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This blog is no longer being updated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, 28 July 2012

Panel Borders: Resident Aliens / Caption podcast with Brown and Duffield

Panel Borders: Resident Aliens

In this week's episode of Panel Borders on Resonance 104.4 FM (London), the last of our series of shows about comic book creators who collaborate together, Alex Fitch talks to Steve Parkhouse and Peter Hogan about their new comic, Resident Alien, initially serialised in Dark Horse Presents and now continuing as a comic book miniseries. 

The comic tells the story of an alien who has crash-landed in rural American and found a job as a small town doctor, now turned detective when a body is found in mysterious circumstances. Alex talks to Peter and Steve about working together, producing comics for both the UK and US markets and their previous experiences on revered British anthology titles Crisis and Doctor Who Monthly. (Recorded in front of an audience at Kapow!, London, Spring 2012)

8pm, Sunday 29th July 2012, Resonance 104.4 FM / streamed at / uncut podcast after broadcast at

In the latest episode of the Caption Podcast, and the first to have been recorded at Caption small press festival 2011: Alex Fitch hosts a discussion between cartoonists Kate Brown (The Lost Boy) and Paul Duffield (FreakAngels) about their comics and working practices. Kate and Paul are both alumni of the Manga Shakespeare line published by Self Made Hero and bring subtle, illustrative lines to their work, with washes of colour and and obvious interest in Manga. 
The two creators discuss sharing a studio, bouncing ideas off each other and working on children’s comics such as The DFC and The Phoenix as well as their first graphic novels.

Caption 2012 takes place on August 18th / 19th, East Oxford Community Centre, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1DD 
More info and previous podcasts at

Alphablocks, new Phonics pre-school title launched

Alphablocks Magazine
Immediate Media, the company now publishing many former BBC Magazines along with new titles such as Rastamouse, has just launched another pre-school title. Alphablocks magazine aims to help the growing number of parents who want to support their child's reading and writing in a fun and creative way before they start school.

A survey of 1,000 UK parents, conducted on behalf of the magazine via Immediate Media's Parenting websites, found that 88 per cent of parents think it's important to help their child learn to read and write before they start school. This is even though just 43 per cent of the adults surveyed were helped to read and write by their own parents before starting school.

Aimed at pre-schoolers aged 3-5 years - and based on the popular CBeebies TV programme of the same name - Alphablocks magazine is the only title that supports phonics, a technique that helps children learn to read using letters and sounds. The title provides parents with an engaging and affordable resource that they can enjoy with their children and use to support their learning from an early age.

Phonics is now high on the government's education agenda, with all children to be given a phonics-based progress check in year one*.This survey's findings suggest that this may have influenced the current generation of parents who are now more concerned with giving their pre-school children a good grounding in literacy.

The survey also found that adults who had learned to read and write with their own parents had fond memories of the experience and wanted to instil the same positive attitude towards books and reading with their own children. They also wanted home learning to be fun and playful, rather than structured.

, editor "As we start the summer holidays, a lot of parents with young children will be thinking about giving their children a head-start before they start their first term at school," explains editor Stephanie Cooper. "Learning to read and write should be fun and a chance for parent and child to bond, share a sense of achievement and create happy memories of learning to read. Alphablocks magazine gives them the chance to embark on a learning journey together, through reading and making words all with the aim of giving children a strong, confident start with literacy."

- Alphablocks magazine is priced at £2.50 and is available now at all major retailers and independents around the UK.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Titan launches augmented Awesome Animals app for new magazine

Titan Magazines has partnered with Aurasma - the world's leading augmented reality platform - to launch the first kids augmented reality app for its new magazine, How To Draw #1... Awesome Animals.

How To Draw... Awesome Animalsmagazine explains to kids clearly and concisely how to have fun learning to draw awesome animals such as lions, zebras and elephants and then turn those skills into their very own comic-strip story.

The new kids augmented reality app, "Titan Alive", allows readers to bring video, music and 3D animated content to virtual life on their iPad, iPhone and Android devices using Aurasma's augmented reality technology.

All readers need to do is download the Free Titan Alive app, powered by Aurasma, from the iTunes apps store and point their smart devices at the magazine to view detailed video demonstrations by artists who clearly show readers how to draw awesome animals.

As well as interactive features inside How To Draw... Awesome Animals magazine, the front cover comes to life with a 3D animated model of a charging, trumpeting elephant.

Titan Alive, which the company plan to use on other titles, allows your smart phone or tablet to recognise images in your favorite comic, then changes your view of the real-world with videos, music and 3D animations called "Auras".

"We're really excited about this unprecedented AR Magazine in the youth market and looking at more ways to involve AR content through our kids magazines portfolio," commneted Michelle Fairlamb, Titan's Group Advertising Manager. "This offers our readers additional content, a more enriching experience and even further ways to interact and engage with their favourite magazines."

Ben Wheeler, Creative Director at Aurasma said, "Through the Titan Alive app, Aurasma and Titan have brought art and technology together to show a whole new way of seeing and interacting with the physical world. We hope this brilliantly practical use of augmented reality will enlighten, educate and entertain readers!"

Aurasma is the world's leading augmented reality platform, developed by and part of software company Autonomy – an HP Company. Available as a free app for iPhones, iPads and high-powered Android devices or as a free kernel for developers, Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern recognition to blend the real-world with rich interactive content such as videos and animations called "Auras".

Auras can be created for printed images, product packaging, clothing, physical places and users can even use the app to create and share their own. Since its launch in June 2011, Aurasma has had more than four million downloads and over 6,000 partners in markets including retail, fashion, sport, automotive, education, advertising and publishing are using the free technology in their campaigns, on their products or embedding the technology in their own applications.

How To Draw #1 ... Awesome Animals magazine is available in all good magazine retailers from 26th July.

• For more information, visit:

Digitally Infinity! Panel Nine releases iPad-based comics magazine

Digital graphic novel publisher Panel Nine has launched a free preview issue of INFINITY -- a new magazine devoted to digital graphic novels and comics.

The magazine contains a roundup of digital comics news, features and reviews delivered via Apple’s Newsstand service for the iPad, including a terrific interview with comic creator PJ Holden, talking at length about Murderdrome, the digital comic he created with Al Ewing that was banned by Apple.

There's also a sampler of Panel Nine's excellent digital title Dapper John by Eddie Campbell and an extract of interview with artist David Lloyd, talking about his film noir inspired graphic novel Kickback. (The full interview is part of the Panel Nine Kickback app).

In a "Where Are They Now" style item, the magazine also profiles artist Simon Russell, the head of Brighton-based agency Boing today - but who worked with Russell on INFINITY's previous incarnation as a small press comics fanzine in the 1980s.

Today, INFINITY publisher Russell Willis has swapped his photocopier for an iPad and relaunched it for the digital age.

“Digital delivery is a huge part of the future of comics," says Russell, "and we’re launching INFINITY to cover things as they develop, debate the big issues such as user experience, platforms and pricing, interview the key players, and provide a guide for people to the good stuff.

"Appropriately the magazine is specially designed for the iPad, and contains audio, video and Panel Nine’s “Panel Mode” presentation of digital comics.”

The first issue proper of INFINITY will available in September as a NewsStand ready title. The magazine will initially be published bi-monthly from then on.

Users can download the preview issue (and all subsequent issues) for free from iTunes.

• Download from iTunes

Photographer Rich Hendry's 'Legends' exhibition superhero inspired

One of the photos from Rich Hendry's 'Legends' exhibition
The latest London exhibition by top photographer Rich Hendry takes its inspiration from superheroes and Greek gods.

Titled 'Legends' the exhibtion opens at The Great Eastern Bear gallery next month, the photographs included the result of an intense three week shoot by Rich Hendry and Art Director and Stylist John Proctor, working with a large selection of make-up artists, hairstylist and assistants.

"The inspiration for this collection of portraits comes from comic books," explains Hendry. "Comic books and superheroes in popular culture, heroes (from Greek Mythology, the Roman gods, worldwide folklore), through to kings and queens, fighters, superheroes, underdogs...The 'character' in each shot is unbranded as such, leaving the viewer to draw their own fantasy from each shot. The models used are a mixture of real people and professional models, chosen either for their look or just as importantly their stories."

Proctor - whose previous clients have included Marie Claire, Wolsey and Barbour - proved an invaluable partner for the shoot.

"When I first approached John to style the project having seen some of his handmade headpieces on shoots it was apparent that he was more than just a stylist and he quickly assumed the role of Art Director as the ideas I was trying to express developed."

The retouching for the exhibition was done by high end creative production studio Taylor James; renowned for photographic realism and attention to detail.

Hendry says 'I was honoured to work with Taylor James as amongst photographers they are considered to be the best in the industry - I love the treatment they gave my work.'

Each image in the exhibition, which opens with a Private View on 2nd August, is available in a strictly limited edition of five.

Scottish born Rich Hendry has exhibited several times in London - including at Spitalfields pop up Sky Lounge Bar and as part of Mutate Britain's 'One Foot in the Grove'. "Their power (or his portraits) lies in their simplicity" enthused Sideview Magazine, while Vivo argues his work creates "Something beautiful from the unexpected".

• Rich Hendry's website is or follow him on Twitter @richhendryphoto

• The Great Eastern Bear is at 8a Great Eastern St, Shoreditch EC2A 3NT and online at or twitter @bearsic. Nearest tube is Shoreditch High St.

• More information about John Proctor can be found at


In Review: XIII - The Trial

XIII - The TrialWho is XIII?

For the last two years of these reviews I have listed the current pseudonyms that XIII the man was using over the course of the many books in this series - a list that has grown rather long. However over the last couple of books writer Jean Van Hamme and artist William Vance have revealed the man and his family background so that readers have a much better understanding of who he is and what had happened to him prior to his amnesia shown in the first book. XIII - The Trial, while furthering the main thrust of the XIII story, uses much of that back story as the basis for its plot.

The XIII saga began with the assassination of American President William Sheridan and, over the course of many books, readers discovered that his brother, Wally, was the instigator of that assassination and much of what happened afterwards which finally resulted in Wally becoming the new president of the United States Of America. At his retirement ceremony, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Ben Carrington, whose daughter Kim had been used as part of the greater assassination plot, uses his access to President Sheridan to kidnap him and hold him hostage in a disused underground missile silo. With the American public unaware of the kidnapping, and the US military unable to recapture the silo without the President being killed, Carrington advises that XIII and Major Jones must recapture the dangerous assassin known as The Mongoose and bring him to the silo. With both the President and the Mongoose under his control, General Carrington intends to put President Sheridan on trial for his crimes and broadcast the proceedings for all the nation to see.

The Trial sounds like the rather credulity-stretching plots of one of those cheap TV movies that clutter the evening schedules of the less well known satellite channels. However Van Hamme is such a good writer that he can take the so-so bare bones of the story and weave his XIII tapestry around it resulting in a book that harks back to much of what has gone before and reuses many characters familiar to long time readers, yet remains surprisingly accessible to new readers due to the format of the trial explaining the whole assassination plot. The book is effectively split into three - the initial kidnapping and official reaction to it, XIII and Jones capturing The Mongoose, and finally the trial in the underground silo, and with this episodic timeline it is perhaps not as satisfying as other titles in the series but the ending does establish the characters for the books to come.

Vance's artwork, while dealing with a lot of closed rooms and talking heads during the first and last sections of the story, gets to shine during the middle as XIII and Jones plot to retrieve The Mongoose from his luxurious Caribbean hideaway. While the Pentagon building, Caribbean island and underground silo locales leave Vance little chance for his rapidly-becoming-a-XIII-trademark of a fight in the rain, Jones adds yet another accurately illustrated military jet to the rather long list of Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft that this US Army officer is able to fly (and in this case crash... and walk away from... in the rain).

Twelve books into the series, and with such an overarching plotline, it can be difficult to recommend a jumping on point for this series other than the first book. XIII - The Trial, despite being deeply embedded within the main XIII assassination storyline, is just such a jumping on point as it provides a taster of what has gone before along with the promise of more intrigue to come.

There are more details of the English language XIII books on Cinebook's website.

There are more details of the original French XIII albums on the official XIII website (in French).

You can read an interview with Cinebook publisher Olivier Cadic and XIII translator Jerome Saincantin on downthetubes at XIII Questions About XIII.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

In Review: The Scorpion - In The Name Of The Father

The Scorpion - In the Name of the Father Mourning the passing of 2000AD's Nikolai Dante?

Then it is time to start reading The Scorpion books written by Stephen Desberg, illustrated by Enrico Marini and published in English for the first time by Cinebook. With the conclusion to the Cross of St Peter story in the previous title, In The Name Of The Father begins a new storyline for the 18th century rogue.

Returning to Rome with his friends, the trustworthy Hussar and the beautiful Mejai, the Scorpion finds that the city is a place of fear and death, cowering under the power of Pope Trebaldi. Their only chance to destroy the corrupt Pope’s rule is to investigate the life of the Scorpion’s mother who was burnt at the stake for 'seducing' a senior member of the Catholic church many years before. With Trebaldi's dangerous warrior-monks replacing the Swiss Guards, the trio must investigate the records of the church from decades before whilst hiding their own identities for their own protection.

Adventurer, womaniser, swordsman, thief, swindler, arrogantly self assured of his own survival, with blood ties to one of the most important people on the planet, and a woman whom he both hates and desires, and who appears to reciprocate those same feelings back at him - the Scorpion could quite easily be Nikolai Dante. With this book starting a new storyline of the character trying to discover more about his mother, why she was burnt at the stake, and just who exactly his father is or was, writer Stephen Dresberg gives the reader a lot of exposition and introduces a lot of new characters. While this is detrimental to the normally fast paced action of a Scorpion book, it is readily forgivable as it sets the scene for the next round of the battle of wits between Trebaldi and the Scorpion due to play out over the next few books.

The relative peacefulness of the storyline and the amount of skulking around gives artist Enrico Marini plenty of opportunity for moody, shadowy scenes. For me Marini's skillful artwork, with its dramatic panel designs and beautiful watercolour backgrounds, has always helped The Scorpion titles to stand out amongst the more adult Cinebook titles, including the better known and well regarded XIII and Largo Winch. His subtle background colours do much to enhance the pages as opposed to the typically harsher colours of the other titles. This book is no different and the art is as much of a joy to look at as in the preceding Scorpion titles.

The Scorpion - In The Name Of The Father begins a new chapter in the adventures of the title character with a thoughtful , if slightly more subdued, story told, as ever, which beautiful artwork.

There are more details of The Scorpion books on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the French Scorpion books on the Le Scorpion website (in French).

The next Scorpion book, The Angel's Shadow, is due to be published by Cinebook in 2013.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Craig Collins' Forever Foes assembles wicked Scottish talent

Everyone seems to be getting in on the children's book market these
days... Madonna, Katie Price, Idi Amin and many more. And, just as they
stretched their respective talents beyond pop music, brutal repression
and other accomplishments Glasgow-based comic creator Craig Collins has done the same and launched his own line of children's novels.
Proudly brought to you by Harry Potter publishers Bloomsbury, Forever Foes is available in all good bookshops and follows the adventures of a series of different villainous adventurers
" they run the gamut of negative human experience, smashing and
fucking everything in their path!".
Each character has been brought to life by a different
talented artist from the Scottish comics underground as follows:
Lust Ghost - by Spanky; Spewnicorn - by Robert Thomson;
Gaseous Bastard - by Rob Miller;
Meat Nun - by Paul McCann; Plague Chef - by James Corcoran ; The Wicker Gran - by Alex Ronald; Prison Troll - by Curt Sibling;  Gory Tory - by Dave Alexander and the perhaps dubiously named
Space Racist - by Iain Laurie.
Craig is also one of the contributors to the latest issue of SCREAM Magazine,  which features one of his comic strips, drawn by Curt Sibling.
More about Forever Foes on Craig's blog here 

Street press comic 'Off Life' preps for launch

Off Life Magazine
OFF LIFE, described by its creators as the UK's only street press comic magazine, is to launch this autumn.

Editor Daniel Humphry says the magazine will feature the best new, undiscovered and underground comics artists taking aim on modern life with adult humour, slice of life storytelling and harsh realities.

In short: if it's happening out there, it'll be in here.

Published bi-monthly, OFF LIFE ("Comics for a lost generation") will be free to read and distributed across London and Bristol in bars, shops, galleries and comic expos.

A free online version of each issue will also be published via

The editorial team are inviting any and all interest in the publication. Whether you're a talent with a story, a potential stockist or an advertiser looking to target our unique market they'd love to hear from you. Check their web site for info


Tom Humberstone savages warped Olympics ideals in new cartoon

Art © Tom Humberstone. Read the strip

(Updated 30/7/12, quote added from Tom): Over on Cartoon Movement, a publishing platform for high quality political cartoons and comics journalism, Solipsistic Pop editor and ace artist Tom Humberstone's commentary on the London Olympics is curently fronting the site.

The Olympics begin in London on Friday (what? you didn't know?), and as we've seen in previous host cities, there are many winners and losers when it comes to a production this size, as Tom relates in his thought-provoking 11-page strip.

His comic includes concerns from charities such as Shelter and War on Want, reflecting worries that the Olympic ideals have been warped by over the top commercialization of the event.

Tom takes a look at the increased commercialization, police actions, and surveillance as London 'cleans up' for the games.

Part of the comics intent, quoting various media stories, including one about unguarded missiles*, was to introduce the idea of what the media were covering in the lead-up to the games. "The controversies people were talking about," Tom expands. "The story about unguarded missiles... was also about the wider issue of whether people were comfortable with these things on their roofs. This all being mentioned in the comic as a way to introduce the deeper and more troubling issues of housing and corporate interests which haven't been looked at in quite so much detail in the media as these headline-grabbing stories."

Elsewhere, Tom has finished the first chapter of his six part comic series Ellipsis, which will have a launch party at Gosh! Comics in London on Friday 27th July followed by an official release on Monday 30th July.

 A digital edition will also be available to download on the Monday. Those who attend the Gosh event will be able to have their copies signed and will also receive an A5 signed & numbered colour print incentive. 

Heck, what else is there to do on London on Olympic Opening Night?

Solipsistic Pop web site

* Recently a local activist with a video phone walked up to bags that he claimed were missiles at the bottom of one of the towers when the military were doing their form and fit checks on the building with inert training rounds. However, as the Daily Telegraph notes, the full version of the clip shows that the military immediately walked over to him to find out what he was doing.

An MoD spokesman said: "These were dummy missiles which are used to practice with, not live ammunition. Had they been live missiles, they would have been protected by armed personnel and in any case, as the video shows, there were three personnel there at the time."


In Review: Papyrus - The Anger Of The Great Sphinx

Papyrus - The Anger of the Great SphinxPapyrus, written and illustrated by Lucien de Gieter, is a young Egyptian fisherman who, having been given a magical sword by the crocodile goddess Sobek, must protect the Pharaoh's young daughter Theti-Cheri from danger. In The Anger of The Great Sphinx he has his work cut out for him.

In the middle of the night, Princess Theti-Cheri sleepwalks out of the palace and takes a chariot to the Great Sphinx. Papyrus follows her to protect her, but when he finds her, she is the prisoner of the Sphinx, who is angry at the royal line for breaking their covenant and letting the sands cover him. The Sphinx wants her life as sacrifice so to save her Papyrus must journey to the island of the gods to beg them for mercy while being opposed by a human sand storm.

Papyrus is perhaps my favourite of all the junior Cinebook titles with its mixture of historically accurate Nineteenth Dynasty Egypt (Theti-Cheri's father being the real Pharaoh Merneptah), fantasy beasts and ancient Egyptian gods. De Geiter began Papyrus in Spirou magazine issue 1867 in 1974 while this particular story ran for 10 issues beginning with issue 3070 in 1997 after which it was released as the 20th album of the now 32 album series. It is the fifth release in the Cinebook series.

With the Sphinx having Theti-Cheri in his grip, the story is really a quest tale as Papyrus overcomes various problems to get to the island of the gods and back again within the same day. These problems range from Anty the ferry boat/man/dragon, a hallucinogenic castle, a trip to the modern day ruins of the temple of Amon, as well as the bickering triplets who should be keeping the Sphinx free of the sands that are blown over it by the human sand storm.

Unlike the previous four Papyrus titles, this one feels a little bitty. It doesn't flow smoothly between sequences and the weekly breaks that it had on its original publication in Spirou are rather obvious. That said De Gieter's artwork is more than up to the challenges that the story provides as Papyrus is accompanied by his friend Puin as they strive to find the gods and ask their forgiveness before the human sand storm claims Papyrus' magical sword and the Sphinx kills Theti-Cheri.

Papyrus - The Anger Of The Great Sphinx isn't as strong a story as previous offerings due in part to its weekly origins but it remains a interesting and exciting book that will entertain the younger members of the family.

There are more details of the English language Papyrus books on the Cinebook website.

There are more details of the French language Papyrus albums on the Dupuis website (in French).

There are more details of Papyrus on De Gieter's website (in French) including a selection of pencil sketches of the characters.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Dennis to Menace the Edinburgh Tattoo

© DC Thomson

The 220,000 people who are expected to attend this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo (3rd-25th August) on the Castle Esplanade will witness one of the most unusual performance pieces in the event’s 60 year history. Sporting his famous red and white hooped jumper, it will be provided by cartoon character and arch mischief-maker, Dennis the Menace in company with comic favourite Minnie the Minx and her unique brand of mayhem.

Dennis and Minnie will perform stunts on BMX bikes during each performance this August as part of a shake-up of the long-running event and artists behind The Beano, Oor Wullie and The Broons have also created a special commemorative poster of the Tattoo, which will be distributed with all programmes for the event.

© DC Thomson
The poster, which features Wullie and several members of The Broons paying a visit to the highly-popular tourist attraction is apparently one of the spreads from Whaur's Oor Wullie?, book, on sale now in bookshops.

Said Tattoo Chief Executive and producer, Brigadier David Allfrey: “These celebrated characters are a universal element in our national mix. We have grown up with comics and some of us even enjoy them into adulthood! Everyone relishes the prospect of a little menace!

"While the Tattoo seeks to entertain and inspire it is always good to not take ourselves too seriously. This year has seen so many extraordinary celebrations: Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics both to set the scale. These are all about joy and we all love a celebration.”

But, even with the prospect of a little ‘menace’, this year’s Tattoo opens with a scene from faraway times with a Pictish warrior seizing upon a shiny pebble and taking the audience to the start of a magical journey across the ages. The sound of an ancient horn – a Bronze Age carnyx – signals the appearance of the Massed Pipes and Drums and the heart stopping sight and sounds of the very essence of the event.

Bringing together the very best pipe bands from across the globe – 12 pipe bands in all – featuring the award-winning Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, The Royal Corps of Signals, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and Queen Victoria School, Dunblane. While from overseas, Melbourne’s Rats of Tobruk, the Australian Federal Police, the Manly Warringah and Scots College from Sydney, South Africa’s Cape Town Highlanders along with the Canadian Army complete the ranks of this prodigious massed pipe band.

With the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s accession to the throne as its principal theme, this year’s Tattoo also celebrates the ‘Year of Creative Scotland’ by spotlighting some of this country’s most enduring achievements.

Through dance, the audience will then be introduced to Scotland’s iconic textile – the spinning and weaving of Tweed as pipers, drummers and dancers from Queen Victoria School present an inspired dance piece with Sydney’s Scots College Pipes and Drums.A six-minute medley of music inspired by the Disney/Pixar film Brave, performed by the Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland, The Queen’s Division, The King’s Division and The Royal Air Force, then carries the audience from medieval Scotland, through its agricultural age and towards the industrial era.

Thereafter, the Tattoo Highland Dancers and the Canadiana Celtic Association tell the story of Scotland’s most successful export, Scotch Whisky, from the sowing and reaping of barley, into the mash tun, on to the distilling, casking and drinking of “Uisge Beatha – The Water of Life.”

From Australia, the Band of the Australian Defence Force present a selection of traditional and contemporary music tracing the transition from colonial times to present day.
There follows a tribute to Scotland’s engineering pedigree with a piece of dance inspired by the work in a foundry from the OzScot Australia dance troupe and music by Tap Dogs’ Andrew Wilkie.

Comic-strip superheroes are then celebrated by the United States Naval Forces Europe Band highlighting the external battle between good and evil and including some iconic local talent.

The story of rapid growth in communications and computing technology, helped by development of microprocessors and the Internet, is told through the precision drumming of sure-fire international crowd-pleasers Top Secret Drum Corps from the Swiss city of Basel.

Brigadier Allfrey said: “I am thrilled with our international guests. As ever the Tattoo is proud to present some of the very best!”

Highlights of the 2012 event will also include an amazing display of precision drill by The Guard of His Majesty the King of Norway, whose skill with bayonet tipped rifles has thrilled spectators on eight previous occasions.

The climax of the evening is an orchestral re-enactment of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation of 1953, concluded by an electrifying arrangement of Diamonds Are Forever and the audience joining hands for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne – a brilliant spectacle of colour and sound that will leave spectators spellbound.

The Tattoo’s Chief Executive remarked: “Diamonds are forever and I would encourage everyone to dust off their tiaras, their bracelets and their earrings and… bring out a bit of bling! Edinburgh at festival time is a springboard into a splendid Scottish summer for our visitors. Let us all show them a good time.

“Of course, all of this would not be possible without the support of everyone who buys our tickets, the talented cast, our core team in Market Street, some expert contractors and our wonderful sponsors. And of course, Defence and our Armed Forces – in effect our principal sponsor,” he concluded.

• Some tickets for the 2012 Tattoo (3-25 August), priced £23 to £59, can still be obtained at or acquired by telephone on +44 (0)131 225 1188 or in person from the Tattoo Ticket Sales Office at 34 Market Street in Edinburgh.

Artist Monty Nero offers online digital art class

Monty Nero's cover for CLiNT
Volume 2 Issue 3
Ace artist Jim Montynero, whose credits include Death Sentence for CLiNT Magazine, is teaching two weeks of live online digital painting classes from 6th August 2012.

These courses, organised by the
Computer Training Academy, who have been running a variety of teaching since March, use video conference and desktop sharing software to link up your computer to a professional artist working in the industry today. In this way you can see the screen and talk live to the artist as they demonstrate techniques and take you through each step of their job. You spend every minute learning and being encouraged by a real pro. 

Getting set up takes minutes and is as simple as clicking on the link the Computer Training Academy send you.

All the tutors on these courses have over 10 year's experience as professional concept artists for computer games. Monty Nero tells us technical streaming quality is excellent, with the same one-to-one student attention and tutor interaction as a face-to-face class.

• Contact: for more details.

• The Computer Training Academy homepage:

• A summary of the Concept Art class:

• What you will need for remote courses through the CTA:

• Pricing and class dates:

In Review: Antares - Episode 2

Antares Episode 2Brazilian artist and writer Leo (Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira) continues his Worlds of Aldebaran saga with Antares Episode 2, the second part of the third series of his incredibly alien tales of 22nd century interplanetary settlers and the beasts and plants they find on the worlds that they settle.

Having survived her experiences on Aldebaran 4 and Betelgeuse 6, Kim Keller is more than experienced enough to be the obvious candidate to help the team that is being sent to Antares, but with her young and not entirely human daughter to protect, Kim has to be effectively blackmailed into the job. On the colony ship with her daughter Lynn and friends Mark Sorenson and Mai Lan, Kim soon discovers that many of the colonists are from a religious sect with some uncomfortable beliefs as she has a run in with both them and the ship's Subcommander.

However the difficulties on the ship fade into the background when they arrive at Antares and, during the disembarkation, one of the shuttles develops a fault and crashes in a forest far from the designated landing site. Kim and a small team mount a rescue whilst, back at the main landing site, all is not as safe as it might seem.

Leo never gives his main characters an easy time of it on his alien worlds and Antares is proving to be no different. The previous two series, on Aldebaran and Betelgeuse, gave them military dictatorships to deal with in addition to the difficulties posed by the planets, and the first section of this book gives the impression that this time the problem will be religious fanaticism.

However once on the planet other problems soon pile one on top of the other as the arguments between the humans are overtaken by the need to rescue the people from the crashed shuttle while the planet throws up all manner of weird and wonderful plants and creatures. Indeed what to the characters is one very minor incident on the very last page of the book shows the reader something totally unlike anything seen in the preceding eleven books and gives the impression that the story has so far barely scraped the surface of what is living on this planet.

Leo's artistic imagination for alien flora and fauna is always a highlight of the Worlds Of Aldebaran books and Antares is no different with a mixture of flying, amphibious, carnivorous and just plain odd looking beasts that stalk, observe, frighten and attack the colonists once on the planet. While his designs for the future technology can feel somewhat basic, his alien beasts always make up for it.

Antares - Episode 2 builds on the background of the initial episode as well as reintroducing the sort of story that made both the Aldebaran and Betelgeuse series so intriguing and riveting to read and so, while Episode 2 cannot be read as a standalone book, it suggests that this Antares sequence of books will join its predecessors as being an impressive series.

There are more details of Antares (and Aldebaran and Betelgeuse) on the Cinebook website.

The downthetubes review of Antares - Episode 1 is here.

There are more details of all Leo's books on The Worlds Of Aldebaran website (in French).


Monday, 23 July 2012

Marshall Law Deluxe edition set for March 2013 release

The Marshal Law: Deluxe Edition, collecting all the character’s solo stories, has been confirmed for release next March from US publisher DC Comics.

Marshal Law was one of the first major creator-owned characters for a major American publisher, first published under Marvel's Epic Comics banner in 1987, with other appearances courtesy of publishers such as Dark Horse and Image.

The series is a satire on the superhero genre, characterised by its extreme graphic violence and nudity, and Mills' skewering of superhero conventions and US government policy and society.

Co-creator Pat Mills announced last year that he and Kevin O'Neill had signed Marshal Law to DC Comics.

Speaking on Facebook, Pat said at the time that the American publisher of Superman and Batman would be reprinting the existing material featuring their acclaimed law-enforcing anti hero, in formats and on a schedule to be determined.

"It's great to see Law being published by DC," Pat said. "It means our character is finally going to be seen by an entirely new generation of readers. A character who was the original and remains the strongest of all the critiques of super heroes.

"I think this is l because I really mean it - that is to say, I share Law's perspective and his angry desire to find a hero in a world that is supposedly littered with them. And of course that's doubly true for Kevin; so we encourage each other in our various visual and story excesses.

"DC's enthusiasm for such a hard core and uncompromising character who really lifts the lid on the world of costumed heroes is an encouraging sign of the changing publishing times we live in."

So, if the collection sells well, will we see a Superman or Batman crossover with Mills and Neill's savage law enforcer?

"Whether Law ever gets a chance to later "interact" with the heroes of the DC Universe remains to be seen, but I can always dream."

Other early 2013 DC Comics collections with work from British publishers include Grant Morrison's Batman Incorporated in January. The full advance list is here on the DC Comics web site

Telos releases 'Ape-Man' an unofficial Tarzan guide

In October 1912, readers of The All-Story magazine were enthralled by Edgar Rice Burroughs' tale of John Clayton, an orphaned English lord given a simian upbringing in the African jungle who went on to reclaim his birth-right in civilisation while maintaining one foot in the savage land he had conquered. The character went on to appear in more than two dozen sequels by Burroughs as well as many adaptations.

Now, UK publisher Telos has released Ape-Man: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to 100 Years of Tarzan by Sean Egan, which traces Tarzan's history in prose, film, comic strips, comic books, radio, stage, television, computer games and merchandise, charting the rise of one of the most popular and iconic characters in fiction.

Described as a comprehensive exploration of one of the most famous icons of the last hundred years the book includes the last ever interview with Danton Burroughs (grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs), plus exclusive comments from Michael Moorcock, Hugh Hudson, R A Salvatore and the oldest surviving screen Tarzan, Denny Miller, amongst many more.

The book also examines the massive changes in public attitudes towards Africa, race, hereditary peers and wildlife conservation that may finally deal Tarzan the fatal blow that any number of sinister safaris and high priests of mysterious lost cities failed to.

- Ape-Man: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to 100 Years of Tarzan by Sean Egan. 300pp. A5 paperback book. ISBN 978-1-84583-067-0 (pb) Paperback rrp £15.99


Cinebook Titles On DVD

It has been a while since we reviewed any Cinebook titles here on downthetubes so this week we will be putting that right with a selection of reviews of various Cinebook releases from the last few months.

Before that, and with a eye to the wave of big budget films based on US comics hitting our cinema screens over the summer, it is worth remembering that Steven Spielberg's disappointing The Adventures of Tintin is not the only recent Franco-Belgian bandes dessinee series to hit the big screen.

Indeed the live-action The Extraodinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, directed by Luc Besson, was everything that the Tintin film should have been but, while it is readily available on DVD in the UK, that fact that it is subtitled will put off all but the most determined fans. The Adele Blanc-Sec books are published in English (or perhaps that should be American) by Fantagraphics but there are also three bandes dessinee series that are published in English by Cinebook that have recently have had live-action outings.

The Largo Winch series, written by Jean Van Hamme and illustrated by Philippe Francq, is the closest thing Cinebook has to James Bond and the French film industry thought so too as they took the character to the big screen in 2008 in Largo Winch: Deadly Revenge with Tomer Sisley as Largo and British actress Kristin Scott Thomas as the female lead. Moving the W Organisation from New York to the perhaps more picturesque skyscrapers of Hong Kong, the films tweaked Largo's origin story and built it into the feature film. The film is in a mixture of languages depending on the country any particular scene is set in although the main two languages are English and French with the British DVD having English subtitles for those sections that need them.

"Nerio Winch, self-made tycoon and head of the mysterious corporate empire known only as W Group, has been brutally murdered. Due to an absence of siblings Nerio's legacy is in danger of falling into the wrong hands. Without a suitable replacement the W Group will be destroyed. But Nerio had a dark past and a deadly secret: an adopted son by the name of Largo Winch. Adventurer, assassin, killer, maverick and international playboy, Largo Winch is the last of a dying breed. Now head of a global corporation he must fight for what's rightfully his and avenge his father's death. Bullets will fly and heads will roll in this highly explosive, spectacular thriller that gives Bourne and Bond a run for their money. Based upon the highly successful comic book series and novels by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme, Largo Winch takes action cinema to another level. ...Largo Winch: Deadly Revenge."

Deadly Revenge was successful enough for a sequel to follow in 2011. The Burma Conspiracy again featured Sisley Tomer this time with Sharon Stone as his leading lady in a story that was even more like a Bond film than the original and, with Ms Stone rather than the Paris based Scott Thomas in it, the collection of languages featured were more weighted toward English.

"When the occupants of a Burmese village are massacred, the incident is linked to a billionaire playboy and international man of action and his deceased father's multi-national corporation. Determined to clear his name and hunt down the real culprits, he journeys into the hazardous terrain of the Burmese jungle in search of the truth, armed and loaded. Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct, Casino) and Tomer Sisley (Labyrinth, The Nativity Story) star in the explosive, high-octane thriller The Burma Conspiracy."

From the deadly serious Largo Winch to the much more humorous Lucky Luke and while there have been various television and cinema versions of Morris and Goscinny's cowboy character, the latest is the 2009 version simply entitled Lucky Luke with The Artist's Jean Dujardin as the title character (dealing with a horse rather than a dog) and the film also features Dujardin's wife, Alexandra Lamy, as Belle, Luke's romantic interest. With a multitude of Lucky Luke book characters featured, the film is completely in French as so is fully subtitled on its British DVD.

"Jean Dujardin (Oscar® and BAFTA® winning star of The Artist) stars as Lucky Luke, a crack-shot gunslinger with a lightning fast draw and a conscience to boot. After witnessing the savage murder of his parents at the hands of the vicious Cheater Gang, Luke dedicates his life to bringing the very wildest in the west to justice, that is with a non-lethal twist. Years later, when the President of the United States assigns Luke the task of cleansing the streets of his hometown, the crime-ridden cesspool known as Daisy Town, Luke is stirred back into action."

Finally there is the 2008 television mini-series XIII: The Conspiracy based on the early XIII albums written, like Largo Winch, by Jean Van Hamme and this time illustrated by William Vance. The XIII books share more than a numerical title with the 24 television series so it is perhaps unsurprising that US television would attempt a version of XIII while 24 was still popular. As this was made for America (unlike both the previous and more recent live-action XIII TV series) and so is in English with Steven Dorff as XIII, Val Kilmer as The Mongoose and Lucinda Davis as Jones, while the story diverges from the books by adding a new female character, Sam, played by Casino Royale's Caterina Murino.

"The first female US President Sally Sheridan is shot dead by a sniper during her Independence Day speech. Her assassin narrowly escapes the scene with his life, national security hot on his heels - or so it seems. Three months later, a wounded man is found. The young man (Stephen Dorff) cannot remember the slightest thing about his own identity. The only clue is a tattoo on his neck, "XIII". Could his lightning reflexes and killer instincts betray him?"

There are more details of the Cinebook publications of Largo Winch, Lucky Luke and XIII at the Cinebook website.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Megacon Comes To Carlisle In August

With just less than one month to go, the Carlisle Megacon comics, manga/anime and gaming event has finalised its guests, small press and dealers line-up. Organised by the Carlisle branch of Waterstones, this is an expansion of the shop based Recon events of previous years.

The half day event on Saturday 18 August 2012 will take place at the Richard Rose Central Academy school in Victoria Place near Carlisle city centre. It begins at 1pm and runs through to 6pm. Tickets cost £5 and are available from the Carlisle branch of Waterstones in person or over the phone (01228 542300) or on the door on the day (provided that there are still tickets left).

Guests scheduled to be there include artists Sean Phillips and Graeme Neil Reid, writers Jim Alexander, Andy Diggle and Gordon Rennie and local crime and horror novelist Matt Hilton. The guests will be taking part in talks, QandAs and signing sessions.

British small press will be represented by Accent UK, Art Heroes and Black Hearted Press while local fans are being encouraged to take part in various competitions on the day including cosplay, artwork and "Avengers Resemble" plus there will be a Marvel Vs Capcom III tournament run by Gamestation. Other dealers include Games Workshop, Travelling Man, Piers Christian Toy Soldiers, Esdevium Games and Tucky's Anime.

There are more details of Megacon on the Megacon Facebook page, their Twitter feed, and there is a also a Facebook event/discussion board page.

Diamond launch digital comics service, linked to comic shops

Diamond Comic Distributors and iVerse Media have partnered to create Diamond Digital, a unique initiative that lets your local comic book shop retailer sell digital comics and graphic novels for Apple and Android devices directly to you.

Diamond and iVerse describe it as an easy way to purchase digital comics for your reading pleasure on the go and, at the same time, support your local comic book shop that brings you printed comics week in and week out.

Already on offer via the service are titles from US companies such as IDW and Boom!

Here's how it works:

1. Each week check out weekly release lists at or to see what's available digitally in stores.

2. If you are in your comic book shop, tell your retailer that you'd like to purchase a digital comic book and he'll give you a download code.

3. If you are online, many retailers have digital comics available directly from their websites, so you can pay and download your digital copy at your own convenience.

4. Make sure you download the unique Digital Comics Reader app -- developed and powered by Digital comics powerhouse, iVerse Media. It's available for use on the web, Apple iPhone or for Android phones.

5. Plus, any purchases you make stays with you "in the iVerse Cloud" where you can download and use it on any device you'd like.

You can purchase a code fo a day-and-date digital editions of new comics every Wednesday when the print versions are available, usually at the same SRP as their print equivalents. You also can purchase a digital “Plus” edition code, which will typically be priced at $.99 when you purchase a print version of the same comic book.

Codes can be redeemed at your retailers’ website, or at

Diamond say there are thousands of backlist comic book codes available from Diamond Digital as well, including bestsellers such as Walking Dead, Ghostbusters and more - with complete runs for you to read digitally.

It's an interesting idea, long in the planning, but at this point, we're not sure how ready UK stores might be to do this - the actual app does include Diamond's comic store locator, but unlike the Diamond Digital web site, there's no option at present to search for non US comic shps.

You can download this in the UK, but the app doesn't offer its own storefront, the whole aim of this is to encourage instore purchase.

Looks like it's work in progress to us, especially for non US comic fans, especially given the lack of any UK publishers on the site home page so far...


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