downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...
The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013, but we're glad you're here, because that's currently undergoing some under the bonnet refurb! So we've brought this blog back from the dead to tide us over.
We expect to be back up and running next week, just before the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival - see you there?
Hop over to www.downthetubes.net for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!
Friday, 5 September 2008
David's art is very much in the tradition of ligne claire (clear line) artists such as Belgium's Herge (of Tin Tin fame) and France's Jacque Tardi. In the interview, Garen, himself a talented cartoonist, talks to David about ligne claire, world-building and the Dutch comics scene (David lived in Amsterdam for a while):
"The Dutch domestic comic scene is unsurprisingly small but very healthy," says David in the interview. "They have fun with what they do and are more interested in the 'artform' of comics than in the 'business', or at least, that's my perception.
"I've found that idea very important to hold on to: if you go looking for some kind of material gratification through comics, whether it's in terms of cash or number of blog comments then you'll end up miserable."
Garen Ewing is the man behind the rather fantastic Rainbow Orchid. He's also got a forthcoming strip, Charlie Jefferson and the Tomb of Nazaleod, in new children's comic The DFC. You can see a preview of this strip here. David's Tozo strip can be found here.
(This interview sourced via the brill Forbidden Planet blog)
• Oliver East of Bugpowder makes us aware of the new issue of Colouring Outside the Lines, which features an interview with British indie cartoonist, Lizz Lunney.
According to its myspace site, Colouring Outside the Lines is "...a zine featuring interviews with contemporary female artists; illuminating various corners of current female artistic and creative activity."
Lizz Lunney's minimalist style and occasional anthropomorphic stylings should appeal to fans of cartoonists such as Ralph Kidson and Lewis Trondheim.
Anyway, sounds like a cool zine. Please check it out.
• Speaking of Oliver East, his blog is well worth a read, especially for its stream of consciousness musings on India, the creative process and fellow cartoonist Stuart Kolakovic's superb rugs!
• Richard Bruton draws our attention to cartoonist Hunt Emerson's recently revitalised website, Large Cow.
I'll let Richard do the plug for this one:
"Hunt Emerson's website Large Cow is proving to be a black hole of time stealing delight. I was directed there via Pete to have a look at the Owl & The Pussy Cat three page strip from the Beano and I find myself looking around for the best part of an hour..."
If we're mentioning Richard, we should also give a shout-out to his excellent blog, Fictions, which often contains lots of comics-related goodies, including the Propoganda reviews that are cross-posted at the aforementioned Forbidden Planet blog.
And finally... Peter Murphy has just posted an interview with comics legend Alan Moore over at the Blog of Revelations. It's pretty good stuff, with some classic Moore-isms and interesting anecdotes:
"So I got the second draft of the [film] script [for V for Vendetta] where I think to justify the special effects budget, they decided that having Britain taken over by fascists was just not exciting enough, and they’d used the fact that I mentioned a limited nuclear war to say, ‘Right, there’s mutants everywhere!’ So instead of it being fascist policemen that are patrolling the benighted streets of this enslaved London of the future, it’s half-goat mutant policemen. You’ve got these people that are policemen down to the waist and have goats’ legs. And as I said at the time, if you wanted to do a film about goat policemen, then why the f**k didn’t you just buy the option to Rupert Bear?!!"
Thursday, 4 September 2008
The Festival has been running for two years and is an extension of the comics-related work that the Centre undertakes throughout the year.
The new courses will examine the process of creating comic art and study the artistic techniques involved, which can then be applied in other areas such as concept design for video games, movies and animation. The skills are also relevant and useful in commercial illustration.
"This is an exciting opportunity to improve on traditional art skills," says 2D Festival Organiser David Campbell, " apply them in a comic art context, build a portfolio and develop knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and how it is used in the comic industry."
The centre will also be developing a printing press to be used in the printing of their own comic publications in order to showcase Irish comic talent.
Details are as follows:
1. Name: OCR Level 3 Comic Art and Digital Illustration (for students aged 16+)
Examine the artistic techniques used in the creation of comic art and use these to create your own characters and stories. Learn how to colour your black and white artwork digitally using Adobe Photoshop.
Duration: 15 weeks Start Date: 23/09/08 Finish Date: Jan 09
Day: Tues Time: 4pm – 6pm Venue: Verbal Arts Centre
2. Name: OCR Level 3 Comic Art and Digital Illustration (for adults)
Duration: 15 weeks Start Date: 25/09/08 Finish Date: Jan 09
Day: Thurs Time: 7pm – 9pm Venue: Verbal Arts Centre
• Enrolment for the Above Courses begins on Monday 8th September: 6:30 – 8:30 at the Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall on Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PU
True to its Sci-Fi themes, Elephantmen and Starkings are eager to help Clickwheel, which is owned by 2000AD publishers Rebellion, push the boundaries of comics as we know them.
Elephantmen are the survivors of genetic engineering experiments and indoctrination by Doctor Kazushi Nikken and MAPPO, a sinister organization which sought to create suprahuman weapons of mass destruction. Following their involvement in the war between Africa and China, Nikken's creations were freed and rehabilitated by the United Nations. These 'Unhumans' now live amongst men. Legitimized by the 'Elephantmen' act, they are nevertheless denied the right to bear arms and survive on their wits alone. (For more information, visit the official web site).
"I've been interested in Clickwheel since Tim Demeter set up the site," says Elephantmen and Hip Flask writer/creator Richard Starkings. "Of all the sites that approached Comicraft with the whole 'iTunes for comics deal', it seemed clear that Clickwheel had the cleanest, best designed user interface, and as 'Purveyors of Unique Design and Fine Lettering' the presentation of a download site is obviously going to be important to us.
"Plus -- Tim didn't even approach me, he got my attention just by doing a good job, what a concept!
"When Tim added 2000AD to Clickwheel I realized that we were more than a perfect match -- I've often said in interviews that Elephantmen is the strip I would have contributed to 2000AD had I ever had the opportunity. 2000AD's founding fathers, John Wagner and Pat Mills were a huge influence on me and we even share cover artist Boo Cook from time to time!"
"Tim and I have been working out the logistics of posting Elephantmen on Clickwheel for the last couple or three months but now the contracts are signed, the ink is dry, the hands have been shaken, the tees crossed and the eyes dotted and... I'm sorry, I'm drifting..."
Elephantmen will be available for download every month on Clickwheel for just $1.99 an issue. Every ad, every letters page, all the back up features and indicias will be included. "Everything except the staples," says Richard, "and Tim tells me he's working on making small pieces of bent rusty metal downloadable even as I speak."
"I lettered my very first comic with Comicraft fonts and it's a true honour to be working with Rich," says Tim Demeter, Clickwheel Editor in Chief. "I'm really excited about this for a lot of reasons, none the least being that Elephantmen is a great book. It's the type of quality we want people to think of when they think of Clickwheel.
I'm also happy to announce that Elephantmen is the first of many, many new comics to come at Clickwheel in the coming weeks."
• Elephantmen is available monthly at www.clickwheel.net. One $1.99 purchase earns three formats: PDF, CBR and iPhone formatting. (Via the Clickwheel iPhone reader, available free on the Apple App Store.) • Download Elephantmen #1 now at www.clickwheel.net/features/254
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
“Chrome” has been released for Windows in beta form in 100 countries according to a post on the official Google blog and its inner workings have been outlined in a 38-page comic book illustrated by Scott McCloud.
"Yes, it's true," says Scott in a post about the project on his web site. "I drew a comic for Google explaining the inner workings of their new open source browser Google Chrome.
"It was designed as a printed comic for journalists and bloggers. Lots of people have had fun scanning those advance printed copies and posting them however, which is fine with Google (and me) since it's published under the creative commons license."
A web friendly version of the strip has been posted here. "We'll put something even better together soon," says Scott.
Chrome is an open source projects using components from Apple’s WebKit and Mozilla’s Firefox, among others and Google are making all of the code for the new browser open source as well. "We hope to collaborate with the entire community to help drive the web forward," a company spokesperson said.
But never mind the comic, or the browser. Is the food at Google as good as they say?
"Better," claims Scott.
Now Jason says a comic events organiser has also threatened to ban the creator from future events, for fear of adverse publicity, surrounding the book. The organiser has denied the claim.
It was a feature in Midlands newspaper The Sunday Mercury that first seems to have kick started controversy of over Him & Hers Smuggling Vacation, a collaboration between convicted drugs smuggler Anthony Cyril Spencer and his son, Jason.
The paper claimed the book, based on the story of a married Coventry couple who tried to smuggle a large cannabis stash from Spain into the UK, offers with top tips on drug smuggling and is being circulated at HMP Birmingham and "describes in detail how police undertake surveillance operations".
Jason, who previously worked as an animator at Birmingham’s Custard Factory, acknowledged the book has been a big hit at Winson Green prison, which has appalled Birmingham Perry Barr Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood who said he was shocked that prisoners have been allowed to read the book.
“I’m absolutely appalled. I don’t want to stop former criminals writing about their experiences, but to actually put information into a book like this which will only increase the criminal knowledge of inmates is highly dangerous.
“Prison authorities should have stopped this from getting into the wrong hands. We don’t want our prisons turning into universities of crime.”
"I was pretty stunned when I first picked up the paper," Jason told downthetubes of the initial report and the MP's reaction. "I was expecting just a small mention so I was lost for words initially."
Although his father praises the accuracy of the book, Jason, who says being raised by one of the Midland’s most notorious criminals was a traumatic experience, told the Sunday Mercury he doesn’t want his book to make the criminals look like heroes.“I don’t want to glamourise them, like one of these Guy Richie movies," he told the paper. "Criminals are very hard people to envy. They have all been to prison... They are all dysfunctional. But they certainly aren’t ignorant or dumb.
“The ones I’ve met through my father are all passionate about crime, and are more intelligent than they are given credit for. That’s what can make them terrifying.”
Indeed, Jason hopes that if the book is a success it will help his father keep away from crime in future. “Parents are always meant to worry about their kids,” he told the Mercury. “Instead it’s always been me worrying about dad. I’d much rather that he was helping me write comic books all the time."
At first working on the principle that all publicity is good publicity, Jason remained calm in the face of growing controversy, even when The Sun picked up the story, along with other local even overseas newspapers. But now, a report in the Sheffield Star about the book may have caused Jason to be banned from events organised by company Golden Oribit, because the organiser fears controversy over the book may cause adverse publicity.
Although it's still hoped some accommodation can be reached between Jason and Golden Orbit's Gez Kelly, Jason told downthetubes he fears the worst.
"For someone in the comic industry to be so sensitive and to subscribe to a ban I find stunning," Jason commented on his blog.
"The issue is that the coverage and reaction to [the report] was discouraging attendance to the event itself," Mr Kelly told Jason in correspondence. He is now seeking reassurances and restrictions that Jason's attendance at his events be kept quiet and should not result in any media attention.
"The condition he's pushing forward is I agree not to publicise, co-operate with or encourage anything that might create any media attention where I am attending a Golden Orbit event," says Jason. "If I agree he'll allow me to go Liverpool at the end of the month, if not I cannot attend - but [he says] it's not a ban?!
"I'm still mulling it over, I'm sure there's some who'll agree he has the right, but it feels very wrong to me."
"Jason Wilson has not been banned from attending the marts," Mr Kelly told downthetubes, "however perhaps he does seem keen to embellish some concerns I had after attending an event with us last Saturday.
"There was a fair bit of negative reaction following a local papers' report (Sheffield Star, Friday, 29/08) over the weekend and early into this week which I felt was important to deal with.
"I have asked Jason to just be a little bit more straight forward with us in future.
"As a policy, Golden Orbit would not seek to ban any publication without very good reason (and in all truth it would probably be difficult to ever do so completely)."
Readers of Smuggling Vacation have sprung to the defence of the book -- and poured scorn on MP Khalid Mahmood's calls for it to be banned, saying it can't be blamed for helping criminals.
"I reviewed it a while back on my blog, rhbfictions.blogspot.com, and thought it was a really good book indeed, funny, well-told and with great artwork," Richard Bruton, also a regular contributor to the Forbidden Planet International blog, wrote in a letter to the Sunday Mercury. "But, as could have been expected, the local MP Khalid Mahmood is shocked.
("In fact, I seem to recall from my time living in Birmingham that Mr Mahmood was regularly shocked about anything in the headlines and frequently popped up in the press and the TV news to say so)."
“'I’m absolutely appalled,' he said. 'I don’t want to stop former criminals writing about their experiences. But to actually put information into a book like this which will only increase the criminal knowledge of inmates is highly dangerous. We don’t want our prisons turning into universities of crime.'
"Aren’t prisons universities of crime already?" challenged Richard. "How many studies have shown that young petty criminals are better served by non-custodial sentences as they tend to come out of prison far more educated in the ways of the criminal than they were before they were incarcerated?
"... I’d like to think the major problems of society could be stopped by doing something as simple as preventing a few convicted criminals reading a comic book but I think the situation may just be a little more complicated than that."
• Read our review of Him and Hers Smuggling Vacation
• Follow the controversy or buy the book from Jason's web site
If you haven't visited Top Shelf's site before, you're in for a treat. This US retailer carries a huge range of indie graphic novels, including the work of creators such as Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Gary Spencer Millidge (Strangehaven) and Glen Dakin and many more.
During this sale period, when you visit the site, you'll find over 125 graphic novels and comics
on sale -- with 90 titles marked down to just $3 and a slew of other key titles just slashed!
Included in the sale are several issues of the brilliant Comic Book Artist Magazine, with issues profiling the work of talents such as Will Eisner (the double-sized memorial issue), Howard Chaykin, the wonderful Alex Nino, Darwyn Cooke, and Frank Cho.
There's plenty of Eddie Campbell titles in the sale, including several of his Alec collections such as The King Canute Crowd , along with Alan Moore & Jose Villarruba's The Mirror of Love and Glen Dakin's Abe: Wrong for the Right Reasons.
Also in the sale -- although not for $3 but definitely at a good price -- are the store's last 50 copies of Top Shelf's slipcase deluxe edition of Alan Moore's Lost Girls and a hardcover edition of From Hell.
"All we ask is that you hit a $30 minimum on sale and/or non-sale items (before shipping)," says owner Chris Staros. "It's a great opportunity to load up on all those graphic novels you've wanted to try, but just never got around to picking up."
Get 'em while supplies last!. To go directly to the list of items on sale, just click here: www.topshelfcomix.com/specialdeals
• For those wondering about The Surrogates, the sci-fi tale web site IGN described as "The Best Indie Book of the year", it's a highly acclaimed five-issue comic book series written by Robert Venditti, drawn by Brett Weldele, and published by Top Shelf Productions (Here's a link to the Top Shelf collection). A sequel, The Surrogates 2.0: Flesh and Bone, is scheduled for 2009. Directed by Jonathan Mostow and starring Bruce Willis The Surrogates film is scheduled to be released in the US on 20 November 2009.
The story is set in the year 2054, when life has been reduced to a data feed. The fusing of virtual reality and cybernetics has ushered in the era of the personal surrogate, android substitutes that let users interact with the world without ever leaving their homes. It's a perfect world, and it's up to Detectives Harvey Greer and Pete Ford of the Metro Police Department to keep it that way. But to do so they’ll need to stop a techno-terrorist bent on returning society to a time when people lived their lives instead of merely experiencing them.
In the tradition of William Gibson and Philip K. Dick, Top Shelf describe The Surrogates as more than just an action story with sci-fi trappings. Applying familiar tropes in unfamiliar ways, The Surrogates is about progress and whether there exists a tipping point at which technological advancement will stop enhancing and start hindering our lives. It is also a commentary on identity, the Western obsession with physical appearance, and the growing trend to use science as a means of providing consumers with beauty on demand.
The Surrogates collection includes all five issues of the critically-acclaimed comic book miniseries. Packed with bonus content, inside you will find never-before-seen sketches and artwork, as well as commentary from the creative team that brought this breakout story to the page.
• Buy The Surrogates from Top Shelf
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
A day in the life of Derek the Sheep is no forage in the field. Oh no. It’s flippin’ hard work, what with all those other pesky animals on the farm! Wherever Derek might be or whatever he might be up to, you can be sure there’s something for him to get his wool in a twist about.
But the cantankerous Derek is also not one to miss an opportunity - especially if it means more juicy grass - and this collection features the first thirteen of Derek's most heroically daft adventures, that appeared in the Beano from February 2004 onwards.
Priced at just £7.99, this edition comprises the same stories as the French-language Norbert le Mouton, published by Actes-Sud-l'An 2, earlier in the year but says Gary, "with Beano-esque speech bubbles as opposed to handwritten, and with a totally different cover."
• Derek the Sheep fans (or, indeed, Gary Northfield fans), will be pleased to hear that the creator will be signing copies of the book at the Birmingham International Comic Show on the weekend of 4-5th October.
Monday, 1 September 2008
"Steady reorders mean Rebellion is down to its last handful of hardback copies" David reveals on his blog (a darn useful read, especialy if you're an aspring writer btw). " Once those first editions go, the book will be switched to paperback. The new edition is due out in February 2009, with a cover price of £25. I've already been through the text correcting minor errors that crept into the first printing. No idea if the new edition will also get a new cover - probably not. But it's a joy to know the book is staying in print."
• Buy the hardcover Thrill-Power Overload from amazon.co.uk
The fun starts at opening time and the first 30 people through the doors each day get a fantastic goodie bag and throughout the weekend the stores will be giving away goodie bags in the stores every hour.
Thanks to FP's brilliant sponsors, including Eaglemoss, Character Options, Dark Horse, DC Comics, Universal Pictures and more, the store is able to offer a huge range of tasty goodies including treats from Doctor Who, Star Wars, Marvel, and DC.
WIN FORBIDDEN PLANET GOODIES!
downthetubes is delighted to wish Forbidden Planet a very Happy 30th Birthday and to celebrate -- especially, perhaps,for those of you who won't be able to get to one of the stores – we have FIVE Special Edition Forbidden t-shirts to give away , courtesy of FP.
All you have to do is answer the question below, by e-mail by 12 noon GMT on Friday 12 September.
The first Forbidden Planet store was in Denmark Street, London, but by what name is Denmark Street also known to many musicians and others since the early 19th Century?There is no need to include your address in the entry at this stage but you must include your name and tell us, in no more than 30 words, what makes Forbidden Planet special for you? Was it the first comics store you shopped in? Did you find romance in the aisles? Or that one last missing issue from a much-sought after series? Whatever it is, let us know! (Responses may be used in a future downthetubes article, permission will be sought before names are included).
• Please Note: The celebrations do not include Forbidden Planet International (Scotland, Ireland, other English towns) which dates itself from the Edinburgh SF BookShop in 1975 and is a totally separate company.
His stage shows were simply incredible, always full of energy and inventiveness.
The Guardian reports Campbell was last on stage just days ago, where his Showstoppers Musicals at the Edinburgh festival turned fictional newspaper reviews into one-off pieces.
It was the latest in a series of Campbell's increasingly innovative improvisations, following on from his 2005 Improvathon, an experimental attempt to perform a 36-hour play without a script.
"The theatre and entertainment world has lost an extraordinary man," commented his friend and PR guru Mark Borkowski. "Ken was a dear friend. The world will never be the same."
Speaking today to Whatsonstage.com, Nicki Stoddart, one of Campbell’s representatives at United Artists, said: “Ken was a one-off. And he was a delight, such a bright and intelligent man. We represented him for many years and never ceased to by amazed by his imagination, exuberance and intelligence.
"His death is totally shocking and extraordinarily sudden.”
Ken, perhaps best known for the Ken Campbell Roadshow which he founded in 1971, worked with the likes of Bob Hoskins and Seventh Doctor Who Sylvester ("The Human Bomb") McCoy.
Coincidentally, he was consdered for the role of the Seventh Doctor. In an interview later, then then script editor of Doctor Who, Andrew Cartmel, said that Campbell’s interpretation was “too dark” to put on television.
A fan of sci-fi and the paranormal, in 1976 he set up the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool in 1976, which put on a series of spectacular shows, including Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (he played Poodoo in the radio version), the eight-hour Illuminatus! (co-written by Chris Langham, which starred Jim Broadbent,), and the 22-hour The Warp, which had a set designed by Tim Albery.
His screen credits included roles in films such as A Fish Called Wanda and, on TV, parts in Fawlty Towers, The Professionals, The Bill, Heartbeat, Fantasy Island, Minder, Bulman and Law and Order. He also presented Channel 4 TV shows on science and the paranormal.
For all his love of scifi, he was not one for its real world trappings. "In the forlorn hope of trying to get Ken into the digital age, his daughter had gifted him a sum of money to buy a computer," Borkowski recalls in his tribute." Unfortunately the computer shop Ken was sent to had a pet shop next door. Instead of leaving the PC emporium with a laptop, Ken was lured into the pet shop only to buy an African grey parrot called Doris..."
• Official Website (under reconstruction)
• More about Illuminatus
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Now, in an exclusive interview for downthetubes, artist Huw-J of Hayena Studios talks to John Freeman about the new strip and his many plans for the character's ongoing revival, including graphic novels.
The feature includes behind the scenes designs and other images by Huw-J, plus revelations about the next steps for the revival.
• Read the interview
• Discuss this feature in the downthetubes forum
Issue 299 is available for £3.50 from WH Smiths and Easons, or from the B&MC website.