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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Comica Festival's Bank Holiday 2 for 1 deal on upcoming MangaAsia event

Promo image for Comica Manga Asia
London-based Comica Festival and Asia House are offering a Bank Holiday Weekend Special of 2 for 1 (i.e. buy one, get one free!) on the pass for all three talks at Comica MangAsia on Saturday May 18th, if you book between now and next Tuesday - May 7th.

Comica is collaborating with Asia House in London to bring comic fans Comica MangAsia, a Saturday of talks, workshops, panels, kamishibai paper theatre, cosplayer activities and a Free MangAsia Comiket, all on the theme of manga and Asian comics. This marks the very first time that comics have been included as part of Asia House's prestigious Festival of Asian Literature.

Comica MangAsia takes place in the three beautifully re-appointed Georgian Fine Rooms of Asia House, not far from Oxford Circus, Regent's Park and Great Portland Street tube stations. In Fine Room 1, they're offering you three fascinating illustrated talks starting at 12.30pm.

Award-winning expert and Osamu Tezuka biographer Helen McCarthy comes live from the USA via Skype to guide you through the fascinating migrations and colonisations of comics art across Asia, from manga and anime in Japan to other popular graphic forms in China, Korea, Malaysia and elsewhere.

Then Sarah Rundle will introduce Kamishibai or paper theatre, entertaining picture-based stories performed live by bicycling Kamishibai men, touring Japanese villages selling sweets, and present her own re-tellings of a variety of traditional stories.

Thirdly and finally, Comica Festival co-director Paul Gravett hosts a lively panel discussion with Kripa Joshi (Nepal), Yishan Li (China), Tim Yu (Taiwan) and Canan Marasligil (Turkey) and other guests, exploring the connections and differences between different Asian traditions of comics.

You can book an Afternoon Pass for all three of these talks for only £12, or Concessions £10 or Friends of Asia House £8 and bring a second person completely free. But only if you book now on Eventbrite between Thursday May 2nd and next Tuesday May 7th.

Whether you already love manga, anime and other kinds of Asian comics or you're curious and want to discover and explore these rich traditions and vibrant cultures for yourself, don't miss the first Comica MangAsia at Asia House. Be sure to take advantage of this Special Talks Offer.

When: Saturday May 18th, 11.00am to 5.00pm.
Where: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Courageous Mayhem: Irish comic launches Saturday

Courageous Mayhem is a boy's own adventure style compendium, a veritable who's who of the Irish comics scene.

Among it's eighty-four pages are the critically acclaimed Paddy Lynch (Big Jim), Alan Nolan (And The Blood Flowed Green), Phil Barrett (Where's Larry?) and Patrick Brown (The Cattle Raid of Cooley). There are the adept mystics of comicking like John Robbins (The Well Below), designer Archie Templar (The Pants Of), and editor/publisher Gar Shanley, author of Fugger, one of Ireland's best comedy blogs.

Like any good adventure comic, Courageous has true facts and wild fantasies above and below the waves, in the streets and the fields. There's bicycles, bombs, biplanes and bikes and The Bible. If you're in Dublin tomorrow (Saturday 4th), you're welcome to the launch party at: The Little Green, 13 High Street from 4.00pm.

Print and digital copies are available from Gar Shanley in the Republic of Ireland, and from myself, Andy Luke, in the UK. Deluxe copies and extended previews are now available online through Archie Templar at Blurb.

Geek Retreat coffee shop opens in Glasgow

Cafe culture meets comic book geekery in Geek Retreat, the new Glasgow hang out for those who like their coffee served with a side of superheroes, which opens tomorrow, on Free Comic Book Day (4th May).

Geek Retreat is a brand new café and comic book store in the heart of the city, proving a hang out space for fans of superheroes, graphic novels and cult TV series to meet, chat, shop and geek out.

The café will serve everything from Matthew Algie coffee and paninis, to hot dogs, milkshakes, superhero cupcakes and for the more adventurous, ‘Fluffernutter’ toasties and Pop Tart ice cream sandwiches.

Those eating in the café will be able to play a range of cult board games including Star Wars 3D chess, Marvel Monopoly and Simpsons Scrabble.

Meanwhile, the shop will offer a wide range of graphic novels and comics, figurines and memorabilia (including Iron Man 3 and Game of Thrones merchandise, to coincide with the new movie launch and series). Geek Retreat will even stock locally-made jewellery by Rachel Leitch, themed around cult hits such as Batman, Doctor Who and Transformers. The store aims to have something for people of all ages.

The store and café is opening on the most important day in the comic book world's calendar, Saturday May 4th, Global Free Comic Book Day. From 9.00am, comic book fans can drop in and pick up a free comic and check out what Geek Retreat has to offer.

After years of enjoying his own den at home filled with comics and games, owner Stephen Walsh felt it was time to bring the geeks in the city out of hiding and provide a real-life social space for a generation less enamoured by pubs and fast food joints.

Geek Retreat aims to be both a place for established fans to develop their love for comics and all things geek, but also a welcoming and unintimidating place for those that want to learn more.

Whether you just want to read your comic among like-minded people or take your time looking through the toys, graphic novels, figures, games and geeky apparel for sale, friendly staff are hand to advise, 8.00am till 8.00pm on weekdays, 9.00 till 7.00pm Saturdays and 10.00 till 7.00pm Sundays. If an item is not in stock, staff will be happy to order it in or source it for you.

Geek Retreat intends to offer a place for local talent, giving shop space to Scottish writers and artists and linking up for events. Beyond the cafe itself, Geek Retreat will develop an online community via its website, forum and online store.

View Larger Map

Geek Retreat is at 63 Union Street, Glasgow. You can follow Geek Retreat on twitter @GeekRetreatUK, and keep up to date with all the latest events on the website at and

Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer, returns...

Well, all right, that headline is a little misleading. I'm not talking about new stories (although there have been some, find out more below...). Rather, the release of Doctor Who: Nemesis of the Daleks, a Seventh Doctor comic collection from Panini Books.

Although I plugged this project on social media on release, I've just realized I inadvertently failed to mention this compendium here, which leads with the cracking Abslom Daak - Dalek Killer story 'Nemesis of the Daleks', penned by Richard Starkings and John Tomlinson (writing as Richard Alan), drawn by Lee Sullivan.

There's a host of other goodies, including the first professional comic strips I edited for Doctor Who Magazine and Paul Cornell's first-ever professional comics commission, drawn by Gerry Dolan – along with Steve Moore, Steve Dillon and David Lloyd's original Daak tales.

This book is crammed with Seventh Doctor comic stories, including the never-before-collected, oft-maligned but fun Incredible Hulk Presents strips whose creators include myself, Dan Abnett, John Ridgway, Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman, John Tomlinson and many more.

Doctor Who: Nemesis of the Daleks is the fifteenth volume in the ongoing series of Doctor Who Graphic Novels published by Panini Books, collections of comic strips that originally appeared in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine and other related titles.

Nemesis of the Daleks, named after the book’s opening strip, is the second volume of Seventh Doctor comic strips (picking up where the previous A Cold Day in Hell!, published in 2009, left off). The stories in this collection originally appeared in 1989 and 1990. At that time the strips not only ran in Doctor Who Magazine but also in a second Marvel Comics UK title, The Incredible Hulk Presents.

In addition to the Seventh Doctor strips, the book includes the popular ‘back up’ strips featuring Abslom Daak from 1980 issues of Doctor Who Weekly and Doctor Who Monthly, to tie-in with the character’s appearance in the 'Nemesis of the Daleks' story.

Panini again commissioned me to provide a detailed commentary on the stories, which includes some fantastic contributions from many of the writers and artists, with reproduced script pages from John Tomlinson and 'Nemesis' design work by Lee Sullivan.

I'm very grateful for the time many took out of busy schedules to answer my questions - asking them to dredge up their memories of strips written almost 20 years ago taxed me, too!

Panini have done a terrific job restoring the strips (Peri Godbold, as ever, the vital cog in this process), and I'm particularly grateful to Steve White for putting me in contact with Incredible Hulk Presents editor Andy Seddon, who I don't think has ever been interviewed about his time at Marvel UK before, and talks extensively about his memories of IHP.

Here is the full list of strips included in the graphic novel. (Titles marked * are reprinted for the first time in this collection.)

I hope you'll go out and buy. Train-Flight by Graham S. Brand & Andrew Donkin, drawn by John Ridgway, included in this volume, is my first work as a comics editor and includes a guest appearance by Sarah Jane Smith (an early example of actress Elizabeth Sladen's support for the Magazine).

While financial circumstances on the title at the time meant we couldn't risk running long form epics like those written by Steve Parkhouse during the Davison era (I would have hated to have started one only for the title to have been cancelled part way through, which was still a possibility, even at this point, because of the show's presumed cancellation), Train-Flight also marks the start of a loose 'arc' that builds to Dan Abnett and Lee Sullivan's brilliant Mark of Mandragora story. An arc that doesn't get in the way of the main storyline at any point, I might add, and utterly confuse its audience...
  • Nemesis of the Daleks (Doctor Who Magazine #152-155)
  • Stairway to Heaven (Doctor Who Magazine #156) *
  • Once in a Lifetime (The Incredible Hulk Presents #1)
  • Hunger from the Ends of Time! (The Incredible Hulk Presents #2-3)
  • War World! (The Incredible Hulk Presents #4)
  • Technical Hitch (The Incredible Hulk Presents #5)
  • A Switch in Time! (The Incredible Hulk Presents #6)
  • The Sentinel! (The Incredible Hulk Presents #7) *
  • Who’s that Girl! (The Incredible Hulk Presents #8-9) *
  • The Enlightenment of Ly-Chee the Wise (The Incredible Hulk Presents #10) *
  • Slimmer! (The Incredible Hulk Presents #11) *
  • Nineveh! (The Incredible Hulk Presents #12) *
  • Train-Flight (Doctor Who Magazine #159-161)
  • Doctor Conkerer! (Doctor Who Magazine #162)
  • Abslom Daak: Dalek Killer (Doctor Who Weekly #17-20)
  • Star Tigers (Doctor Who Weekly #27-30, Doctor Who Monthly #44-46)
Oh, and if after this you are looking for new Abslom Daak stories, then try and track down copies of  Vworp Vworp Magazine penned by Steve Dillon and drawn by Martin Geraghty.

•  Buy Doctor Who: Nemesis of the Daleks from

Buy Doctor Who: Nemesis of the Daleks from forbidden

Read an online interview with Steve Moore about Abslom Daak on the Altered Vistas web site

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Gatehouse, Windett unleash "Lazarus Lemming"

Lazarus Lemming is the top special secret agent of Department X, the covert government agency that investigates eXtraordinary happenings worldwide. When the world's cows are kidnapped to steal their farts, or all the citizens of Transylvania are turned into mindless zombies, it's up to Lazarus Lemming to solve the mystery and save the day!

The title is the work of John Gatehouse and Dave Windett, both long time comic creators for an assortment of publishers, with Dave's art featuring in The Dandy and Simpsons Comics.

John has written over 100 books and annuals, over 300 television shows and thousands of comic strips and short stories for children. He has produced stories for legendary characters such as Inspector Gadget, Pokemon, Scooby Doo, Garfield, Dracula, Spider-Man, Ace Ventura Pet Detective, The Hurricanes, Digimon, Rugrats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and hundreds of other intellectual properties.

Dave is a professional comics artist and illustrator, his work has been published in Britain, Europe and America. He has drawn comics featuring numerous licensed characters, including Inspector Gadget, Eek the Cat, Ace Ventura, Daffy Duck and Korky the Cat . For the Scandinavian market he has illustrated educational books, business manuals and comics. He has also designed original characters for a variety of publications and provided illustrations for everything from magazines and websites to mobile phones, games, and children's shoes.

You can grab a digital edition from ComicXology here!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Lakes International Comic Art Festival announces full guest list

Duncan Fegredo is just one of the latest
guests announced for LICAF
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has now announced the full line up for the event which will run from 18-20th October in Kendal, Cumbria.

15 new guests are being revealed today. These are on top of the 37 guests who have already been confirmed including Kurt Busiek, Ed Brubaker, Posy Simmonds, Judge Dredd creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, comics journalist Joe Sacco, Gilbert Shelton, Hunt Emerson, Glyn Dillon, Doug Braithwaite, Viz creators Simon Thorp and Graham Dury and Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard.

The founder patrons of the festival are Bryan and Mary Talbot and Sean Phillips.

​Bryan Talbot says: “Everyone can now see the full line up for the festival in October.  It’s an impressive list of some of the best and most innovative comic creators from around the UK and overseas.

“Kendal is the perfect place for a European-style festival and we’re all looking forward to seeing the town transform itself into a centre for comic art in October.  We look forward to welcoming the fans but also those who perhaps have not picked up a comic book since childhood.”

The final group of guests revealed by festival organisers includes a leading British political cartoonist, an artist on the Hellboy comics and some of the best of the new wave of comic writers and artists.

Steve Bell is one of the UK’s leading political cartoonists, producing cartoons for the leader pages of The Guardian. His strip cartoon Maggie’s Farm appeared in Time Out and City Limits in the 1980s and since 1981 he has also written and drawn the daily If… strip in The Guardian.

Steve created the memorable images of John Major with his underpants worn outside his trousers, of Tony Blair with Margaret Thatcher’s rogue eyeball and of George W Bush as a chimpanzee. His work has been published all over the world and he has won numerous awards.

Artist Duncan Fegredo is best known for his work on the Hellboy comics created by Mike Mignola. As we reported earlier this week, the pair are currently collaborating on a new Hellboy project, The Midnight Circus, which is due out later this year. Duncan Fegredo has also worked on a number of other comics, including Judge Dredd.

Duncan is the only other artist that Mike Mignola has entrusted with Hellboy. Mike Mignola has described him as a 'genius' saying: "Duncan can draw anything.  He can draw the real world, he can capture the mystery and the atmosphere that the book needs-but he's also a fantastic cartoonist, so he can keep the life and the humour that I try to get in my stuff."

Al Davison is an award winning graphic novelist. He is also a film maker, martial artist, fight choreographer, performer, and teacher, and is probably best known for his autobiography The Spiral Cage. He is currently illustrating Blood-Light, a graphic novel written by Alex Finbow.

Dave Taylor is a comic artist who has worked for Marvel on Zorro and for DC on Batman.  He is also known as one of the artists on Judge Dredd and is working on a film and TV project based on the 1980 UFO incident at Rendlesham forest known as 'Britain's Roswell'.

American Nye Wright was hailed as ‘an amazing talent’ for his first book Lex Talionis: A Jungle Tale. He was the animation director for a cartoon sequence in Michael Moore’s Academy Award-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine. His book Things to Do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park was published by Myriad Editions in February 2012.

Isabel Greenberg is an illustrator and writer. She won the Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize in 2011 with 'Love in a Very Cold Climate'.  It forms the prologue to The Enyclopedia of Early Earth, which will be published by Jonathan Cape later this year.

Daryl Cunningham is a prolific cartoonist, sculptor and photographer. His most recent book, Science Tales, was published by Myriad Editions in spring 2012.  It is a documentary comic book debunking myths and exposing the lies of scientific naysayers and conspiracy theorists, and the role of the media.

Ian Williams is a comics artist, physician and writer. He originated the website, coining the term that has been applied to the interaction between comics and the discourse of healthcare.  His book The Bad Doctor will be published by Myriad Editions in 2014.

Ed Hillyer is a comic strip writer, artist and editor. His works have been published by Marvel, DC and Dark Horse in the USA, Kodansha in Japan, and numerous independent companies worldwide. He is currently working with Joe Kelly of Man of Action studios (the creators of BEN10) on a brand new concept called Kid Savage and Room4Love, a graphic novel for Selfmadehero.

Kate Charlesworth is a successful cartoonist and illustrator who is currently working with Mary and Bryan Talbot illustrating 'Sally Heathcote – Suffragette’.

Art by Gary Erskine
Gary Erskine is a Scottish artist who has worked on a wide range of comics including Judge Dredd, Hellblazer and Star Wars. One of his latest projects is Roller Grrrls.

Katie Green's first graphic novel, Lighter than my Shadow, will be published by Jonathan Cape in October.

Andy Poyiadiagi is a filmmaker and comic artist. His comic Teapot Therapy was shortlisted for the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize.

Dan Berry is an illustrator, designer, cartoonist and lecturer.  He also runs a podcast on comic art called Make It Then Tell Everybody. His book, The Suitcase, is published by Blank Slate Books shortly.

Owen Johnson is a Cumbria based artist who is also organising the festival’s version of a comics marketplace. His first graphic novel was Who on Earth was Thadeus Mist. He is now working on his next book Raygun Roads & The Infinity Loop Death-Trap of Ullysses Pomp, which is due to be published in the summer.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is modelled on the popular festivals on the continent in places such as Angouleme.  The format will be more like a literary festival than the comic conventions that UK fans are more familiar with.

There will be a wide range of talks, special live drawing events, workshops, films, exhibitions and a kids’ zone.  Some of the events, including the exhibitions and the kids’ zone will also be free.

The festival's marketplace – the Comics Clock Tower - will champion breaking talent from all styles and genres.  Many of the big name writers and artists visiting the festival will also be appearing in the Comics Clock Tower over the weekend.

Sean Phillips, one of the patrons of the festival, is the artist on Fatale which recently received six nominations in the Eisner Awards, the Oscars of the comics industry.  He says: “Like many people working in comics, I’ve long wanted to see a British version of the kind of festivals that take place in Europe, so I’m delighted to be involved in this new festival.  We have a fantastic line up and we hope to turn Kendal into a comics town for duration of the festival.

“With talks, special live drawing events, exhibitions and a kids’ zone there will be something for everyone to enjoy.  If you think you don’t like comics, we think you’ll be in for a surprise, with a huge diversity of work on offer in different genres from superheroes to politics, journalism to manga, and comedy to crime.”

The Festival is being supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The founder partners of the event are the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal College, South Lakeland District Council and Osprey Communications. Founder supporters are Curious Road, Designworks, Jonathan Cape, Kendal Town Council, Forbidden Planet, Absolute Digital Print and Kendal Library.

The festival is also supported by publishers Myriad Editions, Nobrow, Blank Slate, Knockabout, DC Thomson, Cinebook, Dark Horse and SelfMadeHero and by 2000AD, Game, Comica, Panini, Redan, Westmorland Shopping Centre, The Phoenix Comic, Derwent Pencils, Soundsmith and Aha Marketing.

• The full list of guests is available at It is also possible to keep up to date with plans for the festival by following @comicartfest on Twitter or by liking the Lakes International Comic Art Festival Facebook page. Tickets for the festival will go on sale 13 May 2013.

Paragon 13 - pulp action adventure from cover to cover!

Issue 13 of the long running acclaimed British anthology comic Paragon is on sale now.

With a great cover by Bhuna, read Oor Ganesh - the Hindu god (as if drawn by Dudley Watkins!); the further adventures of Jikan - the time travelling demon hunter by Chris Cronin and Dave Candlish; two Spencer Nero stories by Greg Meldrum, one drawn by and Bhuna and the other by James Corcoran - the pulp British adventurer with secrets behind his mask; The Anti Social Network by Tim West and Dave Candlish - a one-off story; and Icarus (part 7) by Dirk Van Dom and Stephen Prestwood - the boy who fell to Earth and was rescued by Aliens!

Paragon 13 is available from here

Malta Comic Con 2013 Annoounced

Malta Con organisers Wicked Comics have just announced the 2013 show will run the weekend of Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December at St. James Cavalier Valletta.

The guest list has yet to be revealed, but, says Chris Le Galle, "Fans can look forward to another killer roster of foreign creators who are not only gifted but are also really nice folks,, more local creators and locally created comics, cosplay events and competitions, gaming events and competitions, free movies and animations showing during the whole duration of the convention, impressive exhibitions and a healthy number of talks, workshops and discussion panels. There will be something for everyone!"

If you've never been to Malta Con, then check out comic creator and guest Richmond Clements review of last year's event, posted here on downthetubes back in December).

"There is a vibrant and exciting comics community in Malta," he noted. "What they need now is support to help make it grow. So, buy their comics and visit their convention! And don’t think it’s out of your price range either. It cost me less to go to Malta than to the Bristol Convention..."

Inside the Malta Comic Convention 2012 at St James Cavalier in Valletta. Photo courtesy Malta Comic Con
His enthusiasm for the event is echoed by fellow 2012 guest, legendary comic artist Herb Trimpe, whose comments suggest that while this event may be outside the UK, it's also one well worth getting to.

"I have to reiterate and say what a great time we had in Malta, and all because of your show," he enthused to the organisers. "Selling points:  great people; great location (the fort); great environment (your country, five+ stars, fantastically beautiful); hospitality tops; weather; the Med; oh, yeah, and... the food!  If I left anything out, you can add it, as we're sure it's the best of whatever. I honestly can't think of anything you could do better!”

The sun-soaked venue for Malta Comic Con. Photo courtesy Malta Comic Con
As customary, Wicked Comics have designed a number of packages for fans wishing to travel to the Malta Comic Con from abroad, which include heavily discounted accommodation rates and local transport from hotel to convention.

Similarly, Wicked Comics have a number of packages tailored for foreign creators who whish to exhibit at the Malta Comic Con including heavily discounted tables.

• Anyone wishing to know more about these packages, and local creators/retailers wishing to exhibit at the Malta Comic Con 2013 are kindly requested to email us for more details on

• For more details visit:

Multiverse Mgazine blasts back into action

Mike Conroy's comics news and features magazine Multiverse is finally back in print - with a spanking new look for Issue 7 from Barry Renshaw and packed with industry news from both the US and UK, complete with an intriguing supplement from Blase Books, "Scraps", offering some rare UK and US comic oddments and a brand new one page comic strip from Mike Higgs.

The magazine has a range of news features, leading with an overview of upcoming US comics projects including the latest Marvel revamp and Marvel Now!, which will deliver refurbished Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova titles.

There's also a look at Paul Levitz' new DC Comics Golden Age book and an affectionate tribute to Karen Berger, who recently stepped down after 20 years at the helm of DC's mature readers imprint, Vertigo.

There's plenty for British comics fans too, with a look at IDW's Judge Dredd title and David Hine and Doug Braithwaite's Image Comics title, Storm Dogs.

Described as "blatant advertising", the Blase Books "Scraps" supplement will have comic art fans salivating, perhaps, at the double page spread of some of the art it offers for sale from the IPC/Fleetway archive, including pages from strips such as Spider and The Phantom Viking alongside girls comics work and pages of the British Star Trek strip that were published in Valiant and TV21 in the early 1970s.

It might be advertising, but it's done with a sense of fun, wrapped in a great strip from Mike Higgs which we're only showing you part of below. Go and buy a copy to read the rest!

Mike diplomatically explains the troubles for the title in his editorial, which resulted in its 12 month absence in print - although digital editions of #5 and #6 were released. Let's hope his new partnership with UK Comics Creative and his unfailing enthusiasm for this magazine bring better fortune for him moving forward.

• Multiverse #7 costs £3.99 and is available in all good UK comic shops. For purchase information visit 

TRIPWIRE kicks off its 21st birthday celebrations

May is a busy month for the British independent media magazine TRIPWIRE. Despite not hitting the kickstarter target for TRIPWIRE 21, its planned 21st anniversary special, publisher and editor-in-chief Joel Meadows tells us he's putting the book out anyway.

The kickstarter crowdfunding campaign achieved over 70 per cent of its hoped for backing but did not make target, which is clearly disappointing for Joel – but he remains upbeat.

“It was always going to be a gamble and the fact is that we have distribution in place which means that we are able to fund the book in a more traditional fashion anyway,” says Joel.

Along with the book launch, London's top bookshop Foyles will be hosting a double celebration of TRIPWIRE’s birthday. Kicking off on 16th May in its prestigious Charing Cross Road gallery in the world-famous bookshop is an exhibition showcasing a selection of photographs, images and covers from TRIPWIRE over the years.

“It will give visitors the opportunity to see these images up close and at a much larger size than they’ve ever seen them before," Joel enthuses. "It will feature photos of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Michael Moorcock and classic covers by the likes of Frank Quitely and our iconic Fury cover by Jeff Carlisle."

Also on 16th May at Foyles, in the evening, is the TRIPWIRE 21 event. Meadows will be joined by legendary SF and fantasy author Michael Moorcock, Mike Carey (Felix Castor, The Unwritten), Roger Langridge (Muppets, Snarked!), Peter Milligan (Hellblazer) and Christopher Fowler (Bryant & May, Roofworld) to talk about 21 years of TRIPWIRE and 21 years of comics.

There will also be copies of the limited edition TRIPWIRE 21 hardcover and the paperback to buy at the event.

“We are very excited that we have managed to gather such an impressive line-up of guests to help us celebrate TRIPWIRE’s birthday and the fact that it’s at such a prestigious place like Foyles makes it even more of an occasion,” Meadows admits.

• TRIPWIRE 21 will be offered in June’s edition of the Previews catalogue for Diamond US. It will be available to buy, retailing at £14.99 UK and $24.99 US in paperback and £29.99 UK for the limited hardcover from 9th May 2013. It will be distributed to the UK booktrade through Turnaround, to the US direct market through Diamond Comic Distributors and to the US booktrade through SCB Distributors. 


• Foyles Event Details: 

Launch Event:

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Marvel Heroes game makers announce Iron Man weekend as film breaks UK box office records

Marking the launch of Marvel’s Iron Man 3 movie, which opened in the UK last week in advance of the US release and has broken box office records (taking £11.4 million in its opening weekend), game maker Gazillion Entertainment will be kicking off a Marvel Heroes “Iron Man 3” Open Beta Weekend beginning on Saturday 4th May at 3.00 am BST / through Monday 6th May at 18.00 am BST. 

As part of the Weekend, new players who participate will be able to select an Avenger as their starting hero - including Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow.*

There are over 14 Iron Man armours that will be available in Marvel Heroes spanning the Golden Avenger’s illustrious career in comics and movies (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, The Avengers).

Gazillion Entertainment’s Marvel Heroes is an action MMORPG for PC created by David Brevik, the visionary behind  Diablo and Diablo 2. Set in the Marvel Universe,  Marvel Heroes combines the core game-play style of action RPGs and MMOs with an extensive original story crafted by Marvel super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis.

In  Marvel Heroes, players suit up and collect their favourite Marvel superheroes including Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and many more as they team up with friends to try to stop Doctor Doom from devastating the world with the power of the Cosmic Cube. 

Marvel Heroes features a deep leveling system unique to each character, diverse locations set across the expansive Marvel universe, a robust crafting system and much more. Marvel Heroes will be making its debut on PC as a free-to-play game on 4th June 2013.

• In order access the Marvel Heroes “Iron Man 3” Open Beta Weekend, players should register now at As the weekend approaches, an email will be sent with download instructions.

* Access to The Avengers characters as starting heroes in Marvel Heroes including Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow, will be available during the Open Beta weekend


Radio interviews with Tim Pilcher, Graham Rawle and Paul Magrs

Book List: Celebrating Ephemera

Starting a new series of the bimonthly show on books, Alex Fitch talks to three authors whose work celebrates ephemera and pop culture detritus. 'Graphic Novelist' Graham Rawle discusses his latest novel The Card, which follows the journey of a man who believes he is being employed by the secret service to protect Princess Diana, via playing cards, bubble-gum cards and cigarette cards that are left in his path. Rawle is an author and University of Brighton lecturer who uses graphic design and typography in his work, including collage of text from magazines (Woman's World) and photographic montages (Lost Consonants et al.).

Also, Tim Pilcher talks about his crowd-funded memoir Comic Book Babylon which documents his time working at DC Comics' London office in the 90s, meeting pop culture celebrities such as Grant Morrison, Jonathan Ross, The Spice Girls and Adam Ant; while Paul Magrs chats about his novels and audio plays set around the fringes of Doctor Who, including his latest release Vince Cosmos, Glam Rock Detective where a Ziggy Stardust style pop star turns out to be engaged in an on-going war with aliens on Earth. Magrs also discusses his popular ‘Brenda and Effie’ series of books about the Bride of Frankenstein and a white witch running a B & B in Whitby.

8pm 'Clear Spot', Wednesday 1st May 2013, repeated 9am, Thursday 2nd May, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast at

Monday, 29 April 2013

Comic Creator Interview: David Hine on adapting "The Man Who Laughs"

David Hine
David Hine has had an illustrious career in comics, both as artist and writer, working on a diverse range of comics since his debut in the 1980s on titles such as Crisis.

He's currently finishing the first arc of Storm Dogs, from Image, co-created with artist Doug Braithwaite and writing Cowboys and Insects for his old buddy Shaky Kane, for digital anthology Aces Weekly. Work-for-hire projects include The Darkness for Top Cow and an arc of Crossed for Avatar.

downthetubes caught up with David on the release of the stunning graphic novel adaption of Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughed, drawn by Mark Stafford and published by SelfMadeHero...

downthethetubes: You've worked in comics since the 1980s, firstly for Crisis but also Marvel UK, more recently for Marvel and DC Comics, as well as worked on a number of "indie" projects like Strange Embrace and The Bulletproof Coffin. Do you miss the days of British publishers originating more comics?

David Hine: There certainly were a lot more opportunities for freelancers back in the eighties and there was never any shortage of work, though I rarely felt that I was really creating the comics I wanted to do. What we didn’t have much of back then was the opportunity to create full-length graphic novels and in that respect things are healthier now.

downthetubes: One of your latest projects is The Man Who Laughs, an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel for Eisner Award-nominated publisher SelfMadeHero. How did that project come about?

David: I had written a story for the DC comic Batman and Robin, set in Paris and featuring a French version of the Joker. I knew the story about the creation of the Joker being inspired by a movie poster of the 1929 film of The Man Who Laughs starring Conrad Veidt, and in my story a mad artist disfigures his own child as an homage to Victor Hugo. It occurred to me that I knew very little about the original novel, so I tracked down the English version on the Project Gutenberg site and read it at the gym on my Kindle.

Gywnplaine hears the screams of the drowning Comprachios.
From The Man Who Laughed by Mark Stafford
I don’t know if it was the rush of blood to the head, but I found myself inspired by the story. There were so many scenes that I knew would make fantastic sequences in a comic book. I found myself visualizing pages in my head – the scene where the Comprachicos sink beneath the waves while praying for their souls, Gwynplaine struggling barefoot through the snow, the descent into the depths of Southwark Jail, the confrontation with the massed ranks of the aristocracy in the House of Lords.

I’ve never felt compelled to adapt an existing work before, but this story seemed to be crying out to be made into a comic.

Southwark Jail, as visualized for The Man Who Laughed by Mark Stafford

downthetubes: How do you approach adapting a novel like this? The structure of the original is very different to yours and Mark's adaptation...

David: There were a number of problems with the original novel. It isn’t one of Victor Hugo’s most popular and that’s because it is bogged down in an obsessive catalogue of the titles and possessions of the most powerful aristocratic families and the workings of English law. Hugo clearly had done a lot of research and he was determined to cram it all in there. The narrative structure is also non-linear in a way that actually works against the dramatic effect. I know that’s a bit presumptuous of me, but I couldn’t help feeling he could have done with a good editor.

Gwynplaine and company arrive in London.
Art from The Man Who Laughed by Mark Stafford

The great thing about adapting a book to another medium, especially when the author is long dead and there are no copyright issues, is that you really can cut and rearrange as much as you want. It’s a massive tome, over 200,000 words, so clearly a lot of material had to be cut to reduce it to a manageable 160 pages of comics.

Art from The Man Who Laughed by Mark Stafford

I read the book cover to cover three times. The first time was a straight reading. The second time, I had a hard copy of the book and went through marking the passages that had to be there, and eliminating the parts that were clearly extraneous to the story. There were a couple of nice scenes that could have stayed in, but in the end they reduced the impact of other scenes or upset the pacing of the story. Gwynplaine’s half brother, the illegitimate Lord David Dirry-Moir has an ambiguous role at the end, which is fascinating, but to include it would have ruined the pace of the final scenes, so I was a bit ruthless with him, I’m afraid.

I then re-arranged the order of events. Hugo skipped back and forth in time in ways that sometimes worked against the plot development. Too many spoilers in the early chapters!

Finally, once I knew the scenes that were going to go in there, I re-read those scenes up to a half-dozen times to absorb their atmosphere. After I’d completed an outline of the graphic novel, I re-read the book again from cover-to-cover to make sure I hadn’t missed anything vital.

downthetubes: What's the most difficult aspect of such adaptations? Do you think that it's easier for you to script such work, given your skill as an artist as well as a writer?

David: The most difficult decision was the language. The book was published in 1869 and set in the early 18th Century. Victor Hugo’s language was that of the 19th Century, so it was already a modernization and there was a temptation to update it further. In the end I chose to keep Hugo’s voice and that’s where all the re-reading came in useful. I often used Hugo’s actual words when appropriate but I felt confident enough that even where I was inventing scenes or dialogue, I had absorbed enough of the feel of his writing to keep it consistent and hopefully it reads seamlessly.

Art from The Man Who Laughed by Mark Stafford

downthetubes: There are some superb and startling images in The Man Who Laughs that condense almost entire chapters in the original - Gwynplaine's horrifying encounter with the hanged man, for example is told in just two panels. Do you decide that kind of thing as a writer or was it a matter of joint discussion?

David: The form of the novel is perfect for getting into the heads of the characters and that internal voice is where there is often a problem with adaptation. In Hugo’s case, he was a very visual writer. Discussing scenes with Mark, we soon realised we were both imagining things in a similar way. The internalised emotions are a little more difficult but when you’re working with Mark the problems are solved very easily.

Some of the most powerful scenes are wordless. I have experience as an artist so I always break down a script into thumbnails, roughing out the pages and panels to make sure they are working. I didn’t give Mark those thumbnails because that would be imposing too much of my vision, but I knew that structurally it would all work. Then I gave Mark as much information as I could on what was going through the characters’ heads and when appropriate, cutting and pasting some of the key passages from Hugo as well. The script ran to over 45,000 words in the end, so there was a lot for Mark to wade through.

That scene with the hanged man, for instance, included the original description giving every detail of the canvas the corpse was wrapped in, the snails that had trailed across it, much of which we decided to leave out. We probably talked more about that full-page spread than most other pages. It’s a powerful image that mirror’s Gwynplaine’s own suffering. In the end that single image sums up several hundred words of script.

Mark has a genius for depicting very complex and often conflicting emotional information with his drawing and I don’t think there are many artists who could match what he has done with this book. I gave him the near-impossible task of drawing a character with a face that is fixed in a permanent horrifying rictus, and then asking him to convey every emotional nuance imaginable.

At the start I think Mark was reluctant to draw the facial disfigurement as extreme as I wanted. There’s a recent French film that draws back from showing the sheer horror of that physical abuse and it undermines the whole story. Hugo leaves no doubt how awful the mutilation was. Gwynplaine had to be utterly repulsive in order to make the nobility of the character shine so clearly. That was a hell of a challenge for Mark, and he rose to it with his usual aplomb. By forcing the reader to look at the horror of his face, you find that after a while you are seeing past it. The acting is all in the body language and the upper face, particularly the eyes. You see through the fright mask to the sympathetic character that lies beneath.

downthetubes: You've worked for both small and large comic publishers on both commercial and, I assume, more personal projects. Does your work on series like X-Men, for example, afford you the opportunity to work on (perhaps) smaller stories like The Darkness?

The cover of The Darkness #112
by Stjepan Sejic
David: When I began writing for a living in 2004 I was exceptionally lucky to start with X-Men and other well-know characters. I’ve written Daredevil, Spider-Man, the Inhumans, Batman, Green Lantern, all kinds of iconic characters. I even had a run on Will Eisner’s The Spirit for DC, which was actually the most gratifying work-for-hire I had done. I could imagine writing Batman, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be allowed to write my all-time favourite character.

Now I have made it clear that I no longer want to work on the bigger corporate characters of Marvel and DC. There are too many issues. However, working on those books has made it a lot easier to find publishers for my more personal work and even on work-for-hire I’m given a lot of free rein by the guys at Top Cow and Avatar.

I guess I’ve gone about this ass backwards. Most people seem to do the smaller books with the aim of reaching the heady heights of working for the Big Two and that turned out to be the reverse of my career path. It’s still tough to make a living from the creator-owned work, but it’s so much more creatively satisfying. What the DC and Marvel work did was to get my name out there a bit and also helped me to develop my craft.

Working to insane deadlines really is also a great way to focus the mind, and even the frustrating editorial “directing” does push you to find a way to tell a decent story against the odds. I’ll always be grateful to the guys like Joe Quesada and Mike Marts who gave me those openings at Marvel and DC. I know I often slag off the Big Two but I have a lot of respect for many of the individuals who work at both companies. And kudos to the creators like Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Si Spurrier, Frazer Irving, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and many more, who somehow manage to rise above.

downthetubes: What's your next project and when does it launch?

David: Storm Dogs is the big one at the moment. The fifth issue has gone to press and the last part of the first arc is being drawn right now by co-creator Doug Braithwaite. This is my first serious attempt at science fiction since my Mambo series for 2000AD back in the 1990’s.

Then there is a second arc of Night Of The Living Dead for Avatar and I’ve just written the first part of my second arc of Crossed for the same publisher.

I’m also working up to the death of Jackie Estacado and The Darkness. Talking of iconic characters, I’m getting to kill off this one! It’s a strangely positive project to be working on and I think the mini-series ‘Darkness Falls’ that follows the end of the monthly series could be one of the defining episodes in the history of The Darkness.

Bulletproof Coffin
© David Hine & Shaky Kane
downthtetubes: You're also working on a number of digital projects and you and Shaky Kane have constructed a very different version of Bulletproof Coffin in its digital form. Are you excited by the opportunities and challenges of this new comic storytelling medium?

David: That’s an interesting development. When we did the cut-up issue of The Bulletproof Coffin it was the realisation of a concept I had running around my head for the best part of 20 years. I had wanted to write a story as a set of cards, with a single image on each card, which would be sold in a pack and would be shuffled and read at random. I’m fascinated by the way we perceive ‘story’, attempting to impose a narrative structure on even the most random of elements. Initially the idea was to present a story in pieces and find the ‘correct’ structure. So that was the theory, but I never got around do doing it.

Issue 4 of The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred was the closest I got. That was a collection of 84 images, some of them related, but mostly created as a stream of consciousness with a deliberately random approach. That culminated with sitting in a pub with print-outs of those 84 images and having everyone round the table re-arrange them at random. The order we ended with was the order in which they were printed.

The next stage would have been to create a digital version, which would create pages in random sequence, but I just assumed that would need some amazingly complex piece of software to achieve, so we never did it. We did encourage people to ‘cut and paste’ their own digital versions of the comic and a number of people posted PDFs of their re-arrangements. Then we heard from this guy called Inigo Saenz who contacted me to ask if he could post his version.

When I saw it I freaked. The pages were genuinely random and you could go on clicking for new pages indefinitely. This really was the Endless Coffin, just as I imagined it. Inigo asked me if I could think of any improvement and I very flippantly suggested weird music and animated psychedelic gifs, which he duly added. It’s quite a trip and you can see it here:

I love the way our readers have become involved in the creative process. In a sense the reader or viewer is always a part of that process. No one ever reads the same book as someone else, or sees the same movie or hears the same music, but with the Coffin, the involvement has become more proactive. I love it and in many ways The Bulletproof Coffin has become the most important piece of work I’ve been involved with. I hope Shaky feels the same.

And by the way, we promise not to sue anyone who recreates that fourth issue of The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred in any way, shape or form. It’s all yours to mess with in any way you want, provided you make the result available for free.

Cowboys and Insects © David Hine & Shaky Kane
We are now working on Cowboys and Insects, which is a whole other kind of science-fiction that draws on 1950’s B-movies for inspiration. It will make its appearance in June on David Lloyd’s digital site Aces Weekly. It’s a natural outlet for Shaky’s work. Now you can see his art the way it was meant to be. Shaky tells me he’s been taking the opportunity to turn the brightness on the colour up to eleven.

downthetubes: Above anything else, what one piece of advice would you offer aspiring comic creators?

David: I spend too much time telling people to work on their craft. That is important of course, but there is too much highly crafted, efficiently sterile work out there. Be original. Look at everything, soak up everything, from every medium, every genre, let it percolate in your head and then turn off the personal censor and let it all out.

• Thanks to David for his time. You can keep up to date with latest news on David's work on his blog and find links to his work in print at or on davidhine.tumblr or @hinedavid (Twitter)

•  Mark Stafford's Hocus Baloney (blog)

Duncan Fegredo back on Hellboy - Midnight Circus launches in October

Following up on a collaboration which spanned multiple series, leading up to Mike Mignola’s return to both writing and drawing his beloved demon, British artist Duncan Fegredo will return to tell a story about a young Hellboy’s first brush with hell.

Out in October, Hellboy: The Midnight Circus is a beautifully drawn 56-page graphic novel that finds a young Hellboy runs away from the B.P.R.D., only to stumble upon a weird and fantastical circus and the few demons from hell who inhabit it.

“This one owes a lot to Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes (pretty much my favourite circus story of all time), but even more to Pinocchio — especially all the spooky, disturbing bits Disney left out. And the work Duncan is doing here is just flat-out amazing,” said Mike Mignola.

“Growing up is tough enough, even when you don’t know the weight of the world rests on the future of your yet-diminutive shoulders. Mike has woven a tale of coming of age for the young Hellboy made all the more poignant for knowing his future. Wonderful, magical, terrifying, this is epic Hellboy on a smaller stage,” Duncan Fegredo added.

• Hellboy: The Midnight Circus arrives on 23rd October 2013 in a beautiful hardcover format similar to the previously released Hellboy: House of the Living Dead (created in collaboration with legendary artist Richard Corben in 2011)

• For more information on Hellboy: The Midnight Circus, check out the exclusive interview with Mike Mignola on Comic Book Resources

Mars Attacks Judge Dredd!

Step on up and place your bets! An army of angry green men bent on galactic conquest have landed in Mega-City One, but they didn’t count on the grizzled lawmaking legend of Judge Dredd standing in their way.

The skeptics say it’s one man versus an army, but obviously those naysayers don’t know the Judge named… Dredd!

Written by veteran Dredd writer “Action” Al Ewing, drawn by Mars Attacks’ “Joltin’” John McCrea, and sporting covers by “Gorgeous” Greg Staples, these villainous Martians are in for the fight of their lives when they take on Mega-City One’s Number One Lawman.

It’s a September to remember! It’s bug eyes and disintegration rays versus a fully loaded Lawgiver and a zero-tolerance attitude in the Brawl for the Sprawl!

Be on the lookout this September and pick up Issue 1 of Mars Attacks Judge Dredd at your local comic shop…if it's still standing...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Radio interviews with Jenny Linn-Cole and Jon Turner

Panel Borders: Shallowater, Your days are numbered

Concluding a month of shows looking at small press and independent comics, we have a pair of interviews recorded in venues where such titles are stocked. Alex Fitch talks to Jenny-Linn Cole (in the gallery of Orbital Comics), about her graphic novel Shallowater, an tale of music, masculinity, and existentialism serialised in a series of small press comics.

Also, in an interview recorded at the DIY Cultures festival, Dickon Harris talks to Jon Turner about the independent comics magazine Your days are numbered which mixes reviews and articles about sequential art with cutting edge graphic design.

8.30am, Monday 29th April, repeated 3pm, Thursday 2nd May, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / extended podcast at after broadcast

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