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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Anthology One Due From Dundee's UniVerse(ity)

Due out later this month is the first issue of a new comics series, Anthology, published under the new UniVerse imprint, which will showcase the best creative work that is emerging from the new comics courses at the University of Dundee and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

Dundee has long been a haven for comics creation due largely to the city being home to DC Thomson. However in recent years the University of Dundee and its related colleges, specifically Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), have been taking more of an interest in comics creation due in no small part to Dr Chris Murray of the University's School of Humanities. This has lead to various comic art exhibitions, often in association with DC Thomson, and the annual Dundee Comics Day, a full day of talks from a wide variety of British comics creators, as part of the Dundee Literary Festival.

With a cover by DJCAD alumnus Colin MacNeil, Anthology One, is the first issue and features work from the students on DJCAD's Comic Art and Graphic Novels Module. Module Leader and co-organiser of the Dundee Comics Day Phillip Vaughan said, "We have created an imprint called UniVerse to promote and publish up and coming work from the next generation of comic creators. This is the best of the work from the first cohort of the module, which (staggeringly) was run over 12 weeks for one day a week during Semester 1 of Communication Design Level 3 (encompassing Animation, Graphic Design and Illustration undergraduates). This year we plan to roll the module out to other undergraduate areas of the art college."

Chris Murray (far left, with Phillip Vaughan, centre, and Cam Kennedy, right) is course leader of the Comics Studies MLitt at the university and director of the newly formed Scottish Centre for Comics Studies and helped to deliver the course. Chris said, "It is an exciting time for Comics Studies at Dundee, and the DJCAD module has been even more successful than we'd hoped - the results are impressive, and the students clearly benefited from workshops with industry professionals such as Frank Quitely, Cam Kennedy, Colin MacNeil and others".

Anthology One will be available at the Hi-Ex comics convention in Inverness on Saturday 31 March and Sunday 1 April.

The downthetubes review of the 2011 Dundee Comics Day is here.

Links to the various comic art exhibitions that have taken place at the University Of Dundee since 2007 are here.

downthetubes interviewed Dr Chris Murray about his comics work here.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Paul Rainey's Thunder Brother: Soap Division returns

Not a dream, not a hoax, not a shameless boast that creator Paul Rainey hopes if enough people believe will come true; his marvllous web strip Thunder Brother: Soap Division returns in a new story called The Two Ronnies this Sunday (4th March).

And that's not all; Paul says his much-praised TBSD will not break between stories as it has been but appear every Sunday, without fail, until the whole saga has run its course in who knows how many weeks, months, years time!

Make sure that you subscribe.

Why the delay to the strip? "Some people have been asking me when will Thunder Brother: Soap Division return and I answered them, 'soon, soon,' he says. "I've been rethinking my strategy for the strip.

"Previously, I would release a page twice a week until the story is finished whereupon I would take a break for a couple of weeks or so before serialising the next tale in the same manner. I have decided instead to release a page every Sunday without any breaks between episodes at all.

"I hope you won't see it on a break before the entire saga has run it's course. Unless I go on holiday. Or somebody offers me a deal to publish it. Or I die."

If you're new to Thunder Brother Soap Division then you still have a chance to catch up on the story so far for free for a limited period. Read The Apprentice here and Going Straight here.

Remember, the first page appears at the bottom and you need to read upwards for it to make sense!

Cartoonist, illustrator and Panic Coordinator to Breakfast television since 1992, Paul Rainey is all this and less. He is the creator of online hit diary comic strip Book of Lists, a full colour book collection of which is now available. He recently completed his graphic novel There's No Time Like The Present and a collection of that will be published during 2012. 

He's also just been told this morning that Body Pop, a short story created with Robert Wells, will feature in STRIP Magazine Issue 6, on sale in April. Which we think made him rather happy.

• Chck out the's strip at

Read Richard Bruton’s review of the first two stories on the Forbidden Planet Blog: “Rainey perfectly plays off the bizarre and incredible with the mundane and down to earth stuff, and it’s a lovely concept, all executed with flair and style”. 

Panel Borders: Laura and Mike Allred - Pop Art Comics

Starting a month of shows about iconoclastic American comic artists, Panel Borders Alex Fitch talks to husband and wife art team Mike and Laura Allred about their work together from their long running Madman comic, to X-Statics and I, Zombie.

The Allreds' style has been often described as pop art and Alex discusses the development of this as well as its representation in adaptations of their work such as Christopher Coppola's film G-Men from Hell.

• Panel Borders: Laura and Mike Allred - Pop Art Comics airs at 8.00pm, Sunday 4th March, Resonance FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

New Comical Animal released in the wild (web, that is)

Happy Kitty Spa Holistic Day Spa, by Gemma Correll

(with thanks to Matt Badham): The latest online edition of Comical Animal is online now, a diverse compendium of animal-inspired comic strips and cartoons.

Released quarterly, Issue 7 includes tributes to the Pink Panther and features contributions from Fred Blunt, Gemma Correll, Spirou comic's Geoffrey Alistair Coupland, Rob Jackson, Lizz Lunney, Jim Medway, Piotr Nowacki, Alex Potts, Ryan Taylor and others.

A quarterly online publication for comic, cartoon and kids books afficianados, the next issue is out on 1st June. 
• Check out Issue 7 at

Horrible Stuff coming from Eddie Campbell!

the Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell

Top Shelf and Knockabout are to co-publish Eddie Campbell's new book The Lovely Horrible Stuff!, a delightful autobiographical voyage into the financial wilderness, ranging from the imaginary wealth of Ponzi schemes to the all-too-tangible stone currency of the Micronesian island of Yap.

This is no dry and dusty treatise on finance; any complexities are pleasingly reduced to the level of bubblegum trading cards. In here you will hear about the corporation that Campbell keeps under his bed; you will meet colorful historical characters and be taken on dangerous shark-infested sea adventures; and after that, we will all plunge to the depths to retrieve our loose change

Campbell's wry eye and vivid full-colour artwork imbue the proceedings with real humanity, making The Lovely Horrible Stuff an investment that's worth every penny.

The 96-page hardcover edition is being offered in the current Diamond Previews catalogue (order code MAR12-1193), along with re-offers of the autobiographical epic Alec: The Years Have Pants and the colourfully quiet comedy about the creative life, The Playwright.

Take the chance to fill out your Eddie Campbell library!


Thursday, 1 March 2012

2000AD, STRIP and CLiNT nominated for Eagle Award

Which comic rocked your world last year? Which writers and artists really stood out from the crowd? The final round of voting is now underway for the 2012 edition of the Eagle Awards, so now’s the time to head on over to and let us know your picks.

A host of talented creators are in with a chance of scooping a prestigious Eagle Award at the MCM London Comic Con presentation ceremony on Friday 25th May - and the competition looks to be pretty heated for the category of Britain's favourite comic book, with 2000AD, CLiNT and STRIP Magazine all going head to head in the nominations.

There will be stiff competition in the British black and white category, too, with DC Thomson's Commando going head to press with small press titles such as Zarjaz and Futurequake.

British creators nominated for awards include Frank Quitely, 2000AD editor Matt Smith,  Annie Parhouse, Jamie Grant and Richard Starkings.

Introduced in 1976, the Eagles are the comics industry’s best-known fan-selected awards, giving the entire comics community the opportunity to vote for the finest publications and brightest talent of the past year, with categories covering the whole world of comics, including manga, movies and web comics.

“We have seen the greatest response to the awards in recent years, with the industry's diversity reflected in the wide range of nominees,” commented Eagle Awards chair Cassandra Conroy.

Here's the full list:

Favourite Newcomer Artist
  • Declan Shalvey
  • Emanuela Lupacchino
  • Francesco Francavilla
  • Mahmud Asrar
  • Axel Medellin
Favourite Newcomer Writer
  • Michael Carroll
  • J.H. Williams III
  • Jeff Lemire
  • Robert Curley
  • Nathan Edmondson
Favourite Writer
  • Alan Moore
  • Ed Brubaker
  • Geoff Johns
  • Grant Morrison
  • Scott Snyder
Favourite Writer/Artist
  • Darwyn Cooke
  • Francis Manapul
  • Frank Miller
  • J.H. Williams III
  • Jeff Lemire
Favourite Artist: Pencils
  • Becky Cloonan
  • Chris Bachalo
  • Ivan Reis
  • J.H. Williams III
  • Jim Lee
Favourite Artist: Inks
  • Becky Cloonan
  • Chris Samnee
  • D'israeli
  • Gary Erskine
  • Scott Williams
Favourite Colourist
  • Dave Stewart
  • Jamie Grant
  • Jeff Balke
  • Laura Martin
  • Rod Reis
Favourite Fully-Painted Artwork
  • Adi Granov
  • Alex Ross
  • Esad Ribic
  • J H WIlliams III
  • Sean Phillips
Favourite Letterer
  • Annie Parkhouse
  • Chris Eliopoulos
  • Ed Dukeshire
  • Richard Starkings/Comicraft
  • Todd Klein
Favourite Editor
  • Chris Ryall
  • Karen Berger
  • Matt Smith
  • Steve Wacker
  • Tom Brevoort
Favourite Publisher
  • Dark Horse
  • DC Comics/ Vertigo
  • IDW
  • Image
  • Marvel
Favourite American Comicbook: COLOUR
  • Aquaman
  • Batman
  • Batwoman
  • Daredevil
  • Hellboy
Favourite British Comicbook: COLOUR
  • 2000AD
  • CLiNT Magazine
  • Doctor Who Magazine
  • Judge Dredd the Megazine
  • STRIP Magazine
Favourite American Comicbook: BLACK & WHITE
  • Echoes
  • RASL
  • The Walking Dead
  • Usagi Yojimbo
  • Wolves
Favourite British Comicbook: BLACK & WHITE
  • Blood Blokes
  • Commando
  • Futurequake
  • Lou Scannon
  • Viz Comic
  • Zarjaz
Favourite New Comicbook
  • Animal Man
  • Aquaman
  • Batman
  • Daredevil
  • Wolverine and the X-Men
Favourite European Comicbook
  • Betelgeuse
  • Dylan Dog
  • Jennifer Wilde
  • League Of Volunteers
  • Requiem Vampire Knight
Favourite Manga
  • 20th Century Boys
  • Blade of the Immortal
  • Bleach
  • Naruto
  • One Piece
Favourite Single Story
  • Amazing Spider-Man #655
  • Animal Man #1
  • Aquaman #4
  • Daredevil #7
  • Doctor Who (IDW) #12
Favourite Continued Story
  • American Vampire: Ghost War
  • Batwoman: Hydrology
  • Chew: Flambe
  • Detective Comics: The Black Mirror
  • Walking Dead: No Way Out
Favourite Original Graphic Novel
  • Batman: Noel
  • Habibi
  • Hellboy: House of the Living Dead
  • League of Extraordinary Gents 1969
  • Teen Titans: Games
Favourite Cover
  • 2000AD Prog 1752
  • Aquaman #1
  • Batwoman #1
  • Daredevil #1
  • Detective Comics #880
Favourite Reprint Compilation
  • Aquaman: Death of A Prince
  • Detective Comics: The Black Mirror
  • Thor Omnibus by Walt Simonson
  • Walking Dead vol. 15
  • We3 Deluxe Edition
Favourite Comics-Related T.V. Show/Movie
  • Captain America
  • Misfits
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Walking Dead
  • X-Men First Class
Favourite Comics-Related Magazine
  • Alter Ego
  • Back Issue
  • Comic Heroes
  • Comics Journal
  • DC Comics Superhero Collection
Favourite Web-Based Comic
  • Ace Kilroy
  • Axe Cop
  • Freakangels
  • Hark! A Vagrant
Favourite Comics-Related Book
  • 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
  • Alan Moore: Storyteller
  • Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero
  • The Batman Files
  • The Marvel Art of John Romita, Jr.
Favourite Comics-Related Website
  • Bleeding Cool
  • Comic Book Resources
  • Comics Alliance
  • Newsarama
  • Zona Negativa
Roll of Honour
  • Adam Hughes
  • Brian Michael Bendis
  • Darwyn Cooke
  • Frank Quitely
  • Geoff Johns
• To vote, head to

• To buy tickets to the MCM London Comic Con at Excel London on 26-28 May, please visit:

Neil Gaiman short story part of World Book Day app line-up

A short story by comic creator Neil Gaiman is among the work by several authors being offered as part of a free World Book Day App, available now from iTunes for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

The App features six new and exclusive stories published exclusively for World Book Day 2012 by Neil, Malorie Blackman, Charlie HIgson, Anthony Horowitz, Sophie McKenzie and Rachel Vincent, plus sample chapters by Julie Cross, Matt Dickinson, Lauren Laverne and Ruth Warburton; plus book trailers and author interviews.

The App also includes "on-the-pulse news and information about events, books and authors" and will have regular content updates throughout the year, including new teen fiction samples, news, videos and special offers.

Print books, of course, haven't been forgotten despite the digital push for this year's event. To mark the day, British school children are entitled to receive a World Book Day £1 Book
Token (or equivalent €1.50 Book Token in Ireland). The Book Token valid until 25th March 2012 - can be exchanged for one of eight specially published World Book Day £1 Books, or is redeemable against any book or audio book of their choice costing £2.99 or more at a participating bookshop or book club.

The full list of World Book Day £1 books for 2012 is:

The What the Ladybird Heard Song by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks
Winnie Flies Again by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul (Oxford University Press)
Where’s Wally Now? by Martin Handford (Walker Books)
Magic Molly: The Clever Little Kitten by Holly Webb (Scholastic)
Roald Dahl's Fantabulous Facts by Roald Dahl (Puffin)
How to Train Your Dragon: The Day of the Dreader by Cressida Cowell (Hodder
Children’s Books)
Big Day Out by Jacqueline Wilson, Illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Random House)
Skulduggery Pleasant: The End of the World  by Derek Landy (HarperCollins)

World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe. A partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties who work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all, a main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

National Book Tokens are the perfect gift for book lovers everywhere and are the onlygift cards sold and accepted in bookshops across the UK and Ireland, including all the major chains and local independents. As proud sponsors of World Book Day, National Book Tokens supports lifelong learning and improving literacy and access to reading for everyone.

Other partners in World Book Day are The Reading Agency, an independent charity working to inspire more people to read more (; and Book Aid International which aims to increase access to books and supports literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa. It provided over 515,000 new books to more than 2000 libraries in 2011 and has sent over 30 million books to partner libraries since 1954. (

The World Book Day app is available now for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

• World Book Day web site:

• Visit for more information

Warren Ellis film makers plan Image Comics documentary

The Darkness #100

Publishers Sequart and Respect Films, makers of films about comic creators such as Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis, have launched Kickstarter campaign to help fund their next documentary project charting the history of Image Comics.

Image was originally founded in 1992 by seven artists who left Marvel Comics to create their own company: Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino. Of those seven founders, only six opted to become full partners: Larsen, Lee, Liefeld, McFarlane, Silvestri, and Valentino. (Today, there are currently five: Robert Kirkman, Larsen, McFarlane, Silvestri and Valentino).

Since its inception, Image has gone on to publish work by several British creators, including Richard Starkings, creator of Elephantmen, as well as publishing a huge number of highly successful titles, including Spawn, Savage Dragon, Witchblade and The Darkness, now in its 100th issue.

Comics in Focus: The Image Revolution will examine one of the most important and daring moves in modern US comic book history as Image continues to influence mainstream comics and culture to this day.

"Image Comics began as more than just a publisher," say Sequart. "It was a response to years of creator mistreatment, and it changed comics forever."

The Image Revolution will tell the amazing story of this from-scratch company, from its founders’ work at Marvel, through Image’s early days, the ups and downs of the 1990s, and the publisher’s new generation of creator-owned properties like The Walking Dead (drawn by Britain's Charlie Adlard).

"We will tell this story through new interviews with the people who made it happen. And what better time than during Image’s 20th anniversary to do it?"

The film will be produced by the same Sequart / Respect team behind the critically-acclaimed documentaries Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods (now available on DVD) and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts (out on DVD in mid March).

This will be the second (after Comics in Focus: Chris Claremont’s X-Men) in a new series of documentaries offering in-depth looks at significant works and moments that shaped comics history. These documentaries will be released through direct download and online DVD sales.

The producers have have turned to Kickstarter to help fund this project, hoping fans will support discussion about the merits of comics and to help document stories about the people who have had a part in shaping contemporary pop culture.

Rewards include the documentary as a DVD and / or digital download, a “Thanks” and other credits in the film, and digital access to extra interview footage that won’t be included in the film. Rewards also include books and feature-length films from Sequart's catalogue.

Sequart promotes research into comics-related topics, publishing books, producing documentary films, and maintaining online resources that encourage comics scholarship. They also seek to promote comics literacy by promoting the medium and encouraging others to experience the unique artform known as comic books.

- For more information, visit the project’s Kickstarter page or its page on Sequart


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lee Townsend joins Middle East Comic Con guest list

Judge Dredd by Lee Townsend

2000AD artist Lee Townsend is to be one of the first guests announced for the first Middle East Film and Comic Con (20th & 21st April 2012) at the Dubai International Marine Club.

The event, first mooted last year, has been launched as a consistent outlet for the many thousands of fans in the region, offering a line-up of both fantasy media and comics guests, and hopes to support both the media, licensing and entertainment industry - as well as encouraging a new generation of artists, writers, directors and entrepreneurs within the entertainment and artistic field.

The organisers are hopeful that like other comic conventions around the world, this event will become a regular fixture for the Middle East, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans every year!

"The event is not only an opportunity to fans to meet celebrities and artists, watch exclusive previews, purchase limited edition merchandise or take part in exciting competitions," they say. "It's also a chance to connect and make friends with the thousands of other fans from across the region.

Lee Townsend, one of the first comics guests announced, is currently pencilling and inking for Marvel, DC Comics and drawing storyboards for an upcoming live action science fiction film.

He started in the comic industry in 1992 working for Marvel UK, before moving into work in the animation industry for Disney and Dreamworks.

He then returned to comics which was always his first love, working for Marvel (on Spectacular Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk and Avengers) and 2000AD (Judge Dredd and Sinister Dexter), DC and Image Comics. (Check out his blog here)

While the official guest list is still a bit sparse, it looks as though more guests will be announced in the coming weeks on the event's Facebook page and web site.

Also announced so far is Mark Sable, the critically-acclaimed writer of titles such as What If? Spider-Man and Marvel Superheroes, Batman: Two-Face - Year One and Supergirl. He’s best known for his creator-owned work, including Grounded, Fearless and Hazed for Image Comics. His most recent creator-owned work is Image Comics Graveyard of Empires with artist Paul Azaceta, where United States Marines team up with The Taliban to quell a zombie uprising in Afghanistan. The first issue, released last year, sold out and immediately went into a second printing.

- Official web site: Facebook:

- Enquiries: Sponsors and Exhibitors:

- Tickets will be available by mid February from, and all Virgin Megastore outlets.

One Day Pass – AED 55 (£10) - see conversion rate

This entitles you to one full day of fun at the event including entry to all areas. Celebrity signing or artist comission tickets can be purchased from the ticket booth.

Weekend Pass – AED 100 - about £17 - see conversion rate

If one day isn’t enough (and if you're planning to travel from the UK, we doubt it!) then get your weekend pass and make a trip of it! Celebrity signing or artist comission tickets can be purchased from the ticket booth.

VIP tickets – AED 500 - £86 - see conversion rate

VIP tickets will include early bird access to both days of the show so you have first pick on all the cool stuff available; priority queuing for autographs; autograph coupon, randomly chosen limited or signed prints, MEFCC merchandise and other goodies as well

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Commando re-branded into "Collections" - but new stories continue

The latest batch of Commando releases sees some changes to the title's format with it now coming four distinct guises - reflected on the covers - and a change to the focus of the stories inside.

The digest comic stories - the usual mix of new and old - will be themed under four distinct "collections" or series: The Home of Heroes,  focusing on British heroes; Action and Adventure, featuring a wide range of war stories; the Gold Collection, dusting off some classic tales from the title's earliest years; and the Silver Collection, featuring more recent popular tales from the title's library.

"Don’t worry, though," assures editor Calum Laird. "Our mission to bring our readers the best action and adventure stories remains unchanged."

Commando No 4475 — Invasion Dawn
The Home of Heroes Collection
Story: Mac MacDonald Art: Carlos Pino Cover: Carlos Pino

A minor military base in a remote corner of the British Isles would not be the place you’d expect to find a battle royal raging. And if you did, how could a group of the Home Guard’s old warriors stand up to an enemy attack.

They may have been put to the test in battles past, but that was a long time ago. And what of the Home Guard’s youngster, would he be up to the task? You can bet he would try.

Invaders beware!

Invasion Dawn is the first  story from Commando's brand-new "Home Of Heroes" Collection. "These stories always revolve around a British hero, no matter where in the world you may find him," Calum explains. "We rate these as The Best of British."

Commando No 4476 — Murder in The Heights
Action And Adventure Collection
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Olivera Cover: Janek Matysiak

The history books of the First World War concentrate on events on the Western Front in France, the scene of the fiercest battles the world had ever seen. The fighting, though, was not confined to France, for all over Europe armies faced each other.

In Greece, Italians, Greeks, Austrians and Germans battled it out on the plains and in the mountains.

Into this cauldron rode British Army Lieutenant John Fielding, little guessing that some of his enemies were prepared to go beyond the normal rules of war...

"Commando will continue to be Britain’s premier title for adventure stories," insists Calum Laird. "You’ll find stories from the depths of the sea, the dizziest of heights and from the four corners of the globe.

"Just like the others, 'Murder In The Heights' carries on Commando’s tradition of Action And Adventure."

Commando No 4477 — Lone Hero
Gold Collection: Originally Commando No 18 (Feb 1962)
Story Eric Castle Art Gordon Livingstone Cover Ken Barr

“Let The Other Bloke Be The Mug”

While his Eighth Army mates fought and died under the glaring desert sun of North Africa, Private Sam Deacon was content to drive a truck. Not for him the blood and guts of battle, the risk of stopping a German bullet: “Let the other bloke be the mug,” was his motto.

Then he met one of the ‘other blokes’ who wasn’t a mug — a hero who rammed those words down Deacon’s throat till he squealed for mercy — and found himself a hero too.

"Where would Commando have been without the combined talents of Ken Barr and Gordon Livingstone?" asks Calum Laird. "If this story from our Gold Collection (from 50 years ago) is anything to go by, the title would have struggled. The cover, with its generous helping of yellows and oranges, leaves you in no doubt that you’re in the searing heat of the North Africa desert. Inside, the line of the art charges from the first page to the last, packed with movement and character.

"We’d better not forget Eric Castle’s tale either, it’s another gold-plated cracker… which I think you should read for yourself!

"Following the feedback we had from our readers last year — our 50th — we’ve decided to do what they wanted and go right back to Commando’s earliest years to dust off some classic tales. You’ll see from the cover of 'Lone Hero' that it is part of our Gold Collection, one that first saw the light of day 50 years ago — in 1962."

Commando No 4478 — Death From The Sky
Silver Colection: Originally Commando No 2129 (October 1987)
Story Allen Chalmers Art Blasco Cover Ian McIntosh

Stuck in a shore job, Sub-Lieutenant Mike Wilson was desperate to see action — so desperate he even volunteered to check out an unexploded Jap bomb lodged in the hold of a merchant ship.

After surviving that ordeal, he thought serving in a sub would be a piece of cake. But with bombs, depth-charges and enemy suicide planes to contend with, he couldn’t have been more wrong!

"In this Pacific War tale we meet Sub-Lieutenant Mike Wilson, notes Deputy Editor Scott Montgomery. "He’s a gutsy bloke for sure, but not the brightest. And he’s pretty impatient too — preferring to act before he thinks. Admirable, but very likely to get himself and his mates killed. Perhaps it’s ironic that a budding Navy officer could (literally) get out of his depth! Especially with the threat of Japanese Okha planes, with Kamikaze pilots at the controls, on the horizon.

"So Mike is a brave, flawed but intriguing character — but can he become a true Commando hero? Read on and find out!"

"Many readers asked to re-read stories from a later period so the 'Lone Hero' companion 'Death From The Sky' is from a different era — 25 years ago," adds Calum, "and is part of our Silver Collection."

• The Draw Your Weapons exhibition featuring art from Commando continues at the National Army Museum in London this month and runs until 30th April 2012. For the latest information visit:

• Official Commando web site:

Commando Official Facebook page

• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846

Commando is also available for iPad and iPhone. The apps are free to download through the Apple iTunes App Store and a digital subscription is priced at £4.99 per month, compared to a £99 annual print subscription. For those not sure there are four free issues to download prior to making a purchase.

Commando Comics iPhone App on iTunes

Commando Comics iPad App on iTunes

In Review: Darwin's Diaries - Death of A Beast

Writer Sylvain Runberg returns from the future worlds of Orbital with Death Of A Beast, the second of the nineteen century set Darwin's Diaries with art from Eduardo Ocana and colours by Tariq Bellaoui and which follows directly on from the first Darwin book, The Eye Of the Celts.

Naturalist Charles Darwin is in Yorkshire investigating, at the request of the Prime Minister, the attacks on the workers at a new railway construction site. When the army kill the hitherto unknown beast, Darwin returns with Suzanne Dickinson, the daughter of landowner, to report on the events to her father while the corpse of the beast is prepared for transportation to London where it will be dissected.

However the body of a child brought into York shows the citizens that there is still a beast on the loose and they turn on the travelling druids who appeared around the same time as the first attacks. Defended by both the army and Darwin, the druids are advised to move on but instead their leader decides to summon up an evil beast to take revenge on the city. Shortly afterwards the wagon with the corpse of the first beast, and its armed guard, are viciously attacked.

The first part of Runberg's story in the previous book was intriguing with its slow build up interspersed with the hi-speed violence of the beast attacks as well as developing a darker side to Darwin that the reader was not expecting. This second book develops the ideas that were set out there, leading to a climax that is unexpected to say the least and which I cannot even really hint at without, perhaps, giving too much away. It would be worth pointing out, as in one of Cinebook's The Bellybuttons titles, the last page visually gives away what the plot has been building up to and so this is not a book that is safe to flick through before reading.

Yet Ocana's artwork and Bellaoui's colouring encourage flicking. The moody art and the sensitive colours do much to enhance this story as the mysterious beast attacks the wagon, viciously dispatching the guards over some half dozen virtually silent, but none the less engrossing, pages. Like The Eye Of The Celts before it, Death Of A Beast is gruesomely violent and lives up to the 15+ label that Cinebook have tagged it with. Yet Ocana's art works just as well for the fine upstanding Darwin visiting a feminist school during the day as well as for the darker side of his nature with a prostitute in an alley that night.

Darwin's Diaries - Death Of A Beast lives up to the high standards of its predecessor continuing as it does the intriguing plot line with some beautifully realised artwork.

• There are more details of Darwin's Diaries on the Cinebook website.

• There are more details of the French Darwin's Diaries books, Les Carnets De Darwin, on the Le Lombard
website (in French). The third album in the series, Dual Nature, has just been released in France.

• The downthetubes review of Darwin's Diaries 1 - The Eye Of The Celts is here.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Happy Birthday, 2000AD! From Scripting and Art Droid David Baillie

Name: David Baillie

Currently working on:

I've actually just this second finished a new script for 2000AD, which was as much fun as it always is. (I still occasionally pinch myself to check that the last few years haven't just been a hyper-realistic dream that my fifteen year-old self is having!)

Next up I have a five-page fantasy comic that needs to be drawn and a TV script to polish for the second round of the prestigious (so they tell me) Red Planet Prize. No rest for the wicked. Or freelancers.

First memory of 2000AD?

I was always a wee bit aware of 2000AD, I think. I remember seeing it in the corner shop when I was picking up my very first Marvel reprints at the age of four. It was very obviously for older boys and scared me a bit. Then there were 2000AD annuals in the school library that were officially only for Year 5 kids, but my teacher could see that I was bursting with curiosity and made an exception for me.

The first copy I actually owned was when I came down with a nasty case of the mumps and my mum brought me a comic to read in my sick bed (or my death bed, as I was sure it was at the time). It was the first issue of The Best of 2000AD – which reprinted the Bolland classic 'Blood of Satanus', my first ever Strontium Dog story and a Future Shock by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It blew my mumpy mind.

After that I spent the vast majority of my pocket money on the monthly Best Ofs and acquiring huge wads of 2000AD back issues, which I could sniff out like a bloodhound at carboot sales and flea markets.

Favourite Character or Story?

There are honestly too many to mention... I love the classic Strontium Dog stories, Dredd at his best (I can't tell you how exciting it was piecing together episodes of 'Necropolis' years after it had been published), Hewligan's Haircut, the first series of Time Flies, the Chronicles of Chaos ABC Warriors stories, Hap Hazzard, Abelard Snazz, Halo Jones, Tyranny Rex...

What do you like most about the 2000AD?

When it's at its best it is like no other comic.

What would you most like to see in 2000AD as it heads to its Forties?

I have a major problem with this question. You see, 2000AD and I are almost the same age and I'm not even thinking about my forties yet. (In fact I'm acting like 35 isn't even on the horizon...)

So instead I'll tell you that as 2000AD eases into the second half of its thirties, I would love to see more quirky, adventurous, innovative and clever stories – basically what drew me to the comic seventeen years ago and has kept me coming back every week since.

Oh and more stuff by that handsome, bald Scottish fella... What's his name?
David Baillie - that's it!

If you worked on 2000AD, do you have an anecdote you'd like to share about your experience of Tharg and his minions?

Last year at I was honoured to be sat at the same table as Tharg at The Eagle Awards. (Lucky too – as Tharg only had eyes for the polystyrene cups and plates and so I got to drink his allocation of free beer.)

During a rare lull in the proceedings His Mightiness leaned across and told me that he had convinced 2000AD legend Jesus Redondo to come out of retirement to draw a recent Terror Tale I'd written.
Between that and the free beer it was probably the highlight of my 2011.

• This post is one in a series of tributes to 2000AD to mark its 35th birthday on 26th February 2012. More about 2000AD at

2000AD © Rebellion

London Super Comic Convention: Pros and Cons

Alan Woollcombe reports on the first London Super Comic Convention, held at the Excel Centre this weekend, which had a guest line-up that included Stan Lee (seen above, meeting and greeting, video from BleedingCool), George Perez and other comic creators from both sides of the Atlantic...

It seems churlish to complain about winning a free ticket, but it did typify some of the organizational glitches that hit this inaugural event. A few days beforehand I was sent a flurry of emails, all in triplicate, reminding me to print off my ticket – except that some of the tickets had ‘complimentary’ on them and others said ‘EventBrite completed.’ Then another threesome arrived from VIP Tier 3 (the expensive, have-Stan Lee’s-autograph tickets) telling me to print off my VIP ticket – except I hadn’t paid for one. 20 minutes later yet another trio of emails headed ‘Error please disregard last email from us’.

I printed everything off, mentally preparing for my moment with Stan.

At the entrance I was told by a flustered organizer that I had won a ticket (sadly, not a VIP one) and apologies for not telling me – and no, I couldn’t have a refund on the ticket I had paid for. A small price to pay to avoid a PR triumph turning to a fail, I’d have thought – I’d have given out a VIP ticket in their shoes but I only work in PR, so what do I know?

What the heck – I was there, at my first London con in years. Well, that is after I found it – for those new to the ExCeL convention centre, it is vast, with a main concourse running the length of the building, housing an extended food court. There were four conventions going on at the same time (including the "2012 Zumba Instructors Convention”) and no obvious signage or information booth pointing out where the comics one was. Luckily I ran into David Lloyd on the phone and, with a brief come-see-me-at-my-table, he waved me towards the entrance.

The whole event took place in a giant hangar of a room, with one corner area walled off for the panels and cosplay parades, and the rest given over to dealers’ stalls and artists’ alley. There were two large empty areas, and no boards displaying the days’ events – you had to look in the programme for that information. It was OK, but not ideal. It all somehow seemed a bit shambolic.
What I did miss was a proper, old-fashioned bar-cum-lounge area for mingling and chilling between creators and punters. A food court in a huge corridor surrounded by legions of be-leotarded zumba instructors just doesn’t cut it.

But enough grumbles: the Big Draw of the whole shebang was Stan Lee, Captain Marvel himself, back for the first time at a British con since 1973. Stan was having a whale of a time, signing, being photographed, answering questions from the stage – and making eye-watering sums of money in the process (£175 to meet and greet – you’re having a laugh, surely…). The old pro knows what his fans want and gave it to them: Consider yourself no-prized! Just wait till you see my cameo in the new film! Excelsior! The old stories sounded fresh, the voice firm, the mock humility flawless. He’s looking pretty damn good for an 89-year-old.

Not that there weren’t other big names in attendance: George Perez, Howard Chaykin, Bernie Wrightson and a few dozen younger whippersnappers, but many of the big-name Brits had given the event a miss (no Dave Gibbons, no Alan Davis) along with the big-name publishers (no Marvel, no DC, no Dark Horse). Somehow though, many of the stars they had secured weren’t on panels or being interviewed, which was a lost opportunity.

All in all, it showed that this was the first such con. I hope there is another one next year, but the organizers will need to raise their game considerably (more signage, more panels, a bar/lounge area, and no more gouging the fans for getting up close to the star of the show) for it to have a hope of becoming a regular fixture.

Alan Woollcombe wrote Rupert Bear, interviewed 'duck man' Carl Barks on his only visit to the UK, watched a lunar eclipse with one of the original Dan Dare artists, and had a Mexican meal with Frank Miller in LA. Now in exile in Cornwall, he divides his time between journalism and PR, but is open to offers via

Other Coverage


Stan Lee appeared on the BBC's The One Show to help promote the convention
on Friday 24th February

• Stan Lee made an appearance on the BBC's The One Show to promote the event on Friday night, with Chris Evan unexpectedly sychpophantic and Alex Jones wrongly thinking Stan was an artist

USA Today Media Gallery

Bexley Times

Comics Press

Bleeding Cool: SuperCon Day 1

Images Degrading Forever

"It was a really great event. It is the first time I have ever been to an
event of this size in any capacity, let alone behind a table as a
exhibitor and it was a non-stop thrill ride!"

Steve Cook (2000AD designer and ace photographer)

Whatever Gods There Be

"It was the inaugural event of what I'm sure organizers hope becomes a European San Diego, and while there were a few kinks -- notably the excessively long queues -- it was a good event and featured an impressive array of talent..."

What Culture: IDW Panel Report
Andy Diggle revealed as new writer for Doctor Who from August 2012

Blackfriars set to chill

The year is 793 AD. Savage, heathen armies from the north invade Northumberland, for today is the day of the viking, but the night... The night belongs to something else.

Now available as a free PDF download, Blackfriars is a tale of Vampires versus Vikings written and drawn by Michael Crouch, the man behind Storm Comics - and drawn in the style of a serial from the classic British Scream! comic.

The first episode appeared in the 2010 edition of indie title Hallowscream, with further episodes appearing on Michael's blog in weekly instalments.

With a cover by John Caliber, the comic also includes an image gallery at the back of the collection with artwork by Andrew Milne, David Blankley and Grant Perkins (with Mike Bunt and Owen Watts colouring).

• You can download Blackfriars from Clickwheel, Mediafire or view online at MyEBook. File size = 30MB.

•  Michael Crouch's website

•  Michael Crouch's blog

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Happy Birthday, 2000AD! From comic creator and fan Malcolm Kirk

Name: Malcolm Kirk

Blog or web site:

Currently working on:
I've just finished putting together issue ten of the Temple APA pdf, a free downloadable showcase of the work of amateur and professional creators who are active in the UK comics scene (, and a pdf of Blackfriars for Back from the Depths, a Vikings versus Vampires story by Michael Crouch, drawn in the style of a serial from the classic UK Scream! comic.

First memory of 2000AD?
I was always aware of it being there, but the first time I realised it might be of interest to me was when I received a second hand Judge Dredd annual from someone as a present for my seventh birthday, (Dec1982).

Bought a few issues after that, but it'd be five more years before I started buying it regularly, mainly because I was already spending my pocket money on way too many other titles. One of those was the Eagle, which had actually reprinted the 2000AD stories Ant Wars, M.A.C.H. 1 and M.A.C.H. 0 within its pages. I didn't know they were reprints at the time.

Favourite Character or Story?

Ooh... that's a difficult one... Too many to choose from. Always had a soft spot for Armoured Gideon though. Zombo's definitely one of my favourites out of the newer characters, (can't imagine him fitting in anywhere else quite as well as in 2000AD), and Dirty Frank from Lowlife deserves a mention.

What do you like most about the 2000AD?

There's nowt else out there quite like it.

What would you most like to see in 2000AD as it heads to its Forties?

A free space spinner. I was too young to read when 2000AD first appeared and so missed out on this plastic trinket of legend. I want a cosmic frisbee, dammit!

• This post is one in a series of tributes to 2000AD to mark its 35th birthday on 26th February 2012. More about 2000AD at

2000AD © Rebellion

Happy Birthday, 2000AD!

2000AD Prog 1
Last month, I mailed out to pretty much every British comic creator in my address book, asking them for their 2000AD memories, for a series of 'mini interviews' for the downthetubes blog to mark the weekly comic's 35th birthday this weekend.

I was blown away by the response. My thanks to everyone, be they 2000AD contributor or 2000AD fan, who took time out to pen a few words in reply, and send an image to boot, in some cases.

The whole series kicked off with Alan Grant at the beginning of February and includes pieces from Mike Perkins, Garth Ennis, Paul Cornell, John Higgins, US fans like Dan Goldman and many, many more.

I posted more than one interview a day on most days.

While the responses varied, it was Judge Dredd who proved the most popular character - perhaps no surprise, given his longevity - with artist Mick McMahon getting the most kudos, while Pat Mills and John Wagner vied for most mentions as most-mentioned writers.

Hopefully you should be able to see all the interviews posted using this tag:

Thanks to everyone who took part!

Panel Borders: Buying and celebrating comics

Concluding Panel Borders month of radio shows looking at non practitioners' love of comics, Alex Fitch talks to auctioneer Lon Allen of Heritage Comics and Collectables in Texas, the company that last week began the auction of two thirds of the Billy Wright collection of 300 comics including the first Marvel Comics and the first appearances of Batman and Superman from the 1930s. The sale has raised nearly $3.5 million dollars so far.

Also, Alex talks to stand-up comedian Rob Deb, to Lik + Neon gift shop owner Janice Taylor about stocking small press comics on Brick Lane in London and to Paul Harrison, a Doctor of Egyptian Archeology, who is giving a talk on representations of Egyptian culture in superhero comics next Thursday, 1st March, at The Petrie Museum, University College London.

- Panel Borders: Buying and celebrating comics airs at 8.00pm tonight, Sunday 26th February 2012, Resonance 104.4FM / streamed at / extended podcast of after broadcast at

Spaceship Away Themed Issues For 2012

Des Shaw, editor of the impressive Dan Dare A4 magazine Spaceship Away has been in touch to show us dummies of the covers of the three issues that are due in 2012. Dare fans looking at them will see that this year there is a theme to the issues.

In addition to the new full colour Dan Dare and reprinted Garth and Journey Into Space strips, Spaceship Away will continue its usual selection of articles on different aspects of Dan Dare and Eagle comic but, in 2012, it is planned that each of the three issues will feature something on the first three Dan Dare stories that ran in Eagle in the early 1950s.

For Issue 26, due in March, it will be Voyage To Venus, the first Dan Dare story that began in Eagle Volume 1 Number 1 in April 1950 which took Dan and his colleagues to Venus and their fateful first meeting with the Mekon.

Issue 27, in July, will cover the second story The Red Moon Mystery set on Mars which began in Eagle in October 1952, while issue 28, due in November, will feature the third story Marooned On Mercury which began in June 1952.

The cover of each issue features a new painting by original 1950s Dan Dare artist Don Harley featuring a scene from each of the three stories, an "extra frame" if you like. The Voyage To Venus image shows Space Fleet Controller Sir Hubert Guest giving the order to send a rescue ship to Venus that effectively set in motion the entire Dan Dare saga. The image from The Red Moon Mystery is Dan saying good-bye to his archaeologist uncle Ivor who is working at the remains of the long gone Martian civilisation, while the image from Marooned On Mercury shows the point in the story when Dan and his friends see a Mercurian out of its protective armour for the first time.

The first of these themed issues, number 26, will include an exclusive interview with playwright Tom Kelly, the writer and lyricist of 2003's Dan Dare The Musical, which adapted the Voyage To Venus story for the stage.

Spaceship Away is available at selected British comics shops and directly from the Spaceship Away website. The cover price for the 2012 issues is £7.95 each which includes UK postage if ordering from the website. An annual subscription for the three issues is £21.50 for UK residents and non-UK subscriptions are available from the website.

The Spaceship Away website, which includes ordering details for the 2012 issues as well as back issues and binders, is here.

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