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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Girl Genius web comic creators Phil and Kaja Foglio head for Cambridge

Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of the steampunk web comic Girl Genius (, are to be Guests of Hounour at the Congenial convention in Cambridge next month.

Taking place over 10-12th August 2012, Congenial is an SF and role-playng convention offering a programme of talks and panel discussions,  role-playing games, and socialising.

The event is one in a series of UK Unicons - small science fiction conventions held in universities and colleges, which started with Unicon 80 held at Keele University in 1980. Congenial is Unicon 24.

The orgnaisers hope the event will put web comics firmly in the spotlight.

"Web comics are different from print," they argue. "You have to commit yourself to another installment of the storyline frequently and incrementally, and you can't retcon stuff half a book ago without losing the respect of your readers. You have to work constantly, without any breaks except those you create by working harder - and if it's topical, you can't do that very much.

"What makes this worthwhile? We'll ask Phil and Kaja, but one thing is obvious: you're never forgotten. Your readers think about you every week, at least. That makes a difference. It also saves the capital costs of print runs and stock holding, and makes you immune to the whims of distributors. It's a very raw and direct form of storytelling.

"Steampunk is more than just an SF trope now. The appeal of the beginnings of the modern age, with its visions of empire and view of the world as knowable and tamable, is strong in an period when uncertainty seems to increase day on day. Steampunk is fun because it inverts so many current ideas, while being more real than fantasy. The stiff upper lip appeals to an age that has seen the tragedies of the twentieth century, and treats emoting as socially desirable. Discovering places was fun, but it's all been done now. Assumed membership of the elite appeals in an age when the internet is making us face up to the sheer number of idiots that are around. Different social absurdities have a great appeal.
In the Foglios' hands, steampunk (or gaslamp fantasy as they prefer to call it) is more straightforwardly mad-science alternate history.

"In Girl Genius, we have a universe where science and engineering works really well for the talented, but people are more recalcitrant. And that's just naturally funny."

• Membership is £30 for the weekend, bought in advance; membership by the day is available at the door. For full details, visit

Friday, 29 June 2012

UK Simpsons Comics reaches 200th issue

Next Thursday is something of a milestone for British Simpsons fans as the UK edition of Simpsons Comics reaches its milestone 200th issue.

Based on the world’s favourite family, Simpsons Comics is the official magazine of the cartoon, published by Titan Magazines, and comes packed with adventures featuring Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, Maggie and all the residents of Springfield.

Fans of the show will want to grab a copy of this landmark issue, wrapped in a specially drawn cover by the show's creator Matt Groening and his creative team - and the issue comes with another hilarious Homer Simpson comic strip story. In a panic about missing ‘Free Pizza Day’ due to the flu, Homer ingests the entire contents of the medicine bottle! However, if he thought a world without pizza would be bad, his subconscious (flu-syrup addled) mind takes him to a world without beer!

“In this year of celebrations and anniversaries, it is time for the first family of Springfield to join the party!", notes distributor Comag.

This special issue also reveals the best covers of the last 15 years – as chosen by the discerning readers and includes a competition to win one of a 100 great Simpsons prizes.

Simpsons Comics No.200 features a free squirting umbrella gift, available in three fantastic designs, including the super-rare, highly collectable Radioactive Man!

“We are all so excited about hitting this milestone issue of Simpsons Comics," commented loingtime editor Martin Eden. "And we're still going strong - just wait ‘til you see some of the amazing covers and strips we've got coming up over the next few months!”

Titan announces Walking Dead Magazine

Titan Magazines and Skybound have announced the launch of The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine, based on Robert Kirkman's Eisner Award-winning comic book series, best-selling graphic novels and Emmy-winning AMC television series based upon them.

The magazine will debut in the US in October and the UK in November.

Following its transition from groundbreaking comic book to the highest-rated basic cable drama of all time, The Walking Dead has cemented its status, not only as a phenomenon with the wildly diverging fans of horror and of character-driven drama, but as a milestone in quality, mainstream television.

Robert Kirkman, creator/writer of The Walking Dead debuted the groundbreaking Skybound/Image comic in 2003. In 2010, AMC debuted the hit television series, The Walking Dead, based upon the comic series, which became the highest-rated original basic cable drama of all time and an international success in 120 countries and 250 million homes, and counting.

In 2011, The Walking Dead graphic novels were the best-selling graphic novels of the year. Now, in 2012, Titan Publishing/Skybound and AMC bring you The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine to answer the burning questions insatiable zombie-loving fans have about the Emmy-winning television show, comics and graphic novels.

The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine will feature an inside look at the comic and show as only a fully sanctioned quarterly can. No one will get more exclusives than this magazine. Get exclusive access to the most successful television adaptation of a comic ever, including in-depth interviews Kirkman, Executive Producer/Writer on the show; Glen Mazzara, Showrunner/ Executive Producer/Writer of the series and David Alpert, Executive Producer of the series.

And that's not all – readers will hear from all of the leads on the hit TV show Andrew Lincoln, who stars as Rick Grimes; Sarah Wayne Callies, who stars as Lori Grimes, Jon Bernthal, who played fan-favourite bad boy Shan.

To get behind-the-scenes on the set with co-Executive Producer Greg Nicotero and see how he creates the greatest on-screen zombies ever, fans should read The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine. The only way into the closed door writers’room to learn about the scripting process lies within the magazine’s pages.

Robert Kirkman commented, "This magazine will be your one stop destination for all the news pertaining to the comic, TV show, video game, toys, games, and whatever else exists in the ever-expanding Walking Dead universe! If it's happening, you'll find out all about it right here!" Nick Landau, Titan Publisher, added: "We're very excited to be publishing the quarterly The Walking DeadMagazine with Robert Kirkman and Skybound, which will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for fans to get unlimited access to the show and comic."

Fans will also get the opportunity to ask Kirkman what's coming up in future issues of The Walking Dead, or find out how the series artist Charlie Adlard keeps up with the fast pace of the monthly comic so brilliantly.

The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine debuts on 23rd October in the US with 100 pages of all access, no holds barred zombie festing and feasting. With all the latest news, revelations and tips for fans of the television show and the graphic novels.

Issue #1 of The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine comes with an alternative cover featuring an exclusive, coloured zombie scene by The Walking Dead comic artist, Charlie Adlard. This alternative collector's edition is only available through comic stores. Retailers can order via August Diamond PREVIEWS.

Fans of the show are urged to join The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with exclusive developments and deals. The magazine is currently offering fans a special pre-order subscription saving 20% off the newsstand cover price – click here

• The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine issue #1 will be available on newsstands and in specialty comic book stores in the US on 23rd October in the UK on 8th November and Australia & New Zealand on 18th December

• For more information on The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine visit:

Gaiman at Edinburgh Book Festival - tickets still available

A quick reminder that Neil Gaiman will be at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 13th August alongside Chris Riddell (who's the Edinburgh Book Festival's illustrator in residence). The pair of them will be discussing Coraline turning ten years old. "We may talk about other things too," says Neil.

"Right now there are a still some tickets, and the ordering lines seem to have gone away," Neil notes on his blog.

- Check in at


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Fourth Andrew Loomis facsimile art book in the works

Illustrator Andrew Loomis is revered amongst artists for his mastery of drawing technique and his clean, realist style and his hugely influential series of art instruction books have never been bettered.

Long out of print, early editions of his books have become highly collectible and sought out by art enthusiasts and practitioners but last year Titan Books began re-publishing facsimile hardback editions of the illustrator's guides.

A fourth – perhaps his best known work, Creative Illustration – is due for release in October.
Figure Drawing for All it's WorthFigure Drawing for All it's Worth provides a seminal course covering all the techniques needed to master drawing the figure. Hailed by the American Academy of Art as “one of the most brilliant contributions that figure drawing has ever received” Loomis’s book is packed with beautiful examples to help you master anatomy and capture the human form at any age, in movement and at rest.

Drawing the Head and Hands, also released last year, offer a masterclasses in tackling what comic artists often find the most difficult elements in figure drawing, but world-class illustrator Andrew Loomis’s classic primer offers plenty of solutions.

In May, Titan published Successful Drawing - a superb resource covering all the techniques needed to master three-dimensional drawing that has been many an artist's bible for 60 years. From the fundamentals of proportion, placement, perspective, planes and pattern, through a detailed examination of scale and the effects and capture of light, to the mastery of conception, construction, contour, character and consistency, Successful Drawing is filled with step-by-step instruction, professional tips and beautiful illustration.

In October, Titan will publish the fourth facsimile in the series – Creative Illustration, considered Loomis’s magnum opus, which is aimed primarily at the professional-level illustrator.

It’s divided into seven sections: Line, Tone, Colour, Telling the Story, Creating Ideas, Fields of Illustration, and Experimenting and Studies. The book is filled with instructions, tips, insider experiences, and incredible illustrations and definitely one for artists' wish lists, and a title I've often suggested as a resource elesewhere on downthetubes.

Born in 1892, after studying art, Loomis moved to Chicago where he eventually opened his own studio – working in editorial and advertising for most of the top clients of the time, including Kellogg’s, Coca Cola, Lucky Strike and many others. He also became renowned as an art teacher and his instructional books on illustration and art  - which also include Fun with a Pencil and The Eye of a Painter - are acclaimed classics in the field.

As well as Alex Ross, Dick Giordano, and Steve Lieber, among others, have cited the influence of Loomis on their style and studies. Steve Rude named one of the characters he drew in the Nexus comic book General Loomis.

Andrew Loomis: Wikipedia Entry

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Are fantasy stories too scary for younger children?

The Secret Potion
Author Heather Flood has backed a warning given to parents not to read Harry Potter or other popular fantasy adventure books like her husnand's recent book, The Secret Potion, to very young children.

Quite honestly, this all sounds like a contrived attempt to stir up some publicity for some new books - but the debate over what's good or bad for children to read, and at what age, is one that has often drawn comics into the mix, so we wondered what our own readers thought about this.

"I do believe that it can be harmful to read scary stories to some younger children, especially at bedtime," says Heather, author of Mousey Mousey and the Witches' Spells and Giant Sticker Monster and Other Children's Stories.

"A lot depends on the individual child, but I personally would not read Harry Potter or my own husband Tony's The Secret Potion to children under the age of five."

Tony Flood, the former Controller of Information at Sky Television, recently issued a warning by saying: "I believe the Harry Potter series and my own Jody Richards and The Secret Potion are excellent fantasy adventure stories for those aged five to 100, but I feel some of the plots and characters are probably not suitable for many children under five or even aged five.

"These youngsters might find it too frightening to hear about evil wizards and witches and nasty goblins or see them in films. In the case of The Secret Potion, there are also poisonous spiders and possibly the world's worst monster to contend with. It's great fun but also scary.

"Young children need to have stories especially written for them,," he argues, "containing more gentle characters, and my wife Heather has catered for this age group with her adventure books.

"Her books are being read to children aged three to nine, and the feedback Heather has received about her loveable characters has been excellent."

Mr. Flood, whose The Secret Potion book has apparently been hailed by reviewers, including actress June Whitfield, and acclaimed as the ideal follow up to Harry Potter, has emphasised his point in a YouTube video.

To illustrate frightening events, the video in the MrTonyxFlood series shows him getting crushed by a boulder, blown up and man-handled by his wife! Another video in the MrTonyxFlood series shows Heather turning into a witch.

The Floods are clearly well versed in PR and Marketing - Tony also runs My Voice Publishing ( in Eastbourne, which offers advice to would-be authors on how to get published - but their arguments are perennial. What do our readers think?

- Tony and Heather are providing special signed copies of their books, complete with personalised, dedicated messages, post free and at reduced prices, to celebrate the launch of their new website


Project: Rooftop Announces "Fantastic Four: Fashion Forward" Redesign Contest

They're the first family of comic superheroes, and the first truly nuclear family in history; they're the Fantastic Four. Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for Marvel Comics, the F.F. rang in their fiftieth year last year with Reed finally growing into that greying hair he's always had. In modern comics, the team (and the title) are enjoying one of the most critically acclaimed runs since the original days of Stan and Jack, and to celebrate the team and their tenure Project: Rooftop is taking them in in our next redesign contest. "Fantastic Four: Fashion Forward" is a Project: Rooftop contest giving artists worldwide the chance to redesign this super-hero family in a friendly competition for honor, recognition and just plain fun.

"The Fantastic Four have been high on our list of heroes to celebrate here at Project: Rooftop for years," says site co-founder and comics journalist Chris Arrant. "Now seems like the perfect time to honor these four timeless creations and the two men who created them 51 years ago."

For this ambitious contest (Project: Rooftop's first team contest), P:R's staff will be joined by a very special guest to judge the entries: Stuart Immonen, artist of Fear Itself, New Avengers, Nextwave and creator-owned projects such as Moving Pictures, Shockrockets and Superstar: As Seen On TV. For the Richards and Co., Immonen has illustrated them in runs on both Fantastic Four and Ultimate Fantastic Four. Project: Rooftop has long admired his work and featured critiques of his superhero design on multiple occasions, and Project: Rooftop was in fact launched back on 14th March 2006 with an original redesign of Marvel's Black Widow Immonen contributed.

Entries for "Fantastic Four: Fashion Forward" should redesign the original four members of the Fantastic Four: Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Thing and the Human Torch. Any entries including other characters or missing these four will be discarded. All entries must be received by 31st July 2012 at midnight EST. As usual, check our guidelines, include your name and website, and send your art as an attachment in jpg, png, or gif format to


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Panel Borders: Brockley (co)Max

Above: Sarah Gordon, Howard Hardiman, Simone Lia, Gary Northfield, Julia Scheele, Kieron Gillen, Woodrow Phoenix and Alex Fitch at Brockley Max

In the last of Panel Borders series of shows about comic book communities around the UK, Alex Fitch talks to -

  • Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men),
  • Sarah Gordon (The Peckham House for Invalids)
  • Howard Hardiman (The Lengths),
  • Simone Lia (Please God, find me a husband!)
  • Gary Northfield (Derek the Sheep)
  • Woodrow Phoenix (Nelson) and
  • Julia Scheele (69 love songs, illustrated)
about living and working in Brockley, South East London. Recorded live at the Brockley Max festival in June 2012.

Panel Borders: Brockley (co)Max airs on Sunday 24 June 2012 at 8pm on Resonance 104.4 FM - streamed at Extended podcast after broadcast at


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