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This blog is no longer being updated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, 18 May 2013

Mad May for Wallace and Gromit

VisitEngland, the UK’s national tourist board has recruited Wallace & Gromit as 'Tourism Trailblazers' to inspire Britons to take a holiday at home this year.

(It's a busy time for the duo - earlier this month, they notched up the 1000th daily Wallace and Gromit strip in The Sun, created by the Titan Comics team).

The campaign kicked off with Wallace & Gromit exploring the country’s most exciting holiday spots on their motorbike and sidecar, plus the duo are now starring in a new animated TV ad, which is going out across TV and cinema screens in the UK.

Nick Park, Creator and Director of Wallace & Gromit, said “Leisure time has always been very important to Wallace & Gromit, so it’s great to see them making this holiday choice.  A nice cup of tea and some tasty local cheese is always a favourite so they won’t be disappointed with their holiday in the UK.

The ad was produced at Aardman studios in Bristol and you can take a sneaky peek behind the scenes in the video here.

Friday, 17 May 2013

SelfMadeHero talks adaptations at the Institut Francais

A panel from SelfMadeHero's The Man Who Laughs - art by Mark Stafford

The world of adaption is the focus of a SelfMadeHero panel discussion at this year’s BD & Comics Passion event at the Institut Français, London on 2nd June. 

What are the difficulties involved with turning a classic book into a graphic novel? Three top writers and artists reveal magical process they adopt towards a trio of very different stories.

Artist Mark Stafford tackles Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs, a satirical tale of 18th century Britain that also inspired the creation of The Joker; INJ Culbard takes on the challenge of H.P Lovecraft’s gothic tales including his latest volume, The Shadow Out of Time, and writer David Zane Mairowitz explores the Kaftaesque world with adaptations of The Trial and soon-to-be-released The Castle. The event is chaired by Resonance FM’s graphic novel expert, Alex Fitch.

SelfMadeHero has championed many graphic novel creators in the French language. These include David B (Black Paths, Best of Enemies), Margaux Motin (But I Really Wanted To be An Anthropologist), Jérémie Dres (We Won’t See Auschwitz) and Frederik Peeters (Pachyderme, Sandcastle and the recently acquired Aâma series). Full details can be found at:

• From Classic to Graphic panel discussion - Sunday 2nd June   Time: 3.30-4.30pm. The BD & Comics Passion runs 30 May – 2 June at Institut Français, London.  Full details:

British Comic Sales Figures page moved, Creating Comics blog launched

As regular readers know the main downthetubes web site is currently down due to excessive data charges. I'm in the process of securing a new ISP and we've had a very kind offer from a UK publisher to host the site which will enable us to get back up and running at some point in the next couple of months.

In the mean time, I'm finding alternate homes for some of the features I know get a lot of visits from comics fans.

A very special thank you to those of you who responded to our hopefully temporary crisis by sending donations, which will help fund the current costs of the site - the forum and other services used to promote the site via social media. I was very touched.

My Current British Comic Sales Figures  is now on GoogleDrive. I hope you find this useful, although it is always depressing to read compared against these figures for 1960s and 1970s Comic Sales.
I often get asked questions about the state of the British comics industry, and I've moved my very general and opinionated piece to a page on this blog. If you're a journalist looking for more information on our energized but, it would seem to the outsider, embattled industry as it competes for the pounds in teenagers wallets, I hope this remains a useful resource.

My resources for colleges and course teaching comics in the UK is also a page on this blog: Learning the Comics Art

My guide to writing comics is slowly being moved to a standalone blog: Creating Comics: Be warned, I'm not expecting to update this very often - there are a lot of other great, although US-oriented comic creation bogs and websites out there which are much more active, including Tim van de Vall's impressive site.
If you're interested in the new comic strip, Crucible, which I'm co-creating with Smuzz for STRIP: The Adventure Comic Magazine, there's a behind the scenes blog here and some additional stories from the world of Crucible at

Discussion of British comics and creating comics continues on the downthetubes forum: new members welcome!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Thunder Brother: Soap Division Issue 5 is go, Go GO!

The fifth issue of Paul Rainey's Thunder Brother: Soap Division is available to order from his online shop now. Just like the previous four issues, copies of which are still available to buy, it features a complete Thunder Brother: Soap Division episode, "Mind Your Language", plus rare and previously unseen comics...
  • Too hot for Shakespeare! "XXIII", Paul's comic strip interpretation of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 23.
Each issue of Thunder Brother: Soap Division is 24 pages long, is full colour throughout and costs only £3! (Price includes free P&P to the UK.) Please click the Paypal button below or contact me for alternative methods of payment. International customers, please visit my online shop.

Immediate Media readies new girls title, Blossom

Immediate Media Co, publishers of several BBC-related comics and magazines, has announced the launch of Blossom magazine, a new girls title, packed with educational content, aimed at 4 to 6 year-olds. 

On the newsstands from 29th May this four-weekly title, produced by Immediate’s award-winning youth and children’s editorial team, combines popular girls’ TV, book and toy brands with all seven areas of the Early Years Curriculum.

Tailor-made for the way girls learn, Blossom magazine will be pretty pastel in design and packed with things to make, art pages, challenging puzzles, and interactive stickers to be used in a special sticker section. Featuring its own four girl characters that will guide readers through the magazine, Blossom will show girls how to shine at different activities such as ballet, learning French, playing soccer and bug spotting! The magazine will also look at different jobs that young girls may aspire to.

Every month Blossom will carry an exclusive, high quality cover-mount designed to appeal to young girls. The launch issue comes with a design your own flip-flops kit and features popular book, toy and TV characters: Poppy Cat, Chloe's Closet, Ella Bella Ballerina, Little Princess, Emily Button and Tickety-Toc.

Pauline Cooke, Publisher of Immediate Media’s Pre-school titles, said: “Producing this exciting new title has been great fun. Each issue will give young readers the opportunity to explore their favourite books, TV programmes and toys whilst reinforcing what they’re learning at school. We’re looking forward to working with even more licencees and great brands to develop fantastic content to inspire little girls.”

Andrea Turton, Editor of Blossom magazine, adds: “Blossom provides pre-school girls with age-appropriate content that they understand, plus the sparkly cover-mount they love. Capturing little girls’ love for imaginative play, the title will keep readers busy and thoroughly entertained whilst pleasing parents by being an excellent learning resource.”

Blossom magazine will be priced at £2.75 and will be available at all major retailers and independents around the UK from 29 May.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Be Pure, Be Vigilant... Be the first to get some great signed Nemesis prints from 2000AD

2000AD has announced that copies of the special ‘Termight’ edition of the forthcoming colour Nemesis the Warlock book will include two exclusive art prints signed by creators Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill.

The hardback, with its two editions, is the first ever collection of the extremely rare Eagle Comics editions from the 1980s, with Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) colouring and adapting his original artwork.

The standard ‘Deviant’ edition, without art prints, is now available for pre-order and will be available through book and comic stores in September. Both editions include the hard-to-find ‘Nemesis Poster Prog’ story 'The Tomb of Torquemada'.

However, the ‘Termight’ edition is available only through the 2000AD online shop. Each copy will be individually numbered, carry a marker ribbon, have a different cover and dust jacket, and is strictly limited to only 200 copies, with many of those already reserved on pre-orders.

One of 2000AD’s most successful and famous characters by two of its greatest creators - and black-and-white bestsellers for decades - this colour limited-edition collection of the original Nemesis stories is an absolute must for new and old fans alike.

VS Comics #3 preview now online

Mike Garley, TV and film’s James Moran edit a monthly digital comic called VS Comics, an all-genre, creator-owned, monthly digital comic.

The team currently have a 1p preview issue on sale ( which features a bunch of cool comics including Eponymous, which Mike wrote (art by Martin Simmonds and letters by Mike Stock).

In Eponymous #3 Gridlock, a terrorist cell takes a hostage in a busy London Underground and refuse to talk to anyone except Casey forcing the police to leave this potentially volatile situation to her!

"This action packed issue is a great jumping on point (not that one’s needed just yet)," says Mike, "as we start to get down to business and focus on the characters that make up the world of Eponymous.

VS Comics #3 also includes Day and Night, Swan Song and Ghost Club, which are all worth checking out. Other creators featured are Paul Alexander, Nadine Ashworth, Luke Butland, Ned Hartley, Rebecca Morse,  Barry Spiers, Nicolas Vial and Patrick Walsh.

Paying for the preview is simple via Paypal. Tthe only reason they’re taking a payment for the preview issue is that bigcartel requires a minimum payment of 1p.Or, for a measly £2, you could simply bite the bullet and buy the whole comic,  available as a downloadable PDF for only £2 here.

• For more information on VS Comics go to

Bristol Comic Expo 2013: A Creator's View

Peter Rogers offers his 'creators view' of last weekend's Bristol Comic Expo, which we're hearing many good things about, marking a return to form for Britain's longest-running comics event...

They say you always remember your first love, and when it comes to Comic Conventions for me, that means Bristol. Back in 2002 it was the first convention I ever went to, and at the time the UK Comic Festival was the only major event in Britain.  

Some big moments have happened for me in Bristol, in '04 I won the Writer's Pitching Session, in '06 the concept of Orang Utan Comics was born and in '08 our collective of creators attended the Eagle Awards as expectant, but ultimately disappointed nominees. So it seemed the perfect place for my new imprint Dapper Chimp Press to launch our first book Chris Smith and the Nazi Zombies from Hell.

From an exhibitor's perspective, being back in Brunel's Old Passenger Shed by Bristol's railway station made a big difference. The room is brighter, airier and far more welcoming than being in a hotel.  Our stand was at the far end of the hall, opposite the food stall and next to Sgt Mike Battle and my old friends from Orang Utan Comics.

Saturday started very well, with a good number of people in attendance from the minute the doors opened.  But one thing was really noticeable: this was a different crowd, not the same faces you've seen at conventions up and down the country for years. All these new people and fresh blood helped make the atmosphere across the weekend extremely buoyant.  There wasn't even a hint of cynicism, and with so many creators and fans in one place that's quite an achievement. 

Not only were people smiling, they were extremely engaged and I've never had so many conversations from one side of the table to the other. People who said they'd come back and buy a copy did just that, and those who decided the book wasn't for them still found time to ask about the process and to wish us luck.  A younger crowd also meant more cosplay, from superhero and anime characters to genre movie staples, we even managed a Nazi Zombie of our own.

Saturday evening in comparison was a bit of a damp squib,. As night outs go it was good fun but it missed that sparkle of comic convention magic. There was talk of a cosplay event somewhere, but there didn't seem to be an aftershow epicenter. The official hotel, newly refurbished and now known as the Doubletree by Hilton, wasn't busy until after the nearby Wetherspoons closed. At £5.10 a pint it's not hard to see why, especially with no organised entertainment on site. It had me longing for the days of Scandanavian Ska Punk bands and Dez Skinn not realizing Matt Smith from 2000AD was in attendance.

Sunday was relatively quiet, with far less eye contact and minimal conversation from the passers by, meaning sales were relegated to much more of a trickle.  My hangover was actually quite grateful for the respite. The only real negative I can level at the convention was the decision to have the cosplay parade and button mashing contests right in front of the gents' toilets.  I'm pretty sure this Kessel Run of lavatorial journeys wouldn't have made it through even a half-baked attempt at a risk assessment.

In 2013 Thought Bubble in Leeds and the collective might of the growing number of London conventions, seem to have the biggest draw for creators and publishers. Ian Gibson and David Lloyd were among the most luminary names at Bristol this year, and having Vertigo Executive Editor Shelly Bond presenting a panel and reviewing portfolios did elevate proceedings somewhat. 

So, is a Bristol without such stalwarts as Hypotheticals or Bob Wayne's flamboyant shirts still a viable proposition? I definitely think so. This year's Bristol Comic Expo struck me as a totally honest one, proud of its new position as a regional show, complete with a newer, younger and no less enthusiastic crowd.  I'm already looking forward to 2014 and rekindling my love of Bristol once more.

• For latest news on nest year's Expo bookmark or follow them on Facebook

•  Multi award winning advertising creative Peter Rogers - - came to comics via a series of screenwriting courses at Raindance in London. 

He burst onto the scene in 2004, winning the Writer’s Pitching Session at the Bristol Comic Expo. In 2007 he co-founded Orang Utan Comics, publishing anthology title Eleventh Hour featuring his own short stories alongside the work of other rising talent. A year later the book was nominated for an Eagle Award. 

In the years that followed he’s had a wide variety of work published about a variety of subjects including soldiers, vampires, vikings, superheroes, footballers and demon hunters. A qualified teacher he also lectures and runs workshops on writing for comics. 

Currently working on a number of mini series proposals to be pitched to publishers later this year. He lives in Cardiff with his wife and daughter.

More Expo Reports

•  Rai at Blargle Fargle
"It was my first real con and a little bit overwhelming if I'm honest - a fairly small room with lots of people in it, though I did enjoy the cosplays dotted about..."

Comic Bits Online 

"Speaking to various indie press guys and gals it also seemed that while they were enjoying the good natured socialising that accompanies every Bristol Comic Expo, their success rate at selling the fruits of their hard work was down a little on previous years, though those regular attendees with brand spanking new works on sale - Ronin Dogs creator Mark Pearce for one - reported that business had been good."

• The Adventures of ZIP
- Day One Report - Day 2


Tumblr Tag

Dizzy Dee's Expo 2013 Pics (Facebook album)

Star Wars Fun (Facebook Link)

New Venue and More TIckets for Jaime Hernandez Comica Conversation

We knew Jaime Hernandez was popular, the celebrated co-creator of Love & Rockets and author of some of the greatest graphic novels ever, but the response to his exclusive speaking engagement in London at the end of this month has been phenomenal.

Due to massive demand for tickets which have almost sold out already on WeGotTickets, Comica have moved Jaime Hernandez's Comica Conversation with Woodrow Phoenix to a bigger venue, the fantastic Ciné Lumière Cinema at the Institut Francais.

This lets the team offer a further batch of tickets through their own Box Office - here is the booking link - or ring the box office on 020 7871 3515 -  these will also be snapped up fast!

New venue address: Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DTNearest tube station: South Kensington on the Piccadilly, Circle & District lines
New Earlier Start Time: 6.00pm to start 6.30pm SHARP on Thursday May 30th! Runs till 8pm, followed by signing.

"We're thrilled that this extra-special Comica Conversation is being hosted by the third BD & Comics Passion Festival," says Paul Gravett.

• Full details on the Comica Festival website:

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Dez Skinn reveals the origins of Vulcan (the comic, not the Star Trek planet)

Longtime British comics fan and indie publisher David McDonald, whose projects under his Hibernia Comics imprint include One Eyed Jack and the Death of Valiant and a fab Doomlord strip collection, writes to tell us he is busy working on his next Comic Archive title, provisionally titled Beyond 2000.

In the process, he's gathered a motley assemblage of interesting material, some of it he's unable to find space for in the final Archive - so is instead running items of note on his blog and Facebook page, starting with this fascinating piece about the 1970s Vulcan comic, which he's kindly given us permission to publish on downthetubes.

Vulcan was a weekly comic published by IPC from 1975 to 1976, reprinting strips such as Mytek the Mighty, Trigan Empire and Steel Claw from other IPC titles. Unusually, the comic was originally published only in Scotland, but switched to nationwide publication after 30 issues, lasting for 28 more issues before merging into Valiant.
Bizarrely, longtime editor Dez Skinn, who was working at IPC when Vulcan was published, tells David Vulcan wasn't really an IPC product.

"In his spare time [Valiant editor] Sid Bicknell put it together editorially for Europe, with Jan Shepherd as art editor.

"It came about because Syndication International was making an absolute fortune for IPC by selling Fleetway strips abroad," Dez reveals, "even though their success was foolishly never costed into the viability of titles. So some bright spark had the idea of selling an entire comic to foreign publishers, instead of individual strips. The big gimmick being the low cost price to each because they'd all be printed at the same time (in Italy, I think).

"So it was an early co-production for various countries (hence all the words, including the cover masthead were in black, so the fifth (language) plate could be changed easily when printing all at the same time for different languages without need to change any of the colour plates. They'd print off from the full four colour plates for everybody including a black artwork plate, giving it a print run beyond a million, then overprint different languages from a second black plate, a different one for each individual territory.

"This way, you could have a full colour comic, even in a territory which could only support a print run of only 25,000 or so. (Very cost effective).

"Because it was so cheap (and nasty, on horrible flimsy paper which usually fell apart at newsagents), it was an easy job to run-on copies in English for the UK with a ridiculously low breakeven, provided it sold well enough abroad to keep going. I seem to remember the German edition, Kondor, proved very popular. 
"But it wasn't liked in-house, not being a "proper" comic, with no full time staff or any origination, and on that awful cheap paper! Everybody felt it undermined their work, being a cheap little reprint, the thin end of the wedge, and Sid and Jan weren't very popular for agreeing to do it.

... so now you know!"

• Keep track of Hibernia Comics releases at
• Visit Dez's excellent site for the lowdown on all his titles

Monday, 13 May 2013

Brighton Festival offers graphic novel events with Woodrow Phoenix, Laydeez Do Comics

Yes, yes, we know it's short notice. (We probably did get an email. Have you seen my inbox?)

There are two comic-related two Brighton Festival graphic events this week on Wednesday evening, at the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, put on in association with Myriad Editions. 

When is a graphic novel not a comic? When it's a... starts at 8.00pm and features Nye Wright (Things to Do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park; Sprout's Book Club), Hannah Berry (Britten & Brulightly; Adamtine), and Woodrow Phoenix (Rumble Strip; Nelson) - plus special guest, Woodrow's giant book, She Lives. The debate will be curated by Tim Pilcher (mentor of the comic ALT-Brighton).

A panel debate at the Brighton Festival exploring the dimensions of narrative art.

"The graphic novel as a literary form is really coming into its own at the moment, and we're very lucky that we have one of the best graphic novel publishers here in Brighton – Myriad – so we're putting on an event with them that I'm very excited about" says Mathew Clayton, Literary Programmer, Brighton Festival.

Woodrow Phoenix produced a giant comic for his MA at Brighton University, exploring – literally – the dimensions of what a comic is. Co-winner of Best Book in the British Comics Awards, he and fellow graphic novelists Nye Wright and Hannah Berry debate the different ways of creating narratives: whether pen and paper, ceramics, embroidery or sculpture. Art schools are now hot-beds of new cartoonists, and the traditional US comic is giving way to a more modern, domestic graphic memoir. How did this sea-change come about? What makes a comic, when does it become a graphic novel, is it all just marketing? A panel debate at the Brighton Festival, chaired by comics guru Tim Pilcher and in association with Myriad Editions.

• Tickets: £10 More info here:

Visit the Brighton Festival website to book tickets

Laydeez Do Comics at Brighton Festival starts at 9.00pm - or as soon as they can start. This is a free event in the Studio Bar, in association with Myriad Editions, and featuring the artists, authors and organisers of Laydeez Do Comics, Nicola Streeten and Sarah Lightman, with guests: illustrator and manga artist Chie Kutsuwada and artist curator Kim Pace.

Taking place after the panel event in the Studio Theatre, the audience is invited to join the legendary Laydeez Do Comics, the UK’s first women led graphic novel forum – get along and have your eyes opened to some of the amazing work going on in the comics world.
Laydeez Do Comics regularly attracts more than 100 guests at its monthly meetings in London, and groups have now set up in Chicago, San Francisco, Bristol and Leeds with pop-ups in New York - and now, for the very first time, Brighton!

Nicola Streeten's first graphic book, Billy, Me & You, was published by Myriad in October 2011. It first appeared in serialised form in Liquorice Magazine.
Sarah Lightman's first graphic book The Book of Sarah will be published by Myriad Editions in 2015.
More info here:

• For full event details, visit the Brighton Festival website

Prisoners of Time: An Interview with artist Gary Erskine

IDW's yearlong celebration of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary Prisoners of Time features the work of many British creators, with Phillip Bond providing art on Issue 5, on sale soon. Issue 4, the Fourth Doctor issue, was drawn by Gary Erskine, with assist from Mike Collins.

Put on your scarves and munch on some jelly babies, as we talk to Gary about his work on the fan-favourite Fourth Doctor...

downthetubes: Prisoners of Time is, I believe, the first time you have drawn an official Doctor Who strip - although you were commissioned to draw some illustrations of the Fourth Doctor for Doctor Who Magazine some 20 years ago. Is he your favourite Doctor?

Gary Erskine: Technically my first Doctor was Jon Pertwee with [Sarah Jane Smith] and Planet of the Spiders but my first vivid memory was the end of that particular episode and his regeneration into Tom Baker. He made for an astounding debut and was crazy as Hell. Leela proved a very memorable companion too and their episodes remain my favourite part of childhood television.

downthetubes: Can you tell us which companions feature in the story?

Gary: My episode of Prisoners of Time features Leela [in her classic leather outfit] She was always a favourite companion and I was fortunate to meet Louise Jameson in Edinburgh around the early 1980s when she was filming The Omega Factor at Edinburgh Zoo. I was twelve years old at the time and on a school trip and she was very sweet. I had such a crush on her too and could barely speak.

downthetubes: How do you approach the thorny issue of 'capturing likeness' - always an issue with licensed series based on real actors?

Gary: I have worked on a number of comic book licenses before and the likeness capture always proves a tricky area. The main area we had to concentrate on was the balance between Tom Baker's quirky and individual appearance and the delicate beauty of Louise Jameson. Not always an easy task and there was a lot of BBC approval edits and changes over the course of producing the book. It goes with the territory of working with licenses and actor/agent approval but we were very pleased with the end result.

downthetubes: Were there any particular aspect to working on this story that proved a particular challenge (and why?)

Gary: Not really. I love Doctor Who and any opportunity to work with the characters was welcome. The Judoon make an appearance and they have proved a new favourite alien species for the series. Leela's interaction with them is particularly memorable but saying anything more would be a spoiler.

downthetubes: you've also drawn another great British SF hero, Dan Dare - are there any other British heroes you'd like to tackle given the chance?

Gary: I remember an old Sydney Jordan story called Lance MacLane which was serialised daily in the Daily Record in Scotland for years in the late 1970s to 80s. It followed on from his work on Jeff Hawke and had a European sci-fi vibe to it and I really enjoyed following it. Several artists worked on the series and would change almost daily but the stories were fun and entertaining. I would probably wish to reboot that character somehow if the opportunity arose.

downthetubes: Why do you think Doctor Who has proven such an enduring success over the past 50 years - in print as well as on TV?

Gary: Doctor Who works because it is good wholesome sci-fi with clever story-telling featuring likeable characters. It is a combination that has proved (nearly) timeless.

Everyone seems to have an affection for a particular Doctor but very much like James Bond, the overall legacy remains strong and the audience will always be there for the show (in whatever form it takes). I look forward to more.

dowthetubes: Would you like to draw a longer Doctor Who series, given chance, and which minsters would you like to feature?

Gary: Sylvester McCoy's portrayal of the Doctor always intrigued me and Ace proved herself to be a feisty companion. I would hope to work with them at some point but a longer return to Tom Baker (with either or both Leela and Sarah Jane Smith) would be a sweet opportunity. I might pester my editor Denton Tipton and the writers Scott and David Tipton later this year and see what we can come up with?

I have a wee idea of a story that could work quite well. I can say no more at the moment.

downthetubes: You have your own 'franchise' you're working on right now, The Roller Grrrls - can you tell us what that's about and your plans?

The Roller Grrrls project is something my colleague Anna Malady and I have been working on for over 18 months now by building up an audience and trust with the roller derby community to create an on-going serial featuring the girls in a local league.

Part soap opera, part sporting comic, Roller Grrrls actually references an earlier comic legacy of British comics such as Tiger, Champion, Action and other boys comics where sporting scenarios and characters were the popular focus, which featured football stories and strips like Roy of the Rovers, Hot Shot Hamish and Billy's Boots. Elsewhere there was Formula 1, wrestling, boxing, speedway and many other sporting stories. Even Action  and 2000AD gave a nod to the reading audience's interest in sport with the Harlem Heroes, Speedball and Inferno stories.

Girls comics too would feature sporting activities like hockey or netball and we are hopefully echoing that previous trend and pushing it to a new audience [both comic and roller derby fans] with Roller Grrrls. Granted, some of the themes we will be tackling involve more mature themes but the spirit of the earlier comics is still there.

I am also working up Incendiary.US which is an apocalyptic road movie (The Driving Dead?) and a horror western called Zachariah Gunn: Dakota, with colleague Dominic Regan, which references Once Upon A Time In The West and Hellboy. Both are to follow later this year after the Roller Grrrls launch in July. Stay tuned and follow them all on Facebook!

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

Gary: Work hard.

• Gary Erskine's official web site is at:

• Print editions of the IDW Doctor Who titles are not officially on sale in the UK but you can purchase the digital editions

Buy Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #4 for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

Image Duplicator exhibition opens this week at Orbital Comics

Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein currently has a show on at the Tate Modern. While the public is
intimately familiar with his work, what they may be unaware of is that many of his images were directly “appropriated” from comic artists like Irv Novick, Russ Heath, Jack Kirby, John Romita and Joe Kubert, who received no fee or credit.

Is this an act of brilliant recontexturalisation? The elevation of commercial “low” art to “high” art? Art world snobbery? Artistic licence? Gallery shortsightedness? Cultural annexation? Or something else entirely?

Image Duplicator, a new show at Orbital Comics in London which opens later this week, brings together real comic-book artists and other “commercial artists” – illustrators, designers, cartoonists – to ask these kinds of questions and share their views, via their work.

Each artist was asked to “re-reappropriate” one of the comic images Lichtenstein used: to go back to the source material and twist it into something interesting and original, and in the process to comment on the act of appropriation.

Money raised from selling prints and originals will be donated to the Hero Initiative, which helps down-on-their-luck comic book veterans:

Take Back the Art!

“I’ve spoken out in the past about my dislike, on both aesthetic and ethical grounds, of the “appropriation” of comic strip images by 'pop art', says Dave Gibbons. "The feeling amongst the comics community is pretty much unanimous: we feel patronised, and we feel that several of our revered elders have been, frankly, robbed.

“To us, their creativity and skilled labour has been discounted by considering their work as being merely, in the jargon of the art world, “found”, and they have received no credit or recompense for what amounts to celebrated and expensive copies of their creations.

“The current exhibition of such images at the Tate Modern in London has prompted a new
consideration of these matters, and I was invited to speak on a recent TV show about my views.

”However, it was Rian Hughes, another vociferous critic of the art establishment’s attitude who came up with the brilliant idea of our comic community using its own medium to make the point. Under the title Image Duplicator, the response has been very heartening and we are staging an exhibition of several dozen images in the gallery space at Orbital Comics.

“Naturally, I’m very pleased to support this project and have created an image for exhibition and subsequent auction sale.  (Artwork above).

"Entitled “WHAAT?”, it’s framed in diptych format, measuring 41" x 94", and is my very own “re-reappropriation” of an image originally created by Irv Novick.

“Whilst he and nearly all of the artists mistreated in the past are no longer with us to benefit, all profits from the Image Duplicator venture will, appropriately, be donated to the Hero Initiative.

"This is a US-based charity which exists to help living comic artists and their families who find themselves in financial difficulty due to age or ill-health.

“So, not only will IMAGE DUPLICATOR make a cultural statement on behalf of the medium which we love but will also have a positive and practical benefit for those in our community who have given of their creativity for often poor rewards.”

Prints of WHAAT? will be available as a signed and numbered edition up to 16th May. Dave Gibbons will also be signing copies at the IMAGE DUPLICATOR launch night at Orbital Comics. After this date, the print is still available in an unsigned, unnumbered edition, but the numbered and signed version will be no longer available.

All prints will be shipped and dispatched week commencing 20th May. For print sales and enquires, please email

• Image Duplicator: 16 to 31 May 2013,  Orbital Comics Gallery, 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JA

Opening night: 16 May 7.30 - 9.30pm
Tel: 0207 240 0591
Image: Dave Gibbons after Irv Novick
Curated by Rian Hughes and Jason Atomic

Digital prints kindly provided by Mark Blamire at

Prints of the images areavailable for purchase:

For catalogue enquiries, please email

2000AD partners witb Plastic Head for new t-shirt, tote-bag range

With summer fast approaching now is the perfect time to get yourself a funky fresh new look-or some new t-shirts and bags, at least!

Plastic Head, in conjunction with 2000AD have a fabulous line in tees-long and short,hoodies and even tote or shoulder bags,ideal for the beach or town.

Sporting your favourite 2000AD characters by all the top creators,and very high quality,you’ll be the envy of all your friends and family...

Currently ranked the UK’s 10th largest distributor, Plastic Head has come a long way in its 15 year existence. Started from Director Steve Beatty’s bedroom at his parent's house, the company currently employs 40 people, exclusively handles sales and distribution in the UK for 170 record and DVD labels (over 30,000 titles), a range of over 3,000 titles of merchandise and 4,000 titles of specialist vinyl from limited edition 7 inch box sets, picture discs to electronic 12’s.

• Prices start at £7 for cotton tote bag,up to £40 for a heavy cotton hoodie,with t-shirts about £15-so don’t be a grexnix and stand out from all the jealous non-scrots!!

Comic Creator Ian Sharman pirates his own title

Not sure if you want to pre-order Marksosia's Hero: 9 to 5 - Quietus because you haven’t read the first book?

You want to read the first book but for any one of a million perfectly legitimate reasons you can’t buy a copy or legally download it?

Then you can always download a pirated copy here.

Yes, you read that right. Creator Ian Sharman has published a link to illegally download his work.
"Shocking, eh?" challenges Ian, Managing Editor of Orang Utan comics, on his tumblr. "But, hey, you have Google, you could find it anyway, if you really wanted. And if it persuades just one of you to pre-order the new book then I think it’ll be more than worth it. And, hey, maybe some of you will love it so much you’ll want to own a copy."

So, once you’ve read the first book, how can you pre-order the new book?

Well, you have until 18th May to pre-order Hero: 9 to 5 - Quietus from your local comic shop.

If you want a copy then please don’t just assume your retailer will order it in and you’ll just be able to pick it up when you see it on the shelf in July, because odds are that you probably won’t. If you want it, pre-order it.

To aid you in this, here’s a handy form that you can print out and take along to your local comic shop. It includes all the details that they need to order the book for you. It’s as easy as that.

Alternatively, order it from your regular online retailer, such as:

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