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Saturday, 24 November 2012

In Review: The Ballad of Halo Jones stage play

(Re-posted here with the kind permission of Matthew Charlton from the Fictionstrker blog)

The Story: Halo Jones lives on the Hoop, a futuristic floating slum tethered to a future Manhattan. Citizens of the Hoop live on State Benefit and a diet of soap operas. Halo wants out, and when her best friend is murdered and another joins a youth cult called the Drummers, she might just get that chance…

First created by Alan Moore and drawn by Ian Gibson as a comic strip for 2000AD, their aim was to break out the mold of one-dimensional comic strip characters and create a ordinary heroine – something unlike what was in the comic at that time. The rest, as they say, is history...

The Review: [Not for the first time, as we noted in our first news item on this new adaptation], Alan Moore’s timeless story of the 51st century girl next door made a surprisingly smooth transition to stage back in January. The critical reception made it a logical choice to remount, and where better than the UK’s premier comic convention – Thought Bubble! But as we see, The Ballad of Halo Jones has undergone a few changes since its original staging..

Halo Jones originally first appeared in weekly anthology comic 2000AD in 1984, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Ian Gibson, it turned ‘typical’ 2000AD on its head. Instead of an action hero, it has as its main character an ordinary woman and an unemployed one at that. And where 2000AD was known for its satire, then and now, Halo Jones’ tale of poverty and unemployment resonates. Here people identified with Halo, rather than the authority figures featured elsewhere in the comic.

Not only that, but where 2000AD normally features slang in place of people or more obvious words, Halo Jones takes this to another level with the slang used by the characters, and specifically, the recurring newscaster Swifty Friscoe. Zoe Iqbal reprises her hilarious role as Swifty in this production. Iqbal captures Swifty’s ridiculous nature down to a tee, accentuating every pout and movement with unique style. Cheekily flirting with the audience, she is a vital window into events.

One of Halo Jones’ biggest successes is the world it builds. Carly Tarrett’s Brinna, and Will Hutchby’s Toby meet Halo’s mother as she arrives on the Hoop in a prologue. Adam Beresford, in the first of four demanding, but comic cameos, introduces Halo’s mother to the concept of Increased Leisure Citizens – or the great unemployed. These unfortunates are kept in line and in check on the Hoop through the use of Mam Cards giving credit every thirty days.

Tarrett’s Brinna is a revelation. She effortlessly conveys the timeless wisdom of someone over a century old in a youthful body. Hutchby’s Toby quizzically cocks his head (but thankfully not his leg!) throughout the play. His silky smooth tones are almost perfectly robotic when dispensing Toby’s one-liners.

Less effective is Toby’s appearance, the stocking over his head and jaw mouthpiece not wholly convincing. Always going to be a contentious issue with such highly regarded source material, top marks must go to Hutchby for managing to convey a canine presence through his body language alone.

The Ballad of Halo Jones
In a sensible creative decision from Director Dan Thackeray, a projector screen at the stage rear takes visual cues from the comic strip, treating the audience to flashes of Ian Gibson’s iconic artwork. Even more successful is the incredible soundscape of Halo. Atmospheric effects take you from the Hoop with its writhing crowds to the snowy wilderness of Charlemagne via the ethereal songs of the Clara Pandy.

Morag Peacock’s Halo makes an understated entrance to the stage, but remains at all times at the heart of the story. Her humanity and radiance shines through as her desperate yearn to escape becomes more and more apparent. Yet, her vulnerability and story really come to the fore when her world falls apart, and her escape becomes a deadly dance of cat and mouse.

In comparison to Halo, Rodice Olsun is! on paper, a much more unsympathetic character. The status quo defines Rodice. Instead of working the system, the system works her, making her afraid of the outside and turning her into everything that Halo isn’t. Yet Sinead Parker’s comedic background pays dividends with a very witty and funny portrayal. With the lion’s share of gags, Parker moulds her into a force to be reckoned with.

Rounding off the ladies of the Hoop is newcomer Ellie Beesley as Ludy, the Ice Ten singer broken by the Hoop. Beesley shows promise at such a young age, no mean feat, especially as the part requires her to sing live to the audience.

Ross Kelly and Ian Winterton’s script manages to turn the soapy, episodic nature of the second book into a much more fulfilling experience. Halo’s death-defying experiences on the Clara Pandy culminate in one particularly effective sequence as she meets the Rat King.

Added into this mix is Halo’s new sidekick, Leni Murphy’s Toy. Murphy, again playing a space siren brings a mixture of steel and care to Toy with some amusing moments as she rebuffs Adam Beresford’s advances and shares some touching scenes with Halo.

Sean Mason brings in a particularly memorable performance as the Gl.. Ge.. er.. who? Joking aside, Mason brings a tangible depth to an unforgettable and mysterious character who is easily one of the more interesting things about the second act. Marvellously obvilious to Halo’s attempts at advances, Marlon Solomon flexes his comedic muscles with some impeccable comic timing as cybernetic obsessed Mix Ninegold.

With a reworked, and slightly less optimistic, ending more in tune with the comics, we are promised that Halo Jones will return, possibly hinting at an adaptation of the third book.

A few technical niggles aside, the presentation of Halo Jones was pretty much as good as it could get on stage. With a larger stage and reimagined visuals and sound, it feels more epic than ever and has clearly grown and organically evolved from its previous incarnation only earlier this year! One thing is for sure; The Ballad of Halo Jones has lost none of its relevance or style and continues to be as rich as when it was first published.

• The Fiction Stroker is actually Matt, a Environmental Consultant from just outside Manchester. By day, he’s recycling various floorcoverings into new exciting products. By night, he's either out at local events, watching some (variable) telly, or reading on his Kindle. He has a lot to talk about. Check out his blog at:


Turtle frenzy in Hamleys!

Devoted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans turned up at Hamleys toyshop on London’s Regent Street this morning for the exclusive early launch of the new toy range. For one day only early birds had the chance of snapping-up a limited edition Night Shadow Leonardo figure.

 The brand new Turtles toy collection will launch nationwide on 1st December just in time for Christmas.

Dandy countdown to electronic makeover continues...

The latest Dandy comic - counting down to the final print edition, on sale at the beginning of December - features a cover from what we're told is the 1967 Dandy annual featuring Korky the Cat. (Thanks to George Shiers for the info)

The issue has some great strips including Terry Bave's Winker Watson, a remake of the classic Corporal Clott by Nigel Auchterlounie and a reprint of the Charlie Grigg Korky strip from the '67 annual.

Over on the official Dandy website the clock continues to count down to the relaunch of the title as a digital edition... Just nine days to go!

Photo Review: Thought Bubble 2012 Part 1

Last weekend the two day Thought Bubble comic convention took place in Leeds as part of the week long comic art festival. The event has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 2007 and this year demand from sellers for its 300 odd tables meant that they sold out months in advance. Indeed the keenness of some attendees was shown on the wet Saturday morning when sellers entering the halls over 1.5 hours before the official doors open time were walking past people already queueing for the 10am start.

Thought Bubble is a true celebration of the diversity of the modern British comics scene, from veteran professionals, via all the various levels of what gets grouped as 'small press', to the lovingly crafted pieces that would seem as much at home in a craft fair. There was something for everyone, from the hardened con-goer wanting sketches or original art boards from a specific artist to the children who walked around collecting "Phoenix feathers" from the various contributors to the weekly Phoenix comic to take back to the title's own table.

Other events seem to get dominated by themes, such as MCM Expo with manga/anime and its cosplayers, or Kapow and the London Super Convention with the US superhero clique, but Thought Bubble, while having manga, anime and superheroes as part of it, gives the impression of a much greater diversity in its make-up. Of course attendees could buy manga books and Marvel and DC superheroes, but they could also buy Victor, Warlord, Blast, Deadline, 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine.

Thanks to Lisa Wood and her organising team, their red shirted volunteers, and the girls (and some boys) of the Roller Derby squads, Thought Bubble 2012 was a great success and a very positive re-enforcement for both attendees and creators that, despite dwindling sales in the weekly and biweekly publishing sector, there remains a great passion in Britain for comics in all their various forms.

Rather than review such a large and diverse event instead we present a photo round up (in no particular order) of a selection of the creators and sellers that exhibited at Thought Bubble, plus a few others that caught our attention along the way. With the event split over two halls, part one will roughly cover the Royal Armouries Hall (above) while part two tomorrow will cover the larger New Dock Hall.

Bandes dessinees publisher Cinebook were the first dealer that many people would have visited as they were just at the door to the Royal Armouries Hall. Here Cinebook's Aldous Russell shows off the excellent and brand new Berlin - The Seven Dwarves which was reviewed on downthetubes the week before Thought Bubble.

There are more details of all Cinebook's titles on their website.

Another Thought Bubble attendee featured on downthetubes in the week before the convention was Star Wars artist Tanya Roberts. Tanya gave us an interview about her work in which she told us about her first self published title Forgotten Muse which she released at Thought Bubble, and which she described on the Saturday night as "selling like hot-cakes".

There are more details of Tanya's work and Forgotten Muse on her website.

Writer and editor Paul Von Scott is well known in the British comics scene for the titles Solar Wind and OmniVistaScope. His latest title is The Last Days Of Man, a compilation of all the various work that he has done with artist Paul McCaffrey, and which is subtitled A Study Of Human History By Professor Brabblepap. Paul also creates role playing games as well as the range of Midlam Miniatures RPG figures and he had a selection of these for sale as well.

There are more details of Paul's comics, games and miniatures on his OmniVistaScope website

Glasgow collective Team Girl Comic were at Thought Bubble in force with a wide selection of merchandise from all six issues of TGC to branded bags, postcards and badges. Kat Sicard, Claire Yvette and Coleen Campbell (left to right above) were also joined by Iona Mowat, Mhairi Hislop and TGC editor Gillian Hatcher. 

There are more details of Team Girl Comic on their website.

With the Judge Dredd based fan made film Judge Minty being screened several times over the weekend to very positive reviews from those who were lucky enough to see it, it was unsurprising to see the Planet Replicas version of the judge uniform on display around the event with model Lauren Integra as their petite Psi-Judge.

However, as if just to prove that cosplayers do not need a huge budget, Martin and Frankie Currie were also attracting a lot of attention due to their remarkable ingenuity with cardboard and paint.

Saturday ended with a evening social event in the beautifully restored Leeds Corn Exchange, complete with enormous Christmas tree, which either went well if you gave in to the call of the dance floor or not so well if you wanted to talk over the increasingly deafening music and see people through the decreasing light levels. The walk back to the Royal Armouries area afterwards showed that the New Dock itself is perhaps even more striking at night than it is in the daylight.

There will be more Thought Bubble photos in Part 2 tomorrow.

Friday, 23 November 2012

MCM launch Scotland show, expand Birmingham events

2013 will see the MCM Expo head north of the border for the first MCM Scotland Comic Con - a brand new one-day festival from the organisers of Britain's biggest popular culture event, MCM London Comic Con.

Debuting on 31st August at Scotland's premier national events venue, SECC Glasgow, MCM Scotland Comic Con will feature everything from new movies, much-loved sci-fi shows and top comic creators to the latest videogames, anime and manga a great special guest line-up.

"MCM are so looking forward to bringing our brand to Glasgow’s SECC," said show co-organiser Bryan Cooney. "Our sponsors and exhibitors have been asking for a Scottish event and in 2013 they will get their wish. We look forward to visiting the city of Glasgow."

Breda Cruickshank, Head of Exhibition Sales, SECC commented: “We are delighted to be welcoming this exciting event to Glasgow. Hosting such varied sectors of the entertainment industry, from comics and manga to film and cult fiction will make for an action packed weekend!”

The announcement comes after the huge success of the existing MCM Midlands Comic Con in February and MCM Manchester Comic Con in July, which drew 11,300 visitors on only its second outing.

The launch of MCM Scotland Comic Con means that film fans, gamers, anime enthusiasts, cosplayers and collectors now have the chance to attend MCM events in London, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Telford.

MCM will also be expanding their Birmingham events during 2013, with the Memorabilia Show now being permanently co-located with the new MCM Birmingham Comic Con at the NEC. The comic con debuted alongside Memorabilia in March 2012, and the overwhelming positive visitor response means that the show will now be joining MCM's roster of permanent events.

The MCM Group's next event is the Memorabilia Birmingham collectors' show, which takes place at the NEC this weekend, 24-25th November. To find out more about Memorabilia, please visit

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Howard Overman on Panel Borders

Panel Borders: Writing Misfits 

Concluding a month of shows about writing superhero stories, Panel Borders moves its attention from the comic book page to the small screen as Alex Fitch talks to Howard Overman about Misfits, E4's award winning drama about teenagers with superpowers doing community service. Alex and Howard talk about the genesis of the show, writing episodes that engage with other genres such as time travel and 'zombie noir' and the travails of having to write characters out and introduce new ones.

8pm Sunday 25th November 2012, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... Water Closet Press

Available now from Water Closet Press – the brainchild of comic creators Richard Worth and Jordan Oliver – is the second issue of an engaging new title perhaps enigmatically titled Ladies and Gentlemen.

The team describe Ladies and Gentlemen as a comic "packed with adventure, mystery, romance, moustaches and monocles.

"It follows the adventure of The Gentry," writer Richard tells us, "a team of Victorian crime fighters. It’s a love letter to Silver Age comics, magicians and myths."

The team have plunged into their carefully-crafted alternate world with aplomb, as you can see for yourself, as the entire first issue of the comic is available to read online here on the Water Closet Press web site. Drawn in a wash style by Canadian Jordan, there's an fantastic intensity to the work that forgives some of the perhaps occasionally cluttered layouts.

• Ladies and Gentlemen is available from Travelling Man Leeds, OK Comics Leeds and Excelsior Comics, Bristol – and available online at

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Brett Uren's Kuzimu launched

Just shipped to UK comic stores is Brett Uren's spooky-looking Kuzimu (Volume 1), a haunting-looking title that is aimed at teen to mature readers.

"Possibly Vertigo," Brett tells us, "or those that love Hellboy by way of Moebius, if that's possible!"

Ku-zimu is the East African name for the forgotten world of spirits. An underground realm where the dead reside, overshadowed by oppression and war.

Pt’eros is a lonely reptilian traveler in the timeless, boundless place that is Ku-zimu, where the beliefs and memories of all cultures are given form.

Haunted by visions of the young Maasai boy that he was, events from his life play out before him. Powerful beings and warlords manipulate events to use or capture him, seeking Pt’eros’ gift to see and walk between life and death.

To escape the world of the dead, Pt’eros must face the ghosts of his life...

Brett's passion for this project is undeniable, not only in the startling, challenging art and story, but also in terms of publication: he's clearly worked hard to make sure this book is available not just in print (thanks to UKComics) but digitally, too. You can find it for iPad and iPhone, Kindle and  Issue 1 is available free on and elsewhere on the web - check out the links on Brett's web site at

"I started writing and creating this world at the age of 15 and have been adding little bits to it ever since," Brett reveals. "In late 2006, early 2007, I finally got the energy together to start writing and drawing it seriously as a comic book.

"Needless to say, the costs of printing it were astronomical, so I decided to publish it myself via my site, then via 215 ink and the online digital comic store at and now pre-order for print!

"So now it's down to my prospective readers," he urges. "My aim was to create a whole new world, so if you want to see more, please buy it. The more you help by getting the latest issue and telling your friends, the more I can put back into continuing to create this unique work!"

That said, Brett reveals he has just finished part 1 of 'Ci-wa' (face), the next chapter following both parts of 'Yowa' (fear), 'Syoma' (kindness) and 'Lu-se' (hope), so you won't have to wait long for the exciting chapter in this (hopefully) epic tale.

Here's a trailer for the book on YouTube...

Comics make the Costa Book Awards for first time

Dotter of her Father's Eyes
(Updated): Two graphic novels - Dotter of Her Father's Eyes by Mary and Bryan Talbot and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart - feature in the short list for this year's Costa Book Awards - considered one of the UK's most prestigious book awards.

While there are many dedicated comic industry awards, this is, the Guardian notes, something of a literary milestone, as they are the first graphic works to be shortlisted for a Costa (formerly the Whitbreads) which "unashamedly celebrate and reward enjoyability in five sections.

"While it might be a surprise to some, there will be many who feel there should be more mainstream recognition for graphic work," the paper reports, and Bryan Talbot agrees. "I think it's a big thing for the comic medium generally," he says. "It is another instance of the growing acceptability of comics as a valid artform."

The well-received Dotter of Her Father's Eyes tells the story of James Joyce's tragic daughter Lucia, who spent the last 30 years of her life in a mental institution. Into that tale, Mary Talbot has woven the story of her own troubled relationship with her father, the eminent Joycean scholar James S Atherton.

Told in both monochromatic and colored styles, the story shows two very different people, combined in a way that is unique all on its own, the book received major praise for its take on gender politics on its debut and was rated one of the best graphic novels of the year by Publisher’s Weekly.

In Joff Winterhart's funny graphic novel, Days of the Bagnold Summer, Sue, 52, works in a library. Daniel, 15, is still at school. This was the summer holidays Daniel was due to spend with his father and his father's pregnant new wife in Florida. When they cancel his trip, Sue and Daniel face six long weeks together...

Already well-known for his animated films like Violet and Turquoise, Joff Winterhart here shows himself to be a comics author of extraordinary talent.

On release, review site BookMunch described it as the most enthralling graphic novel debut of the year.

"Days of the Bagnold Summer is a book that will make you chuckle and ponder," their reviewer enthused. "Chuckling and pondering are no bad things. It is also a book that will work on you and draw you back for another re-read, another chuckle, another ponder. From start to finish, it’s a pleasure of a peculiar kind. Joff Winterhart is a writer we will be keeping a close eye on in the future. He is also a writer that we think you graphic novel types should be hurrying to check out.

Talking about the nomination in the Guardian yesterday, Bryan Talbot said many people tended to view comics as a genre rather than a medium, whereas "they can tell any sort of story". He said some tended to not think beyond Superman.

"People don't seem to realise there's a whole range of quality material out there which is worth any intelligent person's time to read."

Shortlisted for his first full-length book 38-year-old Winterhart, who drums in a band despite having only one hand, told the Guardian he was extremely surprised by the nomination. "It doesn't feel like a novel, it's got pictures in it!

"I didn't know it had enough words to constitute a novel," he continued. "Some graphic novels are quite epic and very cinematic in scope and mine is incredibly not like that."

Author Wendy Holden, one of the category's three judges, said it was funny, thought-provoking and "sniff-makingly sad". She added: "Anyone with a teenager in the family, or anticipating having one in the future, should read it. It's not only hilarious and brilliant but deals with real life, as people really live it, which alone sets it apart from many works of fiction today."

She said graphic novels were "undeservedly underrated" and Winterhart's book was a jewel in the genre.

For the hotly contested Children's Book Award shortlist, the debut illustrator and author Dave Shelton stands alongside former Whitbread Children’s Novel Award winner Diana Hendry, as well as dyslexia campaigner Sally Gardner, and teen fiction writer, Hayley Long.

You can read about Waterstones’ own Sarah Clarke and experiences on the judging panel of the Children’s Book Award here.

The winners of the Costas will be announced on 2nd January 2013. The final five will then be in competition for the overall £30,000 prize as Costa book of the year on 29th January.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Convict Commandos back in action!

The latest issues of Commando, on sale this week in all good newsagents, include a new Convict Commandos story from Alan Hebden and the tale of a battle-hungry cook!

What more variety do you need? Here's the gen:

Commando No 4551: Hell's Cauldron
Writer: Alan Hebden Art: Benet Cover: Benet

Jelly, Titch and Smiler are back in action. Led by their "boss" Guy Tenby, the Convict Commandos are thrown into the middle of an assassination plot in Yugoslavia.

They're used to being kept in the dark by Guy but this time, even he doesn't seem to know what's going on. And that could have fatal consequences for all of them.

Commando No 4552: The Sergeant And The Squad
Writer: Ferg Handley Art: Olivera Cover: Janek Matysiak

He was a tough loner, a veteran of the war in Far East, a survivor of the terrors of the jungle and a hundred brutal fights against the Japanese. The last thing he wanted was to take a group of raw recruits under his wing.

To them, he was more a like a machine than a man and a killing machine at that – gruff, remorseless and cold. To them, he was the only man who could get them through the war.

But some of those rookies worried that they'd end up just like…The Sergeant!

Commando No 4553: Sky Ace
Originally Commando No 29 (July 1962)
Story: Maitland Art: Peter Ford Cover: Ken Barr

This is the inside story of two ace British fighter pilots, and the strange and deadly rivalry that drove them to outfly, outshoot and outdare each other through every risky second of their dog-fights with the mighty Luftwaffe.

They did things with fighters no aircraft were built to do, writing the story of their feuds with each other in the skies over Southern England in the flaming wreckage of dozens of Nazi planes. They became a legend in their own lifetimes.

Between these covers is their glorious story.

"I have no idea if Mr Maitland, who wrote this story, was ex-RAF, but he certainly gives the dialogue an authentic period feel," notes editor Calum Laird of this re-presented issue. "You feel as though you're part of a wartime squadron, drinking in the atmosphere.

"His efforts are aided and abetted by the efforts of Messrs Ford and Barr - Ford's very fine black and white work and Barr's bright, bold cover match the atmosphere of the story beautifully.

"Oh, and in case you're wondering, it's not just atmospheric, it's a cracking story too."

Commando No 4554: The Chef Who Went to War
Originally Commando No 2141 (December 1987)
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Denis McLoughlin Cover: Ian Kennedy

Stanley Simpson couldn't stand life in the Catering Corps. He desperately wanted to be a fighting soldier.

Well, the German Army was heading straight for the kitchen where Stan worked, so his first taste of action was going to come a lot sooner than he reckoned!

"Get ready for a delicious Commando caper," enthuse Deputy Editor Scott Montgomery of this story, "cooked up by a trio of talented Commando legends   our compliments to writer Alan Hebden, inside artist Denis McLoughlin and cover illustrator Ian Kennedy.

"Set against the run-up to Dunkirk, The Chef Who Went To War is classic Commando fare. It features a man who wants to get out of the kitchen and fight, as well as his cowardly mate who it seems, 'Can't cook, won't cook.' And, unfortunately, 'Can't fight, won't fight' either!
"You may want to take your time and savour this mouth-watering story. Or you may wish to bolt it all down quickly in one go. Either way, enjoy."

downthetubes is pleased to offer an exclusive discount on a subscription to DC Thomson's Commando comic, entitling readers to save 50% by ordering using our special discount code! Follow this link to DC Thomson's subscription page. When prompted, enter this unique code COMDT - then make your payment and your subscription will be up and running!

• 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

• Steadfast! the Commando artwork exhibition at The Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen runs until 30th November 2012. There are more details about the exhibition on the museum website.

Rick Fury - Rapper on the rampage!

Don't just read this comic - hear it! ROK Records has just released the first free audio-enhanced issue of FURIOUS, starring none other than Geordie rapping superstar Rick Fury.

Featuring a full soundtrack that brings the story added life and excitement, FURIOUS is set in an alternate, dangerous Britain where Northern England has been leased to China to pay Britain's enormous debts and Scotland is an independent nation. On the streets of South Shields - now Shanghai North - the rebellious population are subject to absolute rule, where many forms of entertainment are banned and street gangs enforce the law of the occupying nation.

Rick Fury and fellow rap star Layla Lu voice the audio comic script from Rick Fury himself (assisted by Ben Kendrick) with art by Marc Olivent, colour from Kirsty Swan, lettered by Jim Campbell.

The ongoing FURIOUS audio comic is just one more step in artist/rapper Rick Fury's path to global domination! Rick's exceptional talent puts him at the forefront of his profession, bringing a fresh look to Hip Hop, rapping about everyday situations and life in general.

Rick Fury is undoubtedly one of the North East's finest and most hard working emcees. His remarkable story-telling ability, sincerity, humour and masterful wordplay have gained him wide recognition as one of the best. Constantly writing, performing and making music,both as a solo artist and in collaborations... Rick truly does live and breathe his art.

This free comic includes the option to buy Rick's latest single "Rage", which will unlock an exclusive Rick Fury video within the app!

- Official Rick Fury audio comic - voiced by Rick and Layla Lu!

- Full colour action comic with swipe to read navigation

- Exclusive Rick Fury video (on in-app purchase of his single, "Rage")

- Click-to-listen full audio soundtrack

Furious Episode 1 audio comic is available to download from iTunes now for iPad, iPhone and iTouch

Furious Episode 1 audio comic for Android devices

Zeek Graphic Novel Series launched

Manchester-based Comic creator Enn Kae recently launched the first book in his Zeek series of graphic novels set in contemporary Manchester.

The first book is available to buy through and, for a limited time until 1st December, you can claim a coupon for 50 per cent off the retail price.

Claim your coupon at

Enn Kae, who describes himself as a writer of "dystopian fiction", was born in a small town in north-west of England to immigrant parents and has lived in both Scotland and England. At 21, he left Scotland to live in England. He has worked in many guises: office worker; car insurance salesman and, for the past 5 years, as a teacher. He has taught one of the most vulnerable groups in Britain: young people at risk of exclusion. His stories evoke the sense of isolation and alienation that he experienced whilst growing up in the UK and they are also inspired by the kids he taught.

Enn got the idea for Zeek back in 2007 –  a series of satirical and dystopian graphic novels with the aim of making people 'wake up' to their realities. Now, over five years later, he presents Zeek and the Hoodies - a vigilante's dark and satirical journey through England's cultural landscape encountering double-speak, the 'sheeple' and media manipulation.

Many stories have been told about anti-heroes and Ezekel “Zeek” Carnegie is a man struggling to make sense of a country that he no longer recognises. “Zeek and the Hoodies” examines his journey from an ordinary man - Ezekiel Carnegie - into a vigilante by the name of “Zeek” who wants to clean up the city and return his neighbourhood to his childhood land.

 With the help of a powerful man named Victor Proctor he will plot to return England to its former glory but will his anger towards every group in England be enough for Victor to realise The Project - or will “Zeek” come to his own realisation about himself?

Told over eight books, the first one ends with the question - who will be next, after The Hoodies?

The series is being published via Smashwords, the world's leading ebook publishing and distribution platform, which has has distribution relationships with leading online retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony and Diesel eBooks, and leading mobile e-reading apps including Aldiko, Stanza, Kobo, FBReader and Word-Player, spanning all major mobile platforms including Android, Blackberry and iPhone.

• For more about Zeek and creator Enn Kae visit; or; or

It's The Dandy Show! Final print issue to be celebrated at London Mart

With the final print edition of The Dandy comic imminent - a 100-page special that includes a facsimile of the first issue - the London Comic Mart is marking its transition to a digital format on Sunday 2nd December by hosting a special Dandy-themed day to celebrate 75 years of the much loved comic.

Launched on 4th December 1937, The Dandy hits 75 years at the beginning of December – but, sadly, the anniversary will see an end to the print edition. Hopefully, the move to an entirely digital comic will prove a success – DC Thomson have been working on it for months, so fingers crossed!

To celebrate the anniversary and to tie-in with the final print issue of the iconic DC Thomson comic, Showmasters is hosting a special edition of its ABC Show. Held on 2nd December from noon to 4.00pm at the Royal National Hotel, Bedford Way, London WC1, the festivities are an addition to the regular London Comic Marts held at the same venue.

In attendance will be such contemporary Dandy artists as Henry Davis, Laura Howell, Gary Northfield, Lew Stringer and others.

Original artwork from The Dandy from the 1930s to the 1960s will be on display, as well as issues of The Dandy from the same period.

Organisers say this is a unique opportunity to meet the people behind The Dandy, hear them talk about their experiences working on the comic and see some of the rarities from the weekly’s history.

In addition, Hunt Emerson - also a Dandy contributor - will be at the event, signing copies of his new book, Dante's Inferno; and author David Ashford will be signing copies of his latest book The Art of Denis McLoughlin, published by exhibitor Book Palace, who will also be showing off the first issue of illustrators , the quarterly publication devoted to the finest European illustration.

Dealers at the event will also be offering comics and memorabilia from across the wide range of British comics in general.

• London Comic Mart, Noon - 4.00pm Sunday 2nd December 2012. For more details visit the Showmasters website here:

Monday, 19 November 2012

Electric Man Film Special Screening In Sheffield

The Sheffield Space Centre comic shop is helping to promote The Electric Man independent film we've covered in the past on downthetubes, which is having a special screening at the Showroom Cinema Sheffield on Thursday 22nd November at 6.00pm.

In Electric Man Movie (12A), Jazz and Wolf run Deadhead Comics. They owe their landlord £5,000 but they don’t have it and it seems the shop is doomed. But, when Issue No 1 of Electric Man mysteriously appears in the shop it seems their problems are solved.

Far from it. Worth £100,000, the comic is being sought by a number of people who’ll stop at nothing to get it for themsleves - the strange and alluring Lauren McCall, Electric Man obsessive Edison Bolt and Lauren’s Uncle Jimmy, a violent thug.

Add to the mix, the return of Wolf’s girlfriend Victoria and you have all the elements for what’s been described as The Maltese Falcon meets Clerks.

Writer Scott MacKay and Director David Barras will be at Sheffield Space Centre, 33 The Wicker, Sheffield S3 8HS between 2-3.00 pm Thursday 22nd November and will be available to chat, answer questions and sign copies of the DVD of the film, we will then have a free prize draw for 2 free tickets to see the film at the showroom that evening at 6.00pm.

The film will be shown at 6.00pm and this will be followed by a Q & A session at the Showroom with Scott Mackay and David Barras with a raffle for two £20 gift vouchers to use in the Sheffield Space Centre.

New Thunder Super Soap Division breaks into our quantum reality

Thunder Brother Soap Division #3
The third issue of Paul Rainey's Thunder Brother: Soap Division is now available to order from his online shop. Like both of the previous two, copies of which are still available to buy, it features a complete Thunder Brother: Soap Division story which, on this occasion, is called "The Two Ronnies". But this edition also features rare and previously unseen comic strip extras, including the Jeremy Kyle Show/Doctor Who mash-up strip, Doctor Kyle.

In Ghost.Zombie! one character's a ghost, one's a zombie - and together they are Ghost.Zombie. Plus, In full colour for the first time, West: Badwater Lake, written by the mighty Andrew Cheverton on loan from Angry Candy.

Richard Bruton had this to say about the brand new issue on the Forbidden Planet Blog: "Rainey’s doing that brilliant thing he does so easily it seems; taking a simple enough sci-fi idea and really, really thinking it through, getting into all those troublesome details that it’s all too easy to ignore in favour of shifting that plot forwards. Rainey takes another view, that there’s a story within those troublesome details. Of course, it does help that Rainey’s storytelling and art match up to his clever ideas all the way."

Each issue of Thunder Brother: Soap Division is 24 pages long, is full colour throughout and costs only £3. (Price includes free P&P to the UK)

Thunder Brother: Soap Division started appearing during September 2011 and a new page of this science fiction/superhero adventure now appears every Sunday. As well as the print collections, you can also the story so far online via the links below. To do this, click on the following links in order, and read each story starting with the page that loads at the bottom. Note that you need to read each story from the bottom page upwards.

The Apprentice

Going Straight

The Two Ronnies

Big Break

Mind Your Language

• To buy or find out more, visit:


Sunday, 18 November 2012

British Comic Awards: The Winners

(Updated 19/11/12): The winners of the first British Comic Awards were announced at Thought Bubble last night. If you were at the Awards Ceremony, I hope you were pleased by the results.

This was the first year of the BCAs and I was honoured to be asked to be a judge and I'm delighted by the quality of the nominees and the winners, especially Luke Pearson's Hilda and the Midnight Giant, which I was genuinely moved by when I read it.

It was hard to 'grade' such distinctive work from all those nominated, all of it terrific in its own right but for very different reasons.

The winners were as follows:

  Best Book: Nelson edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix (Blank Slate Books)

The other nominees were:

Science Tales by Darryl Cunningham (Myriad Editions)

Don Quixote Volume 1 by Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)

Goliath by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson (Nobrow)

In a post on their Facebook page, Blank Slate commented: "We're so proud to have taken home the first Best Book award at the British Comic Awards. Huge congratulations go out to everyone involved with the book, especially the readers and retailers who helped make Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix's experiment such a success."

Best Comic - Bad Machinery: The Case Of The Fire Inside by John Allison
Published online at, January 9th – June 28th 2012

The other nominees were:

Accidental Salad by Joe Decie (Blank Slate Books)

Girl & Boy by Andrew Tunney -

Hemlock Issue 3 by Josceline Fenton

Tuk Tuk Issue 1 by Will Kirkby

Emerging Talent - Josceline Fenton

The other nominees were:

• Kristyna Baczynski –

• Will Kirkby –

• Louis Roskosch –

• Jack Teagle -

Young People's Comic Award - Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson

The other nominees were:

Bad Machinery: The Case of The Fire Inside by John Allison

The Lost Boy by Kate BrownPublished in The Phoenix by David Fickling Books, January 7th – 1st September 2012

Dinopopolous by Nick Edwards
Published by Blank Slate Publishing (Chalk Marks), October 2011

Gum Girl 1: Catastrophe Calling by Andi Watson
Published by Walker Books

The first member of the BCA's Hall of Fame is Fungus the Bogeyman and The Snowman creator Raymond Briggs.

The judges this year were comic creator Hunt Emerson, Page 45 comic shop owner Steve L. Holland, academics Dr. Mel Gibson and Roger Sabin, and Stacey Whittle, writer at SFX Magazine website, long-running indie/small press comics podcaster; and myself, comics editor and writer John Freeman.

One thing that I will publicly say as one of the judges is that several comic creators contacted me when the nominees were first announced and questioned the choices. It was noted in particular that (aside from one strip that ran in The Phoenix) there were no nominations for strips that feature in any of the remaining originated mainstream British comics such as The Dandy or 2000AD.

As someone who has promoted both "mainstream" and "independent" comics on downthetubes and elsewhere (and given the quality of work that was nominated, not only in terms of content but production values, such distinctions are by no means easy to define), I did ask about this at an early stage of the judging process.

I was told the philosophy of the Awards is to include any and all work being made by British creators, to commend the best and highlight them for a wider audience. There was no attempt to promote only "independent" comics or creators.

Suggestions for nomination was open to anyone who submitted their views on the BCA web site. The BCA Committee, comprising lecturer and artist Dan Berry, columnist and comics retailer Richard Bruton, Clark Burscough, BCA Founder Adam Cadwell, comics writer Matthew Sheret, artist and illustrator Vicky Stonebridge and ThoughtBubble founder Lisa Wood, looked at strips running in The Beano, The Dandy and 2000AD and looked for comics that stood as being some of the best work being produced in the last year.

"Jaime Smart's Desperate Dan was mentioned, as was the Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos story which got some votes from committee members," Adam Cadwell told me, "but in the end we decided that work being done in The Phoenix, online comics and some self published work stood out more and were the type of stories that could be enjoyed by anyone."

Opinions on creative work are by their very nature subjective but in my personal view, I hope that next year, British publishers large and small will again have (and take) the opportunity to send the committee their qualifying titles for consideration, as well as the BCA allowing for online nomination from visitors to the BCA web site.

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