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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dandy 75: A Roundup Of What Is Happening

The 75th anniversary, and last print, edition of The Dandy comic will be published on Tuesday 4 December, the same day that the new on-line version will be launched. In the run-up to Tuesday here are a selection of Dandy events and stories -

The ABC Show returns to the (almost monthly) London Comic Mart tomorrow, Sunday 2 December, when creators Henry Davis, Hunt Emerson, Laura Howell, Gary Northfield, Nigel Parkinson and Lew Stringer will be on hand to sign Dandys while original artwork will be on display. The event runs from Noon to 4pm at the Royal National Hotel near London's Russel Square and entrance is free.
There are more details of the ABC Show on the London Comic mart website.

Also close to Russell Square is The Cartoon Museum which continues its Dandy 75th Birthday Exhibition with displays of original Dandy artwork. The exhibition continues until 24 December 2012.
There are more details at the Cartoon Museum website.

The National Library Of Scotland in Edinburgh also has a Dandy exhibition running as part of their ongoing Treasures series of displays and, like the Cartoon Museum, it also features original artwork from the DC Thomson archive. The NLS exhibition continues until 3 February 2013  and entrance is free.
There are more details including seasonal opening times on the National Library Of Scotland website.

Dundee University's UniVerse imprint have teamed up with DC Thomson to publish their 'Special Edition' of the Dandy's 1940s superhero character The Amazing Mr X. On the final inside page of the 76 page book is a cryptic image/advert with the words "The End?". It also has some curiously copyrighted text at the bottom along with a Twitter hashtag - something to keep an eye on perhaps.
Price and ordering details for The Amazing Mr X are available by e-mailing

The Birmingham Post has a feature on Dandy artist Charlie Grigson who drew Korky The Cat for two decades as well as contributing to The Beano, The Topper and Judy. Now 96 years young, Charlie Grigson has lost his short term memory to dementia but has written down his life story for his family, and his son Steve talks warmly of his father's love of his work.
The full feature is available on the Birmingham Post website.

Finally, for now, George Shiers over on the Wacky Comics blog has the details of what he has termed 'Digital Dandy' and we have previously called 'e-Dandy' that were sent with the subscriber copies of the current issue of The Dandy. This suggests that 'e-Dandy' will have a weekly format. We will all know the details on Tuesday.
There are more details of this on the Wacky Comics blog.

The last print issue of The Dandy, a 100 page special including a reprint of the first issue from 1937, goes on sale on Tuesday 4 December with a cover price of £3.99. 

Anyone concerned that they will not be able to find a copy of the issue, which has a print run of 50,000, can order it directly from the DC Thomson on-line shop. The on-line shop also has a special offer of a Dandy Collectors Pack of a copy of the last issue as well as a copy of the hardback book The Art And History Of The Dandy signed by the last two editors of the comic, Morris Heggie and Craig Graham.

Hudnall, Mayverik deliver 'Blue Cat' for Aces Weekly

The Blue Cat by James Hudnall and Val Mayverik
This stunning promo piece by Val Mayerik is for a new strip, Blue Cat by James Hudnall, appearing in the next issue of the digital comic Aces Weekly ( this month (December).

In the story, Cindy Sparks is a 16 year old girl who gets into serious trouble and is soon haunted by the ghost of a mysterious cat. The cat leads her on a journey to solve a mystery through places within walking distance of her home that she never imagined were there. Places scary, mind blowing and certainly not safe.

James Hudnall burst onto the comics scene in 1986 with Espers, which Aces Weekly publisher and creator David Lloyd illustrated. He went on to produce many acclaimed comics for Marvel, DC, Image, Malibu, Viz such as The Psycho, Sinking, Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography, Streets, The Age of Heroes (now being re-published in colour STRIP Magazine, re-mastered by John Ridgway), and Devastator. Last year, his graphic novel Aftermath made its English language debut from Humanoids.

James is excited about digital comics having produced one in 2000 with Spanish artist Rafa Fonteriz which is the early version of Aftermath. It can be seen on his site In addition to Blue Cat, which he is producing for Aces Weekly, he's finishing his self published crime series 2 To the Chest for 2013.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Costa Award Nomination For Dave Shelton

When the shortlists for the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Book Awards) were announced complete with their two graphic novels, Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes by Bryan and Mary Talbot and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart, there was a flurry of activity on the various comics blogs over that good news. So much so that one other comics name barely got mentioned.
Artist and writer Dave Shelton, who writes and draws Good Dog, Bad Dog, for both The DFC and Phoenix has been shortlisted in the Children's Book category with his novel A Boy And A Bear In A Boat. 

Published by David Fickling Books, who also published the compilation of Good Dog, Bad Dog under The DFC Library imprint, A Boy And A Bear In A Boat is about a boy and a bear in, err, a boat. The pair get to know each other as the bear rows the boat and the boy investigates its contents. The unusual cover, illustrated by Dave who also provided all the black and white interior illustrations, shows the nautical map that the pair use on their journey. "This enchanting story has the feel of a classic children's tale," was how the Costa judges described the book.
In addition to being shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award, A Boy And A Bear On A Boat is also on the long list for both the Carnegie Medal for outstanding book for children and young people, and the Kate Greenaway Medal for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people. Both medals are are voted on by CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.
Our congratulations to Dave Shelton for making all these listings with his first novel and we wish him, the Drs Talbot, and Joff Winterhart, good luck for the announcement of the Costa Book Awards winners on Thursday 3 January 2013.
There are more details of Dave Shelton's work on his website.
There are more details of A Boy And A Bear In A Boat on the David Fickling Books website.
There are more details of all the nominees for the 2012 Costa Book Awards at the awards website.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Belfast Comics Fayre (Updated)

The “family fun day” event is run by Avalon Arts, a collective organising workshops, alternative and craft fairs and music performances. The site is a good one: Haymarket Arcade is located at the bottom of the central Royal Avenue, about five minutes walk from City Hall. The recently converted arcade has some resonance for comics readers. It was once the route taken through to the original site of The Talisman (now FPI Belfast), one of Northern Ireland’s first comics shops, as well as Impulse Comics in the late nineties. Impulse, currently known as The Stack, (Little Victoria Street), will be selling comics at the event, which features the opening of a week long comics art exhibition, signings, sketches, face-paintings, comics-related art stuffs, such as redecorated furniture, woollies and badges.

The Belfast Comics Fayre takes place on December 9th from 12-6pm, and is supported by The Black Panel. Set-up by Paddy Brown in 2010, The Black Panel presented sixty Irish comics to the public over sixty dates through local art market stalls. With city licensing laws clamping down on markets, The Panel is looking to work with retail outlets to establish multiple new venues. After the official re-launch at the Fayre, selections from the range will enjoy homes at both Haymarket Arcade, and The Stack in the months following.
Confirmed Guests are:


In a hundred years, I reckon Paddy Brown will be remembered as one of Ireland's finest cartoonists. His Cattle Raid of Cooley (right) calls to the reader to glide around the pages and take in the detail, but to go when he says. The division of art/lettering to two different spectrums is going to take me some getting used to, but it's different. And Cattle Raid is a psuedo-sensory experience. He’ll be launching Issue 7 of his acclaimed adaptation of the Irish myth at the event.


Hi, that’s me, so it is. I’ll be launching Kick!, a series of cheaply priced pocket humour strips  as well as selling my new Christmas card range, which includes Xmas Panto comic, The Last Noel. I’ll also be selling The Moods of Prime, a twenty-page colour mini-comic made during a fit of depression, about depression, empowerment, and imaginary Transformer friend,Optimus Prime. I’ll also be running The Magnificent Comic Book Factory, a workshop aimed at creating and publishing a new anthology on that day!


Superheroes, crime drama, fantasy noir and steam-punk time travel. Straight outta Dublin, Lightning Strike published their first anthology in September, featuring over twenty creators. Largely a collection of new faces, it also features better known Irishmen like Richmond Clements, Rob Carey and Cormac Hughes. For more details including some really good art previews, check out their Facebook page.

Eoin McAuley (Editor-Publisher) 

Eoin McAuley is the producer of a genre-spanning beautifully coloured comics anthology. "Lightning Strike Presents" compiles some of Ireland's freshest yet fully realised comics talents. Eoin will be travelling from Dublin with two contributors with copies of Issue 1 for autographing and sketching, some exclusive sneak peak material from their upcoming issue #2, and the video game project they're working on with CRG.

Ciaran Marcantonio (Writer)

Ciaran Marcantonio is the writer of A Clockwork Universe for Lightning Strike, and an un-produced Highlander book with Dynamite Comics and the late Bill Panzer. Ciaran was noted as one of the most promising new faces on the Irish scene, during his recent interview with the 2d podcast.

Daryl Cox (Artist)

Joining Eoin and Ciaran on their trip to the North is Daryl Cox, artist on Monkey of Oz, a strip about a flying monkey set in L. Frank Baum's Oz mythology. Eoin will be present on the day to talk about his experiences with Lightning Strike, and comics in general.

Darrin O' Toole (Writer)

Darrin O'Toole is a writer from Dublin, Ireland. He has written "Tales from the Void" for DOT Comics, which was showcased to great acclaim at both D.I.C.E.  and Thoughtbubble in Leeds. Darrin was runner up for the Dundee Comics Prize and his most recent published work is 'The Amazing Mr. X" for DC Thomson, which also launched at Thoughtbubble. Upcoming releases include "Singularity" & "Bodyjocks" which are both in the Markosia published "British Showcase Anthology" ,"Earthruler", "Lady Babylon: An Occult Romance" as well as the science fiction novel "The Pantheon Bell".

There are also unconfirmed guests. Will they include 2000AD legend and Game of Thrones story-boarder Will Simpson, or neo-2000AD legend PJ Holden? Also rumoured are Atomic Diner authors Rob Curley and Stephen Downey (Jennifer Wilde) Their fellow creator on the forthcoming Noe the Savage Boy, Mal Coney, is local and may well make an appearance.

There’s also a great bar, The Hudson, on site. I rest my case.

  • Avalon Arts Comics Fayre, Haymarket Arcade, off Royal Avenue, Belfast is on Sunday December 9th, and open to the public between 12-6pm, with comics art exhibition open for the following week. Admission is free and the Facebook event page is here.

ROK releases ZeZi audio comic

Rok Records has launched the official audio-enhanced ZEZI COMIC, telling the story of Birmingham's top rap act.

Featuring a full soundtrack that brings the story added life and excitement, find out about ZeZi's rise - the triumphs, the setbacks, the personal tragedy that has shaped their success in different ways.

Birmingham born rapper, singer, song-writer Bc Da Bossman has been involved in writing and producing music since he was very young, crafting his skills with an assist from a music project organised by the band UB40 at Dep Studios Birmingham at just 16. Armed with these skills BC developed himself as an artist, working with some of Birmingham’s most accomplished musicians, rappers and engineers such as the B15 Project, MSI & Asylum and Pato Banton.

But the music really came together with the formation of ZeZi and neither he or fellow band members DeNiro Capo, Durty Sqwurt and P.O.V. have looked back since.

Now, the winners of Radio 1's Freestyle Competition and the New Style Radio Competition have worked with ROK Records to bring their fans this special comic, charting how they came together, the near-tragic shooting that almost put paid to their plans but in the end, steeled them for greatness - and the story of their greatest fan, Taivann, whose life was cruelly cut short.

Working from a story by BC Da Bossman himself, top script writer and novelist Jasper Bark has crafted this bio-comic, drawn by Marc Olivent, coloured by Kirsty Swan and lettered by Jim Campbell.

This free comic includes the option to buy ZeZi's latest single "Spend It All", which will unlock an exclusive ZeZi video within the app.

Zezi for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad:

• ZeZi for Android devices:

Opinion: Women in Comics (Again)

Sugar Glider by Sarah Dunkerton
Sugar Glider by Sarah Dunkerton
Comics writer and editor Richmond Clements is fed up with people saying there aren't enough women working in comics. Here's why...

Yet again, at this year’s Thought Bubble comic festival, we had another Women in Comics panel.

I don’t know how to feel about this, to tell the truth. I may well upset some of my female friends with this.

But... come on!

And I hope Lisa and the amazing people behind Thought Bubble will not take this as a personal slight – because I’ll happily go on record and say they run the best convention in the UK – but how many times do we need to have this same panel?

Here’s a better idea, and one that was enacted at the last Hi-Ex! Convention I co-ran in Inverness. This was how we did it. We didn’t have a woman’s panel, we have a woman on every panel.

And this does not take too much imagination. We had a variety of panels on many different subjects, but, even in the relatively small convention we organise, we managed to find a female guest who could speak on whatever subject.

Imagine that! It’s almost like women are, oh I dunno, people.

Revolutionary, I know, but bear with me if you can. I know it’s an amazing concept to the comic writer – and when I say that I of course mean Tony Harris – that women can be more than a pair of ridiculously tight pants who know next to nothing about the X-Men.

(And if I may digress for a second..? I’m constantly amazed that Princess Leia from the Star Wars films is always cited as a ‘strong’ female character. I presume this is by people who have never seen the movies. Look at the evidence: Episode 4: only function is to be rescued. Episode 5: Rescued twice and falls in love. Episode 6: Yes, almost rescues man, while disguised as man, captured, then rescued by man, later gets lost in forest and is rescued twice by her future husband.

Leia is not a strong female character. Any supposed strength comes from the massive charisma of Carrie Fisher.)

And you’re back in the room...

My main problem with the women in comics argument is this: the people who say that there are no women in comics have obviously never took a walk around an exhibitors hall at a comic convention. In the two dealers rooms at Thought Bubble, there were literally hundreds of amazing women creating some of the best, funniest, scariest and most moving comics around. They are producing Art that is important, vital and exciting.

It would be tempting here to list a number of them, but that’s silly. I will say though, that the last time I came close to becoming star-struck was when I met Sugar Glider artist Sarah Dunkerton at a convention. Not some ‘big name’ American artist, but someone who draws a very good comic and draws it very well. I would even go as far as to say it is incidental to me that Sarah happens to be a woman.

No, to me the real problem is this: when we say that there are not enough women working in comics, what we’re really saying is that there are not enough women working for Marvel or DC.

And my point is, if I ever manage to get to it, is this: we have many brilliant women working in comics. How about we celebrate the brilliant things they are producing at the minute, and not worry about how they’re not writing and drawing Spider-Man, Ghost Rider or some other silly superhero nonsense?

(This Opinion piece was cross-posted with the Forbidden Planet Blog)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Spaceship Away 28 Available In Time For Christmas

Spaceship Away, the A4, full colour glossy magazine that covers original Dan Dare as well as a selection of other classic strips, has released issue 28 in time for Christmas.

Priced at £7.95, including UK postage, the 44 page issue features a new Marooned on Mercury cover from original 1950s Dan Dare artist Don Harley as well as a special one off Christmas Dan Dare story entitled The Tannenbaum Caper in which Eagle's Dan Dare and the Daily Express' Jeff Hawke meet for the first time. This fully licensed strip was written by Jeff Hawke creator Sydney Jordan and illustrated by Don Harley.

The other comic strips in the issue include the latest episode of the Dan Dare story Parsecular Tales written and drawn by Tim Booth, the continuing reprint of the Jet Morgan/Journey Into Space strip Shadow Over Britain! from Express Weekly illustrated by Ferdinando Tacconi, a Ron Turner strip The World That Dissolved published for the first time in colour, and the continuing reprint of the Garth story Finality Factor from the Daily Mirror also published in colour for the first time.

Spaceship Away continues its features on little known Dan Dare spin-offs with a piece on the pilot episode for a live action Dan Dare TV series featuring Robert Bathurst as Dan and Geoffrey Hughes as Digby. Other features include an appreciation of artist Ferdinando Tacconi, who passed away in 2006 along with a tribute to him from Jeff Hawke's Sydney Jordan, a career spanning interview with Sydney himself, and a piece on that other 1950s comic strip spaceman Swift Morgan whose adventures were illustrated by Denis McLoughlin.

The centrespread of the issue is a special preview of the new cutaway by Graham Bleathman of the J Series Space Station from the original Dan Dare strip in 1950s Eagle which will be featured in the Dan Dare Spacefleet Operations Manual due to be published by Haynes in 2013.

There are more details of Spaceship Away on the Spaceship Away website.

Call for Papers: Comic Empires: The Imperialism of Cartoons, Caricature, and Satirical Art

The Rhodes Colossus: a caricature in Punch, published in December 1892, by Linley Sambourne of Cecil John Rhodes, after he announced plans for a telegraph line and railroad from Cape Town to Cairo.
A group of academics has put out a call for papers for a new study titled Comic Empires: The Imperialism of Cartoons, Caricature, and Satirical Art, which may be collected into a book by Manchester University Press next year.

In recent years, the cultural turn in the history of empire and imperialism has shed much new light on how imperialism and subject populations functioned. Yet despite ample attention being given to the role played by commercial advertising, print capitalism, travel and tourism, and other cultural forms, there has been little analysis of the key function of cartoons, satirical art, and caricature in sustaining, and challenging, imperial systems. Aside from useful surveys by Roy Douglas (Great Nations Still Enchained, published in 1994) and Mark Bryant (Wars of Empire in Cartoons, 2008), there exists no thorough, scholarly, interrogation of the relationship between cartoons and empire.

This is a significant omission, say the new project's editors, Dr Richard Scully and Dr Andrekos Varnava. It is almost impossible to imagine the ‘New Imperialism’ in Africa without picturing Linley Sambourne’s ‘Rhodes Colossus’ standing astride the continent from Cape to Cairo. Similarly, Thomas Theodor Heine’s famous representation of the different Belgian, French, British, and German methods of colonialism continues to colour our understandings of imperial exploitation, as do numerous similar works by American, Japanese, and cartoonists of other nationalities.

Cartoonists and satirical art also played an important role in the resistance to imperial regimes, argue the editors, and the recovery of their voice has been an important aspect of the postcolonial enterprise.

This new study aims to bring together what is still a disparate field of inquiry, and offer a consolidated approach to understanding the relationship between cartoons and imperialism.

This edited volume aims to explore the importance of cartoons, caricatures and satirical art in the imperial context through a series of case-studies spanning the age of High Imperialism (c.1815-1945) from European and non-European contexts. It will cover important threads of support, resistance and criticism, to imperialism in both metropole and periphery, explore the question of orientalism, and look at colonial development, as well as any other theme relating to empire.

Already committed to the project are the editors of the collection, Dr Richard Scully (University of New England) and Dr Andrekos Varnava (Flinders University, South Australia). The editors are looking to receive proposals on the cartoons, caricature and satirical art emanating from journals published in Europe (including Ottoman Empire), the US and non-Western traditions, such as Japan.

If you're interested in contributing, please send an abstract (150-200 words) and short professional biography to Dr Richard Scully, University of New England, at:, and Dr Andrekos Varnava, Flinders University, South Australia, at by 28th June 2013.

All those who send in a proposal will be notified of the result by 22 July 2013, and the full book proposal will be sent to Manchester University Press, to be considered as part of the Studies in Imperialism Series at the end of July 2013.

The series editors of Studies in Imperialism at Manchester University Press, Professors John MacKenzie and Andrew Thompson, have expressed an interest in considering such a volume.

Full details here on H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Online

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Titan Magazines readies Matt Hatter Chronicles title for New Year

Matt Hatter Chronicles
There's been good news for fans of TV show The Matt Hatter Chronicles in the past couple of weeks, as the show's success continues to grow. New Zealand's TVNZ recently picked up the CGI HD animated boy-targeted series for its free to air commercial channel, TV2. The series is set to bow on TV2 as part of its spring line-up on the 2Kids weekend programming block in 2013.

For those who don't already know, Matt Hatter Chronicles, which launched last year, is an adventure-comedy series about Matt, an ordinary boy who discovers that his family defends a gateway to a dimension called the multiverse. To save our world and the multiverse, Matt and his friends must battle and capture infamous villains from movie, myth and legend.

Produced by Pinewood-based Platinum Films and Dream Mill and animated by Toronto's Arc Productions, the show uses state-of-the-art 3D animation designed to bring the story to life and to make children feel as if they are part of the action. It airs on ITV and can also be seen on Nicktoons in the UK, Teletoon (in Canada), RTE (Ireland), SABC (South Africa) and Al Jazeera's Children's Channel (Middle East). It was also recently acquired by Network Ten (Australia) for its free-to-air channel, Eleven.

And why are we mentioning this? Because many of the creative team are names downthetubes readers will recognise - and there's a licensed comic based on the show on its way from Titan next year.

Top of the creative mentions has to be for Transformers guru Simon Furman, who works behind the scenes as Script Supervisor, overseeing the other writers and other scripts, making sure the show is as good as it can be. He's working with Andrew Wildman again, another Transformers name and co-creator of the cowboy fantasy Frontier, who is lead concept artist on the show, overseeing work by the likes of London-based Spanish talent Ana Bermejo.

If those aren't enough of a Comic Connection for you, then the upcoming launch of a Matt Hatter Chronicles magazine is. Back in July, Platinum Films announced the forthcoming publication of a range of official comic magazines based on the hit 3D CGI children’s show, which will see a series of magazines published by Titan, all featuring bespoke comic art created by the company.

The core demographic for the comics, as for the television show, is boys aged 5-10. The series will start with a bumper special launching in early 2013 and will be available in both hard copy and digital editions.

“Titan is very excited to be publishing the official comic magazine of Matt Hatter," says Chris Teather, Titan Magazines Publishing Director. "The show has been a huge commercial and critical success, and I am sure that the new title will be a hit with all of the series’ loyal fans.”

Nigel Stone, CEO of Platinum Films, says: “Titan, a respected name in books and comics with years of experience, is the ideal partner to adapt Matt Hatter Chronicles for the comic magazine format. The Titan comics will be welcomed enthusiastically by Matt Hatter’s legions of fans.”

ITV Studios Global Entertainment is representing UK, Eire, Australia and New Zealand for consumer products merchandise, home entertainment and promotional rights for Matt Hatter Chronicles.

• Official Web Site:

Monday, 26 November 2012

On the trail of Erin Starfox

Writer-Artist Will Jarvis has just launched his new sci-fi novel Erin Starfox on Kickstarter, illustrated science fiction that's just a little different.

"It's not a comic or graphic novel exactly, but it shares some elements of that form," Will told downthetubes, "and some of the folks who worked on it also toil in the comics field, so there might be some interest from the comics community. Some of the writers and artists are British, others are from the USA and Australia."

Written by Will along with Simon Guerrier (writer of Doctor Who and Professor Bernice Summerfield stories), Tessa Schlesinger and others, with art by Frank Brunner (Marvel Comics artist of Doctor Strange and Howard the Duck), plus Carolyn Edwards, Marcus Jenkins and others, the book explores life and relationships in the far future.

"Erin appeared in my mind one day and I haven't stopped writing about her since," Will says. "She's a multifaceted character with wit and charm and love of life. Her stories are timeless and endless, and the world (the universe) she inhabits abounds with wonder and delight, and is a joy to explore in words and pictures.

"The book was inspired by stories that influenced me as a reader such as Home From The Shore by Gordon R. Dickson (writer) and James R. Odbert (artist); Dan Day's illustrated versions of the Sherlock Holmes stories; Gil Kane's Blackmark; and Jim Steranko's Chandler graphic novel, and other works of visual literature."

Will is a published author and artist, with experience as a magazine and book editor. "I know the steps necessary to take a project like this from start to finish, " he says of the project. "I've done it before. The first and most important challenge I faced with this project was coming up with something different, something worth publishing.

"I thought long and hard for a couple of years, let various ideas percolate around in my brain. When the characters and concepts coalesced, I wrote a Writer's Guide and then invited other writers, and artists, to contribute to the saga. The positive response from them, plus the positive response I got from speculative fiction fans when I took the Starfox concept to SF conventions convinced me that Starfox was something that should be pursued.

"I raised the money to pay the writers and artists for their work, then set about editing the manuscript. Once I was sure that we really had something, I began looking into options to get the book printed and published. A friend of mine, who had successfully funded her book via Kickstarter, suggested I give it a try. Starfox has been a group effort practically from the start, so crowdfunding seems quite appropriate."

"I believe in the message of hope and promise in Starfox," enthuses Terry Brussel, co-founder of Live The Dream (a Los Angeles area sci-fi group), "and believe that message could be as important as the message in Star Trek. Polyamorous civilizations, human drama, great characters, amazing stories, beautiful illustrations; Starfox has it all."

• The Kickstarter page is here:

• More about Erin Starfox:

Dog delight from comic creator Smuzz

Comic artist Smuzz - whose credits include ABC Warriors for 2000AD, award-winning art for the SF magazine Interzone - has just launched his own children's book as a delightful digital edition.

In If I had a Dog, a little boy imagines all the exciting things he could do if only he had a dog. In the end, it's not the dog, but his imagination that makes the magic...

"If I had a Dog began as one of a series of drawings to entertain my four year old son in between 'serious' work," says Smuzz of the book's origins.

"The book incorporates all the things most popular with him on Library visits."

The illustrations are just stunning - these small samples below don't do Smuzz's work real justice - and it's a moving read.

Smuzz has been an illustrator and comic book artist since 1987. He started work as Sms, but is now known as Smuzz to avoid confusion with mobile phone services. He has won two "British Science Fiction Awards" and been regularly voted best artist for the UK SF magazine Interzone and is currently working on Crucible, a comic strip with John Freeman, out in 2013. The strip has no actual dogs but lots of strange animals.

• If I had a Dog is now available to purchase in pdf format, readable on iPad, Android tablet and Kindle Fire via Gumroad:

Find out more about the book on the If I Had a Dog facebook page and to download some free colouring-in pages

• Check out more Smuzz artwork at


Plaything Of Sutekh Issue 2 Now Available

The new issue of Doctor Who fanzine Plaything of Sutekh, edited by Richard Farrell and John Connors, is now available to order. Featured in the 40-page, colour covered A5 fanzine are:

Five Star! A look at 2012's new episodes, which saw the return of the Weeping Angels and the departure of Amy and Rory. There is also a short Q&A with director Saul Metzstein.
Coming Of Age: A look at Season 18 when Doctor Who got told to grow up by new producer John Nathan-Turner.
Opening The Gate: David Rolinson dodges a few Gundans to unravel one of Season 18's finest stories, Warriors' Gate.
Tardis Radio: Oliver Wake looks at the untransmitted pilot radio episode featuring Peter Cushing.
Strip For The Doctor: The Doctor materialised in the pages of Countdown comic in the early 1970s. Richard Farrell looks at the work of Harry Lindfield and Gerry Haylock on the Doctor Who comic strip and examines their influences and source of reference.
Secret Who: Time to dust off the oil lamp as a fresh look is taken at 1974's Death To The Daleks.
DWDVD: John Connors reviews the recent DVD releases Ace Adventures, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy and The Ambassadors of Death.

Ordering details of Plaything Of Sutekh are available on the Plaything Of Sutekh blog.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

In Review: Charley's War Volume Nine

Charley's War Volume Nine
By Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun

Publisher: Titan Books

Out: Now

The Book: In this explosive new ninth volume of never-before-collected comic strip, including for the first time reproductions of original artwork from artist Joe Colquhoun's archive, things are looking up for Charley after he meets the love of his life, Kate, a field hospital nurse. But their wedding is destroyed by the roar of destructive Zeppelin Bombers from Berlin!

The Review: Regular readers of downthetubes may be aware that I'm the former editor of this collected work (Books 6 - 8), and therefore may be accused of bias in favour of this ongoing series, collecting perhaps the best World War One comic strip ever published in a British weekly comic - in this case, now Egmont-owned Battle Picture Weekly.

I make no apologies for such bias, because my view on this strip is one echod by many and Titan continue to deliver a stunning reprint of a classic strip - an anti war story originally published in a war comic.

The action for some of this volume swings back once more to the home front after Charley's accident on the front that sees him face court martial. There's a continuation to the stories of Charley's two brothers, Jack and Wilf, the former surviving sea war near the Falklands and being seconded to the secret service; the other, airman Wilf, taking on a giant German bomber attacking London - with tragic results.

Charley also encounters a maniacal Captain Snell (a long term arch enemy) as his developing romance with Kate grows (yes - romance in a boys' war comic! The horror!) and writer Pat Mills throws in some well-aimed barbs at the rich exploiting the war for their own ends, just for good measure.

It's a cracking compendium of stories set in the final year of the Great War, with Charley surviving the odds despite the dangers he encounters, the character growing once more as he rallies fellow soldiers in an effort to keep them alive and spared the worst atrocities they might face at the hands not of the enemy but British Army officers.

Throughout, from wartime bombing raids on London to the terror of the western front, the horror of the South Atlantic sea war and even a flashback re-telling of part of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, Joe Colquhoun's talent as an artist oozes from every page. No subject matter seems a problem for this late, great master comic storyteller, rendering both battle scenes and character moments with equal skill and detail.

Complementing the strip - much of it lovingly scanned from original art courtesy of the Colquhoun estate by Moose Harris - is a fascinating feature on "shell shock" and war poets by Steve White, and writer Pat Mills continuing anecdotal commentary on the background to each episode.

Delivered in a gorgeous hardback edition, Charley's War Volume Nine serves up a delicious feast of great comics writing and meticulous, beautifully rendered artwork. A true British comics classic.

• There's more about Charley's War here:

• Egmont are now publishing digital collections of earlier episodes of Charley's War, for iPad and Kobo

• French publisher Delirium are now publishing the strip in French, with pages from the original comic published in colour now appearing in colour in their editions


Rare first issue of Victorian 'Comic Cuts' goes under the hammer

Comic Cuts Issue 1
A rare piece of British comics history goes under the hammer on Tuesday, when the online bidding for Comic Cuts Issue 1 closes over at Compal closes.

We covered the auction in general earlier in the month, but this lot deserves closer attention given its importance to our industry.

Only nine copies of the first issue of the UK's third longest running comic, started in 1890 by reporter Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe, founder of the Daily Mail) are known to exist, one of them in the British Library. This item is expected to sell for around £350 - 400 by the auction organisers.

Comic Cuts was not the first British comic: that privilege is accorded by many to Funny Folks, first published in December 1874, published by James Henderson as a free supplement to The Weekly Budget Christmas Triple Number for 1874, a successor to satirical cartoon sheets like Everybody’s Album, an eight-page tabloid with initially a roughly 50/50 mix of text and pictures, though picture strips would soon come to dominate the title.

As you can see from the pages below, sourced via the public domain only comics site ComicBookPlus, which states it only publishes out of copyright items, the first edition of the 'comic', also eight pages in extent, is far from being anything we would recognise today as such.

Some of its pages are text driven (as were most comics, including The Dandy when it launched in 1937), but its cartoon pages earn it attention as one of the first picture weeklies and it quickly began to publish more strips. By the First World War it is recognisably a comic, albeit with text to supplement word ballons on its strip pages.

A page from the first issue of Comic Cuts
A page from the first issue of Comic Cuts
A page from the first issue of Comic Cuts
A page from the first issue of Comic Cuts
A page from the first issue of Comic Cuts
A page from the first issue of Comic Cuts
Copies of Issue 2 and 3 of the comic are also on offer, along with a rare militaQry band-themed promotional poster for the comic, published, it's believed in 1914.

Comic Cuts Issues 2 and 3
Comic Cuts was one of Britain's earliest weekly comic papers, published from 17th May 1890. The early issues contained reprinted cartoons from American magazines and reprinted from a previous title, Scraps. But after advertising for artists the reprints gave way to original material by creators such as Roland Hill, the first professional artist to work on the comic; Ken Reid, Albert Pease, Oliver Veal, Tom Browne and Jack Butler Yeats.

Published by Amalgamated Press (later Fleetway Editions) its success in its early days inspired other publishers to produce rival comics, and held the record for the most issues of a British weekly comic for 46 years, until The Dandy overtook it in 1999.

Lasting 3006 issues, down the years Comic Cuts absorbed Golden Penny Comic in 1928, Jolly Comic and Larks in 1939 and 1940 respectively before finally ceasing as a title when it was was merged into the original Knockout on 12th September 1953, that title running until February 1963, when it was merged with Valiant.

• Bidding closes on Tuesday 27th November at 8.00pm GMT. Full catalogue at If you have a question about any of the items in the catalogue, please send an email to Compalcomics director Malcolm Phillips at

Broken Frontier carries a fascinating feature on early British picture weeklies here


Photo Review: Thought Bubble 2012 Part 2

Last weekend the two day Thought Bubble comic convention took place in Leeds as part of the week long film festival. It is a true celebration of the diversity of the modern British comics scene, from veteran professionals, via all the various levels of 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 that weekly comic to take back to the title's own table.

Thought Bubble 2012 was a great success and a very positive re-enforcement for attendees and creators that despite dwindling sales in the weekly and monthly 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 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 covered (roughly) the Royal Armouries Hall while part two covers the New Dock Hall.

Steve Tanner of Time Bomb Comics was there showing that Thought Bubble is family friendly behind the dealers tables as well as in front as his wife Suzanne and their little bomblette Sasha helped him promote the latest Time Bomb title, the western The Last Ride Of Henry Holden.

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

Just across from Time Bomb was Garen Ewing with his Rainbow Orchid stand. As well as handing "Phoenix feathers" out the children, Garen also had copies of all three individual volumes of The Rainbow Orchid, the new Complete Rainbow Orchid omnibus which, if the number of people walking around the hall with copies under their arms was anything to go by sold very well over the weekend, plus for those who thought that they already had all things Orchid, his newly self published Rainbow Orchid Supplement, a "DVD extras" publication of notes on the story, early sketches, adverts and interviews.

There is much more information on The Rainbow Orchid on its website.

Artist Gary Erskine has many credits to his name over the last twenty years or so but the work that he is currently promoting is the Roller Grrrls concept with sketchbooks and posters currently available and the first issue of the comic due in 2013. Nuclear Miss-ile, Hot Wheel Roller Derby's number 17 (above), was one of the roller girls that was interested in his work..

There is more information on Roller Grrrls on the Roller Grrrls website.

Gary's fellow Scotch Cornerer Graeme Neil Reid was just along the isle with a wide selection of original art as well as prints available on his table. The "Zombie Maggie" illustration that Graeme produced as the cover for Overload issue 1 proved to be a major talking point over the weekend although it was his Star Wars and Doctor Who artwork that sold out first.

There is more information Graeme Neil Reid's work on his website.

Next to Graeme were writer Jason Cobley (left) and artist Andrew Wildman (right) both of whom were promoting Frontier, their "Weird Wild West" story that was originally published in The DFC weekly comic and then collected by Print Media into a hardback book. As well as copies of Frontier, Jason was also selling the first issue of his new A4 anthology Amnesia Agents while Andrew had copies of his new graphic novel Horizon. 

There are more details of Jason's work on his blog and of Andrew's work on his Horizon website.

Joining Jason on the Sunday was artist Grant Perkins who, as well as selling prints and postcards of his work, was sketching away for most of the day on a variety of different subjects including this one of a stylised Judge Death.

There is more information about Grant's work at his website.

Opposite Graeme, Jason and Andrew was the Improper Books table with two very industrious ladies giving away free preview comics for Improper's upcoming gothic fairy tale Porcelain. Written by Benjamin Read and beautifully illustrated by Chris Wildgoose (above with a copy of Porcelain and Butterfly Close) this graphic novel is due to be published in February 2013 and, based on the preview, should be worth the wait.

There are more details of Porcelain and Butterfly Close on the Improper Books website.

Also showing off a title that is not yet released was artist and writer Will Morris. Will has written and illustrated The Silver Darlings for Blank Slate Books which is due to be released very soon and, from the preview copy, looks lovely.

There are more details about Will's work on his blog and The Silver Darlings on the Blank Slate Books website.

From two books that are not out yet to two that are - the first two books in Accent UK's WesterNoir series. Among the many Accent UK titles on their table, WesterNoir Book 2 was getting its official release at Thought Bubble with writer Dave West (left) and artist Gary Crutchley (right) in attendance. Book 1 was reviewed on downthetubes here and the review of Book 2 will follow soon.

There are more details of WesterNoir on the Accent UK website.

The University of Dundee's comics imprint UniVerse is used to publish anthologies of the work of the students enrolled on the uni's comics courses with Anthology One covering work of the students of the 2011-2012 DJCAD Comics Art and Graphic Novels module and the new Anthology Two, shown above by DJCAD lecturer and Anthology Two cover artist Phillip Vaughan, covering the work of the students in the 2011-2012 MLitt In Comics Studies. UniVerse has also just published The Amazing Mr X in conjunction with DC Thomson which prints the winners and a selection of the other entries in the 2012 Dundee Comics Prize as well as some original 1940s Mr X stories from The Dandy.

Details of ordering Anthology Two and The Amazing Mr X by post are available by e-mailing :

From Dundee to Dublin and Robert Curley of Atomic Diner Comics showing off his latest title, The Crimson Blade. As much as downthetubes focuses on British comics, we are more than happy to extend that to the entire British Isles, and with titles like the supernatural Rosin Duhb, the excellent Jennifer Wilde and the 2011 Irish Comics News Best Irish Comic award winner The League Of Volunteers, Atomic Diner are a publisher to keep an eye on.

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

Last but by no means least, two familiar faces to the British comics community, and the 2000AD contingent in particular, Richmond Clements (left) and Dave Evans/BOLT-01 (right) of Futurequake Press. The two 2000AD zines Zarjaz and Dogbreath may be the best known and widely distributed FQP titles but they also produce the SF theme Futurequake which has now reached its 22nd issue and the horror themed Something Wicked which has reached issue 8.
There are more details of all Futurequake Press' titles on their website.

Part One of this photo review of Thought Bubble 2012 is here.

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