of the 5th Soviet Air Brigade and begins his fight against Germany from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

“This book feels like a historical document and yet it reads like the best of any boy’s fiction in any genre. Buy this book and enjoy the authenticity amidst the thrills," said Weekly Crisisof the first volume in the series.

Johnny Red is part of the series of hardback editions collecting the most popular storylines from British boys’ war comic, Battle. Also available are Johnny Red: Falcons First Flight (Johnny Red Volume 1);The Best of Battle Volume 1; Charley’s War Volumes 1-8, Hitler's Youth bring the most recent; andDarkie's Mob: The Secret War of Joe Darkie.
Coming soon are the first volumes of Major Eazy, drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, and Rat Pack.

Johnny Red - Red Devil Rising (Johnny Red Volume 2) is on sale 27th January 2012 in the UK. ISBN: 9781848560345

Friday, 13 January 2012

Cardiff Comic Expo line-up revealed

Cardiff Comic Expo
Ticket sales for this year's Cardiff Comic Expo next month (25th-26th February) are booming - and are expected to increase further with publication of the event's schedule, outlined in full below.  

In addition to the event itself, show producer Mike Allwood tells us Cardiff Libraries are also working on an alternate programme and that will be relevealed in a couple of weeks when all is finalised. 



 Horror can come in different guises and in this panelGavin and Dan of the sidekickast strap on their machetes, load up on silver bullets and confront the creators of three very different offerings from the darker end of Welsh comics. From the mythical monsters of Unbelievable through the arcane World War 2 horrors of Dexters Half Dozen to the twisted nastiness of Damaged Goods the boys brave the darkness to find out what kinds of people come up with these terrors and whether we should avoid them in the bar later on? 


Writer Russell Payne is exclusively promoting the JACK KIRBY MUSEUM at this year’s convention. You can find out more about the “King of Comics” and join or donate to the Kirby Museum who are raising funds to opena "Pop-Up" MuseumWe explore the impact Kirby has had on modern culture. 


 The storyboard process has been used through the history of cinema to give directors the chance to visually communicate their vision of the film to the crew. In recent years, the line between storyboards and comics has narrowed, books of storyboards are published and they now appear pre-edited and animated before a shot of film is even exposed. We talk to storyboard professionals about the challenges of their work, the unique opportunity it gives them to define the visual tone of the movie and how the storyboard has changed over the course of their careers. A Cloth Cat Animation Panel 



A Expo Exclusive Panel with John Higgins and Michael Carroll the creation of John’s signature creation, Razorjack and her history from comic to graphic and full novel to future plans… 

 3.15pm THE 2000AD MEGA-PANEL 

 2000AD is 35 years old on 26th February 2012 - ... One day early join Scrotnig droids John M Burns, David Roach, Mike Collins, Rob Williams, Patrick Goddard, Michael Carroll, Gordon Rennie & Mick McMahon to discuss the Prog, the Meg, and everything in between - including questions from select 2000AD creators to the panel. Hosted by Stacey Whittle & Iz McAuliffe of The Megacast podcast. Zarjaz !!

 4.15pm HORROR IS DEAD! 

 With the growing popularity of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance in recent years, and many Crime/ Thriller books embracing a more graphic approach to storytelling, has traditional horror become redundant? Join Robin Furth ( Dark Tower writer ) and Wayne Simmons (bestselling author of FLU and FEVER) for this interactive panel looking at the future of the horror genre.  



The British Indie comics scene is currently busier than it has ever been, and it seems that every month new small publishers and titles are announcing their arrival. But is this really a good thing? Now that anyone with internet access can publish their work worldwide does that mean there are now more creators with less raw talent producing British comics than ever before? Join Peter Rogers and creators Michael Carroll, Chris Lynch, Steve Tanner, and Jon Haward in this spirited debate! 


The good Doctor has graced not only the TV screens since 1963 but has also saved the universe many times in novels, comics and audio dramas.How do creators work outside of the small screen framework timelines? And what does the future hold?Check out the finest creative line up this side of Gallifrey!With GARY RUSSELL, MIKE COLLINS, DAVE ROACH, GORDON RENNIE & EMMA BEEBY   


A legend in the comics industry, Mike's career has seen him move effortlessly between horror comics, storyboarding, illustration and animation. We talk to this master of the visual arts about his career, his early years with Will Eisner and the American comics scene, what Steven Spielberg's house is really like and his recent illustrations for children's literature. 


 "Unbelievably dark and interactive" 

 Three debut graphic novels, three rising stars of the Welsh comics scene, one publisher.Join Gavin and Dan of The Sidekickcast, as Simon Wyatt (Unbelievable: The man who ate daffodils), Chris Lynch (The Dark) and Peter Rogers (The Interactives) lift the curtain giving a unique behind the scenes look into the making of their books. And find out what else the UK's largest independent graphic novel publisher has in store for 2012

- For the latest info on the Cardiff Comic Expo:


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Celtic Conventions: Hi-Ex and 2D Return In 2012

We missed out on mentioning Hi-Ex 2012 in our run-up to Christmas so let's set the record straight now. The fourth Hi-Ex will be taking place on Saturday 31 March and Sunday 1 April on the banks of the river Ness at Eden Court in Inverness.

Guests announced so far include writers Jim Alexander, Michael Carroll, Al Ewing and Ferg Handley, and artists Gary Erskine, John Higgins, Cam Kennedy, Colin MacNeil and Tanya Roberts, who has provided the convention with its fun poster art of Tank Girl, Dredd, Dennis and Gnasher riding Nessie.

Tickets are already available from the Eden Court's website.

There are more details of the event and all the guests on the Hi-Ex website and blog.

The downthetubes reviews of previous Hi-Ex weekends are here - 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Across the water in Northern Ireland the sixth 2D Comics Festival will be taking place in its usual location of the Verbal Arts Centre in Londonderry from Thursday 31 May to Saturday 2 June, with the main full day event of the 2D Comics Fair taking place on the Saturday. As with all the previous 2D Festivals, entrance will be free to everyone and, like Hi-Ex, the event is aimed at all the family.

Also free at 2D are the dealers tables which give small pressers from both north and south of the Irish border a great platform to get their publications and work on display to a wider audience at minimal cost. Guests have yet to be announced but in previous years have included well known names from the British mainland.

There are more details of the 2012 2D Festival on their Facebook page.

The downthetubes review of the 2011 2D is here.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Totally Merlin confuses some fans - and us!

(Updated again - with thanks to our readers): A quick reminder that there is an official Merlin
magazine on sale in the UK in selected supermarkets and newsagents, published by Titan Magazines.
The magazine is being published as Issue 19 of Titan's 'Totally' title, which explains the cover numbering - but contrary to our earlier version of this report, it's being billed as the second issue of the official Merlin magazine launched by Attic Media, just before that company went into administration.
The whole situation has left some fans - and us! - a bit confused, as Titan have told us this 'continuation' is a one-off for now.
Titan published another Merlin tie in like this back in 2010.
The magazine comes with a free sticky Serket, a Merlin keyring and four special badges. There's also a chance to win Arthur's gloves, a trip to the set as well as loads of other special prizes, and the magazine also features a Merlin comic strip.
We'll keep you posted if there is further news on a new ongoing Merlin title.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Breaking into Comics - some quick tips

The first unassuming cover by Matt Bingham
for the comics zine that helped me
get into comics publishing. Subscribers
included Alan Moore.
Download a cbr of the issue
Regular readers will be aware, we hope, that our main downthetubes site features some guides to Breaking Into Comics, espcially on the writing side.

I recently had a few more requests than usual for tips on how to find work in the comics industry. It isn't easy, especially with the industry being quite small these days, at least in the UK, but here are some thoughts and suggestions...

• Post your strips online on a blog (which can be done for free) and see if they attract interest in your work

• Create and publish your own fanzine with your own strips (and perhaps some from other people you know) and sell it locally and via the above-mentioned blog (use Paypal), or get to nearby Comic Marts or events and try sell them there (all of which I did to get myself known several years ago). Your magazine doesn't have to be in colour (although a colour cover wil help) and you don't have to print many (because you won't sell many - it's about getting yourself known!)

• Get along to a comic convention - there are several across the UK through the year and we list them on DTT. Meet fellow creators and pick their brains. Show editors your work.

• Make sure that the portfolio you show editors includes only a small selection of your best work (and I do mean best work - if you feel you wouldn't pay to read it, it doesn't qualify!); make sure that if you want to show it to 2000AD, for example, you include a page of art featuring a 2000AD character; include samples of pencils and inks; and make sure the samples are comic strip, not full page illustrations (with editors it's more about seeing you can tell a story rather than 'can you draw'?)

• Listen to the feedback; learn from it. If an editor likes the work, get their details and then send copies of what they were shown once you get home, plus a couple of new pages, saying how much you enjoyed meeting that editor and that you hope the new samples have taken on board the advice you were given

• If you don't hear anything within six weeks, send a follow up, polite email asking if the editor has had a chance to look at the samples and that you're still keen to get the chance to draw

• Build your relationships with any audience you have built up through your blog and fanzine, develop your own audience. (Think about using Facebook and Twitter to maintain your personal marketing)

Quality will out in any industry but as with most things, breaking into comics is 10 per cent inspiration, 90 per cent perspiration...

• Check out for other practical and hopefully useful advice. Our Writers Guide is here

Advice to artists submitting work 

•  Live Pitching at Conventions

Ronald Searle's art collected - in Germany

Ronald Searle. Image: German Museum of Caricature and Drawing

Fans of Ronald Searle, the doyen of the cartoon, who died recently, might want to check out the German Museum of Caricature and Drawing (Deutsches Museum fürKarikatur und Zeichenkunst), where much of his work is held.

Searle died on 30 December 2011 in Draguignan, Provence, aged 91, leaving an incredible legacy of amazing art that spanned seven decades, including cartoons, illustrations, reportage drawings, commercial graphics and animation - a unique life's work of established international reputation.

His distinctive, masterful stroke, combined with British humour, rich knowledge, an unflagging curiosity and imagination and a deep humanity made him one of the most influential cartoonists of his time.

Searle's work has been on permanent loan to the German Museum of Caricature and Drawing from the Foundation of Lower Saxony, Museum Wilhelm Busch for some time and staff there are mourning the loss of a great artist and a good friend.

Born in Cambridge, England in 1920, Ronald Searle had already published his first cartoons in the Cambridge Daily News by the age of 15. In  1938 he began a scholarship to study at the Cambridge School of Art, but a year later he was drafted into the British Army and in 1942 sent to the war effort in the Far East. His experiences as a young soldier in Japanese captivity during World War Searle influenced not only him: drawing the Thai jungle was, for him, a survival strategy. His experiences gave him a deep understanding of human nature, which shows in all his work.

After his return from captivity Ronald Searle's cartoons were soon gracing the pages of satirical magazine Punch - especially his stories about the schoolgirls of St. Trinian's, one of Britain's best-known cartoon creations outside of The Beano. His reportage drawings of travels through Europe, the Middle East or the Americas in the 1960s made him internationally known and his animation work opened doors in Hollywood. In his great cycles of paintings of the 1970s and 1980s, animals, especially cats, played a central role, offering an enjoyable bestiary with human behaviour.

Image: German Museum of Caricature and Drawing
At the age of 75, Searle took the offer of the French daily newspaper Le Monde, who published his work for for 13 years, drawing regular political cartoons, with the issues of war and power often providing the subject matter.

Ronald Searle was first married to journalist and editor Kaye Webb and had two children, twins Kate and John.

In 1961 he moved to Paris and married his second wife, the artist and stage designer Monica Koenig Stirling, in 1967. From 1977 to Monica and Ronald lived in Tour in Southern France. Monica died in July 2011.

Contact between the German Museum of Caricature and Drawing and Ronald Searle go back to the year 1963, when the artist's drawings were first presented in an exhibition on the satirical British magazine Punch. Following solo exhibitions in 1965 and 1976 - as well as various acquisitions of some drawings by the artist - the Museum hosted a major exhibition in 1996, which also covered the biography and personal life: his time of the Japanese prisoner of war as well as traveling with his wife Monica and their friendship with artists from different countries. In addition, Searle provided this exhibition with a selection of works from his own collection of historical cartoons as an expert on the history of his own art.

In 1996 and 1998, with the support of Rudolf Ensmann, a longtime patron of the museum, and Depfa Bank (now Aarealbank) Wiesbaden the Museum acquired, in two stages, Searle's entire collection of vintage cartoon - and his library on the history and theory of the cartoon. At the same time gave Searle already a large part of his archive at the Hanover Museum.

Prior to the preparation of a exhibition on the ninetieth birthday of Ronald Searle in 2010, the possibility of taking over the whole of archive of more than 2000 drawings arose: and with that, the work of an English artist, living in France now looked toward the Hanover Museum as being his spiritual home.

In December 2010, the Foundation of Lower Saxony backed the purchase, with the support of the Cultural Foundation of the countries of Lower Saxony and other backers, and Searle's work became a permanent part of the Museum's collections.

• Visit the German Museum of Caricature and Drawing online at:

• Images via German Museum of Caricature and Drawing

Monday, 9 January 2012

In Review: The Phoenix Issue 1

It feels like a long time since the last issue of The DFC appeared - although The DFC Library books have been reminding us what that title was like and, with the Etherington Brother's Baggage, what it might have continued to be given the chance.

So when The Phoenix was first mooted last year, there was some discussion about how this second title from David Fickling Comics Ltd was going to have to change to survive longer than its predecessor. The biggest change that was considered to be needed was it being available over the counter rather than just by subscription and, with their Waitrose deal, The Phoenix has managed that.

As for the comic itself, £2.99 gets the reader 32 pages of semi-gloss colour, which is a big improvement on the matt colour of The DFC. The dinosaur on the front cover leads into Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron's The Pirates Of Pangaea. When the first Phoenix image of this was released I e-mailed it around the rest of the downthetubes team saying that if it was available as a book on Amazon I would have bought it there and then based on that one image. Eight pages in, four in issue Zero and another four here, and I stand by that initial assessment - I like both the idea and the execution and I can completely understand why editor Ben Sharpe ran it as the cover and first story in this issue.

Next up are two pages of Jamie Smart's Bunny Vs Monkey which sets up the humorous strip's basic concept and, like Pangaea, continues directly on from the pages in Issue Zero. As the two protagonists didn't meet in Issue Zero this is one strip that seemed a little strange there, but the fateful meeting has now occurred and I can now see how it is going to play out. With Jamie's delightful chibi-style animal characters, this is one strip that I expect will grow on me.

Via two pages of text from the Ash Mistry book due to be published by Harper Collins in March, the next comic strip is the Etherington Brothers' Long Gone Don. The brothers' love of the manic is in full flow here with the main character dying on the first page before being transported to what could only be described as an Etherington version of Alice's Wonderland. Issue Zero didn't give much away about Long Gone Don and it has to be said that you aren't going to be much the wiser after these three pages but, with a hat wearing talking crow and Lorenzo's trademark detailed art, I fully expect this one to become a firm favourite.

Neill Cameron gets another page and a bit to get the readers to interact with the comic in How To Make Awesome Comics before the first two pages of Kate Brown's The Lost Boy. There isn't much to the story in these two pages, an apparently ship-wrecked boy wakes up on a sun bleached beach, finds a piece of a map and follows footprints up the shore. Yet Kate's style is so distinctive in the way she plays with the elements that make up her pages, as it was in The Spider Moon, that it makes these two pages interesting to look at despite the initial lack of action.

Garen Ewing's ligne claire style is much more traditional in the four page complete story by Ben Haggarty of The Golden Feather in which a middle-eastern boy and his grandfather, appropriately, watch the death and rebirth of a real Phoenix.

This is followed by Adam Murphy's Corpse Talk in which Adam talks to the reanimated corpses of famous people, in this instance scientist Nikola Tesla. Corpse Talk really sounds like a bad idea, zombies for kids mixed with history, however when I asked my 10 year old nephew which was his favourite strip in Issue Zero, it was Corpse Talk - and I have to agree with him. It may sound like a strange idea but, remarkably, it works really well.

The final strip in Issue 1 is James Turner's 2 page Star Cat, the beginning of a longer adventure, which does its job of raising a smile. If James' DFC strip Super Animal Adventure Squad was The Avengers for the Fineas and Ferb generation, then Star Cat is their Star Trek.

The whole comic is packaged up with editorial characters, a couple of humorous shorts, Patrice Aggs' centrespread of a school open day that is just about to go wrong, Lorenzo Etherington's tortuous Von Doogan prize puzzle and a superb Chris Riddel image of a cat restaurant.

So is there a drawback? As with The DFC, getting children and their parents to realise The Phoenix is available is going to be the issue. While the Waitrose deal is heartening to hear, there are only eight Waitrose stores between Yorkshire and John O'Groats, which at least is eight more than Northern Ireland has. For a vast swathe of the United Kingdom, "available at Waitrose" equates to "subscription only". If you have a local Waitrose then consider yourself lucky that you can simply walk in and buy a copy.

The Phoenix Issue 1 is an impressive start for the new title and, based on the contents of this week's issue, it deserves to do well. Time, and hopefully a wider distribution deal, will tell.

• There are more details about The Phoenix comic at their official website where a digital version of Issue Zero is available to read. The various Phoenix subscription options are also available here.

• The Phoenix is available at Waitrose supermarkets. Your nearest Waitrose can be found using the Waitrose Branch Finder.

• The Oxford Mail ran a short article on the release of Issue 1 which includes a picture of The Phoenix team.

Latest News on

Contact downthetubes

• Got a British Comics News Story? E-mail downthetubes!

• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials:

Click here to subscribe to our RSS NewsFeed

Powered by  FeedBurner