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This blog is no longer being updated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, 8 December 2012

Present Ideas: Commando

In the run up to Christmas there is always a need for a little extra inspiration when it comes to deciding which presents to buy (or put on your Christmas list). There is merchandise out there to do with British comics if you look hard enough. Today: Commando.

The DC Thomson on-line shop has a selection of Commando items not available elsewhere including metal signs featuring Commando cover artwork. The initial two of these were straight covers complete with logo but two new signs have recently been added. These are designed to look like old Commando advertising signs and feature the cover art of Ken Barr for Gun Fury issue 24 and Ian Kennedy for Slogger's War issue 2852.

From something designed to look old fashioned to something right up to date and the latest Commando tie-ins are i-Phone covers. Currently there are three available all featuring Ian Kennedy cover artwork along with the Commando logo. These feature images of a 'desert pink' SAS land rover from Vampire Hunt issue 2552, a paratrooper from Strike In Silence issue 2854, and a Soviet Hind attack helicopter from Combat Zone issue 2606.

Carlton still has a large number of those doorstop size 10 and 12 story Commando reprint books in print plus a growing selection of the smaller three story paperbacks that are reminiscent of the IPC Picture Library Holiday Specials and these are readily available through shops and via mail order companies. However the DC Thomson on-line shop also sells these titles and their unique selling point is that the larger books are autographed by Commando editor Calum Laird. While reading these if you fancy a nice cup of tea there is now a Commando mug specifically for the task.

The full list of Commando items in the DC Thomson on-line shop is here.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Radio show about Nelson creators: Dan Berry, Rob Davis, Sarah McIntyre and more...

Panel Borders: Nelson

Continuing our month of shows looking at depictions of lives on the page, Dan Berry talks to four of his fellow creators who worked on the award winning anthology graphic novel Nelson, published by Blank Slate Books, including the book's co-editor Rob Davis and artists Jonathan Edwards, Sarah McIntyre & Suzy Varty.

Nelson depicts 54 days in the life of the titular character, a young and then adult female Londoner, who is born in the first chapter set in 1968 and we follower her life to middle age in the present day. Dan discusses the history of the project, the aspects of autobiography that were absorbed into each creator's pages and the collaborative processes involved in working on a exquisite corpse method of storytelling. 
(Recorded at Thought Bubble Festival, Leeds 2011 and edited by Alex Fitch)

8pm, Sunday 9th December 2012, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast at

In Review: The Amazing Mr X - Special Edition

In 2011 the University of Dundee ran a comic art competition as part of the annual Dundee Comics Day to create a new Beano-style comic strip of one or two pages. The competition was won by Steve English's Belle's Magic Mobile which was printed in The Beano in February 2012 as well as in the University's Anthology One publication.

In 2012 the competition was for a three page strip and a cover image based on The Dandy's 1940s superhero The Amazing Mr X. Entrants were allowed to update the character in any form they wanted and the competition was won by Steve Marchant with a tongue-in-cheek take on an elderly Mr X still attempting his heroics. Rather than running the winner and runners up as part of Anthology Two, the University imprint UniVerse have put out a separate title entitled The Amazing Mr X and labelled it as a Special Edition.

Yet despite that description, this is more than just a publication of the competition winners as it reprints original pages from The Dandy as well as including a feature on the background and history of the character.

Dundee Comics Day organiser, and director of the Scottish Centre For Comics Studies, Dr Chris Murray writes about the background to Mr X in The Dandy where he first appeared in issue 272 in 1944 as what Chris describes as "Britain's first home-grown superhero". While the superhero grew to dominate the American comics scene, Britain never really  succumbed to the idea with most superhero characters that appeared in British comics over the years being reprints of American stories or British stories using US characters. Indeed The Amazing Mr X only lasted 14 issues (plus a single appearance in the 1962 Dandy annual courtesy of Dudley D Watkins) and Chris postulates why the character failed to gain a following with The Dandy's readership. The book reprints 3 of those 14 stories which were in the 'picture and paragraph' format that we now tend to associate with Rupert Bear. These are certainly interesting as an historical document but seventy years after they were originally published they are now more of a curiosity piece than actually being entertaining.
The book then goes on to publish the strip by the Dundee Comics Prize winner, Steve Marchant, which Chris says "undercuts the tome of the usual superhero story with a playful satire on the mythology of the superhero". Personally I prefer the Darren O'Toole written and A Kaviraj illustrated runner-up strip (above) which sets the scene for a potential ongoing series that the actual winner did not, while the other runner-up, Gavin Boyle, presents an amusing Scottish themed tongue-in-cheek version of the character. A further 11 stories from the competition cover a multitude of styles and ideas, some rather more interesting than others, giving a total of 14 new strips with the character, echoing the original number of 1940s episodes. 

The Amazing Mr X: Special Edition is not at all what I was expecting to see from UniVerse given their previous two Anthology titles. A very well produced, 76 page US comic sized book, it will be of interest to devoted Dandy fans as well as no doubt proving to be something of a curiosity to students of old British comics. 

The Amazing Mr X: Special Edition has a cover price of £8 and is available, as the other UniVerse titles are, by sending an e-mail requesting details to -

SHAKO: the only bear on the CIA death list!

This is no cute and cuddly polar bear. He’s a blizzard of white hot horror, the terror of the frozen wastes, he is SHAKO - and he is death!

When a US Air Force plane crashes in the Arctic, the great white polar bear Shako gets his first taste of human flesh! Unfortunately for the C.I.A., the beast has swallowed the top secret capsule being transported by the plane, so they must track down the deadly creature to retrieve it.

This won’t be an easy task, because Shako hates mankind, and what Shako hates, Shako destroys!

Written by Pat Mills (Charley’s War, Marshal Law) and John Wagner (A History of Violence, Judge Dredd), the series - collected for the first time in book format - features stunning art from a number of European artists, including Ramon Sola (Flesh), and with a cover by Jock (The Losers, Batman).

Shako is a true classic from the early days of 2000AD when blood-thirsty ultra-violence was a hallmark of an anarchic new comic which would go on to become a British institution.

Vicious, uncompromising and with bleak black humour, Shako is a ‘bear necessity’ for all comic book fans!

Buy Shako from

Buy Shako from 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Issue 2 of Free Off Life 'street comic' released

Off Life #2
Issue Two of OFF LIFE – the UK’s only free street press comic – is out this week. The magazine was being distributed in Bristol today, in London on Saturday and the digital edition was posted online at this evening.

Featuring an interview with Adrian Tomine and short comics from the likes of Oliver East, Darryl Cunningham, Dan Berry and Joe List, the editorial team think this could be a breakout issue for the comic, which aims to open comics to non-comics readers by distributing free in bars, galleries and coffee houses across Bristol and London.

"The Tomine interview discusses his history of self publishing, his beliefs of where comics fit in modern culture and how they could reach a wider audience," editor Daniel Humphry told downthetubes.

"The comics are a mix of published chaps and super talented unknowns. New advertisers on board include No Brow, comic publisher Ad House and a raft of comic shops.

"We're really happy with how Issue Two came together," Daniel adds. "Thanks to top comic creators putting their time and effort in to some fantastic stories we hope that Issue Two of OFF LIFE continues to bring comics to the masses and helps showcase the potential of this wonderful medium of ours."

A full list of stockists is also available on the OFF LIFE web site:


Full Stage Splash: A Comic Look at the Comic Book

Join the Sigil Club at the Hen & Chickens Theatre in London this weekend, as they dare to fit the entire history of the comic book medium into one hour of comedy, using sketches, puppets, fights and seven-foot long diagrams to educate and entertain.

Full Stage Splash is a fast paced condensation (four actors, 65 roles, one hour!) of a large topic that has been enjoyed by both experts and those with no prior knowledge. It is a humorous take on the historical, social and political changes which affected how those heroes in capes foil the evil villains’ schemes.

After a well received jaunt as part of the Fringe Festival, Full Stage Splash returns to treat those who missed its initial run as it takes over the Hen & Chickens Theatre this coming Saturday night.

Laugh as comic characters are forced to change by the propaganda of the 1940s, the soul searching of the 70s and the bandanas of the 90s!

Weep as a puppet encourages books to be burnt!

Recoil in horror as someone attempts to teach you something!

Described by one reviewer as “A stupendous, giddy romp through the facts of the funny books", the Sigil Club present traditional theatre practices mixed with pop-culture touchstones to excite a wide audience and present new ideas. Their previous plays, including an existential fairy tale, an absurdist comedy, and a live theatre sitcom set in a comic store, have consistently amused audiences, selling out the Hen & Chickens, the Etcetera and the Roundhouse Studio theatres.

Script and direction is by Michael Eckett, who joins the cast which also includes experienced members Daniel Farley, Kate Quinn and Kris Wood. Jackie O’Sullivan co-produces and stage manages with design work by Larissa Kunstel-Tabet and lighting by Julian Adams.

Full Page Splash: The Hen & Chickens Theatre, 109 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2NA, Saturday 8th December 9.30pm £8. Web:

Ben Haggarty, Bringer of Dreams, in London

Ben Haggarty, writer of the Stone Age graphic Novel, MeZolith (illustrated by concept artist, Adam Brockbank) and sometimes contributor to the Phoenix comic, is performing his storytelling piece: Mr Sandmann: Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares at Rich Mix Theatre, Shoreditch, East London on Saturday 8th December.

This disturbing piece of adult storytelling has nothing to do with Neil Gaiman’s take on the character, (and even less to do with the Rise of the Guardians) and everything to do with the raw folklore and mythology of the Sandman…

‘Renowned for his dynamic and challenging performances, Ben Haggarty slips behind the lights into the dark side of ‘fairground’, where you risk getting more than you bargained for. Via freak-show and moonshine bar, ready yourself for an intense and alarming journey through the ambivalent mythology of the Sandman. Flirting with Americana; drawing on urban legend, fairytale, myth and folklore, and paying oblique homage to Heinrich Von Kleist, ETA Hoffman, Hans Andersen and Nick Cave, Ben Haggarty surrenders his sanity to the magnetic pull of a ravenous moon.’

Mr Sandmann – Bringer of Dreams & Nightmares
Sat 8 December 7.30pm
Rich Mix
35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA.
£9, £7 student + concs (Theatre Upstairs)
Book tickets / Box Office: 020 7613 7498

More info:

Digital Strip Magazine #7 on sale now

STRIP Magazine Digital Edition #7The digital edition of Print Media Productions STRIP Magazine #7 for iPad is on sale now from iTunes.

Diamond UK have confirmed the print edition of STRIP Magazine #7 will be on sale in UK comic shops from Wednesday 19th December.

This edition of the magazine is a Christmas Special that takes a slightly different form to the usual magazine.

While including an exciting new episode of Phil Hester and John McCrea's regular series Warpaint, the Magazine is largely devoted to a variety of one off stories, including Citadel – a story created by the late, great French creator Moebius that was first published in a different translation in Heavy Metal magazine back in 1980.

By way of a hint of things to come next year when the regular magazine returns after a break in production to ramp up properly, the team hope, for news stand release, Print Media also offers a sneak peek at several all-new stories including Thracius by James Hudnall and Mark Vigouroux; Denizens (by Miko Horvatic and Maxim Simic); Dan Barton of Space Command (by John Freeman and Andrew Chiu) an affectionate comedy homage to space heroes, which may return as a regular series in late 2013); and Corwin Blays, a festive tale starring a hapless thief!

DenizensThe digital edition also features some exclusive extras, such as a quirky festive tune when the app is launched, and added 'data cards' with background information on the characters and some creators, along with a video trailer for David Lloyd's digital project, Aces Weekly.

There's also a bonus taster of PMP's digital partner ROK Comics titles Houdini and The Beatles Story - only in the digital edition

• Buy it on iTunes:

• This edition is IOS6 only - PMP tell us an update is being submitted which will be compatible with older iPads


2D Festival returns in 2013, first guests announced

2D, the Northern Ireland Comics Festival, returns in 2013 with a special, bumper edition with more guests and events than ever before.

The festival is Ireland's longest running annual comic event and runs from 30th May – 2nd June next year in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It features an expanded selection of workshops, panels, talks and exhibitions, catering for all ages and tastes. Derry was recently voted the fourth best city in the world to visit in 2013 by Lonely Planet - obviously word about the 2D festival is spreading!

Taking centre stage next year is the 2D Comics Fair, which has been extended to last for the entire weekend (Sat 1 & Sun 2 June) in a fantastic new venue in the city.

Guests confirmed so far for 2013 include; Andy Diggle (writer – Batman, Daredevil), Jock (artist - Losers, Batman), Roger Langridge (writer/artist - Popeye, Muppets) and legendary comic artist Mick McMahon (Judge Dredd, Slaine). See below for full list of confirmed guests.

The festival is organised by the Verbal Arts Centre, one of Ireland’s leading centres for literature and next year the event features as part of the official programming for the city’s year as the first ever ‘UK City of Culture’.

As with previous years, much of the educational programme will take place in the Verbal Arts Centre, 2D Evening Sessions will be held in Sandino’s Bar and the Comics Fair is based in the Millennium Forum. We are delighted to announce that, once again, 2D will be free to attend.

Find out more about 2D at

Facebook: 2D – Northern Ireland Comics Festival

Twitter: @2DComicsFest


A new 2D Festival web site is in the works

Commando: Tigers, Walruses and Horsas

It is the time of year when the calendars are in newsagents, card shops and shopping centres around the country and for the second year running Waverley Books have produced a calendar featuring the painted cover artwork of Commando. The cover illustration by Ian Kennedy, from Tiger In The Tail, shows an RAF Lancaster bomber tail gunner letting loose at attacking German night-fighters while the twelve monthly illustrations include another five different Ian Kennedy covers along plus art by Gordon Livingstone, Ken Barr, Jordi Penalva and Jeff Bevan. The Commando Calendar 2013 has a cover price of £6.
In the meantime the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that is the Commando publishing schedule brings us the next four issues of Britain's last war comic which are available in newsagents from today.

Commando No 4555 – Operation: Horsa
Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Captain Mike Markham and his unit of Paras were part of a small striking force sent to neutralise a flotilla of E-boats menacing Allied shipping. But when problems with their glider saw them come down many miles from their objective they thought their role in the plan was over.

Little did they know they would still have a chance to do the job…though they would have to invent a new plan as they went along. They called it OPERATION: HORSA. 

Commando No 4556 – The Brink Of War
Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

For Panzergrenadier Otto Feldman the war ended in 1945 when, after escaping a ruthless Russian major who butchered his comrades, he surrendered to American forces.

Years later, as the Cuban Missile Crisis put the world on the brink of nuclear war, Otto was unexpectedly back in action. He and his young son, Gunther, were caught in the middle of a clash between British Centurion tanks and Russian T54s – not to mention an old enemy from the past… 

Commando No 4557 – Fog Of Doom
Originally Commando No 45 (November 1962)
Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ken Barr

There were many who scoffed when it was said that the battlefield at Arras was haunted – haunted by the ghosts of the soldiers who had fought and died there in the First World War. But when the tide of battle in World War II flooded over the same ground, strange things happened. To the men who fought there it seemed as though the spirits of the glorious British dead had risen again and were fighting shoulder to shoulder with them in one of the most vicious actions of the whole war.

Introduction by Calum Laird, Editor

In the early years, Commando was confined to Second World War stories, other conflicts were out of bounds. Unless, of course, a clever author could shoehorn in a mention of, say, the First World War. Which is what Eric Hebden has done here, stitching together scenes from both conflicts with a nightmarish connection. 

His narrative is brought to life by two other Commando stalwarts ‑ Gordon Livingstone and Ken Barr. Livingstone’s strongly defined black and white work being a fantastic counterbalance to Barr’s almost ethereal use of colour on the front cover.

All in all a classic Commando.

Commando No 4558 – Saved From The Sea
Originally Commando No 2090 (May 1987)
Story: R.A. Montague
Art: J.M. Jorge
Cover: Ian Kennedy

The Supermarine Walrus – slow, lumbering and almost defenceless. Not much of a plane, you might think. But to the RAF Air/Sea Rescue service these aircraft were priceless, plucking flyers and sailors from the sea, often in atrocious weather. As the pilot of one of these remarkable boats, Ted Brewer took all this in his stride. But then the day came when he himself was in danger of drowning unless a Walrus came along to save his life!

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

The men of the RAF’s Air/Sea Rescue service did an amazing job, saving the lives of many downed flyers. This is a great tribute to their vital, perhaps overlooked, work and featuring stunning art from Jose Maria Jorge – quite rightly famed for his aircraft illustrations. But, as you will see, Jorge could draw anything and was equally adept at sea tales – what a fine example of his versatility.

Much like the heroes of the story, in its own quietly understated way, this is a classic from the Commando archives.

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

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Warren Pleece signing new book 25 years in the making

This coming Saturday, the 8th of December, British comics dude Warren Pleece (one half of the Pleece brothers) will be at Gosh! Comics in London, signing copies of his new book The Great Unwashed – a hardcover anthology 25 years in the making.

The Great Unwashed by Gary and Warren Pleece, published by Escape Books, brings together comically poignant and darkly sarcastic stories of washed-up comedians, prancing rock stars, obsessive compulsive collectors, terrible teenage poets, dead souls, dysfunctional double-acts and decaying sea-side splendour, all into one ‘bumper-packed’, ink laden graphic novel.

Featuring works originally seen in their very own comic mag Velocity, Escape, Crisis, Revolver and other anthologies, alongside previously unpublished and new work spanning over twenty years, the Pleece Brothers bring you their own slanted take on popular (and unpopular) culture, in glorious black and white and worn out watercolours.

Warren will also be painting a window that day at Gosh! based on The Great Unwashed.

• Warren Pleece will be at Gosh, 1 Berwick Street Londion, from 5 - 6.00pm on Saturday 8th December. There’s a preview over at Warren’s site and here is the Facebook event page. If you’d like to reserve a copy or want to arrange a signed book/mail order, send an email to info[at] and they’ll sort one out for you.

Bonhams to auction off Sarah Jane's 'Figaro' car

Bonhams upcoming Entertainment Memorabilia sale, to be held next week on Wednesday 12th December, will include an array of props, posters, costumes and related memorabilia from legendary science fiction movies and television shows including Alien, Superman, Star Wars, Blake's 7, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Red Dwarf and Captain Scarlet.

Of particular interest to downthetubes readers might be Sarah Jane Smith's green Nissan Figaro car seen in the Sarah Jane Adventures – and Captain Jack Harkness' greatcoat, used in Torchwood.

The highlights from the sale include a detailed miniature model from the 1979 Alien film of the engine room of the Nostromo mothership, being offered directly by the model maker William "Bill" Pearson. The model engine room was designed for an establishing shot in the film, and is clearly visible in the scene when Ripley sets the ship to self-destruct.

Original models used in the production of Alien have rarely come on to the market and are highly sought after.

Following the same theme, included in the horror and science fiction section of the sale is a large airbrush illustration created by the Alien film’s Academy Award-winning designer and surrealist artist H.R. Giger. The artwork depicts a sinister skeletal creature, and was discovered painted on a door panel in the boiler room at Shepperton Studios, a bolt-hole frequented by the artist throughout the making of the film.

Both lots are offered with an estimate of £2,000 – 3,000.

A number of items from the archives of the BBC will also be offered for sale, including costumes and props from renowned television series Doctor Who. One of the key pieces is a large prop latex shark used in the 2010 Christmas special A Christmas Carol, valued at £1000-1500.

It will also be the first time key props and costume from the popular Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures series’ will be offered at auction, including Captain Jack Harkness’ RAF blue Great Coat, valued at £700-900 and Sarah Jane Smith’s emerald green and white Nissan Figaro car £4,000-6,000.

Created due to the burgeoning interest in European classic cars amongst Japanese car collectors in the 1980s, Nissan produced four retro inspired cars emulating 1960s European styling but incorporating up-to-the minute Japanese technology. Previewed in 1989 and launched in 1991, the Figaro was the fourth of these. A turbocharged, Micra-powered sportscar, it was soon in such demand that a lottery was organised to determine the lucky owners of the limited run of 20,000 produced.

Other pieces available to collectors will be a large collection of concept designs from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with estimates ranging from £500-3,000, an original Captain Brown puppet used on the 1960s original Captain Scarlet series, estimate £12,000-15,000, Christopher Reeves director’s chair, £500-700, and two handmade spacecraft models used in series 10 of Red Dwarf, valued at £500-700 each.

Music memorabilia, including rare Beatles items, are also part of the auction.

• Full auction details at

The Rainbow Orchid Supplement Now Available

The Rainbow Orchid Supplement, the latest publication in Garen Ewing's world of The Rainbow Orchid, is now available from his webstore. This is a 'DVD extras' style publication acting as a bonus for Rainbow Orchid fans that Garen has published through his own Inkytales imprint.

The 46 page, A4 softcover, perfect bound book, with a colour cover and black and white interiors, is designed to sit on the bookshelf alongside the current Egmont published three volume set of The Rainbow Orchid and is made up of bonus material none of which is included in Egmont's recently published The Complete Rainbow Orchid. It is a limited edition and only 250 have been printed.

The Supplement includes the covers to every Rainbow Orchid publication from the small press Imagineers to the foreign publications of the books, a long section of annotations to the full published story, a selected bibliography that Garen used as reference material, a selection of initial cover sketches for the Egmont editions, three different interviews with Garen from different sources and, perhaps the most intriguing for hardened Orchid fans, a selection of abandoned ideas for the story.

The Rainbow Orchid Supplement was launched at the Thought Bubble comics convention in November 2012 and is only available directly from Garen Ewing at events or via his webshop. The cost for a signed copy of the Supplement from the website is £7 including UK postage.

There are more details about The Rainbow Orchid on The Rainbow Orchid website.

The Rainbow Orchid Supplement is available via The Rainbow Orchid webshop which also gives buyers the chance to purchase signed and sketched versions of the Egmont editions of the book.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dandy Exhibition and Talks at Dundee University

This Saturday coming, 8th December 2012, the University of Dundee University will be holding an opening event for their latest comics exhibition which will celebrate the 75th birthday of DC Thomson's Dandy. 

The exhibition will look back over the Dandy’s past, but also towards its future as it moves on-line with the launch of the Digital Dandy. It will feature original artwork from DC Thomson’s collections dating back to the earliest years of the comic, much of which has never been shown in public before. The University previously had a similar launch event for their display of artwork  from The Beano for its 70th anniversary in 2008, a review of which is on downthetubes here.

The launch event for the Dandy exhibition will also give an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse at the creation of the new Digital Dandy, with a discussion led by Dr Chris Murray, plus contributions from former Dandy editor Morris Heggie, new Digital Dandy editor Craig Ferguson, Digital Production manager Mark Hunter, writer Dan McGachey, long-time DC Thomson artist David Sutherland, and one of the artists who is very closely involved in the direction of the Digital Dandy, Stephen White (Brassneck and Keyhole Kate).

The exhibition and launch have been created as part of an on-going partnership between DC Thomson & Co Ltd, the University of Dundee Museum Services and the newly established Scottish Centre for Comics Studies based at the University. Dr Chris Murray, director of the Centre, said: “We are proud to be able to help The Dandy celebrate its 75th anniversary, which is a remarkable achievement. Of course, the comic is also in a process of transition, as the final print version goes to press and is replaced by a new digital Dandy. This promises to be an exciting and innovative step forward for the comic and its beloved characters.”

The Dandy exhibition launch will begin at 2pm in the Tower Building of the University of Dundee on Saturday 8 December 2012 and admission is free.

The Dandy exhibition will open Monday-Saturday from 10 December 2012 until 7th January 2013 (except when the University is closed for Christmas from 23 December to 2 January) and admission is also free.

• More info:

Dandy 75 : It's Dandy Day

More information on the Dandy website.

Out of the Blue: "Thunderbirds" Shane Rimmer features on new solo album

If you have a Transformers, music and Gerry Anderson fan in your circle who you're seeking a Christmas present for, then you might be tempted by Rob Cottingham's solo album Captain Blue, which is not only a great sounding album but features the voice of Thunderbirds Scott Tracy himself Shane Rimmer – and a stunning cover by Andrew Wildman.

The 18-track album – which Rob describes as "a cross-genre-ational album covering the themes of time, self-realisation, death - and not taking yourself too seriously" is due for release in January. You can, however, pre-order it from his web site, for pre-Christmas delivery!

Rob Cottingham is a prolific, talented and accomplished composer, song writer, lyricist, keyboard player, and vocalist with a number of solo albums and other music projects under his belt over the past decade. His music ranges from intensely intimate and acoustic to a powerful broad atmospheric sound with swirling synthesizers, 'cathedralesque' organs and deep bass sounds. He also enjoys 'playing with' sounds and textures to add to the feel of the music – and there's plenty of that on Captain Blue, a title of course inspired by one of the Spectrum agents from Gerry Anderson's Captain Scarlet.

One added extra to the album is a voice over from TV andd film actor, Canadian Shane Rimmer. Renowned as the iconic voice of Scott Tracy from the original 1960's Thunderbirds, he has appeared in three James Bond films, culminating with a lead role in The Spy Who Loved Me. Other major films include Dr Strangelove, Star Wars, Out Of Africa, Gandhi, Superman 2 & 3 and Batman Begins.

After many years as an actor, voice artist and script writer for Gerry Anderson, he published his autobiography From Thunderbirds to Pterodactyls in 2010, a frank autobiography shedding new light on some of the best-loved films and television series ever made, as well as revealing what life is really like for a jobbing actor in the sometimes less than glamorous world of showbusiness.

"I'm greatly honoured to have had Shane contributing his awesome talents to my album, says Rob. "Whilst the connection with Gerry Anderson is entirely appropriate to this album, more than that, the treatment Shane gave to my written piece - a track called 'Condemnation' - was pure genius."

Shane stated "I was delighted to put my voice to such inspirational lyric writing. The music is just 'something else'. Wait 'till you hear it!"

Captain Blue will be released on the Heavy Right Foot Records label in January 2013. "It will all be worth the wait!" Rob enthuses.

• For more information about the Captain Blue album or to pre-order, visit see You can also hear a demo mp3 on

Follow Rob on Facebook and on Rob's artist page

You can also follow Rob on Twitter

• For more about Shane Rimmer, visit:

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dandy 75: Artists Signing At The ABC Show

The ABC Show section of the London Comic Mart on Sunday 2 December had a Dandy theme with a selection of original artwork for sale as well as plenty of back issues. The Cartoon Museum and Phil Comics both had sales tables while there were also a number of Dandy and Beano artists there to talk to and sign items for the punters.

Henry Davies (above centre) talks to two fans while Gary Northfield (left), Lew Stringer (right) and Nigel Parkinson (with back to the camera) compare notes.

Henry had a good selection of his artwork on display and for sale.

Nigel Parkinson (above) was feeling somewhat under the weather but still managed to sign items. You can find out more about Nigel's work on his blog, Nigel Parkinson's Cartoons.

Lew Stringer (above right) signs a copy of The Art And History Of The Dandy as Nigel looks on. You can find out more about Lew's work on his website while his blog Blimey! remains indispensable reading for fans of old British comics.

All photos by Richard Sheaf.

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.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

New One-Eyed Jack / Valiant Fanzine Available

Hibernia Books, who have previously published licensed reprints of 1980s IPC strips Doomlord from new Eagle and The 13th Floor from Scream, are back with a fanzine about the IPC comic Valiant entitled One-Eyed Jack And The Death of Valiant.

David McDonald has created a 36 page magazine with a black and white cover and black and white and colour interior images about Valiant comic and its Dirty Harry cop character who foreshadowed Judge Dredd. Features include The Death Of Valiant covering the last year of the title before it was amalgamated into Battle Picture Weekly, a comparison of One-Eyed Jack and Judge Dredd, a piece on the work of IPC art editor Janet Shepheard, as well as interviews with artist John Cooper and writer John Wagner.

This is the first of a potential series of semi-regular titles covering older UK comics entitled Comic Archive. As most of the writers on downthetubes come from a fanzine (as opposed to a stripzine/small press) background, this is a venture that we wish David every good luck with.

One-Eyed Jack And The Death of Valiant is available to buy via Comicsy with the printed edition costing £3.99 plus £1.50 postage while the digital version is only £1.50. Copies of the Doomlord reprint magazine are also available.

There are more details of all Hibernia titles on their blog.

Radio interview with Aline and Robert Crumb

Panel Borders: Drawn Together - 40 years of Aline and Robert Crumb

Starting a month of shows about 'lives on the page', Panel Borders looks at graphic novels which depict the travails of human existence with books that straddle the divide between autobiography and fiction. This week, we're proud to present Alex Fitch's interview with Aline and Robert Crumb about their collection Drawn Together, published by Knockabout, which collects 40 years of their collaborative autobiographical comics, including guest art by their daughter Sophie and other luminaries of the American indie comics scene including Art Spiegelman and Charles Burns.Alex talks to Robert and Aline about the history of the project, how it displays the intersection of her feminism and his sex obsession and aspects of truth and fiction in autobiographical comics.

More info

8pm, Sunday 2nd December, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

WebFind: The Eagle Annual Information Site

Eagle Book of Spacecraft Models
Eagle fan Ian Hartas has created an in-depth guide to the long-running Eagle annual over at

The Eagle Annual Number 1 was launched in 1951 for the year 1952, building on the success of the comic which had been launched in the April of the previous year. Ian reveals he was born too late in the 1950's to enjoy the Eagle Annual when first published, so his introduction to them was as a set of hand-me-down copies from an older cousin.

"I read them from cover to cover time and time again," he reveals, "then when I thought I had had enough of them I passed them onwards again to another delighted recipient.

"Of course, I should have kept them..."

Over the last few years he has been browsing around numerous second-hand book shops re-creating his collection and also buying the newer volumes which he did not have the first time around. As he did, he discovered there were many companion annuals, which he has begun to collect.

The result is this in depth personal tribute to the Eagle Annual, offering fans of the comic the opportunity to enjoy some of the magic within the pages of these classic boys' and girls' annuals.

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